5 Biblical Flaws in “Jesus Christ Superstar”
Last weekend NBC broadcast a live version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” to much fanfare. Yet despite positive reviews across mainstream media, many Christians are curious regarding the accuracy of the musical’s content.
While many details could be debated, the following five flaws could be considered some of the most concerning in comparison with the biblical accounts of the events.
A Confused Jesus
One section of the musical portrays Jesus stating, “Can you show me now that I would not be killed in vain? Show me just a little of your omnipresent brain; Show me there’s a reason for your wanting me to die; You’re far too keen on where and how, and not so hot on why.”
Jesus is talking with God the Father in this context. Jesus is presented as confused regarding His death and its purpose. He allegedly does not know what God’s plan is for His death.
In contrast, Scripture is clear that Jesus both predicted His crucifixion and explained the reason for it. The cross offered a way for Jesus to pay for the sins of the world.
A Sinful Jesus
Both Judas Iscariot and Mary Magdalene’s words imply Jesus had an intimate relationship with Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene is also shown as a prostitute in the musical, making His relationship with her sickening to Judas. One review notes:
In the next scene, Judas objects to Mary’s proximity to Jesus. He warns Jesus of the scandal that will erupt if Jesus is not more careful. Later, when Mary anoints Jesus, Judas objects again, reminding Jesus that their mission is to the poor. Jesus’ response is for Judas to “enjoy the good” while he has it. Throughout this scene, we have the contrast of Mary’s telling Jesus to “close your eyes,” versus Judas’s trying to open His eyes to the needs of society; as Mary sings, “Relax,” Judas urges action on behalf of the poor.
Of course, the Bible does not present Jesus as having a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene or anyone else. Instead, Jesus cast seven demons from Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2). In addition, Mary Magdalene was among the first women to see the risen Jesus. John 20:11-16 notes:
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Mary Magdalene was an important person in the ministry of Jesus because she was the first to see Him alive again.
A Powerless Jesus
During a scene in which Jesus offers healing, He becomes visibly angry, shouting, “There’s too many of you—don’t push me. There’s too little of me—don’t crowd me: Heal yourselves.” Jesus lacks control of His emotions and apparently is unable to heal all the people who come to Him.
In contrast, Jesus is presented as the all-powerful healer in the Gospel accounts:
“News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them” (Matthew 4:24).
“And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed” (Mark 6:56).
“At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them” (Luke 4:40).
A Human Jesus
In the musical, the prayer of Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane offers insight into an unbiblical view of the humanity of Jesus. He is presented as someone who is no longer inspired or the Son of God, but rather as “sad and tired.” He wonders if anyone will notice Him when He is gone, and grudgingly agrees with God the Father to die as a martyr.
This stands in stark contrasts with Jesus as God in human form. John 1:1 clearly notes, “the Word was God,” referring to Jesus as the “Word” who is equal with the Father. Further, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus did not simply give up or begrudgingly agree to die on the cross, but rather said, “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
An Innocent Victim Judas
Following his betrayal of Jesus, Judas Iscariot does not take responsibility for his actions. Instead, he blames God, saying, “God! I’ll never know why you chose me for your crime,
For your foul, bloody crime You have murdered me! You have murdered me!”
In this version, God is the murderer and Judas is the victim. This is in clear contrast with Scripture that shows God is perfect, Jesus was the innocent victim, and Judas was the betrayer.
“Jesus Christ Superstar” may offer entertainment that garners glowing media reviews. However, its content fails the test of reflecting the truth presented in the Gospel accounts. Those who view “Jesus Christ Superstar” should be aware its message thoroughly contradicts the Bible’s presentation of Jesus Christ as the risen Son of God, the one who claims to be the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).