The movie musical Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), is a genius piece of film depicting, at it’s heart, the various ways people can and do relate to the person of Jesus Christ.
Mary Magdalene: Afraid of the overwhelming love Jesus has inspired in her. She’s not sure what to make of it and it’s intensity frightens her.
Pilate: Condescending and superior, he is far too aloof to believe the “nonsense” about this person, Jesus. He cares more about what the world thinks of him than what his own conscious dictates and ends up doing that which he thinks is wrong to please the crowd.
Peter and the Apostles: They follow Jesus without a second thought. He is their life, and they don’t question what he does or why, they’re just happy to tag along.
Simon Zealotes: This man expects Jesus to be the hero, to come in and save the day, snatching Palestine out of the hands of the Romans. All he wants is a physical victory over the perceived enemy and he’s confused when Jesus isn’t delivering.
The Lepers: Like Simon the Zealot, The Lepers are waiting for Jesus for purely physical reasons. They want physical healing and believe 100% that Jesus can give that to them, but even then they aren’t satisfied. They want Jesus to grant them wishes, and that’s all they think he can do.
The Pharisees: They only think of Jesus as a political threat that would upset the delicate balance of power. They only care about Jesus inasmuch as he might upset the status quo. Once it’s apparent that Jesus isn’t going to go away, they make sure to destroy him, cleanly and legally.
The Crowd: These people are excited and ecstatic for Jesus, but none of them really know him or anything about him. They’re just swept up in the moment, thrilled to be part of something exciting not really sure what everything’s about, and not really caring to know more.
The Mob: Like the crowd, they are swept up in the excitement and spectacle of Jesus’ punishment. They are only there for the entertainment, and they really don’t care about this Jesus person one way or the other. They don’t know if he’s guilty of something, and they don’t care.
Judas: The man who wanted to believe, but couldn’t. Judas is a very relatable figure, one who feels like he’s watching things blow up in slow motion. He loves Jesus, but doubts everything he says and does. He stands on the sidelines, unsure of what’s going on or what he should do. His confusion turns him into a traitor who thinks he just doing the right thing. He has no illusions, and in the end it is the death of him.
All of these characters have a unique way of relating to the unassuming, yet fiery man, Jesus. Watching this film can be entertaining, but it also has a deeper question at it’s heart. How do I relate to Jesus? Am I afraid like Mary Magdalene? Am I scoffing like Pilate? Am I needy like The Lepers? Or, perhaps, I am a combination of them. Whatever the case, examining myself is critical if I am to grow from where I am to where I wish to be.