This is the opening number of the film Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) where Judas expresses his dismay and disillusionment with Jesus and his movement. Judas senses that the winds are shifting and foresees that Jesus is about to be in the center of a storm, a storm Judas fears Jesus will not be able to control. He looks down on Jesus from a high road and bemoans the fact that this movement has grown in a direction that takes it into the cross hairs of many important and powerful figures.
This song sets up the entire relationship between Jesus and Judas, and sets the tone for the whole movie. It also presents a figure who is imminently relatable, someone who shares many of the same concerns and pressures that we do.
Judas’ initial hang up in the movie is his concern of reprisal from the world if Jesus goes too far. He fears the crowd will turn on Jesus and that Rome will crush him if it becomes aware of him. He’s terrified of the possibility of destruction and works himself into a frenzy wailing and crying for Jesus to listen to him.
Judas’ problem is his belief, and it’s two-fold. He doesn’t have faith in Jesus, but he does in the world. This is something that is easy to do as Christians. Often the world can seem to press in around us, and it’s terrifying. People dying in terrorist attacks, wars sparking around the globe, disease cropping up and infiltrating nation after nation, famines sweeping over entire countries driving thousands upon thousands the flee their homes. These are things that the world gives us, and these things at times seems to be the entire substance of the world.
Sometimes, as Christians, I think it can be easy to be sucked into the trap of looking to the world and having more faith in it’s power than in Jesus. Like Judas we grow distracted by the ever growing pressures in the world around us, and when we focus on those pressures our faith in or dearest friend and most loyal companion begins to erode. We start believing that the world has more power and strength that Jesus and pay more heed to it than to following Jesus Christ.
But, all is not lost, we can be rescued from this geocentric thinking. Judas thought he knew better than Christ, thought of himself as a Voice Crying Out in the Wilderness and that if Jesus were to only listen to him that everything would be okay. But he missed the point. Things aren’t always going to be okay, no matter how closely you look at the world and try to predict it’s movements. Judas first, and ourselves also, need to be humble about our own power to predict and control the world. If we surrender our sense of superiority to Christ we can begin to think about the world Christocentric way, we can have faith once again in Christ Jesus.
And if we need help we can cry out with the words of demon possessed boy’s father
“I do believe, help my unbelief!”