Warning: Spoiler Alert Ahead
Music. Imagery. Video. Drama.
I have always loved the creative arts. They’re the cultural artifacts that communicate truths about real life.
They also teach and tell us about faith.
It’s no surprise that the Jesus story has invited such artistry over the years. It’s generally accepted that the death and resurrection of Jesus is the greatest story ever told. Yet, when we only read or hear the story, we experience just one human dimension of it. That’s why telling the Jesus story through different narratives and mediums is so powerful. That’s right - it doesn’t need to be as explicit as Jesus Christ Superstar or Godspell.
Same story. Ancient truth. Fresh experience.
The only thing that changes lives is the work of the Holy Spirit through the person and work of Jesus - which is who the entire story is about.
So, because we’re going into Easter week, I want to take a moment and share my three favorite musicals that tell the Jesus story.
Again… warning: spoilers ahead!
So many great examples here.
Who can forget the utter despair in Fantine’s cries in “I Dreamed a Dream”? She experiences resurrection because of Valjean’s sacrifice, kindness, and love. Perhaps even more moving is how Valjean returns after his arrest and imprisonment to rescue Cosette. What an incredible example of the power of new life, forgiveness, and how death never has the last word when it comes to unconditional love.
Check out this fantastic essay from Joel Woodruff of the C.S. Lewis Institute highlighting even more examples.
Hang with me.
Elphaba is the Jesus figure in this spectacular show. Surprised?
The Wizard is king - and not in a good way. Everyone and everything is manipulated, controlled, oppressed, or silenced. And, Elphaba dies in order to set the entire kingdom (animals and all) free.
By the way, if you’ve seen this masterpiece - did you catch how Elphaba dies? Literally, by baptism. Learn more about what I mean by reading Romans 6.
Despite some questions around historical accuracy, this show makes me think about how easy it is to go our entire lives thinking that the entire show is about us not giving up our shot. But, remember who dies, who lives, and tells the story. Let’s be honest: the real hero of this show is Eliza. She’s the Jesus figure who reshapes Alexander Hamilton; who sticks with him through infidelity, shame, chaos; and lives on. While everyone thinks it’s Alexander Hamilton’s story that is going to be told throughout history, it’s really Eliza’s story of unconditional love that lives on.
You can check out this article from Christianity Today to learn other ways Hamilton communicates the gospel.
Send me a note and share your favorite musicals and how they tell the Jesus story.
I’ll see you for worship this week… onsite or online!
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Tim studied sociology, psychology, and theology prior to earning his M.Div at Concordia Seminary - St. Louis. He has also is a candidate for an Ed.D (ABD) in Transformational Leadership. He is married to Beth and they have three young children. Together, they enjoy exploring the outdoors, experiencing culture, and pizza and movie nights.