This past Friday evening, March 27, I watched a musical performance on the passion of Jesus Christ that a prominent church in Connecticut puts on annually. It helped me start getting into the spirit of the season of reflection and celebration on Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection which all Christians commemorate.
The program ran 2-1/2 hours including an intermission. It consisted of one scene after another each ending with much applause and shouts of appreciation from the audience.
A brief summary of the scenes of the live performance I experienced is what this post is about and why there should be many more of them put together elsewhere for the benefit of both Christians and non-Christians alike.
The program led off with B.C. scenes of King David, Abraham and the prophet Isaiah. Why that order? I believe the producers wanted to convey to the audience that any and every event in the Bible’s Old Testament points to Jesus Christ – the Savior of this world.
King David energetically entered the stage along with joyful citizens of his kingdom. With fists pumping the air and then outstretching muscular arms before the audience, David danced across the stage singing with joy that the ark of the covenant was being returned after having been lost from Israel for many years. It was being restored after having been illegally taken out of the holy of holies and used as a good luck charm by the sons of Eli at a battle against the Philistines (1 Samuel 4). King David then excitedly announced how the great One True King would soon make an appearance to a lost world. It was a rousing yet heartwarming performance.
Struggling to understand why his son should be sacrificed, Abraham was next on stage and sang how God is Sovereign over all. Since God had promised Abraham that nations would result because of his son, Isaac, Abraham faithfully was about to carry out God’s request until suddenly stopped by a command from heaven. The scene ended with Abraham rejoicing with a lamb in his arms. Abraham then sang on how God would also make a way of saving people just as He had made a way for Abraham to offer an animal sacrifice, instead of his son, to Him. Most of us know that it was Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, who would be sacrificed at a later time. The actor portraying Abraham, sang beautifully with a majestic voice which watered my eyes with emotion. Well, well done.
Then came the Prophet Isaiah who, 700 years before Christ was born, prophesied that Jesus would suffer and be led as a lamb is led to slaughter to bare our transgressions (Isaiah 53). His solemn appearance on stage was intense. His singing voice was a voice that symbolically pierced through time to all the Hebrew generations until it was fulfilled with Christ.
Women soon followed singing how they were influenced by Jesus. Mary, His mother, sang along with Martha and another Mary about the love of God expressed to them through Jesus.
An adulteress then was pardoned by Christ before she even asked Him for forgiveness! This was a precursor to what He was soon going to do for all of mankind – take away or forgive the sin of world because it does not know Him and would continue being lost (spiritually dead) if He did not do something first (John 1:29).
Other scenes performed included Christ’s great love and concern for children. Many children danced and sang lyrics about trusting God. As they wiggled and jiggled on stage to the song, they brought smiles and laughter from parents and everyone else in the audience as well as from the Christ character on stage.
Nicodemus’ conversation with Christ was performed. Nicodemus sang the question to Christ on how a man could go back into his mother’s womb and be born again. Jesus replied asking why Nicodemus, a teacher, was not able to understand what He was saying (John 3:1-21).
The apostles came on stage culminating with them all singing in unison with fantastic harmony about the Messiah. Their performance brought extra appreciative applause from the audience.
After the break, the scenes intensified with the actual betrayal, trial, beating, and crucifixion of Christ played out. The climax, of course, came after Christ rose from the dead and He met the disciples – especially Thomas who doubted Jesus was alive again.
Why this summary of a musical that I attended? I believe more of these productions are important for Christians to watch and enjoy for several reasons:
One: It brings to remembrance the reasons why Christians follow Christ. It makes the Bible come to life. The word of God in venues such as these speak to each individual’s heart uniquely through sight and sound.
Second: It brings Christians together for fellowship. During the intermission, as I was waiting outside to use the men’s room, standing right next to Me was another Christian I have not seen for over 15 years. He still attends the church congregation I used to belong. We reviewed memories and updated ourselves concerning the well being of fellow Christians that we know. It was indeed not a coincidence, but a meeting orchestrated by God to occur.
Third: After the musical was over, an actor (possibly a pastor also) asked those in the audience who have never seen the performance before, to raise their hands. Several people raised their hands. After their hands went down, he asked if any of those who had their hands up and who were not Christians now believe that Jesus Christ is a Savior and want to be a disciple of His. Hands were raised again.
I know it was a courageous moment for the producers to ask if there were converts. It was a display of faith and witness to how God loves, Jesus speaks and the Holy Spirit acts on the unconverted soul. Several responded. They now belong to Christ as newly begotten children of God. Yes, indeed, there were more children added to God’s family from that church building on that evening than there were before.
The 12 apostles/actors then went to them with a gift and material for them to take home. The pastor then told the audience what location in the building anyone else could go if they had any questions.
Performances such as these are therefore not only for Christians to worship Jesus Christ for what He has done, but great ways for agnostics, atheists and various persons who had little or no faith, to have their eyes opened by God according to His will, according to His grace, and according to His love.