Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jesus Christ Superstar and the Mount of Olives

They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’ He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour?Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’
--Mark 14:32-42

Without anyone to really celebrate Holy Week this year with Alyssa and myself, I decided to share a few of my favorite cinematic Jesus moments that just so happen to coincide with the season. This is basically a mixture of my standard Holy Week liturgy and the continuation of a blog series I started a long time ago about my favorite pop culture depictions of Jesus.

In this clip from Norman Jewison's (yes, that's his real name) 1973 version of Jesus Christ Superstar, Jesus leaves the sleeping disciples in the garden and treks up the Mount of Olives, soliloquizing to God about his painful circumstances: Caught between the desire to live and the desire to go through with the sacrificial plan, Jesus accuses God of putting him in a situation he didn't ask to be in in the first place. For me, the most poignant moment comes at about 3:54, when Jesus, his mind made up, screams, "All right! I'll die! Just watch me die! See how I die!" followed by a montage of artistic depictions of the execution of Jesus through the centuries. There are very few times that I have gotten through this scene in the film without weeping (unlike The Passion, which grosses me out more than anything, and will not be appearing in this series).

As a side note, has anyone ever noticed the reasons the different gospels give for the sleepiness of the disciples? Mark says that "their eyes were heavy," but Luke's account says that they "had fallen asleep from grief." I remember hearing this story as a kid, thinking, "Boy, those disciples sure were dumb--they couldn't even keep awake for JESUS?" But looking back from the perspective of Luke, I'm not certain that I would be able to keep awake, either.
O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you;
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me….
Restore me to liberty,
And enable me to live now
That I may answer before you and before men.
Lord whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised.
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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