Godspell – what’s missing?
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. – 1 Corinthians 15:17,19
1 Corinthians 15:13-20
13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either.
14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.
15 And we apostles would all be lying about God – for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead.
16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised.
17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.
18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost!
19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead.
Godspell is a modern-day musical adaptation of the gospel of Matthew. It opened at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York on May 17, 1971. It was made into a film in 1973. Godspell features a series of parables, primarily from the Gospel of Matthew. It recounts snippets from the parables interspersed with music.
The opening monologue begins with the voice of God, as spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ, declaring: “My name is Known: God and King. I am most in majesty, in whom no beginning maybe and no end.”
Then things dramatically change with the piercing sound of John the Baptist blowing a shofar. John proclaims, “Prepare Ye, The Way of the Lord!” John baptizes the disciples and gives a brief sermon. The Lord Jesus Christ watches quietly and then comes to John and asks to be baptized. John counters and instead asks to be baptized by Jesus. The cast enters and sings “Save the People.”
The Lord Jesus Christ then relates His first parable. He has come “not to abolish the law and the prophets, but to complete.” The cast is somewhat opaque but slowly begins to understand the thoughts of the Lord Jesus Christ. A series of other parables follow. The cast acts out the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, a story of a master and a servant who owes him an enormous debt. The servant begs for mercy from his master. His master absolves it. The servant then turns to a fellow servant who “owed him a few dollars” and demanded that it be paid in full. The master, hearing this, then condemns the servant to prison. The Lord Jesus Christ explains the moral: “Forgive your brothers from your heart.” The cast then sings “Day by Day.” “Day by Day” reached #13 on the Billboard pop singles chart in 1972.
The cast then performs the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. On earth, the rich man feasts, and Lazarus begs but is ignored. Lazarus is rewarded with Heaven when he dies, while the rich man is in Hades. The audience is told to “Learn Your Lessons Well” or face eternal damnation. When the rich man asks Abraham if he would send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his brothers of their impending doom, Abraham says no with an explanation: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”
Jesus teaches that no man can serve two masters (God and money). A cast member tells a story of a man who spent a lifetime acquiring the good things in life, then dies before he has the time to enjoy them. This character sings “Bless the Lord,” and then Jesus tells the cast not to worry about tomorrow: “Tomorrow will take care of itself. Today has problems of its own.”
The “Finale” begins, loud and in B-minor, with Jesus wailing, “Oh, God, I’m bleeding,” and the community answers: “Oh, God, You’re bleeding.” Jesus dies, and the music ends. The women of the cast sing “Long Live God,” and the men join in with “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.” The cast carries Him out, either offstage or through the aisles. The cast then finishes with a reprise of “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.”
What is missing? The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!
REFLECT & PRAY
“The physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is essential to the truth and power of the gospel. There is no Christianity without His resurrection” (Stanley).
What are the real-world consequences if Christ has not been raised from the dead? The entire Christian message is rubbish!
1 Corinthians 15:14 If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.
The Greek word translated as empty, useless, or futile is kenos. Kenos connotes something worthless or vacuous and devoid of any advantage or benefit. The preaching of the message of the cross without the resurrection is pointless and futile. It’s nothing more than a lie, deception. Any faith that is based upon futile preaching is also in and of itself futile and worthless. Christianity is a cruel hoax, a delusion.
“Paul insisted that, if the resurrection of Jesus was not a fact, the whole Christian message was based on a lie, that many thousands had died trusting in a delusion . . .. ‘Take away the resurrection,’ he said, ‘and you destroy both the foundation and the fabric of the Christian faith’” (Barclay).
“If the fact [of the resurrection] itself is untrue, then the testimony to the fact is equally untrue. Even worse, it is a lie carried out in God’s name” (Fee).
1 Corinthians 15:17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.
The Greek word translated as worthless, useless, or futile is mataios. Mataios connotes something vacuous and devoid of significance. The word futile (1 Corinthians 15:14) is partially synonymous with worthless (1 Corinthians 15:17). Vain has the idea of lacking in reality or content, while “futile” means wanting in result, fruitless, or to no effect (Mark Taylor).
The message of the gospel is simple and straightforward. The Lord Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. However, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ without the resurrection makes His death meaningless. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ demonstrates that His death resulted in the forgiveness of sins. If there is no resurrection, there is no forgiveness. The sins of the world have not been effectively paid for and forgiven. Whether living or dead, every person who has believed the gospel’s message is still guilty and condemned by their own sins. The human race would be doomed, culpable for their own sins, and facing divine judgment.
1 Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
“The Resurrection is not just important; it is “of first importance,” because all that we believe hinges on it” (Wiersbe).
However, thank God, that is not the case.
1 Corinthians 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
© Dr. H 2022