Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
Jesus Christ Superstar is one of my favorite musicals. The first time I watched it in high school, I couldn’t get the tune to “What’s the Buzz?” out of my head for weeks. When I was in college I wrote a research paper about the modern imagery of the tank coming down the hill to chase Judas in the wake of his impending guilt/doom. And when I was in seminary I got a lot of my friends to sit down and watch the movie together (many of them did not like the film as much as I do, but I belted out the lyrics anyway).
The musical is unique in its willingness to emphasize the emotions of Jesus and Judas in the days leading up to the crucifixion. Through the melodies and lyrics, the viewer catches a glimpse of the inner turmoil between both men and their choices. The humanity of Jesus shines through in a way that is both powerful and important for modern Christians to remember.
Yet, even with the powerful relationship of Jesus and Judas at the forefront, there is a scene with the rest of the disciples that has always haunted me.
The disciples are gathering in a field for the last supper before entering the Garden of Gethsemane when they begin to sing together: “Look at all my trials and tribulations, sinking in a gentle pool of wine. Don’t disturb me now, I can see the answers; ‘till this evening is this morning, life is fine. Always hoped that I’d be an apostle. Knew that I would make it if I tried. Then when we retire, we can write the Gospels, So they’ll still talk about us when we’ve died.”
What do we want our legacy to be when we die?
In the quasi-historical musical version of the events leading to Jesus’ death and crucifixion, the disciples want to write down what they have seen and heard so that people will still talk about them after they die. In my work as a pastor I often encounter people nearing the end of life who wrestle with the question of their legacy and what they will leave behind.
We can leave our money to a particular institution and have our name forever etched into a piece of brass. We can write a memoir containing some of the powerful moments from our lives with the hope that someone will read it in the future. But the writer of Daniel tells us that if we can lead others to righteousness, we will shine like the stars forever and ever.
This week, let us take time to reflect on what we would like to leave for the future generations. How do we want people to talk about us when we’ve died? And let us look for the ways in which we can lead many to the ways of righteousness and shine like the stars forever and ever.