Summary: We have not yet learned the difference between superficial superstars and the starlight wisdom of Jesus. He transforms gold into Kingdom power, frankincense into respect, and myrrh into the preface for resurrection.
In 1970 Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber brought out a rock opera with the provocative title, Jesus Christ Superstar. Predictably, not everyone was amused. Some condemned it as sacrilegious. But if you listened carefully and let your defenses down a notch or two, their work communicated the Gospel in a unique way. The label “Superstar” was put on Jesus by Judas Iscariot, who really wanted to know who this was he had been tagging around with: “Jesus Christ Superstar. Do you think you’re what they say you are?”
Now you and I imagine we know full well the answer to Judas’ question. We think we know who Jesus is and what He is about. It may not be the exact word we would use, but yes, for us, Jesus Christ is a Superstar. How do we sing about Jesus? He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is the word made flesh, He is Lord of all things … oh, we have quite a vocabulary when it comes to describing who Jesus is. Superstar, for sure. And we think that the world should come and share in our worship. He is worthy of praise, and worthy of the best gifts we can bring.
So why do they not come and fall at His feet? Why is it so hard, in 21st Century America, to persuade people to leave other allegiances and to come to Christ? Don’t they see how special He is? Didn’t they get it, during Christmas, that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and without Him there is only confusion and ignorance and death? Jesus Christ Superstar! Why do they not flock to Him as they do for everybody else from Brittney to Brangelina? Why do the paparazzi not snap the savior like they pop Paris (Hilton, that is)?
The problem is that we have not yet figured out that true wisdom lies not in following superstars but in following starlight. The genuinely wise are not misled by superstars with superficial stuff, but are led by starlight – by ideals and hopes and dreams that keep us moving forward. But ours is a culture that has not yet figured that out.
You see, we are bedazzled by people who have accomplished little if anything other than being famous for being famous. But we are bored by those who really have something to say or to give. Ours is a culture that crowns American Idols, and that has nothing to do with how capable they are. Remember William Hung, who made a small fortune out of being the worst singer ever to appear on national television? He was so bad he became a celebrated superstar!
I sat in my car the other day, calmly waiting for the traffic light to change, listening to the Mendelssohn violin concerto. I didn’t care if the light never changed, because I was in a reverie, playing my imaginary violin – the only kind I can play – along with this magnificent music. But into the lane next to me came an SUV of monumental proportions, with stereo blaring, “Bump, bump, bumpety-bump”. I never heard another phrase of Felix’s fiddle music until the light changed and bumpety-bump sped away! Now I do understand that tastes differ and that there are different strokes for different folks. If you were the driver of the bumpety-bump SUV, that’s fine! But consider that the culture in which we live rewards bumpety-bump with megabucks and relegates Mendelssohn to the dust of history. One of them is called a superstar; the other is ignored, except by those who really want to grasp greatness. The one is superstar, the other starlight – guidance and wisdom by which you can steer.
We are dazzled by the superstars, but we have not yet discovered what it is to be guided by starlight. And in that difference lies wisdom.
The Wise Men of old more than likely went looking for a superstar. I would guess that they expected to be dazzled when they got to where the young child lay. They asked, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” These men we call wise, these magi, astrologers – what did they seek? And what did they find? Was it Jesus Christ Superstar? Or was their wisdom confirmed because they followed the light of yonder star and received something by which they could steer their lives?
Let me ask you this morning to look with me at the gifts they brought – gold, frankincense, and myrrh – and to look at what they were communicating as they brought their gifts. But – here is the crux of the matter – what did Jesus give back? What did Jesus accomplish with the gifts at His command? Was He superstar or starlight? Superstar that dazzles or starlight that guides?