Music Blog: Brand New – Jesus Christ

One song has really stuck with me as one of the most profound lyrical songs of the last couple decades, and that’s the one referenced at the top of the blog.

 

Really the song is one of the few songs that deals with Christianity and Jesus Christ from a perspective that’s different than you hear in most praise songs.

Jesus Christ, that’s a pretty face
The kind you’d find on someone that could save
If they don’t put me away
It’ll be a miracle

Do you believe you’re missing out?
That everything good is happening somewhere else
With nobody in your bed
The night is hard to get through

And I will die all alone
And when I arrive I won’t know anyone

The first verse deals with an immediate human unworthiness of Christ’s grace. He uses the term Jesus Christ almost like a double entendre, in the sorta swearing way that it’s used quite regularly these days, but also very nakedly like he’s talking to Jesus personally. There’s a loneliness in that, as through our sin we’re separated from God and need companionship more than anything else. But note that in his reverie, he understand that he’s overwhelmed by sin, in this case lust, and can’t get away from it no matter how he tries. Such an honest admission is so rare, even in poets and artists. Because of that, he feels ostracized in both who he is and his faith. I know I’ve felt this way, and recognized my failings. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to vocalize them in something public like this, however. It’s extremely bold for him to have done so.

Jesus Christ, I’m alone again
So what did you do those three days you were dead?
Because this problem is gonna last
More than the weekend

Jesus Christ I’m not scared to die
But I’m a little bit scared of what comes after
Do I get the gold chariot
Or do I float through the ceiling

Or do I divide and pull apart
Cause my bright is too slight to hold back all my dark
This ship went down in sight of land
And at the gates does Thomas ask to see my hands?

This second verse really goes deeper into that human failure and loneliness. But then he reflects: how lonely must it have been for God to be in the grave, without any solace, truly alone and facing pain. It had to be worse than anything we ever could experience, as at least when we die — we can be with God. Jesus did that for us. He suffered some of the worst pains imaginable so we wouldn’t be alone. And yet at the same time — we have doubts about the end of our own lives. Despite all of the reassurances, we’re often uncertain. The second stanza is something again many of us reflect upon.

That lack of certainty leads to doubt, and he plays this up to say that his doubts are even worse than the Apostle Thomas was when he came face to face with Christ and didn’t believe he’d risen from the grave. The message is clear: we are so unworthy of God’s sacrifice that it’s ridiculous. The darkness within us is so terrible, he finds it hard to believe that Christ would even want him around, that his works are not good enough to sustain eternal life. I think we all can feel that way sometimes, but we shouldn’t let it bring us down. That is the amazingness of God’s love in a nutshell though — that despite our faults, He will never betray us, never leave us. God’s love for us is infinite. And while Jesse may have felt alone while writing this, he doesn’t have to be, for it is written: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” – Jeremiah 31:3

I know you’re coming in the night like a thief
But I’ve had some time, O Lord, to hone my lying technique
I know you think that I’m someone you can trust
But I’m scared I’ll get scared and I swear I’ll try to nail you back up

The end build here is some of the most beautiful work ever recorded. It still gives me shivers and can bring tears to the eye to this day. This end is about how we constantly betray Christ over and over again in our daily lives. We give into sin, we all do, we can’t help it. And it’s a shame. This is why we have to repent over and over because we keep failing at the very simple commandments Christ gave to us to love one another and love the Lord God. And more than that –we’ve all honed our lying techniques where we become so good at lying to ourselves that what we’re doing really “isn’t that bad”. It’s a big trap where we compartmentalize our sins in our lives, and justify them to ourselves, when we really need to get back to living as Christ taught us. It’s something to be keenly aware of in order to help us avoid the cycle of sin.

So do you think that we could work out a sign
So I’ll know it’s you and that it’s over so I won’t even try
I know you’re coming for the people like me
But we all got wood and nails
And we turn out hate in factories
We all got wood and nails 
And we turn out hate in factories
We all got wood and nails
And we sleep inside of this machine

And just like the pharisees, Jesse is aware that he — and all of us — keep asking God for signs to prove who he is, as if He owes us, even though we have failed His commandments. It’s sickening to think about how we do that after he came here, was tortured and brutally murdered by our ancestors, and still managed to forgive us of our sins that we demand from God. Even though we know he’s coming for us. We know it in  every core of our being. So why do we keep making these demands? Why do we keep failing him? It’s like he says — we all good wood and nails. If we were in that position, we might be shouting jeers at Christ ourselves and betraying him. There’s no way we are more enlightened or better people who were witnessing Christ firsthand. If He came today, we might very well be part of that same crowd killing our Lord God over again.

It’s a painful, depressing and an uncomfortable song, I know, but what it does is serve as a big reminder to us: we live in sin. We must do all we can to live as Christ told us, and that involves actively thinking about His will at every moment of every day, not just going to church on Sunday, not just during times we’ve set, but in all things we do. It’s so hard, it may even be impossible, but if we keep asking God for help in this, He’ll deliver as always. That’s the only way we can get outside of this machine we’re sleeping in.

Despite the rather tragic song There is so much good news though. The fact that Christ loves us so much that he did sacrifice himself is inspiring. Though we have our failures and that is a depressing thing — it doesn’t matter, and we can take solace in that. It’s hard in these modern times to imagine the kind of unconditional love Christ brings to us, as everything is so conditional in our lives to the point where it feels like nothing lasts, but it is there. He came for us, he sacrificed, and he rose again. It’s already over, and we don’t even have to try. God will give us his grace if we simply ask for it. It’s such a beautiful thing. As Paul said:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:8-10

What a beautiful thing. It’s cause for rejoicing. And while I think it’s fine to feel the empathy of this song that we should feel because of how much Christ suffered for us and because of our inherent unworthiness, we should do our best to focus on the joy God has given us as well. It still remains a beautiful song, and one that stirs deep reflection in me. I hope it does in you as well!

If you ever want to talk about Christ, learn more about Him, I am not sure I’m the best teacher, I have failings just like anyone else — but I’ll do my best and I’m happy to talk to you whenever. There’s nothing more important for you or for me, so I’ll make the time. Don’t be afraid to contact me!

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