First United Presbyterian Church

Man in Black

–Philippians 2:5-8

5 Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus,6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.

That was a daring thing Jesus did – showing up as one of the people while also being the personification of God. He could have used that status to be crowned an earthly king, but made it clear he wasn’t interested. He had people he needed to meet, know and love.

Identifying with the Jesus who spoke one-to-one has inspired many. Johnny Cash made that point in the 1970s. A man who battled his own personal demons for years, who chronicled such experience in the details of “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” Cash had more to say a year later when he explained why he was the “Man in Black.” He particularly lamented, “I wear the black for those who never read or listened to the words that Jesus said about the road to happiness through love and charity. Why, you’d think he’s talking straight to you and me.” Cash also got in a word about those misrepresenting Jesus: “And I wear it for the thousands who have died believing that the Lord was on their side.”

Cash made an audio recording of the New Testament – all of it – that earned a favorable review in the New Yorker years after his death: “Cash said he brought ‘fear, respect, awe and reverence’ to the recording, but he also insisted he’d performed the task ‘with a great deal of joy, because I love the Word.’ You can hear that tension in the audio and see it across Cash’s long life: the love and fear of a God he revered and disappointed, sought out and felt separated from, was sure understood him and acknowledged humbly he might never understand.”

Contributed by Dave Edmark.

© 2024 First United Presbyterian Church – Revs. Jan and Phil Butin, Head of Staff. All rights reserved. Web Design by Haden Interactive.