“I’m a killer, and I’m a clown. I’m the priest that went to town…….” so sings Vincent Furnier, better known as Alice Cooper on his song “Desperado”. This song was written in the 1970s during an era when rock and roll was filled up with all sorts of addictions and debauchery. Yet even though the song was certainly a product of that era, I believe that Alice is on to something with his lyrics. Some people have surmised that this song is a tribute to the late Jim Morrison of the Doors fame, but I believe that it goes deeper than that.
Alice says “I’m a killer and I’m a clown.” In other words I’m a funny man, I’m a person that makes people laugh but I also have a very dark side, an evil side. A corrupt side. “I’m the priest that came to town”, or I may look one way and I may act one way but sometimes I sneak, sometimes I’m enamored by the things of the world (the priest is going to town). In other words sometimes none of us are what we seem. We all have good that comes out but we all have blackness and darkness in our lives. We as Christians call this sin, and in fact we believe that we are born with a sinful nature. It is in our hearts and it will eventually come out. We may fight against it and we may struggle to “be good” but we are sinners and that sin will come out in our lives, even despite our best efforts. It is who we are. UrbanDictionary describes a “desperado” as a person without hope. That certainly captures the essence of this song and it describes every single one of us without Jesus. We are all “desperados”.
Jesus told us that didn’t He? In fact the Bible says in John 2:24 that “Jesus didn’t entrust Himself to anyone because He knew what was in the heart of men.” He knows the evil that is in our hearts. He knows our sins, and our sin nature. He even knows us better that we know ourselves. John Owen says “that our sins are like icebergs, we are only aware of 10% of them.” We are messy, desperate, sin filled people. People who put on masks but people who are filled up with darkness. That is who we are, we are sinners and we sin because that is who we are. We are hopeless and we need help. We are desperate and sometimes in our desperation we don’t even know what we need.
What do we need? What is our hope? What can save us from our sins? Only Jesus. To quote another song, “what can wash away my sins? What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” We are desperate sinners in need of a Savior, whether we know it or not. I can go to all of the self help groups that I want, I can take all of the pledges that I can take to “do better”, I can make all the New Year’s resolutions that I want, but none of that will change who I am. I can put on a face and pretend. I can be the “priest that went to town.” Or I can be a clown. I can pretend to be a good person but it doesn’t change who I am. Who am I? A desperate person, chained by my sins. I am a Desperado. A hopeless person who needs a Savior. And that Savior’s name can only be Jesus. He is the one who lived a perfect life, and He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the one who went to the cross and paid for us desperate sinners. He is the way of salvation. The only way. To God be the glory!