How Dear Evan Hansen Reminds Us of the Gospel

black and white typewriter on white paper

In the Broadway play “Dear Evan Hansen,” there’s a powerful scene at the end of the story that illustrate a deep human need. Evan, the main character, is an angsty teenager whose therapist gave him the assignment of writing a letter to himself outlining all his best features. When this letter, filled with praise, written to Evan Hansen (from Evan Hansen), ended up in another student’s hands, a convoluted cover up upfolded.

Another troubled teenager named Connor mistakenly picks up Evan’s letter and stuffs it in his pocket. Tragically, Connor dies from suicide shortly thereafter. Hoping Connor left behind a note, his family discovers the letter written out to his apparent best friend beginning with the words “Evan Hansen.” It’s filled with all the things he appreciates most about Evan.

The school quickly learns of Evan’s meaningful friendship with Connor, skyrocketing Evan to not only the most popular kid in school, but, thanks to all the social media attention, a viral sensation. But the fame doesn’t last long. It all finally falls apart as Evan can’t piece together enough lies to fill all the gaps in the growing story.

In a moving scene Evan’s mother confronts him. “I love you,” she tells him. “You don’t even know me,” Evan replies. “I know you. And I love you,” she tells him. When I sat through a showing of the play in New York City, shortly after the play debuted, there was a not a dry eye in the place at this point in the story.

The scene tapped into the perennial human longing to be fully known and fully loved. It’s not that Jesus doesn’t know our past. It’s that he is able to see through it all with eyes of love. That’s the kind of love and acceptance Jesus offers. He knows everything about you, and yet, even with all your sin, Christ died for you (Romans 5:8).