Who was Jesus of Nazareth? What was he like? What did he do? As Christians we think we have a pretty good answer to this. Jesus was the son of God sent to earth for the salvation of the world. He spent three and a half years preaching throughout Israel, sharing a message of God’s kingdom, how to live with your fellow man, and the path to heaven. That’s the simple version.
But for someone who millions of people worldwide claim to have a personal relationship, what do we really know about him? You ask me about my best friend and I can tell you favorite food or movie, what they do in their spare time and how they met their spouse. Yet, prior to age 30 Jesus is an enigma. There are a few versus about childhood events (he lived in Egypt for a while and ran away to teach in the temple), but in looking at ancient life during the times there’s so much that could have happened we don’t know before John the Baptist baptizes him.
This past week news broke of an ancient Coptic script that refers to Jesus’ wife. Almost as soon as the news came out, controversy arose. As usual there are the Christians who deny the possibility and many hint at the ripple effects it could have for the church. And while the debate over the authenticity of the document will rage on among greater minds than my own; I wonder if it turns out to be true what would it change?
How does Jesus living a regular life affect his message or even his divinity? Can anyone answer yes or no definitively that Jesus wasn’t married? What would it matter if he did?
There are 30 years of Jesus’ life we know absolutely nothing about. Hebrews 4:15 says Jesus was tempted in every way, giving Christians reassurance that he didn’t have super powers to resist evil where we can’t. So we are to think that Jesus led a life much the same as any other Hebrew boy, not clustered like a hermit in a monastery. Did he play sports and get frustrated with his coach? Did he have a crush in middle school or sneak a cookie before dinner?
The whole premise of Christianity is based on Jesus as the son of God being born in a manger and living life like us; going through all the pains and struggles of life and giving us hope through his example. There’s a childhood and adolescence along with young adult years. He didn’t just get beamed down at age 30 to start preaching. Part of his problem was that he wasn’t what people thought the Messiah should be. In Matthew 13:55 they say “Isn’t this the carpenter’s kid? We know his mother and brothers, he’s not that special”.
I feel like so many times people put their own story together for Jesus that isn’t there and wind up over complicating his message entirely. They say “Jesus wouldn’t do that” and I always want to say “how do you you know? Did Jesus tell you that?” The more frightening thing with that is those people inherently bend the story of Jesus to their own will. There are those who would have said Jesus’ marriage would change the way that the church views the role of women. How? Does that mean the Bible isn’t as clear on the subject as you originally said? Did you put your own spin on it? Why would you make such a supposition?
So far no one has discovered a condemning memoir about the illicit exploits of Jesus. It’s not like Joe Paterno’s legacy that forever changed after the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Discovering and learning more about the life of Jesus in between the red letters in the Bible shouldn’t change who you believe he was. If anything it should make you feel a deeper connection to someone who lived life just like you. When people say “God understands because he went through that too” I wouldn’t mind knowing that Jesus didn’t like his wife’s cooking or got in arguments about the finances.