Thanks to the Bible, historical records and stories passed through the generations, there’s a lot we know about Jesus. But there’s also a lot we don’t know. Last time, we asked and speculated on what the first Christmas was really like, what church Jesus would join today, whether he was really God, and more.
We’ve compiled a list of five more interesting questions you may have never considered about Jesus.
The cross is a symbol of Jesus’s sacrifice, and ultimately of his promise to come again. It’s worn on jewelry and displayed on altars and in homes of Christians around the world. But if Jesus’s death on the cross was his ultimate mission, then why, after accomplishing it, did he say he must come again? Does his second coming suggest a greater mission, something left undone?
Jesus didn’t appear out of nowhere; he came on the foundation of thousands of years of human beings striving to get closer to God, with every generation. The history of the Bible and the world tells the story of the gradual movement from a place of disconnection to one of embracing and understanding God’s will and heart. Abraham, Moses, Elijah—all those who came before—paved the way for Jesus to come at the right time in history. And yet, when Jesus did appear, the people of the time did not receive him. He was branded a rebel, a heretic, and was put to death. Christians acknowledge that Jesus went willingly to the cross as a way to pay for the sins of the world, thus making it possible for people to be spiritually saved through their belief in him.
The world has changed much for the better in the last 2,000 years. Yet, no one would argue that we still live in a very imperfect world. There is still war, poverty and sin. There are horrors and injustices, there are those who commit atrocities and continue to do the things that Jesus and other prophets warned us against.
What are we missing? What must the second coming of Jesus accomplish? The Bible tells us that through spiritual salvation, those who believe in Jesus are able to go to Heaven, but Unification Theology teaches that Jesus came “to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.” Jesus did not want only spiritual salvation, a guarantee of Heaven in the afterlife, he wanted to create Heaven right here. He wanted to heal the world of sin and suffering in a very real way. It is clear that humanity is still in need of this physical salvation. Perhaps this is what the second coming must bring.
The resurrection of Jesus is a crucial moment in Christian theology. It is the ultimate miracle, but perhaps not in the way we think.
Jesus told his disciples that people could be spiritually dead even while they were physically alive. In Matthew 8:22, a disciple asks permission from Jesus to go bury his father, “but Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.’” We know that Jesus was referring not to a physical death but to a spiritual one.
Many people walk around in spiritual death, going about the routines of everyday life but disconnected from God and the people around them. Perhaps you have felt spiritually dead at certain points in your life as well.
This metaphorical use of life and death can be seen in passages throughout the Bible. In Genesis 2:17, Adam and Eve were given the commandment, “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Yet Adam and Eve did not physically die. They remained alive and gave birth to children. The “death” that Adam and Eve experienced was a spiritual one, the complete separation from God.
So, if we can be physically alive but spiritually dead, can we also be physically dead but spiritually alive?
Jesus also speaks of life everlasting. We all know that our physical lives are temporary, but the everlasting life that Jesus promises is a spiritual one. According to the Divine Principle, it was in this spiritual state that Jesus was able to return. The resurrection of Jesus came in the form of his spirit being completely alive even though his physical body had died. Does that make his resurrection any less of a miracle? Through this feat, he proved his own teachings, that we are spiritual beings living inside a physical body, and that our ultimate destiny is to live a life everlasting in the spirit world.
If Jesus wasn’t able to complete his original mission, does that mean he failed?
The Divine Principle teaches that God’s Will is predetermined, but the outcome is not. In other words, God has a blueprint, a plan that eventually all His children will live in peace. However, each one of us has our own role to play in carrying that out.
Just as Jesus had a mission to complete during his lifetime, the people of his time had their own responsibility to accept Jesus and build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth together with him. But the people of the time did not accept Jesus. They rejected his teachings and ultimately put him to death. This was not Jesus’s failure, but the people’s.
Does knowing that Jesus was not supposed to die on the cross make his life any less extraordinary? On the contrary, by knowing this fact, his victory on the cross is made even more amazing.
Imagine Jesus on the cross, knowing that this was not the plan, knowing that he could have done so much more, that God’s heart was broken, and still, even in that grief, he asks for forgiveness and love for those who put him to death.
“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
How does this knowledge change the way we think about Jesus and about our own salvation? If Jesus’s original mission is yet to be fulfilled, what is our own responsibility in making it happen?
With all of these new questions and perspectives on Jesus, the question then becomes: What does that mean for me? Some believe that God has already predestined everything, that He has a plan for each and every one of us. If this is so, then do our actions make a difference? Are we incapable of escaping a predetermined fate?
The Bible tells us that God has a greater plan for humanity, but it also tells us about free will. In Genesis 4:6-7, God spoke to Cain and warned him: “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Here we see that God understood Cain’s heart and the path he was going down, but His ultimate desire was for him to “rule over it.” Otherwise, why would God have given this warning? Whatever path we are walking, our actions make a difference. God may have a plan or desire for us, but we as human beings must make an effort to make the right choices in order to stay on that path.
The flip side of free will is responsibility. The people of Jesus’s time had the responsibility to believe in and follow him. Today we have the same responsibility. Today, are my thoughts and actions aligned with Jesus’s teachings? Do I really believe that I am the son or daughter of God? Will I be able to accept the responsibility that comes when Jesus returns? A dynamic relationship needs both freedom and responsibility. So does our relationship with God. We are free to choose our path, but we are not free from the consequences of those choices. Jesus and God’s prophets have shown us the path, but it is our responsibility to walk it.
The traditional view of Jesus has always been that of a single man with a single purpose: to bring salvation to all people. However, even before Dan Brown’s 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code, scholars have speculated on the many aspects of Jesus’s life not represented in the Gospel. In 2014, Harvard Divinity School Professor Karen L. King presented her initial findings of what was later called “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.” The small fragment of papyrus, believed to be the work of early followers of Jesus, included the words: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife … ’ She will be able to be my disciple.” Scholars have long speculated that Jesus may have been married. It would have been typical for a Jewish rabbi of that age and in that time to have a wife. This new finding only added further fuel to the fire. Though the discovery is historic, there has been little consensus among scientists and theologians alike as to what it really means. Even Professor King said, “People quite understandably want a clear answer to this question, but we—historians—don’t actually know for sure.”
Scholars most likely will continue to debate, and perhaps science will dig up some more clues. In the meantime, though, people of faith are left to wonder, what does this all mean? It’s hard not to ask, What if Jesus did have a wife? What if he had children? How would that change our understanding of the man and the savior?
The Divine Principle teaches that Jesus’s mission was to restore what was lost in the Garden of Eden. If God’s original plan was for Adam and Eve to marry and have a family centered on His love, then what was lost was God’s family. In this context, it would make sense that in order to bring people back to God, it would be through building a family.
The Divine Principle stresses the importance of family as the building block for world peace. Many have often marveled at the impact Jesus made in his short life. What if he had been able to minister for another thirty years? What might he have been able to do in that time? What kind of legacy would he have passed down through his descendants? We may never know all the answers, but the questions just may lead us to a deeper understanding of Jesus and ourselves.