It is an old temptation, to construct images of Jesus out of celluloid. Christians have fought for and against it, and will likely do so for generations to come, until the next medium seeks to supplant the Word. We have not only debated whether such images should be made, but have argued over whether such images are true to life. Long before The Passion of the Christ became a cultural phenomenon, one that many Christians cheered on, there was The Last Temptation of Christ. This film became a financial success, albeit a minor one, precisely because of the furor of Christians over the film. When we charged the film company with producing blasphemy, the resulting hub-bub put the film on the map. We marched, we protested, and the evening news sold tickets. Hollywood has always known that controversy is on their side.
At the time of the movie’s release, however, the studio put up an actual defense of their film. The film suggested that Jesus, at some point in His ministry, among other hardships, struggled with the sin of lust. The defense of this was rather clear, and expected. The producer, Martin Scorsese, affirmed that while he believed in the divinity of Christ, he simply wanted the film to affirm with that His humanity. He actually claimed he was honoring Jesus in making the film.
The doctrine of the incarnation, from the beginning, has suffered from the weakness of the pendulum. The great christological creeds came to pass because one side or the other was missing the other side of the coin. That is, the trouble was never the affirmation of the deity of Christ, but the denial of the humanity. Or, from the other direction, the trouble wasn’t the affirmation of the humanity of Christ, but the denial of the deity. In our age, with the secular world all-too-willing to deny that Jesus could be God, sometimes we fall into the trap of denying His humanity.
Like the Last Temptation, much of the uproar over The Da Vinci Code centers not around the sundry plot twists, but the suggestion that Jesus married and had children. While the Bible teaches no such thing, as such, our reaction may have more in common with Islam than with Christianity. That is, Islam refuses to embrace the doctrine of the Trinity because they believe it beneath the dignity of God that He should have a son. And we think that Jesus marrying and having children somehow besmirches His purity. In a strange sort of irony, a novel steeped in gnostic notions and ancient Gnostic texts has brought to the surface the gnostic notions that still lurk in our own hearts.
The truth of the matter is that Jesus did take a bride. Better still, Jesus and His bride have begotten children. And I might as well admit in these pages — I am one of those children. So are my father and my mother. My sister and her husband are from the same line, as are their children. My wife too is a part of this family, as are all of our children. I know it’s shocking, but it’s true. And this is the good news. You are one of us too.
Well, truth be told, the shocking thing is that it is not so shocking. We have grown accustomed to His grace. We are appalled by the notion of a few powerful men and women who are descended from Jesus’ line, who strive to rule over all the world. But that is not only what we are, but what we are called to do. Jesus, the second Adam, took as His bride, the second Eve, the church. Husband and wife have, ever since, been busy being fruitful and multiplying. They are, together, in fulfillment of the dominion mandate, filling the earth and subduing it. They are bringing all things into subjection for the glory of the Father. The conspiracy is that we didn’t even know we were part of a conspiracy. We have forgotten that our endgame is total world domination. Indeed, we have been promised that we not only will judge the world, but the angels themselves.
The problem, then, isn’t that Christians have sullied themselves by reading Dan Brown’s silly fiction. The trouble isn’t that Christians have been tempted to believe it. The problem is that we haven’t believed God’s outrageous facts, given to us in His Word. We haven’t believed the good news, that our heavenly Father loves us so much that He allows us to be called His children, that He has seated us in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus. Our problem is that we won’t believe that God took on flesh and dwelt among us, precisely so that He could win a bride, and that He might be given a kingdom. Our problem is that we have missed that in Him we too are more than conquerors.
I haven’t read The Da Vinci Code. I don’t intend to. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to do so. Instead, what I need is the courage to read the Bible as it is written. We will seek first the kingdom of God only when we realize that His kingdom has come, that His kingdom is forever, and that we reign with Him, kings and queens now and forever. May our Husband be pleased to purify us such that we might believe in the prodigality of His love, and the fullness of His promises.