DAN BROWN’S CLAIMS: “Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. They had a child. After Jesus’ death, Mary fled to France. Today, there are physical descendants of Jesus’ bloodline.”
- The Da Vinci Code makes some wild assertions here. Brown claims that after Jesus’ death Mary fled to France in the wake of great pressure from the male disciples who wanted to twist what Jesus had taught and who Jesus was to their own liking. Mary, her marriage to Jesus, and their child posed threats to all that, so they threatened her into fleeing. Because of all this, unto this day there are physical descendants of Jesus through that French bloodline. Brown argues that all this, of course, was covered up by the church.
- Before I turn to the larger point in play here, I want to note that Brown claims from the Gospel of Phillip his historical backing for Jesus being married. There are a few problems there. First of all, the Gospel of Phillip is a Gnostic text that is widely considered by scholars to have been written at least a century after the canonical gospels. So it’s not authoritative. Second, even that debunked book does not refer to Jesus having married Mary Magdalene, but simply states that he kissed her. The word used does not even denote a romantic kiss, but denotes something more like a kiss on the cheek or forehead. Third, there are no references in the New Testament or even among the Gnostic writings to Jesus being married. Nowhere is it even hinted at. Nowhere is the idea put forward by any of the early church fathers.
- In other words, this is fiction without even the pretext of a shred of historical evidence.
- Let’s move, though, to the larger issue that is in question here. At first you may not see the relevance, but hopefully I can explain it.
THE BIBLICAL IDEA IN QUESTION: “Jesus died on a Friday and was alive again on a Sunday.”
- What does this have to do with Jesus being married and Mary fleeing to France?
- Simply this: Dan Brown’s argument presumes that Jesus died and stayed dead. In the wake of His absence, there were power struggles to define His legacy and to claim His name. In this case, Brown claims, the struggle was between Jesus’ disciples and Jesus’ wife. It is Jesus’ absence from the scene because of His death (and lack of resurrection) that sets that stage for this conspiracy.
- It’s not going to be a shock to you for me to say that I believe that Jesus died on a Friday and was alive again on a Sunday, but I want to look at the evidence for this historical claim so that we can understand just how weak Brown’s claim really is.
1. Jesus predicted it.
- Mark 8:31; Mark 9:31; Mark 10:33-34.
- Jesus predicted His death and subsequent resurrection.
- Although they are recorded in other gospels as well, here in Mark we have the example of Jesus telling His disciples again and again: “Here’s the point of why I came: I’m going to die and then come back again.”
- Jesus was not a helpless victim of bloodthirsty mobs; He chose to go to the cross. And He knew ahead of time that this was coming.
2. There was a huge change in the disciples’ behavior.
- Mark 14:46, 50; John 20:19; Acts 2:14-39.
- When the soldiers come to seize Jesus, the disciples quickly flee, at least one of them naked (Mark 14:50-52). Further, after His death, the disciples can be found cowering behind locked doors (John 20:19) for “fear of the Jews.”
- Just a few days later, though, we see Peter and the rest of the disciples standing boldly in the marketplace proclaiming that Jesus is Lord (Acts 2:14-39).
- The obvious question is: what happened in the meantime?
- Most people continue to act in the same way that they always have unless something dramatic happens to them. The dramatic thing that happened to the disciples is that they saw Jesus, who had been dead, alive again. And it changed them from cowardice to courage.
3. Believing Brown requires you to believe that all the disciples willingly died agonizingly painful deaths (without renouncing Jesus) for what they knew was a lie.
- Let’s presume for a second that the disciples did make up the whole thing. That would be fine for a week or two, but are we to believe that all of those disciples spent the rest of their lives spreading a message (at huge personal sacrifice) that they knew to be a lie? And further, that even when they were being tortured to death (as several of them were) that none of them ever renounced this fabrication?
- Chuck Colson was indicted as a result of the Watergate break-in. He speaks of how quickly the cover-up fell apart, even though those within the White House knew that exposure of the crime would lead to jail time for them. [You can probably get more commentary on this from him by searching www.breakpoint.org for “Watergate.”]
- The point is that the disciples were willing to die for Jesus and that only makes sense if they had seen Jesus alive again.
4. The authorities of Jesus’ day failed at the simplest rebuttal: they couldn’t produce the body.
- Matthew 28:11-15.
- The easiest and most obvious way for the Roman or Jewish authorities to have shut up the disciples would have been to have produced Jesus’ body. It had been kept under Roman guard in a sealed tomb and yet they couldn’t offer it as the one piece of concrete evidence that couldn’t be refuted.
5. There is no other explanation that holds water.
- Trying to come up with an alternative explanation to explain all these facts has brought some creative ideas down through the years:
a. The Swoon Theory.
- Jesus didn’t actually die; He merely swooned on the cross and was later revived.
b. The Theft Theory.
- The disciples somehow stole the body.
c. The Hallucination Theory.
- The disciples didn’t really see Jesus; they were all hallucinating.
- All in all, it takes more “faith” to believe these poorly constructed and poorly supported theories than it does to believe what the evidence clearly indicates: Jesus was dead on Friday and was alive again on Sunday.
- Now then, going back to Brown’s original claim, what does all this mean for us?
THE BIBLE’S CLAIM: “Jesus does not have blood descendants through a French bloodline, but Jesus does have blood relatives through a faith bloodline!”
- Romans 5:6-9.
- The bad news is that Jesus doesn’t have any blood descendants through the French bloodline. Jesus was not married to Mary Magdalene. They did not have a child. Mary did not flee to France, where the bloodline continues up to today. There is no French bloodline of Christ.
- But the good news is that there is a faith bloodline of Christ! In Romans 5:6-9 it says that Jesus died for the ungodly, that He showed His love by His actions, and that we can be justified through His blood! And that happens by faith - faith in Jesus and what He has done for you.
- Someone might read The Da Vinci Code and say, “Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful to be in the bloodline of Jesus?” Yes it would be. And you can be - not by going to France, but by having faith in what Jesus did for you on the cross.
- Some people are ashamed of the blood of Jesus. They say we shouldn’t talk about it anymore. They say we shouldn’t bring it up in polite conversation. They say we shouldn’t mention it in church. But I for one am still thankful for the blood of Jesus Christ - because it was His blood that cleansed my sins. It was His blood that made my soul clean. It was His blood that justified me in the sight of a holy God. And I received that into my life simply by having faith in Jesus and asking Him to help me.
- Some people don’t understand why the blood of Jesus is so important. The Bible speaks of the fact that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. One way to think of it is that sin is so serious to God the Father that He can’t just wink at it - a price must be paid. Life for life. Jesus paid that price for us when we couldn’t pay for it ourselves.
- So I guess you could say that Jesus does have “blood relatives.” I am a child of God because of His blood.
- You can have the same thing be true of you this morning if you’ll just ask Him to come into your life as well.