Never Too Far Gone
A recently discovered slip of papyrus brought back an old question to the attention of the media: Did Jesus have a wife? I’m not smart enough to know the answer for sure. I will say this, though… If Jesus did have a wife, she might have been hard-pressed not to struggle with jealousy!
Consider just a few of the many women who followed Jesus:
– The woman at the well. Jesus broke social norms by talking to her (and alone, to boot). Then he listed her personal sins – a steamy history of adultery. Instead of crumpling up with guilt, the woman’s response was joy! He knows me! He knows ME! She ran to get her whole village to come meet Jesus. (John 4)
– The woman who poured a year’s salary worth of perfume on Jesus’ feet. She unbound her hair (taboo!) to wipe the perfume. The religious leaders who saw this said she was being foolish and improper. But Jesus affirmed her in front of them, saying that her story would be told wherever the good news is preached. (And her story made it into all four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.)
– The bleeding woman who touched Jesus’ clothes. She had effectively “defiled” him, and Jesus could have embarrassed her publicly. Instead, he lifted her up, called her “daughter,” and praised the gumption (faith) that brought her healing. (Matthew 9, Mark 5, Luke 8)
– Mary Magdalene. Who knows exactly what her afflictions were, but they were so bad that she was described as having “seven demons.” Maybe she was mentally ill. But Jesus freed her, and she devoted her whole heart and life to him. Mary Magdalene was there when Jesus was publicly disgraced at the crucifixion. She was there to care for his dead body. And she was the first to see the greatest miracle in history: the resurrected Jesus. She, a woman who had been shamefully sick, saw it first. This is God’s upside-down way. (More about Mary M. here.)
These women fell all over Jesus, and he allowed it. If any other religious leader did that, he would risk his marriage and his ministry – as evidenced by so many who have fallen. Jesus alone is able to be the longed-for hero. He alone can allow this scandalous Love-With-Abandon, which was demonstrated by so many unclean, improper women of the New Testament. He received their adoration and didn’t turn them away. And he stayed sin-free (2 Cor. 5:21).
Considering all of this, I’m guessing there was no wife in the picture. But if there was, she was a true saint herself, with a vision for God’s plan!
There’s a more important argument for Jesus’ singlehood, though: the purpose of his ministry.
In a mind-blowing fulfillment of countless Old Testament writings and rituals, Jesus relinquished his own life in The Great Exchange. The sin-sickness of the whole world landed on him, while his own joyful, sin-free standing with God was made available to anyone who wants it. His purpose was to redeem an entire group of people, bringing them into such an intimate relationship with himself that it would be like marriage (the good kind of marriage).
For these reasons, I don’t think God’s Son had a wife. That level of closeness is reserved for every person who needs it badly enough to reach for it, looking for a miracle of acceptance in place of shame. And this is a miracle we’re guaranteed to receive.
“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.” Romans 3:22-25
“Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” Revelation 21:9