In today’s post, I’m going to examine a topic which has fascinated and mystified Christians for many centuries. I will examine not only the question of whether the Holy Grail will ever be found, but also what it might be. I will also offer some brief commentary about the other Holy Relic that many have looked for: the Ark of the Covenant. It has occurred to me recently that these Holy Relics may be more than just a historical mystery. Possible or deceptive developments regarding these Holy Relics could conceivably have a role in the end-time deceptions that the Bible prophesies will be widespread in the latter days (Matthew 24:22-27, II Thessalonians 2:1-11 and Revelation 12:9).
It has long been a viewpoint of mine that popular movies sometimes tease us with spiritual themes that have biblical connections. For example, many science fiction movies have plots and themes which parallel themes from the biblical prophecies about the latter days. However, while the Bible is Holy Writ, science fiction movies routinely put a different “spin” on biblical themes, which creates a false expectation in modern mankind about what is really going to unfold as the latter days come to an end. For example, many science fiction movies involves a plot where the earth is invaded by “aliens” who are defeated when mankind rallies to defeat them. I recall one movie in the Babylon 5 genre, A Call to Arms, which included good aliens helping mankind to repel an invasion by evil aliens. Revelation 19:11-20:5 reveals that when Jesus Christ comes with his heavenly army of redeemed saints and his loyal angels, mankind will suicidally fight against them. This may be because people will have been completely duped into thinking the liberating army of Jesus Christ is actually an army of evil aliens.
Recently, I was impressed that one particular movie about the Holy Grail, The Da Vinci Code, was aired many times on various cable channels within a few days. I watched it again, and it is a riveting, fast-paced movie. I also read the book years ago. However, that movie and book have an entirely different concept of what the Holy Grail is compared to standard Christian assumptions. I’m going to examine this alternative view in light of the scriptures and historical facts.
Christians have long believed the Holy Grail is the cup or chalice from which Jesus and his apostles drank at the Last Supper, which was Jesus Christ’s last Passover observance on earth before his crucifixion (Matthew 26:17-27). The singular word “cup” in verse 27 strongly argues that Jesus filled a single cup with wine and it was passed around the table as a common cup from which each apostle drank. This cup has long been regarded as the “Holy Grail,” and it has been searched for by pilgrims, investigators, crusaders, etc. since soon after Jesus was crucified. One of the movies in the Raiders of the Lost Ark movies featured a scene where an ancient knight was safeguarding a collection of phony chalices and cups as decoys to hide the real sacred cup from which Jesus drank. To be succinct, this sacred cup has never been found. In all honesty, it must be realized that the Bible assigns no special status to this cup that Jesus and the apostles used at the Last Supper. Even if the genuine cup or Grail was ever found, there is nothing in the Bible that indicates the cup would “save” anyone. The only thing which saves anyone is the blood of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:8-12); religious relics save no one. The Holy Grail has had an almost superstitious importance attached to it for a long time, and if it is ever found, I think many would begin treating it like an idol or talisman. I truly don’t know how the pedigree of any supposed Grail cup could ever be tested or ascertained to be the genuine cup referred to in Matthew 26:27. No ancient cup would come to us with a documented chain of custody to assure us that it was the genuine cup used at the Last Supper. Even if an excavated cup could be dated to the time of Jerusalem when Jesus lived, it would prove nothing. There were tens of thousands of various kinds of cups used in Jerusalem by the Jews, Romans, merchants, sailors, herdsmen, etc, in the 1st century AD in the Holy Land. Some TV documentaries have examined theories that the Medieval Knights Templar found the Holy Grail, but even if they secreted it away somewhere, how would we know that they had anciently identified the right cup? Obviously, we would have no way of knowing if it was the real one or not. Over the last two millennia, I’ll bet boxcars of “original pieces of the cross” have been sold to gullible pilgrims to Jerusalem. I wonder how many “cups” have been sold to gullible people as the real Grail over the last two millennia?
The Da Vinci Code book and movie propose that the “Holy Grail” may be something entirely different, and far more impactful, than a drinking cup. For those who have not seen the movie or read the book, I recommend them as very gripping. They use the vehicle of a fictional novel to propose something revolutionary in Christian thought. The plot line of the fictional novel is that the Holy Grail is not a physical object at all, but rather (A) the “knowledge” that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene were actually married during Jesus’ life and that (B) Jesus and Mary conceived a child who produced a bloodline which has produced descendants to this very day. The story involves a shadowy and secretive “Priory of Sion” which fights to conceal and keep safe the last person left alive from Jesus’ bloodline and another shadowy and secretive cabal within the Catholic Church, which is trying to murder all the descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Theoretically, the cabal inside the Catholic Church is trying to destroy Jesus’ and Mary Magdalene’s bloodline “to protect the church” from the knowledge that Jesus was ever married or lived in a conjugal union with a woman during his physical life. The cabal in the novel thinks it would destroy the church or Christian faith if this secret was ever made known.
However, let’s examine this entire subject. I’d like to propose that the entire assumption of the book/movie that the Christian faith would be discredited if it could be proven that Jesus was married and fathered a child during his human lifetime is completely bogus. How would it threaten the Christian faith? The Bible foretells the Messiah/Savior would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:18-25). The Bible nowhere prophesies Jesus would remain a virgin during his human life. Indeed, Mary herself did not stay a perpetual virgin. Matthew 1:24-25 tells us Joseph and Mary had normal marital relations after Jesus was born. Matthew 13:53-58 lists many of Jesus’ siblings by name. Jesus was the oldest sibling with four brothers and an unknown number of “sisters.” Since “sisters” is plural, there had to be at least two sisters as well as four brothers–making Jesus the oldest of at least seven children given birth by Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Could Jesus have been a married man? Clearly, the Bible nowhere records he was married, but neither does it assert he wasn’t married. While the Bible takes neither side of that argument, there is actually an argument of silence in the Bible that argues he could have been married. The Pharisees and the leading Jewish rulers of Jesus’ time were endlessly trying to accuse Jesus with whatever wild accusations they could use to discredit him. They accused him of being a “winebibber” and associating with dubious company (Luke 7:34), meaning in modern terms they accused him of being a “wino” or alcoholic. They accused him of casting out devils via Beelzebub, a demonic power (Mark 3:22-30). They also accused him of being a bastard born out of wedlock (John 8:41), and further accused him of being a “Samaritan” (a group despised by the Jews of that time), and possessed by a devil or that he was crazy (John 8:48-49). These were all false accusations, but evil people are generally guilty of hurling accusations against the righteous. Consider this: Jesus was a virile, youthful and perfectly healthy male in his human lifetime. He died in his early 30s, and typically males in his culture would have been married by that age. If Jesus remained unmarried well past the time most young males were married, would not the Pharisees have accused him of being “gay” as well? It is logical they would have done so. If Jesus was a married man, it would have prevented any such accusations, and the Gospel narratives record no such accusation ever being made against him. Furthermore, the scriptures state Jesus lived a sinless life, but being in a faithful marriage is not a sin. Jesus could have been married and had children, but that would not make him ineligible to be the savior since being a married person in a faithful union is not sinful in the slightest. Indeed, if he never married, had a sexual life and a family life, how could he have sampled human life in any depth? I will offer some other scriptural accounts which further address this possibility.
Luke 4:38-39 records that Jesus once healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, which means the Apostle Peter was a married man. The Bible says nothing about the marital status of any of the other apostles of Jesus. If one apostle was definitely married, it is likely others were as well. Ironically, the Catholic Church claims Peter was the first pope, but he couldn’t have been a celibate person as he was a married man. Titus 1:5-9 cites Paul’s teaching regarding the qualifications of bishops and elders. Verse 6 says one necessary qualification is that ordained church leaders be married men with one wife. Indeed, II Timothy 4:1-3 brands enforced celibacy (“forbidding to marry”) as a “doctrine of devils.” If the elders of the Christian church were required to be married men, is it such a stretch to think that Jesus Christ, the founder of the faith, was as well? My eBook [PDF], A New Look at the Seven Churches of Revelation, examines the teaching of a celibate priesthood and many other topics about the prophesied status of the Christian church in the latter days.
There is no question that the Bible confirms Mary Magdalene had a very special status in the inner circle of Jesus’ group of followers. She could not have been there without Jesus’ invitation and permission. In the synoptic Gospels, my concordance lists 14 scriptures where Mary Magdalene was mentioned in the inner circle of Jesus Christ. Her female presence in the inner circle of men, if she was single, would have generated objections from his apostles, given the culture of the time. However, if she was married to Jesus, her presence would have been accepted by all. There is no record that anyone objected to her being present in Jesus’ inner circle. Matthew 27:54-56 relates that Mary Magdalene was present at the crucifixion, but so were other women. Indeed, verse 55 says “many women” were there standing “afar off,” but Mary Magdalene was one of the few who were named. John 20:1-18 gives a detailed account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and he chose to appear first, not to the apostles, but to Mary Magdalene. It is worth noting that if Jesus was a married man, he would likely appear first to his spouse. Also, when Jesus was finally recognized by Mary Magdalene (verse 16), Jesus quickly told her not to touch him because he had not yet ascended to the Father. This account seems to indicate that Mary Magdalene was about to throw herself into Jesus’ arms, and that she was so accustomed to “touching” Jesus Christ physically that he had to quickly prevent her from doing so. While this does not “prove” she was Jesus’ wife, the account of apparent prior physical touching between them would be very logical if she were a spouse.
There is one aspect of the Da Vinci Code movie and book that I do not think is scripturally correct, or even possible. The fictional book asserts that by the time of the end of this age, Jesus would only have a single descendant left. If we assume he was ever married or had children, It is almost certain he would have had many descendants. Jeremiah 33:22 promised that the seed of David would be massive [Given that David’s son, Solomon, had 1,000 wives and concubines from all over the world (I Kings 11:3), Solomon would have vastly increased the number of David’s descendants right from the start]. Given that Jesus Christ was the most important and famous of David’s descendants (Matthew 1, Luke 3:23-31), it stands to reason that the Divine promise of many offspring for David’s seed would especially apply to Jesus. If (please note I said “if”) Jesus did have descendants, they would almost certainly be numerous and scattered widely in many nations by now.
Hopefully, the above will give readers a scriptural perspective on this issue and whether Jesus was single or married. I want to stress that the Bible does not take sides on this question. How could this subject possibly become important in latter-day prophetic fulfillments? Keeping in mind that we may sometimes be given hints of future agendas in movies, the Da Vinci Code movie includes a line by one of the main characters that at the beginning of the New Millennium a “living heir” of Jesus’ bloodline would be revealed to the world. The phrase “New Millennium” makes one think immediately of the beginning of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ (Revelation 20:4). II Thessalonians 2:3-11 prophesy that a “man of sin” will come in the latter days with “all deceivableness” and “strong delusion” (verses 10-11). What if this man of sin is proclaimed to be a direct descendant of Jesus Christ and that he is declaring the millennium is beginning under his reign? Verse 9 says his coming will include signs, wonders and lying wonders, so he could claim that he possesses the power of God to work miracles like Jesus did. What if he walks on water and turns water to wine? Verse 4 says this person will exalt himself “above all that is called God,” and that he will even sit in the Temple of God “showing himself that he is God.” How many Christians and non-Christians would follow him without reservation if this impostor does actual miracles? I think virtually everyone would follow him except for a small handful who know the prophetic scriptures. Matthew 24:23-24 agrees, asserting everyone on earth will be deceived by a “false Christ” except for the very elect.
How will you know you are witnessing the return of the real Jesus Christ? Matthew 24:27 says Jesus’ real coming will be accompanied or heralded by global lightning spreading all across the sky. Revelation 19:11-20:4 states Jesus will come with vast heavenly “armies” and that he will slay all the human armies that resist his return. That scripture also foretells Jesus will execute the top human political leader of the world (the “beast”) and the top human religious leader of the world (the “false prophet”). He will also resurrect the dead saints from all the past (I Thessalonian 4:16-17). Be sure you are grounded in the Bible’s scriptures so you are not deceived in the future by wonders and miracles that will lead mankind in the wrong direction.
At the outset of this post, I mentioned I’d offer brief comments about the the Ark of the Covenant. I’ll close with those comments. If a supposed “Holy Grail” is a part of the great end-time deceptions, it is possible the discovery or unveiling of an “Ark of the Covenant” may also be part of such deceptions. The Ark has been the subject of many searches and various people believe it is buried under the Temple Mount, hidden in a secret building in Ethiopia, was taken to the hill of Tara in Ireland, or some other theory. The original Ark disappeared from history when the Babylonians conquered Judah and took over Jerusalem and the Temple. It makes sense the Temple priests or Jeremiah the prophet, who was alive then, would have wanted to preserve the Ark somewhere very safe. To do that, they may have even constructed replica Arks to help them hide the real one. If the great deceptions of the latter days include an unveiling of newly-found “Ark of the Covenant,” will it be the real one or only a replica of the original? There will be one way to find out. Only certain Levites were allowed to handle or touch the Holy vessels and objects that pertained to the Ark and the tabernacle (Numbers 4:15). If anyone not of that select group touched the Ark, they died. This happened in an account in II Samuel 6:1-8. If a supposed Ark of the Covenant is revealed in the future, if all kinds of people touch it and don’t die, it is a sign it cannot be the real Ark.
In conclusion, do not be distracted by matters involving Holy relics if such things are “found” or “revealed” in the future. All kinds of deceptions will occur in the latter days, and it is possible some of these deceptions will involve supposedly Holy relics. In New Testament times, Jesus Christ is our Savior and High Priest at the Temple of God located in heaven (Hebrews 9). Hebrews 9:23 reminds us all earthly Holy relics were merely “patterns” or “copies” of the real sanctified objects at the throne of God in heaven. Keep your mind focused on the heavenly tabernacle of God, not real or imaged Holy relics made from the physical materials of the earth.