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What if Jesus Had Been Born Today?

God had always intended to send his Son at that precise time; Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection were not afterthoughts. And then there’s the fact that the world would look so very different today if Christ had never been born.

What if Jesus Had Been Born Today?

A friend of mine wondered out loud “what would Jesus do with North American culture? Would he be texting John and Peter?” He was joking around, but his question was also kind of serious. My friend pictured Jesus in California: Beverly Hills; Disneyland; Knott’s Berry Farm; Universal Studios.

Would Jesus be overwhelmed by the temptations of technology? Would he be disgusted by Hollywood and the excess of our Western culture? Would he be a surfer, skateboarder, gamer, or jogger?

Jesus in Present-Day California?

What would Jesus think of beaches strewn with suntanned bodies; shoppers in their $600 shoes holding Grande (in a Venti cup) half-caff, half-sweet, no-foam, extra-hot, oat milk lattes bearing the name “Eve” spelled “Aieghve” on the side?

Would Jesus visit these places in anything other than a professional capacity, still as a carpenter? Picture the scene:

  • Jesus on the beach constructing a tall lifeguard chair.
  • Jesus at a sushi place near expensive shops, nursing a lime and soda, conversing with patrons and servers.
  • Jesus at a winery tasting local white and reds with the disciples.
  • Jesus at an amusement park, resting beside a fountain next to weary visitors waiting for family members lined-up at a roller coaster

It would be so easy for Jesus to start the conversation. Everyone would know there was something different about this guy.

He knew who they were, and what was heaviest on their hearts. I imagine the Messiah and the wealthy sushi eater in designer clothes, sipping expensive sake.

Christ would immediately know what need these expensive habits seemed to fill, at least for a short time. Jesus would offer eternal peace. Real, true rest, and fulfillment.

At the beach, as someone asked him what he was doing, might he introduce the subject of living water? Perhaps Jesus would talk about the Red Sea scenarios of everyday life. Of how fleeting our earthly existence is and the hopelessness of trying to save our lives.

Or would he explore the theme of vision: of how people think they can see, but they are actually blind? Maybe he would suggest a higher perspective, a view of the bigger picture?

How about the winery — might he explore the topic of vines and branches? Maybe he would be telling the disciples that they must abide in him. He might tour the vineyard, or a nearby orchard, to explain how grafting works.

I wonder where the Pharisees would be in all of this — maybe at the amusement park where a grandpa was waiting for his granddaughter to get off of the Incredicoaster while a visiting priest attended expressly to trap fellow Christians in the act of allowing a girl to ride with boys, no head covering, on the Sabbath.

Where would Jesus overturn the tables? Perhaps in a former San Diego synagogue now transformed into a shop selling incense, Buddhas, and “energy crystals?” Perhaps he would discover even Jews there trying to play it safe — keep one toe in each camp as it were.

Jesus in His Own Time

As I look at the imagined scenes above (and many others, which skip around in my imagination), scenes from his actual life, from Scripture, come to mind.

I remember how, in John 4, he spoke into the emptiness of a woman’s life during an encounter at the town well. “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (v. 10).

In John 1:3, the beloved disciple wrote about the bigger picture; the whole story; Christ with the Father from the beginning: “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”

In Matthew 8, where Jesus calmed the water. “‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm” (v. 26).

In the vineyard or orchard, all of John 15 comes alive — so many teachable opportunities about the vine and the branches there! And in Mark 2:27, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees by saying “Sabbath was made for man, not the man for Sabbath.”

In Matthew 21 and Mark 11, Jesus overturned the tables of money changers and vendors who defiled the synagogue with their commercial enterprise.

Wherever we see life unfolding today, we can also relate that scene to situations that Jesus experienced and remember how he handled them.

There is nothing that happens in life today, which is not addressed in the Bible. Not in California specifically or worldwide; or in any location (a beach, bar, or hospital); not at amusement parks or schools or in counseling offices.

It Was the Right Time

But, of course, this is all moot. Jesus came 2,000 years ago. Those events are recorded in God’s Word and now we wait for Christ to return. He won’t hang out in bars, at the beach, or at amusement parks. He won’t linger in hospitals, schools, or counseling offices.

Jesus will return to take the faithful home, not to linger and to live amongst the people. “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him” (Revelation 1:7).

This won’t be a second ministry opportunity, so if anyone meets a person doing ordinary things, dressed in ordinary clothes, driving an ordinary car, riding a bike, and eating ordinary food while saying extraordinary things: this is not Christ.

He is not returning to minister and make disciples. He is returning to take believers to the place he made ready for them. “I go to prepare a place for you,” he said (John 14:2).

And Jesus would not have been born in California anyway. I know it seems sometimes like California is the center of the world thanks to all of the attention it draws with the celebrities and the entertainment it produces, etc., but the center of the Jewish world has always been Jerusalem.

Christ came to Bethlehem because it was prophesied. Andreas Köstenberger and Jimmy Roh explain sin in their article “Where Was Jesus Born?” that Bethlehem was named in Scripture long before Christ’s birth; in Micah 5:2, which was written 500 years before his birth.

And, since the Savior was expected to be from the line of David, and “Bethlehem was known as the ‘city of David’ [...] this prophecy further connected the coming Messiah with the house and line of David.”

He would not have been born in Anaheim, Napa, San Diego, or Los Angeles. Sure, he might have traveled to those places had he been born in the Middle East 30 years ago, but I suspect he had plenty to do in Palestine without visiting North America.

Not to mention the fact that the timing of Christ's birth is important because “Herod conspired to squelch any such threat to his rule” by having all the baby boys murdered.” Köstenberger and Roh explain the importance of time and place which fulfill the written prophecy.

Herod’s evil actions remind us that the tenth plague in Exodus was an example of biblical foreshadowing. When we see what Herod did, it reminds us that God had always intended to send his Son at that precise time; Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection were not afterthoughts.

And then there’s the fact that the world would look so very different today if Christ had never been born. His life, his message, his death, and his resurrection started not merely a religion but a movement, which gave meaning and value to all human life.

Scott S. Powell argues that “life both at home and around the world would no doubt be qualitatively worse today if Christ had never been born.”

In his Washington Times article entitled “What would the world look like if Christ had never been born?”, Powell pointed out that gospel-focused Christianity (not religion) inspired the movements, which ended the killing of baby girls in many countries; stopped widows from being murdered over the bodies of their dead husbands; and ended slavery.

Why Jesus Could Not Be Born Today

I can’t imagine a world without Jesus in it. There would be no Christians — yet. Maybe girls would be permitted to mix with boys in any setting, including university: I don’t know.

After thousands of years of human civilization, things weren’t getting better by the time Christ arrived, so I doubt women would enjoy the sorts of freedoms (such as they are) or that abuse of women would have been addressed to the extent that it has been without Christ.

No war had created opportunities for women to gain equality; no movement had successfully abolished slavery in North America (though slavery is still going strong around the world).

Had Christ not been born, there is so much about society that we take for granted, which would not have come to be because he taught love and justice; mercy and truth.

He spoke obediently, for the Father and from the Father, an undiluted message, which changed the world for the better.

And his life, death, and resurrection brought the sort of hope, which the world has always needed: hope for all of this mess to be fixed for eternity, one day when he comes back.

For further reading:

How Was it the Right Time for Jesus’ Life on Earth?

What Were the Key Events in the Life of Jesus Christ?

When Was Jesus Born?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Mongkolchon Akesin


Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.