Zechariah holds an important place in the tradition of the Unification Church. According to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, he was not only the father of John the Baptist, but also of Jesus Christ.
When Mary asked how she could conceive a child since she was a virgin, the Archangel Gabriel referred to her cousin Elizabeth; Mary immediately left Nazareth to go to Elizabeth's house (Luke 1:34-36). There, according to Reverend Moon, she took the role of the younger wife to Zechariah, while she and Elizabeth were to restore the relationship of elder sister and young sister, providentially parallel to that of Jacob's wives, Leah and Rachel:
In Jesus’s time, John the Baptist and Jesus, and Jesus’s mother Mary and John’s mother Elizabeth, should have become one. Similar to the situation centering on Jacob, everyone should have united with Zechariah. Who is the father of Jesus? According to this principle, Zechariah should be the father. Father doesn't know, but the logic from the Bible is unmistakable. John the Baptist was Jesus’s elder brother. All they had to do was unite, then everything would automatically have become one…
If Mary and Elizabeth had become one and Jesus and John had become one, they would have protected Jesus, and he would not have died. They could have embraced the East and the Roman empire. The world would have been restored. When this victory was established, the restoration would have happened easily ("Resurrection and the Liberation of the World's Women." Tarrytown, New York. February 1, 1993).
Zechariah should have given Mary continued protection in his home. Reverend Moon praises Joseph for accepting her when she returned to him, but this was not the original plan. If Jesus had been born in Zechariah's family, he would have been raised in the home of a respected priest, known to have been blessed by God with a miraculously conceived son in John the Baptist. This would have enabled Jesus to have strong connections to the temple priesthood, the very group that persecuted him and betrayed him to the Roman government to be crucified. Moreover, Jesus and John the Baptist would have been raised as brothers.
According to the Divine Principle, John failed to carry out his mission to support and testify to Jesus. Had Zechariah properly raised John to unite with and protect Jesus, John could have paved the way for Jesus to fulfill the messianic task. Instead, John paved the way for Jesus's rejection by denying his own role as Elijah and failing to become Jesus's disciple.
Zechariah represented God's position. Mary stood in the position of the second wife to Zechariah. Jesus's father was Zechariah. Mary was in the position of the second wife, or concubine. John the Baptist understood that Jesus was the son of his father's concubine. The original wife, John the Baptist's mother, suffered so much agony through this. Mary risked her own life in order to conceive Jesus according to God's directive. She could have been stoned to death, and so Mary declared that she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary explained it that way. Who guided her to explain that way? Zechariah. It was God's desire that Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist surround and protect the Messiah no matter how difficult their family situation might be. ("True Parents' Day is my True Son's Day." April 18, 1996).
The providential relationship between Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary attempted to restore the failure of Rachel and Leah to unite centering on Jacob. In that case, their disunity ultimately resulted in warfare among the Israelite tribes during the period of Judges and then in the division between the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel in the period of kings. Zechariah's failure to raise Jesus as his own son resulted in disunity between Jesus and John the Baptist in their adulthood, the crucifixion of Jesus himself, the fracture between Judaism and Christianity, and the division of the Christian world during the New Testament Age.
Although he must have been a great man of God throughout most of his life to have been chosen in his old age to become the father of the two most important figures in the Gospels, in the light of Reverend Moon's teaching, Zechariah's mission was clearly a tragic failure.