Were the miracles in the Bible tricks? Was Jesus an extraordinary stage magician? Did He pretend to raise people from the dead, walk on water, and feed thousands? Was Jesus like Jim Jones, using some of His followers to concoct an elaborate deception on the people to build a following of nationalist zealots to overthrow the Romans? Some people believe this, even though Jesus rejected any notion of armed revolt or refusal to pay taxes.

The miracles that Jesus performed have never been duplicated. Today’s magicians require numerous assistants, tens of thousands of dollars worth of special equipment, and days of preparation time to perform their elaborate tricks, and walking on water would have been an elaborate piece of prestidigitation. Imagine the type of gear Jesus would have needed to convince His disciples that He was actually walking on water during a violent storm in the middle of a large lake where their boat was “battered by the waves” (Matt. 14:24). Here’s how Christian magician André Kole describes the impossibility of a walk-on-water trick:

On several occasions I have been asked to perform before magicians’ conventions. One time a convention host asked me to perform on the beach before 700 magicians from around the world. He wanted me to create an illusion in which I would get out of a boat and walk on the water a short distance to land.

After spending many weeks trying to formulate all the methods we could use for such an illusion, it was finally scrapped. It was impossible to create any type of effect that would convince anyone I was really walking on water.

This experience showed me that, even with all our modern technology, we can’t come close to duplicating many of the things Jesus did nearly 20 centuries ago. [1]

Keep in mind that Jesus walked on water during a storm “many stadia away from the land” (Matt. 14:24). A stadium is approximately 600 feet. The conditions in first-century Israel were far from optimal for such an elaborate trick, especially during a time when engineering knowledge was minimal.

Thinking Straight in a Crooked World

Thinking Straight in a Crooked World

The nursery rhyme ‘There Was a Crooked Man’ is an appropriate description of how sin affects us and our world. We live in a crooked world of ideas evaluated by crooked people. Left to our crooked nature, we can never fully understand what God has planned for us and His world. God has not left us without a corrective solution. He has given us a reliable reference point in the Bible so we can identify the crookedness and straighten it.

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On today’s podcast, in a lesson given to a high school class, Gary reveals the debate and thought tricks used by unbelievers to support their unbelief. Christians must be aware of the mental trickery being used to identify and uncover the whole story and force the unbeliever to recognize their own inconsistent worldview.

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[1] André Kole and Al Janssen, Miracles or Magic? (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, [1984] 1987), 110.