Jesus: Magician or God?
By Andre Kole
Years ago I was challenged, as a skeptic and as a magician, to investigate the miracles of Christ from the point of view of a magician. At that time, I took great pride in the fact that I had never been fooled by any other magician, so I had no intention of being deceived by any form of a first-century trickster, if that is all Jesus was.
I began to make this investigation, and at first it was somewhat easy to rationalize some of the things Jesus said and did. But over a period of time, I discovered some things that made an impact upon my life.
Jesus claimed to be God. The strongest evidence Jesus personally provided to support His claims were the miracles He performed – miracles that only God would be able to do. However, for centuries skeptics have responded by saying, “Those were not genuine miracles, they were only magic tricks that Jesus used to deceive ignorant people.””
For most of the world, those who are not familiar with the history of magic and who are not aware of the limitations of a magician, the claim that “Jesus was just a magician”” seems to be a reasonable consideration. However, I believe that knowledgeable magicians, more than any other group of people in the world, are the most qualified to examine and determine if His miracles were illusions or reality.
The Bible is specific in saying that Jesus was the visible expression of the invisible God. In other words, Jesus was God in the form of a man. I am very aware of the fact that through the years there have been many atheists and other skeptics who have denied the existence of God. And if there is no God, then obviously Jesus could not have been a manifestation of God in human form. In my audiences throughout the world, I have found that there are usually quite a few today who would consider themselves to be in the skeptical category, at least to some degree. Since I was a skeptic myself for many years, I never intend to be unkind to those who are sincere skeptics.
The fact is that I encourage people to be skeptical; and in doing so, I challenge them to be genuinely honest skeptics. I do not mean the kind of skeptic who would say, “Don’t confuse me with the facts. My mind is already made up.”” As someone observed so well, “everyone has a right to their own opinion, but no one has the right to misrepresent the facts.” A good example to which I am referring is a skeptic who comments upon the Bible as being “just a book of myths.”
This problem is solved with the realization that the Bible is not “a book,” but rather it is a library of books. It is a compilation of 66 books, written over a period of 1,500 years, by 40 different authors in three different languages. For the Bible to be a book of myths, someone would have needed to bring together all of the 40 authors from the 1,500 year period and to get them to all agree upon the same myth. This is an example of a situation in which the truth is presented, and there is a resulting consistency and harmony that emerges as the pieces of evidence dovetail together.
The following questions highlight important issues regarding the true identity of Jesus Christ. The corresponding articles present conclusions from historians and other scholars.
Explore the evidence for yourself and decide: Who is the real Jesus?
Through the years I have had the opportunity to perform and speak on over 3,000 college and university campuses on five continents of the world. Everywhere I go, I tell students, “Whenever someone make an extraordinary claim, you need to demand extraordinary evidence before you accept that extraordinary claim.”
Jesus made the extraordinary claim that He, Himself, was God. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one. He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” The extraordinary evidence Jesus provided to prove He was God were the incredible miracles He performed over a period of 3 1/2 years and witnessed by tens of thousands of people.
A miracle has been defined as an “act of God”. It is something that only God can do. Anyone can claim to be God and quite a few have; however, only God can do what only God can do. Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, Zoroaster or any other founders of the world’s great religions never claimed to be God. None of them ever claimed to be able to perform miracle. In all of human history, Jesus was unique.
He could instantly heal every known sickness and disease of every person who came to Him. He could raise the dead. He could take a small boy’s lunch and multiply it to feed over 5,000 people. He could say to a raging storm, “Peace, be still” and the storm would instantly stop. But the miracle of all miracles was His own resurrection.
To those who questioned His being God He made the issue very clear, direct, and concise. Jesus said, “Do not believe my words.” I repeat, Jesus said, “Do not believe My words — unless you see me do Miracles that only God can do.” Even the worst enemies of Jesus were never able to deny the miracles that He did. The religious leaders who plotted His death said, “If we do not stop this man the entire nation of Israel will believe in Him and follow Him because of the miracles He performs.”
The enemies of Jesus did not deny that He performed miracles. Likewise, the leaders of other religions also could not deny His miracles. Since September 11th we have heard a great deal about Islam, the religion of Muslims. In their holy book, the Koran, their prophet Muhammad said this of Jesus: “Jesus was born of a virgin; He lived a sinless life; He performed miracles; He could give sight to the blind, cure lepers, and raise the dead.” Muhammad spoke more highly of Jesus Christ than he did of himself. Once again, the miracles were validated by leaders of other religions and could not be denied by His enemies.
So for the atheist and other skeptics there is a big problem. If there is no God then what explanation can be offered in addressing the miracles that Jesus constantly performed that proved that He was and is God in human form? How do they do it? What tactics are used to minimize Jesus’ genuine miracles? Many have tried to suggest that Jesus was just a magician performing clever magic tricks. One of the most popular books atheists refer to was a book written by Morton Smith called Jesus the Magician in which he tries to convince himself and others that Jesus was just a magician.
Two thousand years ago the Jewish religious leaders who rejected Christ as their Messiah also had to explain away the miracles of Jesus. How did they do it? In the Jewish Talmud, written following the death of Christ, they said, “Jesus was a magician who led Israel astray through his magical deceptions.” That statement not only confirms the historicity of Jesus, but it also provides evidence to the fact that He did amazing things that most people thought were miracles. So for 2,000 years skeptics who know absolutely nothing about the subject of magic have tried to explain away the miracles that Jesus performed by insisting that Jesus was just a magician.
The choice was, and is, clear: either Jesus was a magician or else He was God as He claimed Himself to be.The choice was, and is, clear: either Jesus was a magician or else He was God as He claimed Himself to be. Click To Tweet
Miracles or Illusions?
I am a magician. I am not a preacher and I do not pretend to know a great deal about theology and religion. However, there is one subject that I do know a great deal about and that is the subject of magic. I have over 1,000 inventions in my field of magic. I used to discipline myself to invent at least three illusions a day, and I would not allow myself to go to sleep at night until I had accomplished that goal. The International Magicians’ Society presented me with an award naming me as “The Magical Inventor of the Decade.” All of the seven best-known magicians in the world today have performed some of my magical inventions.
For the past 20 years one of my closest friends in magic has been David Copperfield, who most people agree is the greatest magician who has ever lived. Through the years David and I have collaborated on over 100 different illusions for his stage and television shows. We have worked together on accomplishing some of the greatest magical illusions in history, including making planes and trains and the real Statue of Liberty completely disappear for a period of time.
I have also developed seven methods for making the moon disappear — the real moon. One of the latest illusions I have developed is a magical way to make the Washington Monument levitate high enough for a long string of people holding hands to walk under it while it is levitating above their heads.
I am a Christian. David Copperfield is Jewish. But together as magicians we probably know more about the subject of magic than any other two people in the world today. We are both in total agreement that Jesus could not have been, in any way, shape, or form, a magician and accomplished what He did by magic.
Recently in a worldwide television program, David Copperfield made this statement:
“The miracles of the Bible go beyond anything that any magician or illusionist could ever perform, but greater than any physical miracle was the ability of a man named Jesus to bring purpose and meaning to the lives of millions of people throughout the centuries.”
I carry tons of equipment to present my magical programs throughout the world. In order for David Copperfield to accomplish his “miracles”, he presently carries over 30,000 pounds of equipment with a staff of at least 40 people
The point is obvious. In order for Jesus to have been a magician and to do what He did by magic, you would have to visualize Jesus and the disciples walking through the dusty streets of Galilee in their long robes and sandals 2000 years ago — with three diesel trucks following along behind to carry all of the equipment Jesus would have needed to perform His miracles by magic!
For anyone to even suggest that Jesus could have been a magician is to demonstrate an absolute, complete, total ignorance of the subject of magic. Conversely, magicians, perhaps more than most people, have the capability of differentiating between the genuine and the imitation, truth and fiction, the authentic and the counterfeit, reality and illusion.
For over 100 years, Christians and skeptics have been arguing over the subjects of creationism, evolution, intelligent design, and a half dozen other controversial issues about God. However, the greatest evidence for the existence of God is the person of Jesus Christ. And the greatest evidence that He was and is God were the incredible miracles that He performed. These miracles were witnessed by tens of thousands of people over a period of 3 years.
Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come into a personal relationship with God except through me.” Either that statement was the biggest lie or it was the greatest truth that has ever been spoken by any person in the history of the world. Following that statement Jesus said, “If you have a difficult time believing my words – then believe because of the mighty miracles you see me do.” The miracles confirmed the fact that Jesus was and is God.
As a magician I deal with many illusions in my business, but in my own experience I discovered that God is no illusion; rather He is a reality, and that Jesus Christ truly is the “magic ingredient” Who really makes life worth living!
Andre’ traveled around the world for more than thirty-years presenting spectacular illusion shows. Sponsored by CRU. Andre is in retirement, but his legacy in the world of illusionist and outreach will be remembered for many years. He was a good friend, to my mentor, Felix Snipes.