on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

The Great Magician

This is the fifth in the series on my Faith Journey.

When I was a boy, I thought about Jesus as the “Great Magician” more than the “Great Physician.”

There are a lot of stories in the Bible that supported my magical thinking that included miracles of physical healing, exorcisms, resurrection of the dead, and control over nature.  All of them were pretty amazing.  A few of my favorites were:

  • Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding;
  • He told Peter to go to the sea and cast a line, and the first fish he caught to look in its mouth for a coin.  Peter did and sure enough, he found the coin.
  • Jesus walked on water in the sea and then climbed in the boat with his friends;
  • He told the storm to be still one day, and it did;
  • Jesus fed 5,000 people with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.

These miracles may be hard for you to believe. If you picked up a book and read these same stories about a Joe or Jane doing these same things, what would you think?  Magic or fantasy?  Maybe.  Fiction?  Probably.

But if you had heard these stories all of your life, and everyone you trusted (family, friends, community members) told the stories with a straight and sincere face, you would believe them too.  And I did.  The stories were part of the formation of my faith journey as I viewed Jesus as a Magician.

As I grew up, I would ask God for certain magical miracles in my own life but they were never as spectacular as the ones I read about.

But when I went to seminary in my early twenties I heard my New Testament professor, Dr. Frank Stagg, say one day,

“Jesus never performed a miracle to simply impress or wow his audience.  Jesus ONLY performed miracles to teach us something about himself or God, or something about ourselves.”

Dr. Stagg pointed me towards a new path in my faith journey for which I am grateful.

My thinking about Jesus as a magician changed from asking Jesus to rescue me out of painful circumstances to seeing Jesus (or God) as a presence that I can’t always explain (mystery) but One who is a companion and guide in my life.

Another way of saying it is I shifted from asking God to miraculously rescue me out of life circumstances and started asking God, “What can I learn from this experience about you God?  What is this teaching me about myself?”

And I now see God as the one who can give me peace and comfort regardless of what I’m going through in life.  I can SEE that I really am the blind man in the story asking for sight, or at least a new viewpoint that I had previously been unable to see.

How has your view of Jesus or God changed from your early beliefs? What is something you once believed that has deepened or changed or matured?

I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Peace be with you.


  1. Jackie Powell

    When Lynn and I were first married, seminary students were a big part of the “ministry team” at our church. I thought they were up there with God and all His prophets. I guess the first couple we really got to know was Wesley and Rebecca Monfalcone. They were a lot like us! As I have matured, I realize we all are part of God’s “ministry team.” We are all on this journey together!

  2. Carolyn Crumpler

    When I was a child, I thought of God as my Father in heaven, and my thought was that He was going to take
    care of me as my wonderful earthly father did. As I grew, I learned that He was so much more, and I learned
    from experiences with Him that He was everlasting, everpresent, my helper and guide always. Frank Stagg
    taught me a lot more, while he was at NOBTS before moving to Southern.

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