Four world class magicians somehow manage to rob banks during their live shows, dishing out the cash to their audiences. This is a movie about magic and manipulation, trickery and tomfoolery. But not miracles. That’s the Messiah’s domain, not the magician’s. Jesus never did magic and never manipulated people. He tended towards humble and subtle rather than hype and showmanship, never once using his power for personal gain. He learnt that trick in the wilderness when he was tempted to make magic bread, tempted to elevate himself, tempted to grab the whole world. He faced those imposters and turned them down. That desert was his boot camp.
Jesus knew people were looking for meaning when they weighed up the miracles he did. He knew they were desperate for a way forward, like sheep looking for a shepherd. He could easily have grabbed power, could easily have gripped his audience. But time and again he stepped out of the spotlight. He wouldn’t play the showman. Even when he did enter the public eye it was as a servant, looking small, riding on a little donkey.
Eventually he did take to the stage, put himself on show as a criminal. A fraud. A gangster. A revolutionary. A bad guy. Looking like a total failure. Like a magician whose show was well and truly over. And instead of saying ‘Now you see me – now you don’t!’ Jesus turned that around and said ‘Soon you won’t see me – then you will!’ Hinting at the extraordinary thing that we now call the resurrection. Not a trick. But a planet-changing miracle.