He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief. [Matthew 13:54-58 (NLT)]
Jesus performed many miracles and yet, compared to the illusions performed by various well-known magicians, they really aren’t all that impressive. Granted, bringing Lazarus out of the tomb after several days was a biggie but David Blaine was encased in a block of ice in the middle of New York’s Time Square for over 63 hours. Ten years later, another magician did the same trick for 66 hours. Jesus may have walked on water but so did Criss Angel. In fact, Angel walked on air between two buildings and David Copperfield levitated in the Grand Canyon. Jesus had Peter catch a fish that had a coin in it but David Blaine turned dollar bills into hundreds and handed them out to Hurricane Katrina victims. What’s feeding several thousand to David Copperfield making the 225-ton Statue of Liberty disappear or his walking through the Great Wall of China? Transforming water into wine isn’t nearly as impressive as David Blaine turning a cup of coffee into a cup of money and then giving the money to the homeless man holding the cup.
Of course, the difference between Jesus and those men is that the men are merely illusionists and Jesus was God. Those magicians created illusions for money, fame and entertainment. Their illusions only seem miraculous because we don’t understand how they’re done. What Jesus did, however, truly was miraculous and supernatural. There is no worldly explanation for His miracles and He most definitely didn’t perform them for money, fame or entertainment. Nevertheless, since Jesus was capable of true miracles rather than mere trickery, why didn’t He do anything more spectacular? Wouldn’t he have gathered more followers if He’d been more of a showman?
If the purpose of supernatural signs was to astound people, Jesus could have done more miracles in in own hometown. People unimpressed by his background would have been awestruck by an astonishing phenomenon. Couldn’t He have done something more dramatic and remarkable than a few healings and a display of wisdom in the temple? No matter how spectacular the miracles, however, the people’s skepticism would have blinded them to His message. The lack of belief in Nazareth didn’t mean Jesus couldn’t perform miracles; it simply meant He wouldn’t because there was no point. Some people are unwilling to believe no matter what they see.
Unlike a magician, the purpose of Jesus’ miracles wasn’t to amaze but to heal, teach, help or guide people to God. His miracles awakened faith, fulfilled prophecy and demonstrated His ability to heal, His power over death, and His authority over creation. He didn’t perform miracles to impress people or gather followers because He knew that miracles alone make a poor basis for faith. Jerusalem would have been filled with people that Passover week over 2,000 years ago. Surely some of the populace had been fed by him, received his healing touch or witnessed him perform a miracle or two. Where were they on that black Friday? Why weren’t they calling Jesus’ name to drown out those in the crowd who called for the release of Barabbas? Seeing was not enough to make them believe.