Alf: Welcome ladies and gentlemen to a brand new episode of How did they do it!?, the spectacular show in which famous guests take us behind the scenes of some of the greatest events in history. I am Alf, your host, and let’s get right into a very special episode!
On tonight’s episode of How did he do it!?, oh my dear audience, we have quite the doozy. For this evening our guests will be none other than the men, the myths, the legends: the four apostles of Jesus Christ himself! We’ll have a dandy talk about what really transpired during those magical years so long ago… May I please have a big applause for Mark, Matthew, Luke and John!
*Mark, Matthew, Luke and John join on stage, take their respective chairs*
Alf: Gentlemen so great of you to come. Truly an honor it is.
Mark: Thank you for having us.
Alf: A pleasure. We have quite some ground to cover so let’s get right into it. Tonight we’ll be doing something I’m sure many people are excited about: we’re going to take a trip down memory lane and discuss the top eight miracles performed by Jesus Christ, and..
*turns to audience*
..once and for all answer the question, say it with me now: How. Did. They. Do it!?
Number ten, by popular demand from the audience, is none other than:
*cutscene to snazzy video that visually accompanies below text*
- the virgin birth
“An angel of the lord appeared to Joseph and said: ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20-23
*end cutscene. Every number countdown on the show has similar accompanying snazzy video cutscene.*
Alf: ‘Gentlemen, I think it’s safe to say that Jesus had the most extraordinary birth, with his mother being a virgin and all. How was that possible?
Matthew: ‘Hahaha. Naturally, people were right to be skeptical about this one. You must understand that we wrote the gospels years after events transpired, which gave us some leniency. On this one we took the easy route: we lied.’
*audible shocks from the audience.*
Matthew: ‘Haha, I mean, what did you expect? Couldn’t have been the son of God if he was the son of Joseph. Worked well enough I’d say. The only thing I felt bad about was Joseph: inevitably haters circulated rumors that Mary had cheated on Joseph. But let me clear the air: Jesus clearly was his father’s son. Same eyes, same mannerisms, the whole shebang.’
Alf: ‘My God that is quite an interesting start to this countdown! Moving on…’
- water to wine
“When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew).” John 2:9-10
Alf: ‘Turning water to wine, quite the party trick! I think everyone could use a Jesus at their parties..’
*winks to audience. Audience laughs.*
John: ‘This was a good one. We hadn’t planned on anything – it was just a wedding party. But people had a good time and they ran out of wine. But we knew a guy next door who had plenty of wine, so Jesus starts smiling and tells us to get it without telling anyone. So we did, and it turned out he had told the servants to fetch caskets of water. We pulled a switcheroo, and bam: party of the century.’
Alf: ‘My my what an unexpected turn of events! But didn’t the neighbor tell everyone what happened?
John: ‘Well of course, and rightly so. But by then the magic had already happened, y’feel me?’
Alf: ‘I feel you.’
- splitting bread and fish
“he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children.” Matthew 15:32-39
Matthew: The big lunch was pretty much a better rehearsed repeat of the drunk wedding. We knew there wasn’t enough food and had made arrangements. So when Jesus asked for empty caskets, we actually gave him filled ones, and he made a small show out of it. Naturally we sat closest to him, and we made sure any view that revealed the trick was obscured. Worked like a charm. The seven leftover baskets was of course a wink to the actual total amount of food we actually made appear. Four hundred people, four thousand, what’s the difference?
Alf: I must say, quite the feat still !
- healing the sick
And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Matthew 8:2-3
Matthew: How do miracle healers heal the sick? Kind of the bread and butter for every prophet no? It just comes the territory. But I guess you want an explanation anyway. Well, basically it’s a mix of things. You have a script, but every time you use different tricks, improvise differently. Our go to was of course our ‘sick’ friend who was suddenly healed. We’d give him a temporary skin disease with poisonous plants, or he’d play a blind man. Later on we had to rely less on such tricks; our collective presence was enough to drive out the inner demons of those seeking our help. It wasn’t much, but it was honest work, y’know?
Alf: But surely you had to deal with disappointed customers?
John: Disappointed customers?! *John has an angry face*
Mathew: No no that’s fair. How does any miracle healer deal with disappointed customers? They come and go. Some were touched but fell back into illness. Some had unrealistic expectations. But many people were touched by Jesus and healed for good. He was a healer, he really was.
4. walking over water
“When therefore they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they behold Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the boat: and they were afraid. 20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.” (John 6:15–21)
Mark: Can I take this one? It’s a special one. Naturally, we made up the whole thing about Jesus walking on water. But it’s a good metaphor for what had happened in the group. At this point we had attracted some attention. We were uncertain where it would lead us. We had some in-fighting; that’s the storm. Jesus saw what was going on, and calmed us, calmed the storm. We sorted out some stuff. So the story is really just a respectful nod to that.
John: Well said.
3. making a tree whither
When evening came, they would go out of the city. As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “ Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.” Mark 11:19-21
Mark: Yeah this happened. This was in the later days, when we started receiving a lot of pushback from the religious authorities. Jesus pointed at a tree, said it was like Israel: looked fine at first glance, but was actually rotting from the inside. We thought he was being dramatic, but he was actually right; the tree turned out to be dying. Sometimes Jesus would do stuff like that; he had an excellent eye.
Alf: Sounds like quite the character!
- raising of Lazarus
Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:1-44
John: Yes this was a controversial one. So at this point we were really hitting it off as a group. Everywhere we went, people came. People told us stories about ourselves that we would not have dared to come up with ourselves. Women spontaneously fell to the ground saying Jesus had healed them. And of course, the priestly elite was vehemently debating how to deal with this ‘king of the Jews.’ It was quite the happening. Jesus recognized that he’d either have to flee or face the state religion. He decided to face the state religion, and perform one last miracle. But in order to pull that off, he wanted to have a practice run. That run was Lazarus.
Matthew: Lazarus’s sister was completely in love with Jesus. Lazarus was too much of an alcoholic to take the whole thing serious, but he liked a good gag. So they pretended he turned ill, then died and had him ‘buried’. Jesus shows up at the grave, says the magic words and boom: alive Lazarus. But Lazarus was known for causing trouble, and he was a bad actor. The story was kind of a failure, which is why most of us didn’t include it in the gospels.
John: Without that story we would not have had the experience to pull off the resurrection.
Luke: That story almost gave away our plans for the resurrection!
Alf: A touchy subject! Since we’re alluding to the number one miracle anyway, let’s make it official!
- the resurrection
And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. Luke 24:36-39
Luke: ‘Yeess the big one! So amazing how that turned out. Man were we anxious about that. The big problem is that we had no control over what they’d do with the body. He was in enemy hands. And with the whole Lazarus thing, we were scared they’d take precautions. But they hadn’t. So with the help of Joseph we paid off the bodyguard, took Jesus’ body and buried it elsewhere. Boom, Jesus gone!’
Alf: ‘Impressive! But that does not explain him returning from the dead.’
Matthew: ‘Are we spilling the beans? I guess we are spilling the beans. It was simple, really: we knew a guy in a traveling circus who resembled Jesus somewhat. A good actor. But most importantly: for some past crime he had been nailed to a cross. Still had the scars to show. We offered him enough money to make it worth his time.‘
Alf: ‘Dear lord. But that wouldn’t hold on closer inspection no?’
Matthew: ‘Which is why Jesus resurrected in Emmaüs, a village where few had seen him, and even those few had only seen him once or twice. They heard the stories though. Imagine: fifteen exhilarant men all surround a man, and all of them act as if there were not a speck of doubt in their minds that that man is Jesus. It was the climax to everything we’d done so far. It was crazy, you should’ve seen the looks on people’s faces. Word spread like wildfire. So obviously, ‘Jesus’ only stayed with us for a few hours, then left. But, those few hours were enough, you know? They were enough.’
Alf: ‘And the rest is history. Amazing, truly amazing. I’d like to thank you for your time gentlemen, it has been a blast of an evening. Dear audience, thank you for joining us, tune in next time when we’ll have Lenin and Stalin discussing who gulaged whom. Have a wonderful night!’