Jesus is literally the magic word of God. To some this statement may sound audacious. Many of us know that scripture strictly prohibits dark arts such as divination, sorcery, necromancy and fortunetelling. So how can I conflate Jesus with magic in this way?
Before I explain this seemingly bold point of view, I think it would be appropriate to begin with a basic definition of what I mean by “magic.” I am not referring to illusory magic or black magic, but rather magic that can be defined as “the creation of something as if out of nowhere.” And oftentimes a magic word (or spell) is employed as an impetus or catalyst for said “magic” to occur. In other words, magic is just the word that means “creative force.”
Understanding magic in this way, as a creative force, one can see how the beginnings of both the Old Testament and the New Testament reveal how Jesus is God’s magic word. In the book of Genesis we read, “In the beginning…God said, “Let there be light.” In other words, God spoke light into creation by using his “Word.” That is to say, it is as if God cast a spell to create the world.
The Gospel of John elaborates on this line of thought by saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” It is Jesus who is this “Word” (Greek:Logos) that John is speaking of. In other words, this line of scripture is saying, “In the beginning” (i.e. at the time of creation) Jesus was “with God” as his “creative/magic Word” that he used to bring light into the world, and Jesus also “is God” in the Trinitarian sense, where the father, the son and holy spirit are all equal.
John’s Gospel continues to connect Jesus with the creative force of God -- via His “Word” -- at the moment of creation, by saying, “In him was the life, and the life was the light of men… The true light that enlightens everyman was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.” Read any other way except the way in which we are reading it now -- where Jesus is God’s creative force (i.e. God’s magic Word) at the moment of creation -- this statement would just be a confusing paradox -- but from the point of view of connecting Jesus as God’s magic word that brings light literally and metaphorically into the world -- this statement is made perfectly clear. “He was in the World,” because he was God’s creative Word “In the beginning,” “yet the world knew him not,” because he had yet to enter the world in the flesh, or as John’s Gospel goes on to say, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
Furthermore, John’s is not the only gospel that makes this connection between Jesus and magic. Matthew’s gospel also begins with its own magical elements. That is to say, at the beginning of chapter two of Matthew’s Gospel, we read of the “magi” who are following the star in the east to bring gifts to the newly born “King of the Jews.” The word “magi” comes from the Greek magosand the Latin magus, which means “magician.” What is more, the “magi” are also the name of the magician-priests of the Zoroastrian religion. Read this way, one can see that Matthew’s Gospel is essentially telling us that magicians came to honor the birth of Jesus.
If one accepts that Jesus is the Word, then one must also accept that Jesus is magical. For language and magic are deeply connected. It is not a coincidence that the word “spell” can be used to describe the use of magic words or it can be technique one employs to form a word. That is to say, this multi-layered notion of “spelling” highlights the foundational connection between magic and language. What is more, according to the Oxford English Dictionary the word “Gospel” which means “good news” is made up of the two words “God” and “Spell” In other words, the Gospel is literally “God’s Spell.” Adding this linguistic connection to the previous scriptural points, it makes logical sense that the Gospel is all about God’s magic Word: Jesus – the creative force that God uses for “enlightening” the world.