“Newly-Found Document Holds Eyewitness Account of Jesus Performing Miracle,” read the headline from worldnewsdailyreport.com. The story said a document was found in the Vatican archives in which a Roman historian chronicled a miracle being performed by Christ.
For those familiar with the website, you recognize it as a comedy site that creates false news stories for entertainment. “Archeologists Unearth Giant Human Remains “Near Stonehenge” and ”USA: Rancher Shoots Down UFO Near Area 51” are among other headlines on their main page.
I first saw the story on Facebook posted by someone who thought the story was true. Even at the website – which doesn’t look different from many news sites – people commented as if it were an actual event. On various social media outlets the story’s been shared nearly 400,000 times. I’d wager a good number are from folks who don’t see it for what it is: a complete fabrication.
I see fake things posted on Facebook all the time, not that it should come as a surprise. Whether it’s tales of Ebola victims returning as zombies, Breaking Bad returning for a sixth season, or the capture of a giant shark, there’s no shortage of people who get really passionate commenting about things that never happened or never will happen.
Comments from Christians were happy. Several saw this as an example of what so many Christians yearn for: extra proof. It was as if they wanted to scream, “Finally! Now will you unbelievers admit Christ actually existed?”
What struck me most was the part about the miracle.
Personally, I wrestle with miracles to begin with. Often I read the Bible as though the events happened today. Putting it in modern times helps me think about people’s reactions. It helps me understand how radical Jesus was. But miracles throw a monkey wrench into the scene. I can’t imagine them happening. It’s just too mind-boggling for me to picture.
If I were to actually see someone walk on water or raise the dead I’d instantly assume it was a trick – a magic act. Furthermore, if it proved to be authentic beyond any doubt I’d simply be freaked out. I don’t know how I’d react.
Wouldn’t seeing and believing a miracle be the greatest proof that Jesus was the son of God? How would I live my life differently if I had this kind of proof? Certainly it would be more powerful than faith.
Others wrestle with miracles too. Some go so far as to try to say when Jesus walked on water he was probably just on a sand bar or some such. Similarly, the stillborn resurrected by Christ in the false news story immediately faced comments suggesting Jesus performed CPR or maybe gave the infant a hard swat on the butt instead of Him actually performing a miracle.
But the problem with this is even if this false account were true it wouldn’t accomplish anything. It wouldn’t change anything. I’d still have troubles understanding miracles. Nobody would still be able to fathom God. People would still doubt whether Christ existed.
I suspect absolute proof of God would unsettle many Christians, myself included. Indeed, faith would be negated. You don’t believe what you know and you don’t know that which you believe. We would no longer be able to lie to ourselves as easily. Like the smoker who pushes lung cancer out of his mind, doubt keeps a lot of us from facing scripture as honestly as we ought.
I believe it’s intentional that we have little proof of Christ’s existence. I will continue to have my doubts. I will continue pondering miracles.