A death.... but not just any death. The death of the perfect Lamb of God. Put to death, not for His own sins, but for yours and mine.
He was laid in a tomb, but the tomb could not hold Him. Angels rolled away the stone so that those who came to the tomb could see that the tomb was empty.
Jesus had risen from the dead.
Some time around 1353-1357 historical records show that there began to be talk about a Shroud , a Shroud that bore an imprint of a crucified man. Whether this was the Shroud of Turin is debated but without controversy The Shroud of Turin can be traced back to the middle of the 16th century.
It has been said that it is the most important religious artifact and the fascination with it has not died down over the centuries.
That it is mysterious and unexplainable by science, even with today's technology and advanced knowledge, is undeniable.
Christians have long been intrigued with the idea that Jesus' burial cloth could supernaturally hold His image, created by the power of His resurrected body.
Books, films, documentaries have been written and distributed. Even You Tube offers visual proof of the enhanced image using new techniques.
The History Channel showed a new documentary this week ... "The Face of Jesus" , keeping the interest of people in the Shroud alive --- whether they are Christian or not.
But, I ask the question ... is it or is it not the burial cloth of Jesus? Can we know?
Really the answer is amazingly simple. A very obvious detail is overlooked by those who argue that the Shroud of Turin does indeed bear the image of Jesus and was His burial cloth.
We have in the gospel of John the account of Jesus' burial.
After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.
And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.
Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.
Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.
So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews' Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.
We see from this account that Jesus was not buried in a one-piece-Shroud. Jesus' body was bound with STRIPS of linen.
We also know that Jesus' had a separate cloth for His head...
Joh 20:7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.
It is noted in our John passage that Jesus was buried according to the Jewish customs. I did a bit of research to see what the customs were.
A body was wrapped with alternate layers of spices and strips of cloth. To use 100 pounds of spices meant many layers of wrapping . The head was not 'embalmed' with these strips of cloth and spices but the head was wrapped separately, and the face was usually left uncovered.
Our conclusions can be none other but that the Shroud of Turin is not the burial cloth of Jesus and therefore the image is of another crucified man.
Does it matter to our faith if the Shroud would or would not be Jesus' burial clothes? No, because we have scripture that we base our faith on.
What concerns me is how easily we are taken in by myths or speculation or deception. It is soo tempting to reach for the offered physical proof of our faith.
I have seen another circulating e-mail that claims a secret message was left by Jesus in the folding of His burial head napkin. The message is based on Jewish table customs at the time... that a folded napkin meant the person was coming back to the table - and the servant boy knew not to clear away his plate.
So when Jesus folded His napkin , He was leaving a secret message to His followers.. He was coming back. The secret message idea appeals to our love of intrigue and delights our senses. But here again , those who accept this speculative story as true ignore a very obvious fact.
Table napkins were not used until the middle ages... There was no ancient Jewish table custom that involved personal napkins - they used water.
I did find one article that described modern napkin etiquette. If a person wishes to leave the table and is coming back, he leaves his napkin on his chair. If he is finished eating and will not be returning he folds it loosely beside his plate. Perhaps this custom inspired the e-mail version .
This is a sobering/joyous week for us Christians. Jesus, our Messiah, the perfect God/Man came to earth to be The Way , The Truth and The Life. He was buried and He rose again to offer us eternal life in Him. We do not need His burial cloths, we do not need a secret message that indicates He is coming back.
We have the record... the angels said...
Act 1:11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."
and Jesus said so in His own words...
Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!