The Shroud of Turin
He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities…Isaiah 53:5
I had the opportunity to view a couple of very well done documentaries on the Shroud of Turin. Between the two films, a very clear, factual picture emerged that supported the authenticity of the relic that is claimed to be the burial shroud of the Messiah Jesus.
The documentaries showed that the carbon dating tests that were conducted to determine the age of the cloth were flawed. The tests originally revealed that the shroud was not authentic but had originated in the middle ages, therefore it could not be old enough to be Jesus’ burial cloth. The tests were done from a small clipping from one of the shroud’s corners. It was later discovered and confirmed, that the piece of cloth that had been taken from the shroud that the scientists had used to make their tests, was actually an addition to the original cloth. Apparently the relic had been damaged in the middle ages. Illustrations of the cloth being displayed at that time show the shroud being held up by the corners. Apparently one of the corners was torn and a very skillful repair job was accomplished, weaving dyed cotton threads into the original linen. Unfortunately the scientists chose the worst possible spot on the cloth to use in their experiment.
More tests need to be done to determine the cloth’s actual age, but the material has since been contaminated by a pesticide that would render any testing inaccurate. The only portion of the cloth that could be tested would be from one of the burned sections that is resistant to contamination. Permission would have to be granted from the Vatican, the official keeper of the cloth. There has always been opposition to the testing, and it is doubtful that the church will release the shroud again for further scrutiny. Some things just have to be accepted by faith. But, it was concluded by some being interviewed in the films, that while science could not verify the shroud’s authenticity, if all the evidence was presented in a court of law that supported the shroud’s link to Jesus, the determination would have to be that it was the burial shroud of the Messiah.
It has been verified that the cloth originally wrapped the actual body of a man that was crucified. Among other facts, the wound marks exactly match Jesus’ wounds as recorded in the Gospels.
The mysterious image on the shroud that is thought to be the face of Jesus, could not have been painted on, there is no pigment on the cloth whatsoever. It was determined that the image was transferred onto the cloth by radiation, moving across the corpse. The eyewitness accounts from the Scriptures testify of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The radiation most likely occurred when Jesus’ soul made His reentry into His body.
A profound point was made in one of the documentaries referring to the account from John’s gospel. When Mary Magdalene discovered that Jesus’ body was not in the tomb, her first impression was that someone had removed the corpse and she related this to John and Peter (John 20:2). The disciples ran to the tomb and saw the empty burial clothes and we are told that they “believed” (verses 5-8). What made the difference between Mary’s observation and theirs was that the men had time to study the appearance of the shroud, which is mentioned predominately in the text.
When a body was laid in linen as was the custom at the time, it was also wrapped around with strips of the cloth and evidence of this practice is also recorded on the shroud’s silent testimony. What the apostles saw was a shroud that was still intact, it had not been unwrapped, and yet it had been emptied; a clue for them to consider that something supernatural had occurred resulting in belief.
It was illustrated in one of the films that modern computer technology has enabled a realistic image to be reproduced from the shroud. Using data from the shroud, an astounding replica of Jesus’ face and wounded body was reproduced. The computer was able to locate and magnify the actual blood marks on the cloth, revealing the extent of the brutality that was inflicted upon the Lord.
The Scriptures tell us that before Jesus was crucified, Pilate instructed his soldiers to have the Lord scourged (John 19:1, Mark 15:15, Matthew 27:26). The wounds the computer image revealed on Jesus’ body, prompted those who viewed it to compare the damage to that of a victim of a violent car accident. Why was Jesus beaten so severely?
Pilate knew that Jesus was an innocent man (Matthew 27:19) and that He had been delivered for crucifixion by a jealous religious leadership (Matthew 27:18). He might have had Jesus beaten so severely hoping that when he presented Him to His accusers the sight of His wounds would produce some empathy in the Pharisees and influence them to let Him go. At the same time, Pilate may have wanted to reduce the amount of time Jesus had to endure suffering on the cross, and thus we contemplate the possibility that Pilate had Jesus scourged so severely, hoping maybe he would die from those afflictions or at least weaken Him enough to hasten His death. Jesus did die before the others who were crucified with Him, and the centurion did not have to break His legs (John 19:32,33).
But no matter how intense Jesus’ physical suffering was, nothing compared to the agony He experienced in those moments when the sins of all mankind were thrust upon His soul. That was the moment when the Holy Spirit that He had received after His baptism withdrew, causing Him to cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
The image of profound suffering that has been recorded upon the shroud is only a hint of the magnitude of the suffering that Jesus endured for the sake of the humanity He loves.
I believe the relic that was preserved for all these centuries, was engineered by God to remain until the time when modern technology could be used to physically illustrate the Gospel record and the words of the prophet Isaiah. –
Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:4,5).
As many were astonished at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider (Isaiah 52:14,15).
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He (Messiah) shall see His seed (those who would come to faith through Him) He (God) shall prolong His days, (a prophecy of the resurrection) and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand (Isaiah 53:10).
Therefore will I (God) divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong: (a prophecy of the second coming and His future reign with His elect, 'the strong’) because He has poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12).
We look upon Jesus’ wounds embedded on that ancient cloth, and we realize that they were inflicted upon God’s Son for one reason, and one reason only – to save you and me from exclusion from God’s kingdom and eternal spiritual death.
We stare at the blood stains, the scarlet witness on the shroud, now duplicated in a realistic reproduction of what Jesus’ brutalized corpse portrays and we realize we are beholding an eloquent and silent illustration of love. The witness of genuine love that Jesus died to reveal, a true selfless love, willing to be sacrificed for the welfare of others.
The wounded Lamb of God willingly laid down His life and submitted Himself to physical and spiritual torture that is beyond our mortal mind’s ability to comprehend. But at the same time, the love that empowered Jesus to endure what He did for us, returned again in a dazzling display of resurrected life to verify the fact that love had conquered death bringing hope to a sad and sin scarred humanity.
We can look upon the face recorded upon the Shroud of Turin and there is really is only one response a human soul can whisper in response, - “Thank You, Jesus.”
Copyright 2017 by H.D. Shively