The Shroud and Faith

Yesterday was Resurrection Day [Easter to many]. On Saturday evening, I had the opportunity to watch a special on the History Channel on the Shroud of Turin.

I don’t know how many in my reading audience are knowledgeable about the Shroud, but as you can see on the left, it is the image of a man who was wrapped in a burial shroud. If you could see all the details, you would realize this man was scourged over all his body, his head shows profuse bleeding circling the entire head, and he was crucified. In addition, there is a special wound on one side that easily could have been made by a spear.

Every detail, in other words, mirrors the Biblical description of the treatment Jesus received.

A closeup of the face reveals a man of Jewish origin. In fact, the face is similar to all the depictions of Jesus through the ages.

Naturally, the Shroud is a center of controversy. I have a couple of books on it, which I read a number of years ago. At one point, scientists concluded that carbon-14 dating placed it as no earlier than the 13th century. The dating itself has generated controversy, as the methods used to come to that conclusion are suspect.

As the two-hour special showed, there is no adequate scientific explanation for how the image imprinted itself on the Shroud. It is not painted or drawn. The closeup you see here is only achieved by using a negative from a photograph. Scientists are stumped.

Meanwhile, in contradiction to the supposed dating, historical evidence exists that puts the shroud well before the 13th century, and material has been found on it that comes from a plant unique to Israel.

There is almost no possibility that any medieval genius could have forged this–we can’t even do it today with all our technological advances.

The special covered all the history and the controversies surrounding the Shroud. It then focused on a team that used the latest computer programs to create a 3-D image of the man on the Shroud. When that image is complete, it’s quite stunning. What we see before us is what this man would have looked like in real life.

He looks exactly like Jesus, as we have always pictured Him. It’s a little eerie, but profoundly moving.

The Shroud of Turin does not provide the basis of my Christian faith. I will believe whether it is genuine or not. However, the probability of this being the burial Shroud of Jesus is high, considering all the evidence. While I must stop short of declaring absolute certainty, I must admit I believe I was gazing into the face of the One who suffered and died for me.

Someday I hope to see that face—face to face.