Shrouded With Ignorance
Acts 2:26-27 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: (27) Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Note to the Reader: This article is deliberately written with holy mockery in the spirit of Elijah on Mt. Carmel (1KI 18:28) to prick the hearts of the disobedient to cast down their vain imaginations and bring their thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2CO 10:4-5). The Easter season has come upon us. The annual spring festival in honor of the fertility goddess Astarte again gave public school children a vacation from their indoctrination and most Christians a vacation from good sense. For a Bible believer, this time of year is a trip through Alice's looking glass into a topsy-turvy world. There, the Cheshire cat is still smiling but only because he is stifling a derisive laugh. For what to his wondering eyes should appear but a spectacle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ being celebrated with vestigial elements of pagan fertility rites. In this Theater of the Absurd, rabbits lay colored eggs and distribute them from baskets for children to gather from off the ground like so much Leporine manna. The “faithful” face the rising sun in worship after the manner of the heathen (EZE 8:13-18). And magically, one day and two nights (Friday sunset through Sunday sunrise) is the very same thing as three days and three nights (MAT 12:39-40). Added to this bizarre bazaar is a worldwide reacquaintance with the famous Shroud of Turin which is purported to have been the burial cloth of the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the most prized relics of the Roman Catholic church (Pope Paul VI said that it was “the greatest relic in Christendom.”), the Shroud of Turin is a single cloth fourteen feet long, three feet wide and which bears the image of an apparently wounded, long-haired, heavy-bearded man. It first turned up in France in the mid-fourteenth century (an era characterized by Catholic superstitious excesses) and eventually wound up in Turin, Italy where it remains today. It is revered as authentic by millions but it is exposed as a fraud by the Bible. The Holy See pronounces it a great relic; the Holy Spirit denounces it with great relish. It has been conjectured that the image in the Shroud is due to the decomposition of the body of Christ. This is not to suggest that all of the Shroud's supporters hold to this idea. But to those who do, our featured text speaks plainly. Christ's flesh saw no corruption! Corruption is what properly describes the Shroud and its promoters, not the body of Jesus. To its supporters, the Shroud's facial image bears an incredible likeness to the many Catholic pictures of the face of Jesus Christ. The common picture of Christ is that of a good-looking dude who looks like he could be the love-child of Yanni and Michelle Pfeiffer with those high cheekbones, doe-eyes and long hair. The Shroud's image is very similar, but with eyes closed. But the Bible teaches that: 1) Jesus Christ had short hair. He is God Who cannot lie (TIT 1:2) and with Whom is “...no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (JAM 1:17). He is consistent with His own law Who inspired Paul to tell us that long hair is a shame for a man (1CO 11:14). Whereas a Nazarite man could have long hair, he could not drink wine (NUM 6:1-5). Jesus made wine (JOH 2:1-11) and, unlike the Nazarite John the Baptist, drank wine (LUK 7:33-34). Jesus was no Nazarite, nor a hippie. 2) Jesus Christ was likely not particularly handsome. The prophet Isaiah described Him, “...he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (ISA 53:2). Even if Isaiah was only describing the brutalized, crucified Christ, the supposed image of that Christ in the Shroud still shows some beauty. But Isaiah saw Jesus as having no form, no comeliness, no beauty. The Shroud is likely a case of art imitating art. The Shroud's image is that of a man in still fair condition. But Isaiah also prophesied that the Savior's visage (face) was “...marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (ISA 52:14). Oxford English Dictionary shows that “mar” here means “...mangle, disfigure.” The Savior's face would have had to be virtually unrecognizable. Roman soldiers beat His face to create that grotesquely distorted image (MAT 26:67; LUK 22:64), even smiting his cheek with a rod (MIC 5:1 c/w MAT 27:30). Whoever is depicted in the Shroud is not the Christ of Scripture. The Shroud depicts a man with considerable facial hair remaining. But the Spirit depicts Christ as having had his beard pulled out violently: “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (ISA 50:6). The Shroud is a one-piece cloth on which is an image of both body and head. But Jesus was buried with His body wrapped in a linen cloth and His head covered with a napkin (JOH 20:5-7). There were separate cloths! The napkin for Jesus' head was folded and laid separately after His resurrection. Jesus' burial was according to Jewish custom (JOH 19:40) and comparative study shows that the Jews had earlier buried Lazarus “...bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin” (JOH 11:44). By these three strikes, the Shroud is out! May God's people who are wrapped in a shroud of Mystery Babylon's darkness and ignorance, held captive by seducing spirits (1TI 4:1) be set free by the truth of the Holy Spirit Who calls unto them, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (REV 18:4).