Shrouded With Ignorance
(Acts 2:26) Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: (Acts 2:27) Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. The Easter season with its days of Lent, fish, eggs, rabbits, etc. has come and gone again. But good protein does not equate with good doctrine. Christians can and should rejoice in the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave: that was, after all, the triumphant finish of their salvation by Him “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (ROM 4:25). How much better would that rejoicing be if His resurrection were honored as He intended: sinners in baptism undergoing a temporary burial in water, dying to sin and rising again to walk in newness of life (ROM 6:1-6)! The Roman Catholic church and her Protestant Pedobaptist daughters long ago dispensed with Biblical baptism of penitent believers by immersion in water, though that mode was recognized by them. For example, the Catholic St. Joseph Confraternity Version Bible says of ROM 6:3-4, “St. Paul alludes to the manner in which Baptism was ordinarily conferred in the primitive Church, by immersion. The descent into the water is suggestive of the descent of the body into the grave, and the ascent is suggestive of the resurrection to a new life.” Having corrupted the one visible form God gave to commemorate Christ's resurrection, a blend of pagan and superstitious tradition was substituted for it (Easter and all its auxiliaries). Carnal man will invariably choose a carnal festival over spiritual truth and duty, for “...they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh...” (ROM 8:5). The resurrection of Jesus Christ is confirmed “...by many infallible proofs...” (ACT 1:3). Those proofs do not include the famous Shroud of Turin which is purported to have been His burial cloth. 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. It is revered as authentic by millions but it is exposed as a fraud by the Bible. The (so-called) 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 a term more befitting the Shroud's promoters, not the body of Jesus. To its supporters, the Shroud's facial image bears a likeness to the many “artists’ conceptions” of the face of Jesus Christ. The common picture of Christ is that of a good-looking metrosexual with high cheekbones, doe-eyes and long hair. The Shroud's image is similar, but with eyes closed. But the Bible teaches that 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. The Bible teaches that 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 still in 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 likely been 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 which was found lying separate from the cloth: (John 20:5) And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. (John 20:6) Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, (John 20:7) And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 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). 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).