Have you ever wanted to share your Christian faith with a friend of yours but didn't know how to go about it? If you have had that experience, then join the club! Most of us (maybe almost all) have been in that situation, too.
The good news is that there is an easy way to share your faith. You can do so in a way that doesn't probe into what other people know or believe. You can share your faith with a personal friend, a Facebook friend, or anyone else, by just telling them about something exciting that they don't already know. Believe it or not, everybody likes to learn new things.
You can easily pull out various single pieces of information from this article, condense them into sound bites, and post them individually on social media with a link to this website or one of the videos. As you will see, this information is so exciting that it should arouse curiosity in others and do so in a way that will open up opportunities for you to tell them much more!
This article will describe a discovery that has been scrutinized extensively by the world of science and at the same time points to the gospel message of Jesus, the Savior. It also gives solid reasons for believing that the message of Jesus is true. We are speaking here of a historical artifact, a real object, that strongly suggests that Jesus really did rise from the dead. This artifact is known as the Shroud of Turin. It's a rectangular linen cloth measuring 14.3 feet long by 3.7 feet wide. There are significant indications that this is the actual linen cloth that covered the body of Jesus from the time of his burial until his resurrection.
You can point out that the evidence for the authenticity of the Shroud is really quite overwhelming. It is virtually certain that on this linen cloth we have an actual photograph of someone who was killed by crucifixion, someone who was killed in or around Jerusalem at a time that coincides with the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth. The most reasonable explanation for this photograph is that it pictures Jesus in the tomb—a photograph that apparently occurred the moment he rose from the dead. The photograph looks to have been produced by an energy source unknown to modern science, energy coming from inside the body itself, energy that was released when the body of Jesus was transformed from a dead body into a living body with far different qualities than it had previously. There is no known scientific explanation for how the image on the Shroud was formed, or even how it could have been formed. (Full length pictures of the Shroud of Turin are available online here, as well as at many other locations that may be found by an image search for the Shroud of Turin).
National Geographic/Getty Images [Used by permission.]
All four gospels say that a linen cloth was used to wrap the body of Jesus after the crucifixion. Luke, for example, said: He [Joseph of Arimathea] took it [the body] down and wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid (Luke 23:53).
(The Shroud is referred to as the "Shroud of Turin" because it is housed at Turin, Italy, in the chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist.)
As mentioned, the linen cloth bears the image of a man who was killed by crucifixion. And it is significant that the image on the Shroud is much clearer in the black-and-white negative of the photograph than in its natural sepia color.
This negative image of the Shroud was first observed in 1898 on the reverse photographic plate of photographer Secondo Pia, the first person to photograph the Shroud and who did so while it was being exhibited in the Turin Cathedral.
There are numerous compelling reasons that point to the Shroud as being the actual burial cloth of Jesus. Some of the reasons follow:
- As Secondo Pia was developing his negatives, he was amazed to see a positive image emerge from his film. (A negative of a negative photograph gives a positive image.) Since it would have been impossible to fake a photographic negative long before the world had any knowledge of photography, there can be no doubt that the Shroud contains an actual negative, an actual photograph. As a result, the allegation that the Shroud is a painting or fake of some sort is now known to be false.
- The Shroud demonstrates that the person was crucified with nails through his wrists, not hands. It has only recently become known that the flesh in a person's hands cannot bear the weight necessary for crucifixion; for that reason nails were driven through the wrists. This means that the Shroud is historically accurate even though all the paintings and other art works of the crucifixion made during the middle-ages and up until only a few years ago are inaccurate in this regard. (The Greek and Aramaic words for hands can also refer to the wrists.)
- The energy source for the photograph must have come from within the body itself, one reason being that there are no shadows on the photograph, as would have happened with external lighting. There are other significant scientific indications that the energy that produced the image on the shroud must have come from within the body.
- Close inspection of the image on the Shroud reveals that it is an X-ray image as well as a photographic image. Skeletal features can be observed. Again, the energy source for the image must have come from within the body, and the source of this energy has no known scientific explanation.
- Pollen grains on the Shroud, which match certain plant-bearing flowers also pictured on the Shroud, when taken as a whole, match plants that only existed in and around Jerusalem. They bloom at the time of the crucifixion. These clearly identified plants as a group are known to exist nowhere else in the world.
- Written records of the Solarium (the linen cloth that was used to cover Jesus' head from the time of his death to his burial) go back to the first century and to Jerusalem. The Gospel of John states that after the resurrection there were two cloths—apparently the Shroud and the Solarium—seen left there in the tomb (John 20:6,7). Scientific study of these two linen cloths has revealed that they are stained with same blood type and that the stains are the same shapes and are in the same places on both cloths. These two linen cloths must have covered the same body. There is no image on the Solarium, however, as it would have been removed when the larger linen cloth was used to cover the body.
- Some of the pollen grains on the Shroud are from a plant that grows in Palestine and is known for its sharp thorns. Those pollen grains are especially numerous around the head of the image on the Shroud, apparently left there by the crown of thorns.
- As mentioned above, the Solarium and the Shroud have separate histories, but the blood type and pattern of blood stains and other body fluids all match. For this reason it is evident that we have two independent but complementary lines of historical records that confirm the authenticity of the Shroud.
- The man pictured on the Shroud had been whipped with a scourge before he was crucified. That was not the common practice in Roman crucifixions. Why would they whip someone they were about to kill? It would be waste of their time and energy. We know, however, that Jesus was scourged by Pilate in the hope that the crowd would have pity on him so Pilate could release him. In addition, the man pictured on the Shroud had been crowned with a cap of thorns. The chances of any other man killed by Roman crucifixion matching these details is extremely remote.
Numerous other factual indications of the Shroud's genuineness in addition to those briefly mentioned above, can be observed. Many books, periodicals and internet sites describe this evidence in considerable detail. Numerous YouTube videos available on-line do so as well, such as "Shroud of Turin...The New Evidence", and "Shroud Encounter."
Does this mean the Shroud has been scientifically proven to be the burial cloth of the Christ? It does not. Science can rule out explanations according to the manner in which the natural world operates. Science, however, cannot prove a miracle in that miracles operate outside of the way nature usually works. Science now has no explanation for the image on the Shroud. Keep in mind, however, that a miracle can be properly defined as a significant event for which no scientific explanation exists. Miracles are ultimately a matter of faith.
Note: We should also recognize that a few years ago a carbon-14 test was used to date the Shroud. That dating indicated that the linen cloth was made in the 13th or 14th Centuries AD. A careful study of that dating process, however, revealed that the piece of cloth that was used for dating had been taken from a corner of the cloth that had been spliced into the main cloth to repair damage from a fire. There is at least one peer-reviewed professional journal article by one of the experts in the relevant fields which demonstrates that the piece of cloth that was used for the carbon-14 dating was indeed from a 14th century repair. This being the case, there is no known evidence that the Shroud is anything other than the burial cloth of Jesus the Christ. This also means that the cloth bearing the image is considerably older than the 14th Century AD.
This information on the Shroud is part of a discipline known as "Christian apologetics," which is the study of the question: How do we know that Christianity is true? More information on apologetics can be found in two of my books in the field available online.
[ editor's note: Here are two of Allen Quist's writings. Check Amazon for Many Convincing Proofs, and the Lutheran Science Institute for Apologetics in Lutheranism at the Bjarne Wollan Teigen Reformation Lectures at Bethany Lutheran College and Seminary, Mankato, MN. ]
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