For the benefit of those who haven’t read the first Eye of Prophecy article in this two-part series, here’s an excerpt from the very beginning of the previous post (in italics):

What on earth is the Shroud of Turin?

What do you know about it?

(1) Nothing at all. (2) A little. (3) More than a little. (4) A lot.

Turin is a place: A city in Italy.

Definitions of shroud that pertain to the Shroud of Turin: “…to cover for protection … to dress for burial” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).

I then cited part of the introduction to a You Tube video of the 2017 National Geographic program entitled: Is It Real? The Shroud of Turin. As follows (in italics):

“The 53-square-foot rectangle of linen known as the Shroud of Turin is one of the most sacred religious icons on Earth, venerated by millions of Christians as the actual burial garment of Jesus Christ. It is also among the most fiercely debated subjects in contemporary science, an extraordinary mystery that has defied every effort at solution.

“The sum result is a standoff, with researchers unable to dismiss the shroud entirely as a forgery or prove that it is authentic. ‘It is unlikely science will provide a full solution to the many riddles posed by the shroud,’ Italian physicist Paolo Di Lazzaro, a leading expert on the phenomenon, told National Geographic. ‘A leap of faith over questions without clear answers is necessary—either the faith of skeptics or the faith of believers.’”

Followed by my observation:

This is a startling statement from a scientist (physicist). Especially his concession that science itself is not sufficient to solve the status of the Shroud of Turin….

I then presented the threefold purpose (mission) for that article and today’s Eye of Prophecy post:

(1) Challenge the Conventional World View of Faith with a Biblical View

(2) Resulting in a Decisive Answer from the Most Reliable Source of All, Whether the Shroud of Turin is the Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ

(3) Leading To a Special Substitution for the Shroud with a Far More Significant Subject of Eternal Value

Some of the key arguments for and against the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin were pinpointed in that article, preceded by a somewhat daring statement as contained in the next two paragraphs. With the first paragraph (especially the words in bold) pertaining primarily to Point (2). With the 2nd paragraph applying to Point (3).

My current view regarding the excessive emphasis on this continuing debate is that both sides of the cloth coin haven’t relied on or even adequately consulted the original source and highest authority. This authoritative source provides an indisputable resolution to the disputed evidence or testing or interpretation of that evidence—be it physical (physics), forensic medical, photographic image analysis, biological, chemical, material (of the shroud itself), or rules of handling the evidence.

…Neither side has been granted victory in terms of positively proving their arguments. Today’s Eye of Prophecy article will set the stage; the next article (Part II) will then offer a final finding that should eliminate the debate over the Shroud of Turin. And, in so doing, a much bigger picture and a more superior subject will justifiably lower the Shroud’s status to a more appropriate level.

(Carbon 14 tests on a small Shroud fragment dated it from 1260 to 1390 A.D. Which was the main argument against the Shroud’s authenticity)

After identifying the pros and cons in the prior article, I made a straightforward statement regarding the ongoing debate over the Shroud’s legitimacy. As follows (in italics):

Yet, the primary reason for the still raging controversy is that there are conflicting interpretations of the evidence. What is factual to one side is not necessarily so to the opposing side….

Is there, then, any supreme source—scientific, historical, archeological, textual, and/or biographical—that could render a definitive decision, reliable resolution, and supreme settlement to the still pending mystery of and debate over the Shroud of Turin?

I’m convinced that the answer to that question is a resounding, YES.

Next is a brief review of Point/Purpose #1 from the prior article. Then the remainder of today’s post will provide compelling confirmation to support the “Yes” answer.

(1) Challenge the Conventional World View of Faith with a Biblical View

Beginning with an excerpt from the last article regarding the rationale for this challenge (contrast):

In the context of the Shroud of Turin, this examination of faith stems from the … quote by physicist Paolo Di Lazzaro… “A leap of faith over questions without clear answers is necessary—either the faith of skeptics or the faith of believers.”

In general terms, leap of faith is or can be synonymous with blind faith.

However, I don’t believe that a Biblical view (faith of believers) in general or the Biblical view on any given subject requires a leap of faith, nor is it blind faith.

After relating the more traditional things that people place their faith (trust, belief, loyalty) in, such as religions and political systems, I identified the more contemporary non-traditional mindset of many people, especially the younger generation. As follows:

Everyone believes in something and/or someone, even if it’s themselves—which is rapidly becoming the norm in our post-modern world. Included in the spurning of anything religious and relying on one’s feelings to arbitrarily set their own standards of truth, morality, and all things existential is the belief that, “what is true for you may not be true for me.” In fact, many have sadly reached the conclusion that there is no such thing as absolute truth or anything absolute.

…In summary of the prevailing worldview, there is an increasing reliance on feelings more than faith, or faith in those feelings. Just “have faith.” Faith in what? Their answer: “That’s up to the individual.” Which God certainly allows for every person who has ever lived … free choice. But as the Bible clearly states in several passages: the ultimate destiny-determining choices are between truth and lies, good and evil, eternal life and eternal death … heaven or hell.

I also expressed emphatically that true Christianity is not a religion:

…Reason: The Christian faith is completely based on and in a Person; not some religious system, or central organized church, or ecclesiastical hierarchy. It is the only creed that has a Savior. Trusting this Savior for who he is and what he has done for humanity that we could not do for ourselves—a substitutionary sacrificial death for our ugly sins.

And then the Bible’s dynamic description of faith: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV).

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Followed by: Neither in the definition of faith (verse 1) nor in the personal trust in a Personal God (verse 6) does it declare or infer that this faith is a blind faith that requires a “leap of faith” because allegedly there is little or no proof scientifically or objectively that God exists.

To the contrary it’s quite easy to believe in the existence of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—because of the extraordinary existential evidence above, below, and all around us.

After providing a few examples of our heroes of faith in Hebrews Chapter 11 (Hall of Faith), the previous article states: Notice how each of these passages connect faith with God … trust in the Lord which leads to agreement with and obedience to God’s Word and Way.

Under the Old Covenant, trust in God the Father was crucial to righteousness being credited to that person by God himself. That and expectant belief in the coming Messiah, whom King David recognized as the very Son of God (Psalm 2 & Psalm 110).

Under the New Covenant:

I then ended the sub-heading portion of the previous article (The Christian Faith is Not a Blind Faith) by stating:

With the New Covenant promised by God through the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:33-34), implemented by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Lord’s new Way for the Jews and then to the Gentiles is faith in His Son—Jesus. The innocent for the guilty, the just for the unjust, the righteous for the unrighteous!

In that article under the Things to Ponder section that concludes every Eye of Prophecy article, I wrote:

The next Eye of Prophecy article (Part II) will present what I believe to be a final resolution to the intriguing issue and ongoing debate: whether the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. However, in that article as in today’s post, the (by far) bigger picture of the crucified and risen Christ (Messiah) remains the pivotal point, instead of the burial cloth or clothes that covered him. And for only three days at that!

This review of Biblical faith (in God and the Son of God) provides a helpful transition to Point/Purpose #2 of today’s post.

(2) Resulting in a Decisive Answer from the Most Reliable Source of All, Whether the Shroud of Turin is the Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ

To repeat the challenging question: Is there, then, any supreme source—scientific, historical, archeological, textual, and/or biographical—that could render a definitive decision, reliable resolution, and supreme settlement to the still pending mystery of and debate over the Shroud of Turin?

Stay tuned and decide for yourself.

A few weeks ago, I was tuned into a Smithsonian Channel documentary on the Shroud of Turin. For the most-part that show was like past programs, with exception of placing more emphasis on treating the Shroud of Turin as a 13th or 14th century possible work of art. To replicate and venerate the original Shroud of Jesus Christ … instead of a deliberate forgery.

As with other Shroud documentaries before, I watched with a moderate degree of interest; still uncertain if the evidence favored the ayes or nays.

Then, near the end of the show, it hit me. Hard.

Hard enough that I couldn’t imagine it hadn’t occurred to me long before. Going all the way back to the first televised program on the Shroud of Turin—1978.

It was one of those eureka moments. More like an epiphany.

Not in the “divine appearance” meaning of epiphany.

Rather: “sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something; an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event), simple and striking; an illuminating discovery … a revealing scene or moment” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).

I blurted out to my wife who was watching the show with me and who knew more than just a little about the Shroud, “Honey, the Shroud of Turin is NOT the burial cloth of Christ.”

It had been there all along. How could I have missed it or not matched it up by now.

It was a matter of not seeing the forest (the source or sphere of the solution) for the trees (one tree of facts after another, after another) that spiked my interest but also shrouded the obvious and decisive answer.

I knew what Scripture said but needed to read the passage as a reminder; to confirm the conclusion once and for all. I couldn’t get to my Bible fast enough.

Here it is … the tiebreaker!

“Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, ‘They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’

“Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead” (John 20:1-9, italics for strong emphasis; underlined to emphasize that in addition to the head cloth there were other “wrappings”—plural).

[*Note: Not only didn’t the disciples understand (retain, remember) the Old Testament prophecies concerning the crucifixion death of Jesus and his spectacular resurrection (Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, and other passages). They had also forgotten and or dismissed out of hand Jesus himself telling them on at least three occasions that he would be (falsely) arrested, (illegally) tried, (unjustly) convicted, (savagely) beaten, and (ruthlessly) crucified. But after three days he would rise from the dead!]

Solving the Puzzle

Back to the Shroud of Turin. Have you got it yet? If not, that’s okay, although the italicized phrase in the above passage contains a strong clue. As an avid reader/student/teacher of the Scriptures, I should have solved the perplexing puzzle of the Shroud long ago.

As quoted earlier in today’s article: “The 53-square-foot rectangle of linen known as the Shroud of Turin is one of the most sacred religious icons on Earth, venerated by millions of Christians as the actual burial garment of Jesus Christ….

As found in the online site Wikipedia: “The shroud is rectangular, measuring approximately 4.4 by 1.1 meters (14 ft 5 in x 3 ft 7 in).” Which approximates the 53-square-foot overall size of the Shroud.

However, the most fateful fact of all is that the Shroud of Turin is a rectangular solid piece of linen which bears the imprint of a man from head to foot! In addition to a photograph in the previous article, here is another photograph of the Shroud to verify that it is a one-piece unit of linen.

Yet, John in his Gospel account of Jesus’s miraculous resurrection states explicitly what he (the other disciple) and Peter saw. Not one continuous burial cloth from head to foot. Rather, the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings.

In the televised and online videos of the Shroud of Turin that I had viewed over the years, not once do I recall anyone (for or against the Shroud’s authenticity) cite the Bible, i.e., John’s description of what he and Peter witnessed in the empty tomb early that Sunday morning.

Followed later that day by Jesus’s stunning appearance to the disciples.

To be sure, I might have missed it during one of the many interviews or during the narrator’s descriptions. However, at the very least, the account in John’s Gospel should have been mentioned on several occasions during the Shroud documentaries.

Frankly, there’s only one explanation—with two different sources and motives—why scholars, scientists, theologians, technicians and other professionals participating in the Shroud of Turin research and media programs rarely (or not at all, not even the Vatican) point out the Biblical account of the burial garments: Few, if any, are willing to defer to the Bible as the most reliable and authoritative source to deliver the decisive answer (resolution) to the question of the Shroud.

First Source: The primary reason/motive for the secular (non-Christian) position is that science should be the sole source of solution; (certainly) not the Biblical account. Ironically, dissenters to the Shroud’s legitimacy have referred to the Gospel’s lack of information that the burial cloths displayed a (supernatural) imprint of the body of the risen Lord. This is typical of unbelievers and even some Christians (in name only): In cafeteria style, they selectively pick and choose what historical chronicles and supernatural events in the Bible to believe or not to believe.

Second Source: Sadly, believers who support the supposition that the Shroud of Turin was the burial cloth of Christ have infrequently or not at all deferred to John’s Gospel, apparently because they could not or would not summon the courage to credit or even consider Scripture as the final authority. Or, perhaps they had forgotten (like me for a while) or didn’t even know that John’s Gospel provides more specific evidence concerning the burial wrappings than do the other three Gospels.

There is one notable person who relied on John’s Gospel exclusively (as I am now doing) to decisively declare that the Turin shroud could not be Jesus’s burial garments: the 16th century theologian John Calvin.

Referring to Wikipedia’s excerpt from Calvin’s book of 1543 entitled Treatise on Relics, his reasoning was historically and biblically documented and had to do with the way in which Jews enshrouded their dead. Quoting John Calvin:

“What that manner was may be learned, not only from the Jews, by whom it is still observed, but also from their books, which explain what the ancient practice was. It was this: The body was wrapped up by itself as far as the shoulders, and then the head by itself was bound round with a napkin, tied by the four corners, into a knot. And this is expressed by the Evangelist, when he says that Peter saw the linen clothes in which the body had been wrapped lying in one place, and the napkin which had been wrapped about the head lying in another. The term napkin may mean either a handkerchief employed to wipe the face, or it may mean a shawl, but never means a large piece of linen in which the whole body may be wrapped….”

(Portrait/Painting of John Calvin, Born July 1509 … Died May 1564)

The Apostle John also wrote: “Following Jewish burial custom, they (Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus) wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth” (John 19:40, parenthesis mine). Not only was the head covering (John 20:7) a separate piece of cloth, the body covering came in sheets (plural) of linen … not one continuous shroud.

Therefore, based (partially) on the documented burial practice of Jews long before, during, and after Jesus lived, died, and rose again, but fully (exclusively) on the power and authority of God’s Word, the Bible, I can and will declare decisively that Scripture is the most reliable source of all to determine that the Shroud of Turin is NOT the burial garment of Jesus Christ.

In fact, this source has done and will continue to do far more than deciding the disputes over a relic. The Bible consistently counsels, clarifies, correlates, and corrects (when necessary) matters of morality, the origin/purpose of life, and our destiny. A source of the highest authority that has established absolute universal laws (both physical and spiritual) that define and then distinguish between morality and immorality, truth and lies, fact and fiction, good and evil.

Three Primary Proofs of Scripture’s Incomparable Accuracy & Authority

(A) The Amazing (Meticulous) Details of People, Places, and Events: Unmatched in any other so-called sacred writings. Numerous biographies which are considered the most accurate source of historical records. Including the greatest autobiography: that of God Himself, who spoke countless times to people in the first person. Many archeological finds have proven the accuracy, authenticity, and, therefore, authority of Biblical accounts. Not one archeological find has disproved Scripture.

(B) Hundreds of Marvelous Miracles Performed by the Triune God … Father, Son, Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments: Using just two examples in each Testament, both involving water. Old Testament: God parting the Red Sea, “standing the water up like walls” for the Jews to cross on dry land. Abruptly stopping the Jordan River (at flood stage) to allow Joshua and the Israelites to cross into the Promised Land. New Testament: Jesus turning water into wine, then walking on water (Sea of Galilee). Man-made religions have virtually no miracles of any kind, let alone the magnificent miracles found in the Bible.

(C) Hundreds of Fulfilled Prophecies—100 % Accuracy: This is a fact that is both absolute and astounding. With some prophecies fulfilled just a few hours, days, or weeks after the prediction. Others a few months or years. And some decades or centuries or millennia later. The two most numerous prophecies (fulfilled) are those involving the First Advent of Messiah (birth, life, death, burial, resurrection of Jesus Christ). And even more (yet unfulfilled) predictions of Messiah’s Second Coming. Also, the remarkable rebirth of the State of Israel accompanied by the (foretold) stunning return of Jews from the four corners of the earth.

I have positively no reservation whatsoever in placing my entire faith in Scripture. Thereby, entrusting my irreversible salvation and guaranteed eternal destiny in the inerrant accuracy and authority of the Bible and in the Triune God of the Bible.

With due respect to those who have spent a considerable amount of time and effort (research, media interviews, writings) to either defend or challenge the authenticity of the Shroud as the burial cloth of Jesus, isn’t it time to defer to and depend on the most reliable source and the highest authority—the Bible?

I, for one, am going to lay the Shroud of Turin to rest by resting completely on the accuracy and authority of God’s Word.

(3) Leading To a Special Substitution for the Shroud with a Far More Significant Subject of Eternal Value

As indicated, too much emphasis has been placed on the Shroud itself which has diminished and even obscured what should be the real focus—the Person of Jesus Christ. To recognize, revere, and remember the resurrection of the Person instead of the burial cloth. I should say: burial cloths (plural).

We’ve already looked at a portion of John’s Gospel; now let’s read more fascinating facts of the resurrection presented by Luke in his Gospel account. That’s the beneficial beauty of the biography of the Son of God recorded by four different authors. Although several of the chronicled events in the life of Christ are harmonious (especially in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke—Synoptic gospels), there are differences or additions … particularly in John’s Gospel. Which in no way even implies that one or more of the Gospels are inaccurate or that they conflict one with another.

It’s no different than four journalists reporting on the same person, place, episode, or sequence of events. Although there would be similarities in their narratives, there would almost always be noticeable variations. Why? Because each reporter would emphasize certain highlights of what was seen and/or heard. But that doesn’t mean that any of the reports were untrue, either deliberately or inadvertently.

“But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood their puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.

“The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground.

“Then the men asked, ‘Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! HE IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD!’” (Luke 24:1-6a, italics and upper-case letters for strong emphasis).

During his 3 ½ years of ministry throughout the Promised Land of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth performed many miracles, including raising some (like Lazarus) from the dead. At which time he told Lazarus’ sister Martha, “…I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25).

However, Jesus’ resurrection was the greatest of all because his (unwrapped) new glorified body would from then on be ETERNAL. He has always been from everlasting to everlasting, but not in human form until his birth, life, death, burial, and stupendous resurrection from the dead.

The Apostle John begins his Gospel with this magnificent introduction of the LIVING WORD OF GOD:

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him” (John 1:1-3, italics for emphasis that Jesus is not only the Son of God, but also is God the Son).

The bodily resurrection of Messiah Jesus proved that he is who he said he is. Neither the tomb nor the stone rolled in place, nor the Roman soldiers could contain him.

The blood-stained linen cloths and the separate napkin-like cloth were left behind as further proof that he had risen.

Near the end of his Gospel, John summarizes the epic record of Jesus’s life with this remarkable reflection:

“The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you many continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name” (John 20:30-31).

And the final verse in John’s Gospel: “Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25).

Read with me this glorious beginning to the terrific transitional (Old Covenant to New Covenant) book of Hebrews written through inspiration of the Holy Spirit by a 1st century Jewish believer in Jesus as the promised Messiah and Savior.

“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names” (Hebrews 1:1-4).

It summarizes Point/Purpose #3: What/who is infinitely more significant and eternally of more value than a burial garment; or any other relic … like the so-called “Holy Grail” of the Last Supper. What matters forever is that Jesus (Son of God) has “cleansed us from our sins” by his death, burial, and resurrection and is sitting “in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.”

Things to Ponder

Speaking of the Son of God and of angels, Christmas is drawing near. Let’s rejoice in the astonishing announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary:

“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!

“Mary asked the angel, ‘But how can this happen? I am a virgin.’

“The angel replied, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God’” (Luke 1:31-35).

Which triumphantly confirms the powerful and precious promise given by the Lord to/through the prophet Isaiah hundreds of years earlier:

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Then later an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and said, “…do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).

And may we never forget the amazing angelic announcement to shepherds at the birth of Jesus:

“…I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! … Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased’” (Luke 2:10-11 &13-14).

Do you want to be among those with whom God is pleased?

Then trust the Word of God and the God of the Word: “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Under the New Covenant, our faith is not only that God the Father exists but that he will reward us with the greatest gift of all—salvation and eternal life through God’s beloved Son, Jesus.

So great a salvation is a gift: it is not earned by anything we do.

Rather: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved… For ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Romans 10:9-10 & 13, verse 13 citing Joel 2:32).

In all circumstances believers in Messiah Jesus need to:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB).