The media is abuzz with a “godly” sort of news. The renowned Shroud of Turin is on exhibition once again. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Turin, Italy, which has housed the 14 foot by four foot linen, reputed burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth… for more than 500 years within the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist… has given away over one million tickets for the first public viewing of the shroud in nearly ten years. Once more the subtle, yet remarkable image of the body of a crucified man bearing the wounds of torture suffered by the Lord Jesus as recorded in the Scriptures will be on display between April 10 and May 23. Perhaps as usual, the curious will observe, the skeptics will debunk, and the believers will weep as they behold the sacred relic. It is well known that years of debate surround every millimeter of its’ warp and woof. By separating the stains of blood, dirt and water, men have endeavored to somehow “get to the root “of it so as to finally answer their scientific questions… putting in some semblance of order... the when, where, how and why of the history of the ancient fabric. Is it a forgery? Who or what created the image… was it the power of the resurrection or merely the paintbrush of a medieval religious zealot at best… or a greedy entrepreneur at worst? What about carbon dating? Was it faulty during the first go-round as purported? Perhaps it should be carbon dated again… all is still up for debate.But now the plot has thickened. Yes, I believe that the waters have been muddied. Science has gone farther than I imagined. Masterfully and scientifically the image on the shroud has been studied and pierced by the world of computer graphics. After months of analysis and research an impressive 3D picture… down to pores and eyebrows… a spellbinding image… has been wrest (as it were) from the fabric.On March 30, 2010 the History Channel released the documentary “The Face of the Real Jesus” in the United States. As I sat spellbound, the “picture” of the man on the relic nearly came to life… with dark hair and dark penetrating eyes. Almost with baited breath I found myself looking, studying …then asking…is that really the face of the One we read about in the Gospels? Did eyes such as those behold the tumultuous waves as He stilled them? I confess it was… and still is an enigma.After the television was silenced and the room became still I sat and heard my own thoughts. What really makes Jesus … “Jesus”? Does it matter what color the eyes…the hair? Can it be… can He be… contained within a picture? Is it the icons of cathedrals which are emblazoned on the mind? No wonder the Hebrew Scriptures command us never to create, much less venerate a "graven image"! What dangers might lurk in the darkness for the 21st century "seeker" who walks by sight and "feelings" rather than by the infallible Word of God!I came away reassured once again that it is so much more than the physical. It is what Jesus said and did that makes Him uniquely “Him”. No one has ever spoken such piercing powerful words as the only begotten Son of God… His words alone are spirit and life!Seeing Him is far beyond the realm of physical sight… so much more than beholding flesh and blood. While it was interesting and even exciting to see an artistic rendition of “The Face” (which actually may be a physical likeness of the Messiah) there is no zoe, no life to be found in an ”image”. As believers, we are admonished to "study to show ourselves approved, workmen who rightly divide the Word of Truth". May we continue to focus on the written Word while walking by faith with the Living Word, the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus of Nazareth, who declares therein “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me”! Only in the light of the Scriptures do we truly "behold the Man"!
LAURIE BARNETT is the founder of Shadows of the Messiah, a Bible teaching ministry that shares the richness of the Hebraic foundations of Scripture with women in the Body of Christ. Laurie began examining the Jewish background of the teachings of Jesus and of the New Testament more than 25 years ago.