IT IS FOR EACH ONE OF US TO DECIDE WHAT TO BELIEVE REGARDING THE LIFE OF JESUS. THE HISTORICAL ACCOUNTS PASSED DOWN TO US ARE A STARTING POINT FROM WHICH TO QUESTION.
In an increasingly secular and some might say selfish world it is perhaps surprising to note that 84% of the world’s population identifies with a religious group. The Christian faith remains the largest religion in the world, with 31.2% of the global population of 7.3 billion. ‘No religious affiliation’ (6%) does not indicate atheism, many in this group have a strong sense of spirituality or belief in God, gods or guiding forces. Jesus Christ is revered by many who do not adhere to Christianity or practise an organised religion.
Science and religion are not incompatible. A survey of 3,000 science, medical, technical, and engineering professionals in the UK, Germany and France, commissioned by the Scientific and Medical Network, found that 25% described themselves as atheists, with 45%, a majority defining themselves as ‘religious or spiritual’.
Crucifixion was meant to be a humiliating death, victim’s bodies were not normally returned to their families but were thrown into a lime pit. Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man and a distant relative of Jesus (uncle of Mary, the mother of Jesus) was a prominent member of the Sanhedrin Jewish Council but also a secret follower of Jesus. This status allowed him to approach Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, to claim the body. Joseph of Arimathea made his own tomb available for the body of Jesus but as the strict laws governed the ritual anointing for burial could not take place during the Sabbath (Saturday), the body was hurriedly prepared and left wrapped in a shroud. The intention was to return on Sunday to complete the ritual.’ The authorities, concerned that the followers of Jesus may attempt to retrieve his body, sealed the entrance to the tomb with a large stone and placed a guard overnight, however the soldiers fell asleep.
On the morning of Sunday, the women who had followed Jesus came to the tomb to complete the anointing and found the stone rolled away from the entrance and the body gone. Mary Magdalene ran to the disciples Simon Peter and John to tell them. John came first to the sepulchre followed by Simon and looking in saw the linen shroud and the cloth that had wrapped Jesus’ head lying separately. They ran to tell the other disciples but Mary Magdalene stood outside the sepulchre weeping. She looked inside and saw two angels, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had laid and the angel said to her: “Woman, why weepest thou …Why seek ye the living amongst the dead?” She answered: “Because they have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid him.” She turned and saw Jesus but in her shock and grief did not recognise him. Supposing him to be the gardener she answered: “Sir, if thou have born him hence, tell me where thou has laid him and I will take him away.” Then Jesus said“Mary.” Recognising him she said: “Raboni,” which means Master. Jesus said to her:
“TOUCH ME NOT FOR I AM NOT YET ASCENDED TO MY FATHER BUT GO TO MY BRETHREN AND SAY UNTO THEM… I ASCEND UNTO MY FATHER AND YOUR FATHER AND TO MY GOD AND TO YOUR GOD’
The disciples did not believed Mary Magdalene’s account but as they they were assembled together Jesus appeared in the room and said: “Peace be unto you” He appeared to them many times in the following days saying:
” GO YE INTO ALL THE WORLD AND PREACH THE GOSPEL TO EVERY CREATURE”
“LO, I AM WITH YOU EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD”
The Turin Shroud, believed by many to be the linen shroud which wrapped the body of Jesus in the tomb is the most investigated artefact in the world today. Forensic science research involving atomic resolution electron microscopy, thermography, haematology, crystallography, botany, textiles and coinage have shown the carbon dating conducted in 1988 to be flawed.
A new examination, the results, of 15 years of research, dates the shroud to between 300 BC and 400 AD, placing it in the era of Christ. In forensic terms the wounds described in the biblical account are a match with those seen on the shroud, confirmed by anatomy and pathology.
- The 120 scourge marks on the front and back and legs of the man of the shroud match the flagrum or flagellum, a Roman whip. The direction of the lash marks indicate two soldiers were striking him, one on each side.
- The Shroud shows the nail wounds in the wrists, this is anatomically correct, medieval paintings wrongly show nails in the palm of Christ’s hands, this would not have supported the weight of a crucified body.
- Botanists discovered Ziziphus spina-christi, a flowering thorn, around the head of the man on the shroud. The sharp thorns matched 15 puncture wounds, blood stains on the shroud, indicating piercing of the head, especially at the back, where it would have rested against the cross.
Aromatic oils have long been used to prepare a body to assist release of the soul after death, with floral bouquets often the final tribute to the deceased. Professor Avinoam Danin, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, states that the only place in the world where people could gather at least four of the species of plants found on the Shroud , is the area between Jerusalem and Hebron. The flowering characteristics of eight species identified on the Shroud have determined that the plant life was placed on the body somewhere during March or April, the time of the crucifixion.
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