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Christ’s “Grave Clothes” – The Shroud Of Turin?

The Shroud of Turin?

Here at Easter time we usually see movies about the “Shroud of Turin,” and also hear sermons about Christ’s “grave clothes” and what they were and what they meant. However, according to the Biblical record, Christ was not buried in a shroud. After His crucifixion Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took the body and prepared it for burial:

John 19:38: “And after this Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore and took the body of Jesus.

19:39: “And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.”

19:40: “Then took they the body of Jesus and wound it in linen clothes, with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.”

Note that the mixture of aloes and spices were “about an hundred pound weight.” The Greek word for ‘weight’ here is litra, which was equal to our modern weight of about 12 ounces, or roughly ¾ of a pound. Therefore, the hundred litra weight would equal about 75 pounds in modern English terms.

The Body Was “Wound” With the Spices

Note that they “took the body of Jesus and wound it in linen clothes with the spices.” This would mean that they cut or tore strips of the linen and soaked it in the spice mixture and wound the strips around the body as we have seen pictures of mummified bodies, embalmed for burial. After drying, this would have formed a hard, cast-like cocoon for the body. It was not wrapped loosely in a shroud, contrary to the popular story of the Shroud of Turin.

What Was “The Manner Of The Jews”?

The text says: “… as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” The “manner of the Jews to bury” is further indicated in John 11:44 where we see that Lazarus, being raised from the dead, his “grave clothes” had him bound hand and foot, and there was a “napkin” binding his face. That napkin binding his face was not attached to the other “grave clothes.” Jesus commanded him to be loosed. These two incidents, Jesus and Lazarus, indicate that the bodies were not merely loosely wrapped in a shroud, but rather were tightly bound.

We also have the much earlier story of Joseph’s “grave clothes” in Genesis 50:25-26 which may give us a precedent for the “grave clothes” of Jesus and Lazarus. “And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”

The rest of the story is in Exodus 13:19: “And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away from hence with you.” So the embalming of Joseph was a part of the traditions of the Jews.

What Did They See In The Empty Tomb?

On resurrection morning, Mary Magdalene had visited the tomb and saw that Jesus’ body was not there. She hurried to tell the disciples. John 20:3-8:

“Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulcher. So they ran both together and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying, yet went not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed.”

What was it that they saw in the “grave clothes” that made them believe? It was the fact that that hard shell of the cast-like cocoon was not broken nor disturbed but the body was gone from it. Jesus came out of the “grave clothes” without disturbing them. The body wrap was separate from the head wrap but both were totally intact. That glorified Body of Jesus went through the cocoon just as it went through the walls where the disciples had met: “the doors were shut,” but Jesus stood in their midst.

No human power could have removed the body of Jesus from those “grave clothes” without tearing or breaking the cocoon cast. Seeing was believing.

He is risen! The Lord is risen indeed!

I Met A Saint in the Nursing Home

After six weeks in the hospital, it was a challenge to my hope when my loved one was dismissed to a nursing home under hospice care. Only those who have had to commit a loved one to a nursing home can fully understand my grief.

In order to spend as much time with him as possible and to try to alleviate any suffering he might be enduring, I went almost every morning to feed him breakfast. After breakfast the Home would have a devotional and worship service and I sat with him and held his hand during this service. I often left the home blinded with tears.

Sister Pat

But soon after he was committed to the home, a large black lady was seated at his table. That morning I started hearing a soft, sweet, melodious voice singing an old hymn. It just created a tangible peace in the atmosphere. She was singing. Although she was a little hard of hearing, we became fast friends. We would sing together, and with her, it was always a worship service and the tangible presence of the Lord was with us. Although my heart was sore with grief, this time was like a healing balm for my soul. We called her “Sister Pat.”

I soon learned that she did not just while away her time there in self-pity or complaining, but she always asked that her wheelchair be situated where she could look out through the big glass double doors and there she sat, singing, praying and worshipping, — and sleeping some too.

Her Life and Ministry

During those months she told me about her life and ministry. She had lived in Alabama and had a family. She said her regular place of worship was down by the river. She would preach wherever she could. She said that one time she was preaching and a swarm of bees entered the room through a knothole. They settled at the back of the room. Did she evacuate the room? No! She went back there and commanded those bees to leave just like they came. They immediately left through the same knothole that they came in through.

She told me about another time when she was preaching in her yard with a congregation of her neighbors. A neighborhood dog came and was barking and disturbing the service. She commanded it to shut up and it rolled over and died! Another time in her yard a goat came through and went into her house. She went in and commanded the goat to leave and it fell down dead. Another time she was preaching in her yard and a child came to the front of the congregation and was acting in such a way as to distract the attention of the people. She told them that whoever the child belonged to had better get it. The parents immediately got the child.

She had also had a big tent and held revivals where many were saved, healed and delivered. Then she went on the air on a radio station and ministered there for many, many years. She gave me the address of the station and the ministry she had served and she still sent them a small offering each month. I contacted them and found that her story was all true. She still wanted to get back to her big tent ministry. We started holding Sunday morning services there in the home and several of the residents attended. She told me that we might have to set up the big tent again.

A Precious Memory

When the time came that we had to move our loved one to another home, we passed her hall where she was sitting in her wheelchair. She waved and I waved back. I never saw her again, but the memory of her ministry to me in a time of my great need will never be forgotten. If I ever met a saint in my life, she was definitely one of them.

The Ox Goad and the Cattle Prod

The Pharisee Rabbis of the New Testament era thought of their position in regard to the Law as being between the ox-goad and the cattle-prod. They said that the Law was like a yoke to restrain you from doing what you wanted to do, and the cattle prod was to prod you into doing what you didn’t want to do. Unfortunately, that is the way some people see it today.

Jesus said: “Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees ye shall in no case enter the Kingdom of God,” Matthew 5:20.

Misery of Keeping the “Law”

You see, their concept of the Law was so miserable that they devised ways to legitimize their own interpretations of it. They began to teach that God had given Moses two Laws on Sinai, one was written and the other oral. Now it was the written Law that caused the problems for them, so they decreed that the so-called Oral Law took precedence over the written Law. This “Oral Law,” so they say, had been handed down to them through the Rabbis to them, and so they were the custodians of the “law.”

Jesus Refuted Their “Oral Law”

Note that the passage that follows Matthew 5:20 Jesus begins to teach about these things that they claimed had been passed down from “them of old time,” Matthew 5:21-48. He refutes their teachings by His own interpretation: “But I say unto you…,” verses 22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44.

Matthew chapter 6 continues with His teachings against those of the Pharisees, the hypocrites, verses 2, 5, 16. These hypocritical “Laws” of the Pharisees were also called the “traditions” and/or “the traditions of the elders.”

He also confronts their hypocrisy in Matthew 15:7; 16:3; 22:18; 23:13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 28, 29; 24:51; Mark 7:5-13. Luke 11:39-52; 12:1.

The Law as seen by the Pharisees was truly bondage.

However, Jesus attested to and confirmed the written Law even in disputing with the devil saying: “It is written…,” Matthew 4:4, 7, 10.

I Timothy 1:8: “But we know that the Law is good, if a man use it lawfully.”

Romans 7:12: “The Law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”

So what is the problem? Carnality.

Verse 14: “For we know that the Law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.”

So what is the cure? The Law of the Spirit/Breath of Life in Christ Jesus.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. That the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit,” Romans 8:1-4.

The Curse of the Law?

Does this give us a free pass to sin? Not at all. Jesus came to condemn sin in the flesh. We can be rid of sin in the flesh by crucifixion, mortifying the deeds of the body; read the rest of Romans chapter 8. There is victory over sin in the Holy Spirit of Christ. This does not do away with the Law, but fulfills it without the yoke and the ox goad. It is true freedom.

Alpha and Omega Part Three of Series

Revelation 1:8, KJV: I Am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending.[7]

From the creation, the “signs,” the aleph ve tau, the alphabet, was intended to be both numerals and letters witnessing to and symbolizing the Logos of the Most High God.[8] The lights of the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars were created for “signs,” ’othoth. This plural represents the grouping, or pluralizing of the alphabetic signs. These signs were for two purposes: to mark time, designating the times and seasons, and to give light, separating the light from the darkness, (Gen. 1:14).

When Christ said: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending”; that is, the ending and the beginning were one and the same point. Christ became the overlapping anchor between the “this age” and “the age to come.” 2Esdras 6:7 shows that the “dividing of times” means “the end of the first age and the beginning of the age that follows.” That is, this particular era shared both the end of the old age and the beginning of the new.

Definition of the Letter tau

The letter tau is defined by Gesinius (Lexicon s.v.) as: “(1) a sign, Eze. 9:4 (Arab….a sign in the form of a cross…whence the name of the letter …, which in Phoenician, and on the coins of the Maccabees has the form of a cross. (From the Phoenicians the Greeks and Romans took both the name and form of the letter.) (2) sign (cruciform), mark subscribed instead of a name to a bill of complaint; hence, subscription, Job 31:35.”

The Constellations Were Originally Named the Letters of the Alphabet

According to Jewish tradition, Moses “invented” the alphabet. However, it would be more accurate to say, “Moses was shown the alphabet upon Sinai.” There God showed him the order of the constellations of the heavens that mark both time and location, the global position. The alphabetic figures then were drawn in a stylized form of the constellations. The Hebrew name for this circle of constellations was not ‘zodiac,’ but rather Mazzaroth, (Strong’s #4216).

Seiss says that, due to the proclivity of the Jews to idolatrous worship of the heavenly bodies, all the figures of the zodiac were erased and the Hebrew alphabet was substituted in their place (p., 177). Seiss’ view is perhaps an anachronism, for the more likely scenario was that the “zodiac” signs were always, and originally designated by the Hebrew alphabet and only when Hebrews fell into idol worship did they use the signs of the “zodiac”.

Alphabet as Time Markers

As time markers, they fulfilled a numeric function, to mark day and night and the seasons of the year. As light givers they were to fulfill a literary and artistic function: to give Light on the earth and to separate Light from darkness physically, and wisdom from ignorance, intellectually. The original alphabet represented these two distinct rays, the numerical, which first found expression in the time-reckoning function and later in other mathematical uses, and the linguistic, expressed in writing. At this first stage it should perhaps be called the “numero/alphabet.” The original idea of the numero/alphabet represented the idea of order.

Alphabet as Witness of the Most High God

As signs, these highest of all symbols, were created as a witness of and to the Most High God, to teach and to inspire worship. We should therefore not wonder that they have been prostituted to idol worship throughout history in many cultures of the world. That is all the more reason we should appropriate them, as symbols, to the worship of Christ, their legitimate and intended use.

[7] The KJV includes the phrase “the beginning and the ending” but this is at the translator’s privilege for it was not in the original Greek. The KJV translators felt it was necessary in order to bring out the sense of the verse.
The RSV leaves out the phrase “the beginning and the ending” here but includes it at Revelation 21:6 and 22:13 where the saying is repeated, see “First and Last” my Commentary on 1:17.
[8] It could well be argued that this heavenly Pattern is the written Name of God. Its incorporation into the Temple meant that God’s Name was there. That is, the Temple was created and designed for the purpose of an observatory of the heavenly Pattern telling the times and seasons and teaching the wisdom of God. See also my Commentary at 1:3 “Christ as Light and Time”.

Next Lesson: Alpha and Omega Part 4

So What?

So what?

Did I hear someone say: “So what? Why should I care about some history that happened 2,000 years ago?”

Here’s Why:

Yes, my lessons on the Book of Revelation deal with some history. We need to learn from history: If we do not learn from history, we are bound to repeat it. Hadn’t you rather learn from the experience of others than to have to endure the trouble and sorrow that their mistakes made for them? The Bible says that the history of the Old Testament and the recorded events that happened to the old Israel are written as examples for our admonition: “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonitions, upon whom the ends of the world are come,” 1Corinthians 10:11.

The Lessons of History Might Save Ourselves and our Nation

The ancient nation of Israel was destroyed because of their sin and rebellion against God in 70 AD. That’s what the Book of Revelation is telling us. This is what we need to know and understand. If you are only looking for some kind of holy prognostication, [that means ‘foretelling the future’], then you should look for it in the history of what God has said and done in the past. God does not change.
“Righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people,” Proverbs 14:34. Read Proverbs. It clearly presents the case for the righteousness of a nation. That’s why you should study the Book of Revelation.