In preparation for the holy-days’ weekend Nina creates a tableau for contemplating Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. She’s inspired about what items to collect and arrange, usually including a rock with a central hole eroded by the sea and which we found on a beach. It serves as both the ‘skull’ and garden tomb of Golgotha. For example, the above display has a scarf as a ‘river of life’ flowing out of the empty cave/tomb below the cross. (In 2012 it gave an insight that I’ll share below.)
A slightly different display is set up each Maunday Thursday, the night of which Jesus and the twelve leading disciples ate Passover Seder early (see video explanation). Following the meal, one disciple betrayed Him by leading Temple guards to capture Him at night for trial by a ‘kangaroo’ court of Jewish leaders. It was a foregone conclusion that they would demand authorisation of His death from Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect, or governor, of Judea.
If you’re unfamiliar with this true story and how it led to Jesus’ gruesome torture, death and burial followed by his amazing bodily resurrection and appearance to His disciples, read doctor Luke’s investigative account and the personal account of Jesus’ closest disciple John. (Later, a Jewish leader violently opposed to them but who encountered Jesus en-route to Damascus would write He was seen simultaneously by over 500 – 1 Cor 15:6)
A BIT OF THEOLOGY
Jesus Christ died so that each of us may be forgiven for our sins. As a result of this new status, we now have direct personal access to God. As the Son of God, He suffered on our behalf as our ‘scapegoat’. That is, Jesus took the place of death that we deserved because of our sinfulness, for the shedding of a sinless one’s blood was the only way our status could be changed for us to gain personal salvation. Apostle Paul put it thus to the Romans:
8But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:8-11, NIV, see whole chapter.)
Now, when I was a new Christian I found that rather hard to understand – but it works! The theological term is ‘atonement’, or ‘substitutionary atonement’. In bringing forgive-ness to the guilty, however, this can cause deep problems for those who’ve been the victim of crimes. After all, why should a killer find forgiveness by God? And what about the victim’s families, or the victim of abuse? They find it very hard if well-nigh impossible to forgive.
In 2012 I heard a Portsmouth prison chaplain address this issue with a concept taken from the criminal justice system: restorative justice. This involves active dialogue between victim and offender, plus reparation. And it has a sound basis in theology. How?
Jesus was a guiltless victim, directly of those who wanted Him killed, and indirectly of everyone’s ‘fallen state’ of sinfulness, which could only be rectified by His death.
And Almighty God, the Father, is a victim too. How? He’s victim of humanity’s rebellion against Him. For example and especially over the way religious leaders murdered His son – how they seethed with rage when Jesus denounced them! (read Luke 20:9-19). So, every victim can find an identity and affinity in both God and Jesus Christ in their situation. Hence, they can receive God’s own ability to forgive because He will help them choose to forgive those who’ve harmed them. [Lack of forgiveness may be the only thing that hampers God – see Matt 6:14-15]
A TABLEAU IN TIME
During contemplation upon the tableau illustrated above, an insight dropped into mind that the Resurrection created a distinct point in the flow of, or perhaps even a change in, time itself. That is, the now termed ‘common era’ calendar is the medieval Christian one that counts years from the approximate birth of Christ as ‘anno Domini’. But in fact, a more powerful one would be the point at which things in heaven changed and thus affected our lives on earth and its ultimate role in God’s scheme of creation. This took place at the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, His revival to life from death itself.
That such a concept may be valid can be found in the discoveries about the material of ‘The Shroud of Turin’, the shroud in which Jesus was thought to have been carried and covered during His interment. It is of most astounding significance when examined from the view-point of modern physics.
Putting the supra-natural aspect aside for the moment, that unique, most singular event could have naturally happened by means of a ‘singularity’ (a theoretical gravitational effect associated with ‘black holes’, eg. as may have been the starting point of the creation of the universe, or ‘Big Bang’).
Don’t take my word for this but consider that of Dame Isabel Piczek (dec’d 2016), famous as a monumental artist and award-winning figurative draughtswoman. Her highly detailed analysis of theories about how the image on the shroud was formed is authoritative, as in the first of several detailed articles here.
Also, as a physicist who may have considered implications from a quantum mechanics standpoint, her conclusions about how the image was formed are most intriguing: it seems that the image of Jesus can only have been created by its hovering equidistantly above and below his reclining bent corpse. Furthermore, this necessitated the body’s levitation – perhaps not an impossible feat during the moment of the Resurrection power-blast? After all, the disciples had witnessed Jesus walking on water and were yet to see His levitating into the clouds!
Dame Isabel succinctly summarises:
We have a piece of cloth and it leads us to a mysterious gate which opens for us, and it lets us see a completely different world, an extraordinary world with extraordinary laws.
Consider these claims by reading those articles and watching this 19 minute of extracts from the DVD The Fabric of Time (with its own lead-in trailer). There’s also a discussion of her scientific opinion at In Case You Missed Isabel Piczek’s Wonderful Paper.
‘Coincidentally”, just after having read the last link and revised the preceding references to science (post published 5 years ago), I’m alerted to theoretical physicist Mehki’s new post on ‘black holes’ and ‘event horizons’ (see Looking to the Horizon). The discussion thread has a valuable contribution from ‘physicalrealityblog’ that’s pertinent to the Shroud site’s discussion of Dame Isabel’s analysis and indirectly reconnects it back into quantum physics!
PS. ‘Coincidentally’ amusing that bloggers ‘hidden’ on opposite sides of the world (Britain and New Zealand) were preparing items on the fabrics that Jesus Christ was buried with – the full-body shroud and the head linen – in Joseph of Arimathea’s private tomb. My post updated on Wed 12 was scheduled on Thurs 13th for auto-publication Sun 16 April. On Good Friday 14 April Joanne Rolston published news of the ‘Sudarium’ (see next post).
PPS (4 Sept’17) Read about bizarre anomalies in scientific instruments placed on the slab of stone in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre said to be have been where Jesus’ body lay: Scientists Who Opened Christ’s Tomb Detect Mysterious Readings That Support Shroud Theory
Link: The Shroud of Turin website