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Home > Events, Flashback, People > Easter Sunday 2017 – Scripture, Shroud and the Sudarium

Easter Sunday 2017 – Scripture, Shroud and the Sudarium

April 16th, 2017
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The tomb was not far from where Jesus was crucified and died with two convicted criminals. Image credit, MHProNews/Graphic Stock.

For 2.2 billion Christians around the world, Easter marks the highest of all days on their spiritual calendar. But for billions, there is a simple question, what does Easter really mean?

Wikipedia describes Easter in these terms, “Easter, also called Pascha (Greek, Latin) or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent… Most Christians refer to the week before Easter as “Holy Week…”

In a World of Doubt…

Almost 2000 years ago, as now, skepticism was widespread.  Was this tale of a Jew crucified under Roman rule credible or not?

The Biblical narrative provides important clues, but the history of that era and the retention of those books is itself important. Because secular Roman as well as Jewish sources attest to the life of Jesus, and relate the early history of Jesus’ disciples and converts.

Matthew 27: 62-67 (ESV):

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard[e] of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

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The end of the Book of Matthew, photo credit, MHProNews.com.

One of the keys that makes all Hebrew and Christians Scriptures compelling is how they reflect the complex dynamics of real people, then and now. In the passage above, those who opposed Jesus went to their hated enemy – the Roman governor Pilate – to set a guard to prevent the followers of Jesus from stealing of the body.

This is important background to understanding a critical issue in this account, because the Romans had the death penalty for any of their guards who fell asleep or failed in his guard duties.

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Image credit, WIkkipedia.

Matthew 27: 62-67 (ESV):

28: Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he[f] lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

Ladies, note that it was women who went to the tomb first, the male disciples were afraid and in hiding.

Men, take heart, because once the apostles saw for themselves, they took courage. Most suffered death in the years to come, rather than deny this experience that they lived.

Then and Now

Today, in much of the world, Christians from Nigeria to Europe and into many parts of Asia suffer at the hands of secular communists, unfriendly governments, or radical Islamists, as the bloody bombings that took place in Egypt on Palm Sunday attest.

Then – or in the thousands of years since – why would someone die for a faith, unless they had strong reasons for belief?

At the time of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and the period that follows in the book of Acts, the Biblical narrative cites miracles and wonders done. In a skeptical world, the people then heard and knew – or personally experienced – those stories.

Some believed, some still doubted. That reality leaves the elements of faith and free will active.  Then and now, the discernment of the salvific meaning of those events are brought back to life on Easter Sunday.

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The Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium – thought by millions to be the burial garments of Jesus – are among the controversial, silent witnesses to the events of those days. Image – light from the risen Christ shines from the tomb where the rock is rolled back. Image credit, MHProNwes/Graphic Stock.

From the management and team at MHProNews, we wish all a happy Passover and a joyous Easter.  ##

(Images credits are as shown.)

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