To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27 KJV
One of the greatest religious mysteries of modern times is the story of the shroud of Turin. The shroud’s history is a bit uncertain though its present location in Turin Italy since 1578 is fairly well accepted. That the shroud carried the images which we know of today was not commonly known till the late 1800’s. There have been films, treatises and television reports made supporting various conclusions about the origins, authenticity and meaning of the shroud. One thing is clear however from the debate: no one’s mind will be easily changed about who Jesus truly is, simply by an historical artifact. Just before He went to the cross, Jesus rose from the Last Supper table and began to wash His disciples’ feet saying:
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. John 13:14 KJV
Yes Jesus did leave us a living artifact behind: and it wasn’t an article of clothing. He left us His spirit to live on the inside us, where it could never grow old, be destroyed or forgotten. Yes there is a great biblical mystery on display today. But this mystery is not whether the face of Jesus can be seen in the shroud of Turin but rather that His face can be seen in us!
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the only one of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 NIV
When I stopped to put my dollar in the Salvation Army bucket outside of our local Walmart the bell ringer started to talk about Christmas. At first it was nice meeting someone who seemed to appreciate what Christmas is supposed to be about. But soon He was steering the conversation down the path of a somewhat bizarre interpretation of who and how the baby in the manger came to be. He kept pressing his point further and further with detail after detail that fit together until His conclusion somehow lost its way. Sadly I had to walk away, because what had begun as a celebration of God’s gift felt more like the dissection of a butterfly.
There is a beauty and a mystery in the incarnation that we can only see with eyes of faith. When each Christmas we pause and ponder on the astonishing reality of God coming as a baby we can only kneel in awe and worship. We ask again the question Mary asked, “How can these things be?” Again the answer comes. “The Spirit of God will overshadow you…”
If we try to get hold of every detail we end up like a drowning man grasping at straws. We can get our hands around straws, but only God’s Spirit and our faith that He has come can save us in the end. Then with John we can say, ” And we have seen His glory… Full of grace and truth!”