Shroud Tour: The Tangible Emmanuel
In looking at the Theology of the Shroud, we must go deeper into its meaning to see what more it is telling or affirming to us about the Triune God: Father, Son, and Spirit. It should seem somewhat obvious that the shroud contains a message that lies at the heart of Christianity—our God loves us, His creation, so much that He chose to draw near to us by becoming one of us. Christianity is the only religion where God becomes man and unites His divinity to our humanity. But in doing this, He also invites us to realize a truth about His creation, a truth that some (do to differences in theologies) might find difficult to swallow. His created world is good. Genesis 1:31 tells us that “God saw everything that he had made and found it to be very good.” True, original sin has wounded the creation, but it still retains the inherent goodness that it was created with. If not, then Christ could not become man, for God cannot become something that is not good, for he is all good. The fact that Jesus uses what is created to show His glory is further proof that the created world is still good. In His ministry, Jesus used water (John 2:7), mud and spit (John 9:6), bread and fish (Mark 6:41, Matthew 15:36), clothes (Mark 5:27), to name a few. The Shroud is another example of this work of Christ, using something as ordinary as a burial cloth to show the extraordinary, the Resurrection. In fact, the Shroud is keeping in line with exactly the way in which Jesus chose to reveal Himself and His glory. It is almost as if we should expect something like the Shroud to accompany the miracle of His Resurrection. These physical uses of the created world by God to show His glory is part evidence of what I like to call, “The Tangible Emmanuel”, the God who is with us, working through His creation to draw us to Himself. By realizing that God uses the created world, which is still good, to show forth His power, we are reminded that we are still inherently good, and that God can use us to show His glory here on earth. Of course, because of the gift of free will, we must choose to cooperate with the grace He gives us to do His will, for we can also choose to become instruments of evil and live our lives contrary to God’s glory.
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