The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the singularly most important event that has ever taken place since time began. It is such a powerful event that many people have no idea what to make of it. On the one hand some choose to ignore it, while on the other theologians, historians, lecturers, intellectuals, and artists want to explore it.
Artistic representations of the resurrection differ throughout the centuries. The earliest images are believed to be in Rome while later more westernised images appear around the world. Some of these images depict the resurrection in various ways. For many, the resurrected body is presented as clean, and free of scars, yet still containing the nail holes in His hands and feet and the spear hole in His side. While others may present a slightly more rugged body bearing the marks of a crucified man.
In many ways, these artistic representations have conditioned our minds. In the days before film and photography, paintings and stained glass windows served as the earliest cinemas. They presented Biblical stories for artists and Church goers who could not read. In our time Church buildings are not the only representatives of the Bible, movies and television programs have projected Biblical stories into our vision and in many ways have come to dominate how we see the resurrected Jesus. Biblically inspired films often depict the resurrected Christ as One who has suffered the pains of the cross yet risen as a new body with all the scars, wounds, and potential disfigurements airbrushed out. In many depictions the only damage to remain on the resurrected body of Jesus are the nail holes in His hands and feet. Many representations show nothing of the scars left from the crown of thorns, or the scourging, or the damage made to His face and body when He was hit and beaten (Matthew 26: 67, Mark 14: 65, Luke 22: 63-65, John 18: 22. Matthew 27: 27-30, Mark 15: 16-20, John 19: 1-3).
Although the gospels do not give us any graphic details about the passion, Josephus offers insight into how cruel Roman scourging could be and in one incident a man was so severely beaten that his bones were laid bare (Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, Book 6, chapter 5.3).
In my opinion, it is possible that the resurrected body of Jesus still retained the scars inflicted during His passion. Likewise, the whole point of the resurrection is lost if a person assumes Jesus’ resurrected body was not the same body that was crucified. The point of the resurrection is that Jesus rose again in the same body that was crucified and in the same body that died. None of this is denied in the gospels and yet the texts read as though there was something different about the resurrected body. For example, in Mark 16: 12 Jesus appears to two disciples in “another form”. In Luke 24: 13-31 the two people on the road to Emmaus didn’t recognise Him. Luke claims “their eyes were restrained” until He broke the bread and their “eyes were opened” and suddenly He vanished from their sight. In John 20: 14-15 Mary Magdalene saw Jesus but did not know it was Him and supposed He was the gardener, yet in verse 16 when she turned, she knew it was Him. Yet in John 21: 7 Peter recognises Him.
Clearly there was something different about the resurrected body of Jesus and this is also affirmed in Philippians 3: 21 where Paul describes His resurrected body as “glorious“.
Yet in John 20: 24-29, Thomas will not believe until Jesus shows Him the nail holes in His hands and the spear hole in His side. On this occasion the doors were shut and suddenly Jesus appeared. Thomas sees the wounds with his own eyes and believes, so clearly the physical resurrected body of Jesus still bore the wounds of His crucifixion.
This begs the question: if His body retained the nail and spear holes, could it have also retained the scourge marks and other scars from His beating? It would seem logical to assume if the body retained the nail and spear holes it would retain other scars also, including the marks made by the crown of thorns.
Isaiah 53: 5 does not write about the stripes as though they are going to disappear, but as though by their very existence, we are healed. It is therefore possible that His body bears the marks of His passion as a witness to His death and resurrection.
In conclusion, I believe it certainly is possible that the physical resurrected body of Jesus Christ bore the marks made by the wounds inflicted upon Him when he was beaten, scourged, and crucified. It could help explain why some of the disciples did not recognise Him. Isaiah 52: 14 says “His visage was marred more than any man” so we can agree that after such a horrific beating, His appearance would have dramatically changed from His usual appearance. Also, He would have had a new robe on which would not have been the same garment and tunic He wore normally. His original clothing was destroyed at the crucifixion (John 23-24) This may have also made His appearance appear a little different to the disciples.
It should be noted that all the disciples forsook Him at the crucifixion apart from John, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus. Peter witnessed moments of trial. Both Mary Magdalene and Peter recognised Him, which could mean they knew how much He had been beaten.
Although the gospels make no direct mention of it, I believe it is possible, though I cannot prove it, that the resurrected body of our Lord Jesus Christ retained the scars and marks of the physical damage that was inflicted upon Him as He bled to death for us and our salvation.
It is a picture and a reality of hope, that no matter what life throws at you and how horrible people can be at times, those who believe in Jesus Christ will rise up and follow Him. We too will win in the end.
Believe in Jesus today. He died for you.
Biblical Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient tablet containing what could be the earliest known example of the Hebrew name name of God, Yahweh.
The Tablet was found on Mount Ebal mentioned in Deuteronomy 11: 26, 29.
The ‘curse tablet’ is an extraordinary discovery because it was found on a site believed to be the altar of Joshua. If proven beyond doubt it could be the most significant Biblical find since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946/47.
The use of Hebrew would also predate the Dead Sea Scrolls by 1,350 years. Meaning the ancient Israelites had a much more advanced knowledge of Hebrew than modern scholars have thought.
If true the ‘curse tablet’ could prove the Books of Moses were written earlier than modern scholars have claimed. I say this because in recent years many modern sceptics have sought to challenge the claim that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch. The use of Hebrew, they say, is too advanced. Yet Jesus said “If you had believed Moses, you would be Me: because he wrote about Me.” (John 5: 46). Clearly Jesus believed Moses was the author of the Torah.
I believe people today have to live with one of the biggest problems in history, they have lost confidence in the Bible. Secularists and revisionist modernisers have sought to drive away peoples trust in the Bible. But God is forever drawing them back.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is yet to be discovered by many people and for believers, telling people the truth about Christ is a little like doing archaeology, we must remove centuries of layers to uncover the truth.
The ‘curse tablet’ is great news in a world hell bent on destroying itself. If proven to be true, it is an excellent discovery. But don’t take my word for it. Look it up, see for yourselves! Have faith and be assured the Bible is true from cover to cover. Go tell someone about Jesus Christ today.
It has been exactly ten years to this very day that I have been presenting Biblically inspired articles on this website. One of my first articles was published on October 18, 2011 on the theme “The Experience of Visiting Biblical Sites” Today, on October 18, 2021, I am continuing to share that joyful experience with my latest documentary.
This documentary is dedicated to my mother Joyce Sutherland, who went home to be with the Lord earlier this year.
I feel now a sense of completion that an era, or particular season, is drawing to to close. Ten years is a long time and I sense somewhat of a closure.
Over the last ten years I have stated many things that I believe, and that I will always do. So as a testimony to my faith, the articles published here will remain and represent a particular era of my life. I have much more to do and see and next year it will be exactly ten years (again) that I have been making Biblical Documentaries. These films simply reflect my personal faith. That will also be made complete.
But as for now, I sense a wind of change. I have said for many years “There’s an East Wind coming” and I believe it has come and will. But for now, as I withdraw to my curtain of silence, I leave you with a quote from THE COLLECT out of the Book of Common Prayer, for this day, October 18, SAINT LUKE THE EVANGELIST.
“ALMIGHTY God, who calledst Luke the Physician, whose praise is in the Gospel, to be an Evangelist, and Physician of the soul: May it please thee that, by the wholesome medicines of the doctrine delivered by him, all the diseases of our souls may be healed; through the merits of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
In 1800 Mary Jones set off on an epic journey 26 miles barefoot to buy a Bible. Living in extreme poverty and having worked and saved 6 years, Mary managed to acquire enough money.
In those days Welsh Bibles were very rare, so rare in fact that Mary had to walk 2 miles to nearby farm to read one. In Bala however, a man by the name of Thomas Charles was known to supply them. So Mary, determined to own one followed her heart and her destiny.
In 2018 I was blessed to visit Bala for the very first time. The house where Thomas Charles lived is on the high street and it was here where Mary received the Bible she had so eagerly desired.
Nearby is a museum called Mary Jones World and the grave of Thomas Charles is in the church grounds. Here visitors can learn all about the story and find ways of connecting with it. In our day and age it is not so easy to understand why any person would save for such a long time and walk such a distance to get a Bible, after all you can get a copy anywhere. But this reality is a reality because of Mary Jones herself. Thomas Charles was so inspired by what Mary Jones did, that he helped establish the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804. Because of Mary Jones, billions of Bibles have been printed and distributed around the world.
What a wonderful gift.
Mary Jones was an outstanding individual and she followed her election and knew that the Bible was worth more than all the materialistic wealth this world can offer.
But if we look at the world around us, ask yourself a question; have we gotten any better since our nation abandoned the Bible and turned to its own ways? Have we united? Has the Church grown or improved? And what about you, have you improved and made this world any better? Have you found any better ethic than the Sermon on the Mount?
Go out, look at the world around you and see for yourself. Ask the question, are we any better as a nation since they abandoned the very Book that established her values?
Or will you learn the lesson, and take that gift and read it for yourself and believe. All I know is that for all this world can offer, for all her worldviews and all her happenings, the Bible is for me the greatest Book in the world and for all my faults, I know that faith in Jesus Christ is enough to save a man. And prayer changes things!
Over the years I have always known my Sutherland name has implications of Scottish ancestry. Over recent years I have uncovered those details and yes, my Scottish ancestors go back to the ancient Kirk of Scotland, Dunrobin Castle and beyond. But what of my English ancestors on my mothers side?
My mother’s ancestors, on my grandmothers side, descend from Welsh origin through the surname of my great grandfather Henry Jones. Yet my mothers father was English through and through.
This grandfathers surname was Smithies, a direct ancestry that can be traced back to an area in Northern England known as Middleton. Here my English ancestors have direct connections with St Leonards, an ancient parish with a Church on a hill. It was here, at St Leonards, where 16th century reformer John Bradford preached and also directly referenced in his farewell to Lancashire and Cheshire. Bradford pleaded with them “Turn unto the Lord, yet once more – I heartily beseech thee.”
The Church was established in Saxon times and was also the place where the Lindsfarne Gospels and the bones of St Cuthbert were temporally kept. The Church was also attended by the Bamford family, from whom came Samuel Bamford.
At present the baptismal records directly trace my Smithies ancestors to 1658. This is a fantastic discovery for me knowing that I have been walking in the footsteps of my ancestors.
For me, after 35 years of being a Christian, I am resolved to know that in the Church of England I am standing in the right place.
The English word ‘Church’ has come to mean a lot of things to a lot of people. The most common is a building, a place of worship, of bricks and mortar, history, structures and things. The original English word however is derived from the Greek adjective Kyriakos meaning ‘the Lord’s House’.
Church in the New Testament however is from the Greek Ekklesia, meaning Congregation. Tyndale’s 1526 and 1534 Translations immediately spring to mind here. For Tyndale, the Christian Church was never a building or a hierarchy of bishops, popes and prelates, but a collective of equal souls, united in faith and bound together through the Bible. This concept is entirely Biblical, and even though the early New Testament Church did not have the entire Canon of Scripture, they had the Apostles teaching.
For them, the Ekklesia, was not merely a gentile thing, but was known and lived among the Jews.
While there certainly were many ‘Churches’ scattered throughout the cities of the New Testament, most, if not all of them were house Churches. I have visited many ancient sites throughout the Biblical lands and a majority of early ‘Church’ buildings were constructed centuries later. Despite this, the New Testament recognises there is only one Church. The modern ideas of pulling out of one Church and setting up your own is alien to the New Testament. Likewise, the idea of popery and one man leadership is unknown. What we see is a plurality of elders and deacons and a collective of equal souls.
In the New Testament, whether a Church be in Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, Philippi, Ephesus or Rome, it saw itself as one body. It was a heavenly reality, being built in this world and on this earth, where Jesus Christ is exalted at the right hand of the Father and in the midst of the Church (Hebrews 2: 12) and is head over her (Ephesians 1: 20-23)
Today however, because of false teachers and false doctrine, divisions are as common as muck. Because of circumstances, historic divisions, tribalism, the idea of one Church (in a context) simply does not work. I say this because no person who actually believes the Bible and knows that truth, can abide with a fake unity that excludes truth. As though right doctrine can be set aside, and categorised as unimportant in the cause of unifying people. It really doesn’t work!
But in Acts 21: 20, when they heard they glorified the Lord and many thousands of people believed. Other Churches grew and when Peter wrote his epistles, Churches had scattered to the south coast of Black Sea, Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia (1 Peter 1: 1) and this is in the context of persecution.
Thankfully, in England, we do not have any set persecution. Individuals may seek to undermine the faith and push down conservative values, but that will get them nowhere in the long run. A democratic society must be founded on freedom of conscience, belief and speech, otherwise we are not a democracy. So long as Christians do not attempt to force their beliefs on others, we are free to maintain them. If anyone seeks to force their beliefs and ethics upon us, they are guilty of doing what they condemn others of. Simply let them do their worst and their own extremist mindsets will expose their deeds.
This is actually quite a picture of the Church in the New Testament. Believers lived their lives, had families, met together, and the world did what the world always does. The New Testament Church never persecuted anyone, but visa versa. When read in this context, Romans 13: 1-7 makes perfect sense. The Church influences society, and works with the governments, but does not not rule them.
This is where todays independent Churches have got it right. However, I have come to understand that the idea of independent churches is unknown to the New Testament. Christ did not say I will build my churches but “I will build My Church…” (Matthew 16: 18). New Testament Churches may well have been established in various cities, but they were still part of one Church.
Thus, to answer my question, are independent Churches in the New Testament? My answer is no. But again, that is just my opinion.
Recently I had the honour of finding two historic relics connected to the ancient Parish Church of Deane. These wooden artefacts are mysterious and contain distinct wood carvings and contain the dates 1632 and 1760.
But what could they be? Well, as the picture shows they appear to be designed as frames to display items. This implies the intention behind these designs may well have been to hold objects of historic or cultural significance. Another possibility is that they were designed to hold family portraits and wood from two buildings that have survived the passage of time.
When these relics were brought to my attention, I recognised the reference to Deane Church. I immediately contacted Lee Higson (CVM, Lay minister C of E) and local Church historian Eric Morgan. Upon viewing the second relic I recognised a link. The reference to Peel Chapel implied these relics were artefacts preserved from internal structures and a building that has long disappeared. Peel Chapel was built in 1760 and demolished in 1874, and was a daughter Church of Deane.
The artefacts read:
“Relic of Deane Church 1632“
“Relic of Peel Chapel 1760“
The word relic is an interesting one and can have multiple meanings. The most common usage refers to venerated items of a saint. The church of Rome for example has many examples of relics allegedly connected to passages of Scripture or the lives of saints. In that context they are generally regarded as First, Second or Third Class Relics. Another usage is Contact Relics. However, I do not believe these items have anything to do with these classes or distinctions.
I believe these artefacts are what is known as Cultural Relics. This means the items are part of something that has long disappeared. They are basically keep sakes, recycled from historic structures of Deane Church and Peel Chapel.
These finds are thrilling and a special moment for any historian or history fanatic. For me, finding these relics was an extra special delight since Deane Church is the ancient place of worship once attended by George Marsh (1515-1555). As a Curate, Marsh ministered in this very Church, and is also the subject of a historical biographical documentary I released in 2014. Although there is no evidence the relics relate to Marsh, a 17th century Puritan link is possible.
Bolton and Deane was known historically as the Geneva of Lancashire and the tradition that 17th century Puritans would often get together and read the letters of George Marsh is widely established. These meetings are said to have taken place around the Noon Hill, Rivington Moor area. It should be noted that 1632 (the date on the relic) was the date when Charles 1 issued a charter for the colony of Maryland and 1620-1640 is the official timeframe for the Puritan Migration to New England. Maybe the first of the two relics are connected to structures or pews once used by Puritans in Deane Church?
These relics have now been returned back to the C of E. But what these relics are is a matter for research and discussion. How they will contribute to the history of Deane Church and Peel Chapel remains to be seen.
What can be certain is that finds like these can inspire hope that there is a future within the Church of England.
Central London and her city is packed with history and it was there, in 1537, where the English Bible was first printed. An early copy, dated 1537, in the John Rylands Library locates the printing at St Thomas Hospital, Southwark. This was a Bible known as the Coverdale Bible and the New Testament was based on Tyndale’s translation.
Tyndale had left London in 1525 but his influence was never far gone. From 1525, and 1526, Tyndale’s New Testament would be smuggled into London along the Thames. His 1534 translation would prove to be his finest edition. It too made it’s way back into London and would prove to influence the Church in England for hundreds of years to come. This was made possible by the the publishing of the 1535-37 Coverdale Bible. This was eventually commissioned by Henry V111 and Coverdale’s translation of the Psalms would also feature in the Book of Common Prayer for many centuries to come. It is an important bed rock in the unity and doctrine of the Anglican communion.
Throughout the 1549, 1552, and 1562 versions of the Book of Common Prayer, it is not difficult to read the influence of Tyndale’s unmistakable New Testament translation. This influence progressed through the inclusion of the King James Version.
Research reveals that 84% of the New Testament in the AV is the work of Tyndale. These passages were printed word for word in the Book of Common Prayer and guided Christians throughout the year and the seasons of the calendar.
A number of these passages have been posted on my The Life and Teachings of William Tyndale facebook page. Here is one example.
“Every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above and cometh down from the father of light, with whom is no variableness, neither is he changed unto darkness. Of his own will begat he us with the word of life, that we should be the first fruits of his creatures. Wherefore dear brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath. For the wrath of man worketh not that which is righteous before God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness, all superfluity of maliciousness, and receive with meekness the word that is grafted in you, which is able to save your souls.”
Tyndale’s New Testament, 1534
The Epistle of St James
Compare this with the reading for the Fourth Sunday After Easter, from the Book of Common Prayer and see for yourself. This book has been such a blessing to me and has helped guide me during the Coronavirus lockdowns, and also many more Christians both in and beyond the Anglican communion.
One of the two Scripture readings from the Book of Common Prayer for today (Easter Day) is John 20: 1-10. In this passage John gave his account of the first day of the week where Mary Magdalene saw how the stone had been rolled away from the tomb of Christ and she ran to Simon Peter and the disciple Jesus loved to tell them “They have taken away the Lord from out of the sepulchre“.
In the passage from the BCP it is not difficult to hear Tyndale’s unmistakeable 16th century translation work. And if we look back centuries earlier, we can read Wycliffe’s 14th century translation, yet with a difference.
In verse 7 of the same passage, the 1388 Wycliffe translation makes reference to an English translation of a Latin word. This six letter word is “sudary” from the Latin Vulgate’s “Sudarium”.
The Sudarium is believed to be a bloodstained piece of cloth that was wrapped around the head of Christ after His death. Many learned people who believe the Shroud of Turin is the actual burial cloth of Christ also believe the Sudarium is a match.
The Wycliffe translation puts it this way;
“And in one day of the week, Mary Magdalele came early to the grave when it was yet dark. And she saw the stone moved away from the grave. Therefore she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to another disciple whom Jesus loved, and says to them, They have taken the Lord from the grave, and we wit not where they have laid Him! Therefore Peter went out and the ilk other disciple, and they came to the grave. And they twain ran together, and the ilk other disciple ran before Peter and came first to the grave. And when he stooped, he saw the sheets lying. Netheless, he entered not. Therefore Simon Peter came suing him, and he entered into the grave and he saw the sheets laid, and the sudary that was on His head, not laid with the sheets, but by itself lapped into a place. Therefore then, the ilk disciple that came first to the grave, entered and saw, and believed. For they knew not yet the Scripture that it behoved Him to rise again from death. Therefore the disciples went eftsoon to themselves.”
The Wycliffe New Testament 1388. The Gospel of John, Chapter XX
Today a Sudarium is in Oviedo, Spain. Opinion differs as to the authenticity, but it is the responsibility of each individual to weigh the evidences and make a decision. But whatever a person decides, the resurrection of Jesus Christ cannot be ignored.