The Real Face of Jesus: An Ascension Discussion for Older Children
If you’re looking for a way to bring Jesus to life for older kids (10 and up) on Ascension Sunday, consider a 15-minute version of the History Channel’s The Real Face of Jesus, about how science and computer expertise were combined to make a factual face likeness of the image that is embedded in the Shroud of Turin.
Children will see the Shroud and hear scientists puzzling over what created the image of the crucified/scourged man.
Russ Brealt, an expert who worked on STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project) says the image on the Shroud shows “a man who is both crucified and scourged…which is a very unique anomaly. There’s a tremendous amount of blood that flowed from the head, a scourging all over the body; there’s blood that flows from a side wound, blood that puddles across the small of the back from that side wound.” It is clearly human blood according to the latest findings.
The Shroud is Controversial
Christians teaching in Youth Ministry will probably long be divided on whether seeing religious relics is helpful to people’s faith or whether it goes against God’s wishes.
For those who want nothing to do with items like the Shroud, they have well-taken points. The last thing God wants on planet Earth is idolatry, and He made sure many tempting objects were destroyed or hidden for man’s sake. The following items are not to be found, probably hidden by God to protect man’s inclination to worship “things:” the burial place of Moses, Noah’s Ark, the Ark of the Covenant, the Cross of Christ, the Holy Sepulcher, and the resting places of any of the 12 disciples.
What the Christian community may need to wrestle with is the difference between worshipping relics and allowing them to increase faith— especially the faith of scientific skeptics—and help today’s generation understand God better.
John Jackson, lead Scientist of STURP says that with the study of the Shroud of Turin, “We may have a real opportunity where science and religion can come together most profoundly.”
Kids See Science and Technology Embracing Religion
Watching the documentary will give kids a wonderful chance to see a piece of Christian history embraced by both scientists and the most advanced of computer technologists.
Digital imagery specialist Ray Downing, Emmy winner for his 3-D depictions in Stealing Lincoln’s Body, created the face of Jesus in 3-D after months of labor.
“What you see on the Shroud of Turin is not a picture of a face. It’s a database of information.” The face he created looks nothing like the Shroud, which is “data packed into 2-D.” He unfolds that data in 3-D. Russ Brealt, expert on the project, says, “It is possible that the shroud presents an opportunity for 21stcentury people across the world to see the resurrected Christ through photography and in a sense…place our hands into His nail wounds and be not faithless but believe.”
What versions are available?
If you want to show the documentary in Sunday school with discussion, a 15-minute version is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hlh8UxBvDBg
The full 90-minute documentary The Real Face of Jesus? can be downloaded directly from the History Channel web site or can be viewed in 7 parts on YouTube.
A final great reason to show this footage on Ascension Sunday is that the History Channel is working on the release of more Real Face of Jesus documentaries. One has Ray Downing developing the face of Jesus into an actual moving likeness, and he actually creates footage of an Ascension. It can make people feel like they are right there with the disciples. This documentary will be ready for downloading and purchase for next year’s Ascension Sunday.
How to Discuss the Shroud with Students
Kids older than nine will probably find the 15-minute version of the documentary quite absorbing. It is important to impress upon students that this may in fact not be the face of Christ—there is no way to prove it farther than what has been done.
But in the digital age, when people spend much more time watching than reading, the imagery may attract many to the fact that Christ was very real—people who aren’t reading the Bible.
Here are some questions you can raise after watching, with answers you might be looking for:
Why might God have allowed the Shroud to be found and studied by so many people?
It brings together science and religion, which have not been friendly in the past 300 years…. It can make Jesus seem very real and not like an old myth, which helps some people’s faith…
Why is the Shroud specifically important today…when maybe it wasn’t a hundred years ago?
These days, people don’t read a whole lot and many respond to modern technology much more enthusiastically than writing. The images of Jesus formed from the Shroud can get people excited about Jesus—people who wouldn’t necessarily read the Bible.
What’s the difference between worshipping and religious artifact what the STURP project scientists did?
They were studying it to gain more information that they could share.
What might happen if Mr. Downing’s 3-D image were made into a wax figure and put on display somewhere? What’s the danger in that?
People might try to worship it.
Scriptures Related to the Ascension
14LATER JESUS APPEARED TO THE ELEVEN AS THEY WERE EATING;
HE REBUKED THEM FOR THEIR LACK OF FAITH AND
THEIR STUBBORN REFUSAL TO BELIEVE THOSE WHO HAD SEEN
HIM AFTER HE HAD RISEN.
15HE SAID TO THEM,
“GO INTO ALL THE WORLD AND PREACH THE GOSPEL TO ALL CREATION.
16WHOEVER BELIEVES AND IS BAPTIZED WILL BE SAVED,
BUT WHOEVER DOES NOT BELIEVE WILL BE CONDEMNED.
17AND THESE SIGNS WILL ACCOMPANY THOSE WHO BELIEVE:
IN MY NAME THEY WILL DRIVE OUT DEMONS;
THEY WILL SPEAK IN NEW TONGUES;
18 THEY WILL PICK UP SNAKES WITH THEIR HANDS;
AND WHEN THEY DRINK DEADLY POISON,
IT WILL NOT HURT THEM AT ALL;
THEY WILL PLACE THEIR HANDS ON SICK PEOPLE,
AND THEY WILL GET WELL.”
19AFTER THE LORD JESUS HAD SPOKEN TO THEM,
HE WAS TAKEN UP INTO HEAVEN AND HE SAT AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD.
20THEN THE DISCIPLES WENT OUT AND PREACHED EVERYWHERE,
AND THE LORD WORKED WITH THEM AND CONFIRMED
HIS WORD BY THE SIGNS THAT ACCOMPANIED IT.
AFTER HIS [JESUS’] SUFFERING,
HE SHOWED HIMSELF TO THESE MEN AND GAVE MANY CONVINCING PROOFS THAT
HE WAS ALIVE.
HE APPEARED TO THEM OVER A PERIOD OF FORTY DAYS AND SPOKE ABOUT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
ON ONE OCCASION,
WHILE HE WAS EATING WITH THEM,
HE GAVE THEM THIS COMMAND:
“DO NOT LEAVE JERUSALEM,
BUT WAIT FOR THE GIFT MY FATHER PROMISED,
WHICH YOU HAVE HEARD ME SPEAK ABOUT.
FOR JOHN BAPTIZED WITH WATER,
BUT IN A FEW DAYS YOU WILL BE BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.”
SO WHEN THEY MET TOGETHER,
THEY ASKED HIM,
“LORD, ARE YOU AT THIS TIME GOING TO RESTORE THE KINGDOM TO ISRAEL?”
HE SAID TO THEM:
“IT IS NOT FOR YOU TO KNOW THE TIMES OR DATES THE FATHER HAS SET BY
HIS OWN AUTHORITY.
BUT YOU WILL RECEIVE POWER WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES ON YOU;
AND YOU WILL BE MY WITNESSES IN JERUSALEM,
AND IN ALL JUDEA AND SAMARIA,
AND TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.”
AFTER HE SAID THIS,
HE WAS TAKEN UP BEFORE THEIR VERY EYES,
AND A CLOUD HID HIM FROM THEIR SIGHT.
THEY WERE LOOKING INTENTLY UP INTO THE SKY AS HE WAS GOING,
WHEN SUDDENLY TWO MEN DRESSED IN WHITE STOOD BESIDE THEM.
“MEN OF GALILEE,” THEY SAID,
“WHY DO YOU STAND HERE LOOKING INTO THE SKY?
THIS SAME JESUS,
WHO HAS BEEN TAKEN FROM YOU INTO HEAVEN,
WILL COME BACK IN THE SAME WAY YOU HAVE SEEN HIM GO INTO HEAVEN.”
Mary Kate Warner – Homeschool Crafts
Mary-Kate is a regular blogger at Christianity Cove ( http://www.christianitycove.com/). You can often find her writing about Christian Parenting, Homeschool Teaching, Bible Study and Sunday School Activities, Faith and inspiring children to love God. Follow her at @SundaySchoolGal Facebook Google+ & Pinterest