The Messenger

Barrie Sworztz, a professional photographer and member of the original STURP team, perhaps world’s most recognisable and outspoken proponent of the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and the creator of what is certainly the world’s most extensive Shroud of Turin database (, is a practicing Jew who disbelieves in the identity of Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua ben Yosef ) as the Messiah and/or the son of G-d. This adds weight to his status as an objective witness, but there is a tension here. Barrie has clearly stated numbers of times that he is not a Messianic Jew, yet he has also stated that he feels strongly that his involvement with the Shroud, and with the advocation of the authenticity of the Shroud, is in some sense a divinely guided mission. The question for Barrie is this: Why does G-d care about the tall, lean, hirsute, Northern Israelite, whose blood and body-image appear on the Shroud of Turin, and who falsely claimed to be the Messiah and the son of G-d, i,e. a man who was either a shamefaced conman or delusional? As for the Shroud, if it is the burial garment of someone who was not the Messiah, was not from G-d, and did not rise from the dead, then why is it interesting except as an academic exercise? I mean the Romans crucified thousands of people -and millions of people throughout history have suffered and died horribly and unjustly at the hands of others- what makes this victim so special in G-d’s sight? And if Yeshua was as -every orthodox Jew believes both a messianic imposter, and a blasphemer- then under Jewish law he was worthy of death and of G-d’s extreme disfavour. I saw something on you-tube recently where Israelis were being asked what they thought of Yeshua, and one man said several times “He was a good man.” Maybe, but only if Yeshua was who he said he was. A false prophet and a blasphemer cannot reasonably be called “good” by any practicing Jew. As Barrie has said, Jews are often the messengers between God and man, but what in this case is the message?

Some Jews are what are known as “Messianic Jews”, i.e. they accept that Yeshua is the long prophesied Messiah. Jewish Voice for example offers the following prophecies as indicative of the identify of the Messiah as Yeshua:

1. Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem
Micah 5:2:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

2. Messiah is to be preceded by a Messenger 

Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1:

A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lordmake straight in the desert a highway for our G-d.

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

3. Messiah is to enter Jerusalem on a donkey 

Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

4. Messiah is to be betrayed by a friend 
Psalms 41:9; 55:12-14:

Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.

If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it, if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of G-d, as we walked about among the worshipers.

5. Messiah is to be sold for 30 pieces of silver
Zechariah 11:12:

I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

6. The money for which Messiah is sold is to be thrown “to the potter” in G-d’s house

Zechariah 11:13:

And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.

7. Messiah is to be born of a virgin 
Isaiah 7:14:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

8. Messiah is to be hated without cause

Isaiah 49:7; Psalm 69:4:

This is what the LORD says– the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel– to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and stand up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.

9. Messiah is to be silent before His accusers
Isaiah 53:7:

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

10. Messiah is to be executed by crucifixion, by having His hands and feet pierced 
Psalm 22:16:

Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. 

11. Messiah is to be given vinegar to quench His thirst
Psalm 69:21:

They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.

12. Messiah is to be executed without having a bone broken
Psalm 34: 20:

he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

13. Messiah is to be buried with the rich when dead
Isaiah 53:9:

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

14. Messiah is to be raised from the dead 
Isaiah 53:9-10; Psalm 16:10:

Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.

15. Messiah is to be executed by crucifixion as a thief
Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10; Isaiah 53:5:

Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. 

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Prophecy is a powerful indicator from a spiritual point of view, but from a material point of view, the most powerful indicator by far that Yeshua was who he appeared to be, is the Shroud of Turin. I challenge Barrie -and any Jew who believes in the authenticity of the Shroud- to consider that the reason G-d cares about the man on the Shroud is because was neither a liar, nor madman, nor blasphemer, but was instead exactly who he said he was, and that the purpose of the Shroud is a message to a world steeped in materialism and unbelief: prepare a way in this spiritual wilderness, make straight a highway in this spiritual desert…