Posts Tagged ‘Folded Napkin’

No Rush

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.

The Gospel According to John 20:6-7 (ESV)

The face cloth was not with the other grave clothes but was folded up and laid aside. What an odd detail to include. None of the other gospels include it. Why might John?

John was the last gospel written and there had been growing opposition to the emerging Christian sect. There are rabbinic writings from the first century claiming that Jesus didn’t rise from death but that his disciples took and hid his body. Since then, other theories about the missing corpse have included things like dogs raiding the tomb, dragging the body off and eating it.

The head cloth contradicts those sorts of explanations. If the disciples stole the body at night with Roman soldiers guarding the tomb, why take time to fold the face cloth? Moreover, why strip the body at all? Grab Jesus and run! And can you picture a pack of ravenous feral dogs managing to take the body and leave the grave clothes, let alone fold the face cloth?

No, this glimpse inside the tomb gives us a picture of the resurrection of Jesus that was not panicked or chaotic but serene. On the first day of the week, Jesus sat up, removed the cloth from his face, folded it, and laid it aside. Perhaps angels brought him a change of clothes since he was crucified naked and his clothing divided as he died. He removed the grave clothes, donned his new robe and stepped out of the tomb as death’s conqueror. No rush. No panic. No fear. Just the dignity of a triumphant king coming to deliver to his people the news of his unimaginable victory. Victory over the grave, over death, over sin, over hell itself.