Grave Clothes

Joh 20:5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in  6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie 7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

Easter is, in my estimation, the most significant holiday on our calendar. It has been stated by bible scholars that the resurrection is the most significant event of all time.  Sadly though, it gets second billing in our society, to Christmas which is the second most significant event on our calendar.   For the next few days I will be sharing some nuggets that I have found in the Scriptures concerning Easter.

Today, we are looking at the event of Peter and John’s first look into the empty tomb.  The first thing that they saw was the absence of Jesus’ body.  This would have been a terrible shock, for they had witnessed His death and it was a certainty.  Immediately, speculation as to what had happened began as they tried to make sense of what they were seeing.

The first piece of physical evidence was that they noticed the grave clothes lying where they were.  What exactly, did that mean?  If you are not familiar with the burial ritual you may miss this but when a person was burred they first covered their face with a cloth or napkin that could allow a viewing without complete removal of the grave clothes.  Then they were wrapped in a sheet which also covered the napkin.  Then spices were scattered over the body to counter the stench of deteriorating flesh. Then they were rolled up in a sheet to prevent body movement due to normal deterioration.  This would prevent false hope to those later visiting the grave in thinking that they were somehow still alive because of the reactive movement..  Then the sheet covering the body was tied in place with strips of cloth the full length of the body to keep the sheet in place.  Finally, the body was laid in the tomb.  It would have appeared as our concept of a mummy.

What Peter and John saw upon entering was the grave clothes still tied in their position as though it still contained a body, but the body is now missing.  What a strange thing to take in as they observed where He had lain.  How could Jesus’ grave clothes remain in their position and the body exit without disturbing them.  That was a real puzzlement.

The second piece of evidence was the napkin that had been placed over His face.  It had been removed from the grave clothes as well and was found lying separate from the grave clothes and had been folded.  I have heard of the custom of the folded napkin meaning that the person was returning and it contains another truth about Jesus, that he is coming again, but I prefer to think that it has another meaning which is perhaps even more meaningful.  If you recall that at the moment of His death, the veil in the temple was ripped from top to bottom, signifying that the access to God was opened to everyone.  I think that the folded napkin has a similar meaning that He wants us to now see him as alive rather than dead.  We aren’t looking for a corpse but one come back from the dead and has extended the invitation to as many as believe to come and share that life with Him.

It is now time for you to examine the evidence and to choose to believe or doubt that He is victor over death, hell and the grave.

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