John 20:1-29 (click here)
Simon Peter… went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. (John 20:6-7)
Peter and John have just been told that Jesus’ body is gone! They race to them tomb, John gets there first and peers in, but as soon as Peter has caught up he barges into the cave-like grave. Then we are given some interesting details… the grave cloths have been left behind and the face cloth has been folded like a freshly washed towel.
Why do we need to know these tiny details?
I believe there is a practical reason and a symbolic reason. First, on a practical level, this story is true… it is not and myth, and small details like this help affirm that “realness.” Why did John tell us about the grave clothes?…Because they were really there! He’s describing the situation as they found it.
Secondly, John has mentioned grave clothes one other time in his gospel. In John 11, he tells us the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus and in verse 44 the text says this, “The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.'” Lazarus came out of the tomb still bound up in his grave clothes. It is almost as if he brought them out because he would need them again one day.
But, when Jesus rose, he left behind the grave clothes. He wouldn’t need them anymore! He was alive forevermore! Death defeated! It’s almost like he folded up death and left it in the grave! Hallelujah, what a savior!
Jesus has permanently defeated sin and death! He has no need of grave clothes and neither do we…for through him we are promised life eternal! This Easter…remember that Jesus resurrection guarantees you resurrection. You have been freed from the grave so that you can live fearlessly for Christ!
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.