Saturday, April 4, 2015

the last day of Easter fabric

I had planned to post this yesterday, but due to both expected and unexpected life events, that didn't happen.

I think I was in high school before I had ever heard a sermon or emphasis placed on the linen cloth Jesus was wrapped in (both as a baby and in the tomb), specifically from John's account of the resurrection.

"The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself." ~ John 20:4-7 (NASB)

I remember my younger sister and I discussing this passage, and pondering whether or not the wrappings from the body were left in a heap and just the "face-cloth" or handkerchief was neatly rolled (the New King James says it was "folded"; other versions say "rolled").

I've heard and read a lot of neat stories about the symbolism behind the rolled or folded head-burial cloth. It seems most of the early church leaders used this point to emphasize that Christ was truly risen and not a victim of corpse-stealing, as a thief would not take the time to remove the burial wraps, much less neatly roll or fold the wrappings on the head (which was used supposedly to keep the mouth closed). And for the most part I agree with them. There's a small part of my brain that wants to argue back with them. A few years ago my niece's house was robbed during the day while she and her husband were at work. She knew someone had been in the house when she walked in the living room...because the thief straightened a picture on the mantle that she had knocked off and hadn't made the time to correctly reposition. Once she saw that, she looked around the room and began noticing items missing. Had the thief not been so neat, it might have been several days before they realized they had been robbed (the thief only took a gaming console, games, and guns...stuff they wouldn't normally use during the week). So neatness in and of itself doesn't necessarily prove that a thief was/was not there.

Regardless, it's one of the few details that have always amazed me, a detail that no other author records. Granted they all mention the wrappings being left in the grave, but John is the only author that talks about the face wrappings being apart from the body wrappings. I've often wondered if the angels unwrapped Him, or if He tore the wrappings off Himself. And while you'd have to pull the body wrappings off to have use of your hands, if you were wrapped up in something, the first thing you'd strive to remove would be something over your face. You'd want to breathe, I would think, before you wanted to walk around.

 I know we'll have a new body and a renewed mind when we arrive in Heaven. I don't know if that means we'll have the answers to all of these questions then, or if it simply won't matter. But if we don't know and still remember some of what we think here, I long to ask Jesus this one day, to hear His resurrection story and the glory of that moment, when the horrors of Friday and Saturday (as we know it) were finally over for Him. And that moment is what radically transformed life.

"12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless;you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied." ~ I Corinthians 15: 12-19

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