“Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally, the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.” (John 20:6-8)
Mary Magdalene had gone to the tomb on Sunday morning while it was still dark. She found the tomb empty. Running back to the disciples, she told what she had found. Peter and John ran to the tomb. Peter arrived second but went in first. The strips of linen with which the body was wrapped were lying there. The head cloth was folded and set apart from the linen strips.
Since Jesus is the head of the church, His body, someone has suggested that it was a picture of His work as the head being accomplished. The body material was in a big pile, showing we have a lot of work left to do. The thought is true, but it was more an evidentiary statement than a theological one. Grave robbers would have taken this valuable material or left the body wrapped in it to carry it away.
When John got up the nerve to step inside, he saw the same thing and believed. Why would the sight of these cloths cause him to believe? They were left as they would have been had Jesus physically come back to life. Up till that time, they dared not believe Jesus’ many statements of rising again, because the brutal murder had crushed their hopes. They did not want to be disappointed again, but the evidence was too strong. They had to believe, and soon they would see their resurrected Lord with their own eyes.
Has disappointment and heartache caused you to set aside your hopes? Has the pain of this world caused you to put your faith on the shelf? Jesus never promised us safety from the pain of this fallen world. He did promise He would be with us through it. Step back in time for a moment, and dare to walk into the tomb with John. See the linen strips and the head shroud neatly folded? There is more than this life. He has gone before us through death to make a way for us.
Lord, I believe and trust in Your promises, and I am looking forward to being with You in Heaven. Until then, strengthen me with Your love so that I may continue to serve You here. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.