What's Behind The Burial Cloth?

Why is it that bold descriptions in the Bible don’t seem to pop out and scream to us like we hope they would? There’s likely many this author has read a thousand times, but did not become readily apparent until someone with a higher state of understanding pointed this out. Take the original author Bobby Theriot, from the USL Branch of Louisiana State University in Lafayette, came out with this fact first.

When reading John’s gospel, maybe a thousand people never noticed this vague nuance when reading the Bible. Maybe they thought the truth was so obvious it would have been redundant to point this crucial point out when discussing the resurrection of Jesus.

Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after His resurrection? The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us the “cloth,” which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes. The Bible uses an entire verse to tell us the “cloth” was neatly folded, and was placed separate from the grave clothes.

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found the stone rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and John. She said, “They have taken the Lord's body out of the tomb, and I don't know where they have put him!'

Peter and John ran to the tomb to see… John outran Peter and got there first. He stooped, looked in, and saw the linen cloth lying there, but didn't enter. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside… He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus' head was folded up and lying to the side. That was extremely important, and highly significant!

In order to understand the significance of the folded cloth, one has to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded cloth had to do with the master and servant--every Jewish boy knew this tradition.

When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure it was exactly the way the master wanted it. The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait just out of sight, until the master had finished eating. The servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished. Now if the master were done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up the cloth and toss it onto the table.

The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded cloth meant, “I'm done.”

But if the master got up from the table, folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because.......the folded cloth napkin meant, “I'm coming back!”

Jesus is Coming Back! Who would have realized this re-admission of His Resurrection could have been so thinly veiled in the gospels?

Another question would have to be catching exactly “153” fish with the disciples fishing in the Sea of Tiberious (Star Trek--Captain Kirk’s rare middle name). The exact number of “153” was likely meant to have a specific, or even some symbolic, meaning to the apostles’ universal mission. This was immediately after the Resurrection, before most of His disciples even recognized this was the risen Jesus cooking for them.

One could continue with this line of reasoning for a while, but now one has to wonder what Jesus cooking for someone would mean? Heaven knows, what semi-veiled meanings hundreds of other quotes other gospels had…
Kevin Roeten can be reached at [email protected].