An Odd Detail
“Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 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
What is your favorite part of the Resurrection account?
Of all the things described in the Easter account, this is a particularly interesting one. Why not just say that Jesus wasn’t in the tomb or say that all they saw were the burial cloths and shroud (face cloth)? Instead, they describe the scene in great detail that the linens and shroud were folded and laid separately.
So, why is such detail included?
It could be that John is simply trying to really paint the picture of the moment in such a way that people would be able to see it clearly in their mind’s eye. He may want people to be able to “live through that moment” with him. There are a couple of other possible reasons, though.
1. To refute the claim that Jesus’ body was stolen.
The entrance to Jesus’ tomb was blocked by a large stone and guarded by Roman guards. If someone was going to try to steal the body of Jesus, they most likely would have taken the body in its burial clothes. This would save time and be cleaner, both physically and spiritually.
If, for some reason, they took Jesus’ body out of the burial clothes, they would likely have tossed them hastily to the side as they made their escape. With Jesus’ resurrection, His burial linens were still there, as was the face cloth, and they were folded neatly, showing no signs of haste.
2. Because it’s true. It really happened.
Studies have shown that when people lie, they usually include fewer details. This is quite a lot of detail. John also includes some other unnecessary details, like the fact that, as he and Peter raced to the tomb, he got there first.
Did we need to know that? Maybe not. However, it gives that much more detail which is exactly what you would expect when someone is truthfully describing a real event that actually happened.
This detail is just one more part of the account that shows us the miracle of Christ’s resurrection that shows us Jesus really lived, really died, and really rose from the dead as an actual event in history.
It also helps us, as we read the account, to be able to see it even more vividly in our mind, see the empty tomb, and believe; just as the disciples saw the empty tomb and believed.
He is risen!
Open my eyes to see Your Son, who was born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, suffered, died, and was buried, and on the third day, rose again. It is only by Your grace that I believe. Hold me in the faith until the day of Christ’s return.
In Christ’s Service,