As we where reading the book of John last month, one thing I noticed something I never did before when reading about Jesus’ resurrection, and that is the folded handkerchief he left behind in the empty tomb.
“…and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.” ~ John 20:7
It’s a little detail in the big scheme of things, but yet it so important. Think about it, it is hard to consider that folding the handkerchief may have been one of the first acts that Jesus performed after rising from the dead.
“Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.” ~ John 20:8
John saw the handkerchief, and he believed. The handkerchief is an important detail. Ina Bible inspired by God every word and detail is important. The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us the napkin neatly folded lying by itself.
So, what is so important about the napkin? What is Jesus telling us?
I believe before we can find the answer, we must understand the traditions of that time. Just days before the resurrection, Jesus and His disciples had celebrated the Passover meal with the plates, the ladle, the cups, a cloth napkin, the food. Everything on the table had a proper place, neat and very orderly; perfectly arranged by the servant, so the tradition went. In fact, when the meal was served the servant would wait, sometimes out of sight, until the master had finished the meal.
When the master was done eating, he would rise from the table, take the folded napkin and wipe his fingers and mouth and clean his beard. He then would throw the napkin on the table, no longer neatly folded. This would let the servant know the master had completed, and the table could be cleared.
In those days, a used napkin meant, “I’m done. I’m finished eating.” However, if the master got up from the table during the meal, he would then fold the napkin neatly, and laid it beside the plate, the servant knew not to touch the table. The neatly folded napkin meant, “I’m not finished yet. I’m coming back.”
Got the message yet?
In John 20:9, we know that John didn’t under what the Scriptures said about the resurrection. But John knew what Jesus was saying in the tomb. John knew that Jesus was saying through the neatly folded napkin. John knew Jesus was saying, “I am alive. I am not finished yet!” John knew his Redeemer lives! John knew Jesus wasn’t finished with His work yet. John knew that death and the grave didn’t hold him.
A message that my Redeemer lives.
A message that He is not finished yet.
A message that He is returning.