The Folded Face Covering
“Simon Peter therefore also cometh, following him, and entered into the tomb; and he beholdeth the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, that was upon his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself” (John 20.6-7 ASV)
The most important happening since Adam and Eve left the garden was accomplished on a Sunday morning in Jerusalem. The disciples of Jesus arrive at His tomb to find Him gone, and the tomb nearly empty. “Nearly”? Yes. Still in the tomb were 2 angels, and the grave cloths. Those things are the focus of this article.
The two angels (John 20.12) are sitting in the place where Jesus’s body should be. The Ark of the Covenant has an angel on both sides (Exodus 25.10-22). In certain scriptures, this angel-topped-box is called the “mercy seat”. The high priest will bring blood to appease God’s anger against the people’s sins. Jesus has died, “once for all”, to atone for the sins of all mankind. By the mercy of God, the blood of Jesus answers the anger of God. Therefore, the seat of mercy is Jesus.
The reason that guards are placed at the tomb is to ensure none of Jesus’s followers snatch up His body. If Jesus’ body is missing it will give power to the teaching of resurrection. The linen cloths are still there. Meaning, if body-snatched, the thieves took the time to unwrap the corpse while hiding from the guards. Then they would be dragging away a naked, bloody, body. Delaying to strip off the linens would increase risk of being discovered by the guards and make escaping more difficult, being exposed to any remaining blood. Jesus was not stolen, He is risen.
John makes a point of telling us the napkin was rolled up, otherwise translated “folded”. In Jewish custom, if a master was done with his meal, he would wipe his face and fingers, leaving the napkin bunched up on his plate, and leave, not returning. But, if he folded the napkin all of the servants knew he was coming back.
His work completed on Earth Jesus has gone to be seated in power. But take note: He is risen, and He is coming back!
Bonus: The stone was not rolled away so Jesus could leave, but so that this testimony could be seen by all who would come.