Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Do you know about the napkin?

I was reading Smockity Frock's blog where she commented on nonsensical songs and poetry. It got me thinking about something else I had read. I wasn't sure I wanted to share it here because I recently posted something I received in email and I think so many people also receive this stuff in their email that they don't care to read about it on a blog. However, I think it is very common for many people who read the Bible to skim over stuff they aren't familiar with (geneology or the details of the tabernacle are just examples.) If it doesn't apply to right her, right now then I'll just get to the parts that I understand and that do apply, right? Well, OK, maybe this doesn't apply to you. But I know that sometimes it applies to me. There are things (places, situations, experiences) in the Bible that I will skim over and either hope or intend to come back to or just leave behind and move on.

Like the buriel cloth that was left folded in the empty tomb after Jesus had risen. Had you noticed this little detail or were just thinking about the fact that the tomb is empty? It's a small detail, but a detail none the less. And God doesn't overlook the small stuff (not even in our lives!)

So, before I share with you what someone else shared with me about why Jesus folded the linen burial cloth after His resurrection, let me first put it in context:

John 20:3-9 (NIV)
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 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. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after His resurrection?

The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes.

The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed at the head of that stony coffin.

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.

She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. 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 the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. The other disciple out ran Peter and got there first. He stopped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn't go in.

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.

Was that important? Absolutely!
Is it really significant? Yes!

In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition.

When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that 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, and 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 that napkin and toss it onto the table.

The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, "I'm finished.."

But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because..........

The folded napkin meant, "I'm coming back!"


  1. I don't think I've ever heard that before. Very cool.

  2. That is amazing. Thank you for sharing, that really resonated with me. God is so good.

  3. I've heard this, but quite some time ago. I'd completely forgotten. Thanks for the reminder. LOVE it!

    Bless you, and thanks for visiting today.

    e-Mom @ Chrysalis