John 20:6 “Then Simon Peter…arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen laying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen” (NIV).

Observation: Mary Magdalene had visited Christ’s tomb early in the morning and found the stone rolled away. She ran to Peter and John to breathlessly sputter, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him” (John 20:2, NIV). Peter and John then rushed to the tomb and entered its shadows only to see the linen body wraps lying near the neatly folded cloth that had been around Christ’s head.

Application: This presents a picture different from the one my mind has spun in the past. I have imagined burial cloths simply lying loose as though the body had been snatched from within and the cloth left to drift gently downward, now emptied of its precious cargo. Given the frantic scurrying of His friends I have assumed that He, too, had acted in haste. Perhaps Christ had been teleported from His stone resting place to nearby woods to watch what would happen next.

Apparently, that isn’t what happened. The Word says the cloth that had wrapped His head was neatly folded by itself and set aside from the linen. This presents a very different picture, one of deliberate, thoughtful intent.

It is possible to imagine Jesus taking a moment to savor the scene. God is a God of order, and there is something about the orderliness of this moment and His complete mastery of it that I should think about. As He stood beside the place where His broken body had lain a moment earlier, did He perhaps reflect with deep satisfaction on the eternal victory just achieved? Did a faint smile form as He heard anguished screams of foes now forever defeated? Whatever His thoughts, He apparently lingered long enough to fold the cloth even as a dutiful laundromat attendant might have done. It was as if  He wanted me to know, “This was no body-snatching; there was no chaos here.” What a wonderful thought, that in the swirl of events He would not be rushed.

Then this thought comes: I am to be like Him, centered upon the reality of the resurrection, savoring His victory over my otherwise darkened heart and contemplating with unconcealed delight His soon return. As He lovingly folded the cloth, His thoughts were of me. He looked into the future and saw me safely delivered from the same darkness He had just experienced. Then satisfied, I imagine He laid the cloth aside and strode purposefully into the light.

Prayer: Wow Lord, in this short passage You have caused me to understand the resurrection in a new way. Everything in the tomb was under Your full control. As the world’s chaos presses in, fill me today with the same sense of calm You showed in folding the cloth.