Summary: The folded Napkin informs us that Jesus is not done with us


Jesus' Burial

Have you ever thought of what they all had to do?

John 19:38- 40

Later Joseph from the city of Arimathea asked Pilate to let him remove Jesus' body. (Joseph was a disciple of Jesus but secretly because he was afraid of the Jews). Pilate gave him permission to remove Jesus' body. So Joseph removed it. Nicodemus, the one who had first come to Jesus at night, went with Joseph and brought 75 pounds of a myrrh and aloe mixture. These two men took the body of Jesus and bound it with strips of linen. They laced the strips with spices. This was the Jewish custom for burial.

The first problem was the spikes holding Jesus' hands and feet. Did they pull the nails out or did they gently but firmly pull the hands and feet over the nails?

Turn with me to:

JOHN 20:1-9 (I am reading from the message)

Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance. She ran at once to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, breathlessly panting, "They took the Master from the tomb. We don't know where they've put him." Peter and the other disciple left immediately for the tomb. They ran, neck and neck. The other disciple got to the tomb first, outrunning Peter. Stooping to look in, he saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he didn't go in. Simon Peter arrived after him, entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there, and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with the linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself. Then the other disciple, the one who had gotten there first, went into the tomb, took one look at the evidence, and believed. No one yet knew from the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

They had to take Him down from the cross, which was not an easy chore. First, they had to rig a ladder, and climb up the side of the cross, and then they had to pull His hands off over the nails. There was no way they could get those spikes out of the wood, not from that angle, not with His hands in-between the wood and the nail head. Once the hands were loosed, they allowed the body of Jesus to sag into a sheet, and would then remove His feet from the nail in the same manner.

Then they prepared Jesus' body for burial. We know they did not have to drain many body fluids, especially since the soldier pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water (John 19:34). They washed His body and wrapped it in an expensive mixture of myrrh and aloes (John 19:39). After this, they wrapped Jesus' body in strips of linen .They folded His arms over His chest. They closed His eyes, kissed His cheek, and placed a napkin or cloth over His face. John tells us they did everything "in accordance with Jewish burial customs" (John 19:40).

Where were the disciples, the people closest to Him during all of this? Why were they not helping? Were disciples were not able to help? Were they too scared, upset, and shocked? In Bible days, when someone died, it was the duty of a family member to close the eyes and kiss the cheek of the dead. Joseph and Nicodemus did not have to do this but did so, why? It was NOT necessary. You see, they were attempting to preserve the crucified body of Christ for all of eternity. (But man's best efforts are nothing compared to what God would do after three days). Man was attempting to preserve a body in death but God would raise the body from the dead.

They walked away from that tomb, in sadness, maybe cannot believing that Jesus is no more. You can imagine that the next 3 days were a party for satan and his demons, the Jewish leaders but then He rose. It says in the bible that Mary was the first one to see the empty tomb, no one believed her and came looking for themselves.

The Gospel of John tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes. In verse 7, the Bible tells us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed aside, why is this so important?

In order to understand why the folded napkin is so important, we will have to go back to the Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant. 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 done”. But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it aside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because the servant knew that the folded napkin meant, “I’m not finished yet.” The folded napkin meant, “I’m coming back!”

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