A Folded Napkin in a Deserted Tomb

John 20:7 curiously tells us the napkin placed over Jesus's face when he was buried after His crucifixion wasn't just tossed aside like the linen strips He was swaddled in. The Bible clearly states the napkin was neatly folded, and placed apart from the other "grave clothes".

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene arrived to find the entrance stone of the tomb rolled away. She ran to find the disciples and proclaimed, "They have taken the Lord's body, and no one knows where they put him!" John outran Peter to get there first. He peeked inside and saw the burial garments, but he didn't go in.

Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He too saw the garments lying there, and the cloth that covered Jesus' head was properly folded and lying to the side. 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 the tradition.

When a servant set the dinner table for his master, he made sure that it was exactly how the master wanted it. After furnishing the table perfectly, the servant would wait just out of sight until his master finished eating. The servant wouldn't touch that table until his master was finished.

When the master finished eating, he would arise, wipe his fingers, his mouth, his beard, then wad up the napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clean up. In those days, the wadded napkin meant, 'I'm done.'

But if the master got up from the table, 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!'

He is Coming Back, my friend! Jesus intends to come back. It is finished. But He's not done yet.

Eric ScottComment