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Folding Sheets

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. John 20:6-7

In summer months, my childhood chore was to hang clothes on the clothesline. I loved to hang sheets and pillowcases. If you hung them evenly, they became much easier to fold when evening came. Fresh folded sheets dried in fresh sun and gentle breeze used to make up a bed is a most indescribable and satisfying delight for Type A people like me.

So it catches my attention that the cloth placed on Jesus’ head has been set aside and rolled up, which can also mean “folded.” My first instinct is always, Jesus is neat and tidy. His mother Mary would have been proud.

All humor aside, the first Easter witnesses, Mary Magdalene, Peter and the other disciple, who come to the tomb, are reeling in deep trauma and grief from the horrific crucifixion of their beloved Lord. To see linens lying and a folded cloth where Jesus’ body had been lain would be terrifying and, dare I say, odd.

Those of us looking into the tomb 2000 years later expect to find it empty. The folded cloth reveals Jesus’ victory over death. While others crucified him, wrapped his body, lay him in a tomb and rolled a stone over it, God is the enactor of resurrection by removing the stone and raising Jesus from the dead.

I wonder what that miraculous moment of resurrection was like for Jesus. What a satisfying delight it must have been for Jesus to fold or roll up that cloth that had covered his lifeless face. Once cloth covering death, it was now fabric refreshed by the imminence of resurrection!

There will be a day when you and I no longer will have to wonder what resurrection is like. Until then, may we experience the indescribable and satisfying delight of the warmth of Christ’s love shining upon and through damp hearts, drying our tears of sin, shame and doubt, and being enfolded daily in God’s promises of grace, forgiveness and life everlasting.


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