John 20 : 1 – 18
Looking at verse 6- 7
6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings.
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. When Christ died, it was the duty of two men, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus.
They went to Pontius Pilot and begged that they be allowed to take the body of Jesus. As they were given permission they removed the body from the cross and placed it into a new tomb that Joseph had prepared for himself. They washed the body and wrapped it in white linen, closed Jesus eyes, kissed His cheek, and placed a napkin over his face.
As they walked away from the tomb I’m sure they would have been silent, sadness would have overcome them, and they would have felt like there was lead in their stomach and a lump in their throat. I’m sure they would have thought that it was all over, the end of a dream, and it only lasted three short years.
The next days must have passed like an eternity for them, however, for those days I am sure the devil and his demons would have rejoiced, the forces of darkness, thought they had won. The Jewish leaders, as well as the Roman government, congratulated themselves on their brilliant scheme.
But, on the third day, something wonderful and miraculous happened, on the third day God the Father said to an angel in heaven, “Go and bring my Son”. And as the angel’s feet touched the ground, the stone rolled away, and up from the grave, Jesus arose…. He lives!!!!!!!!!!
In the Gospel message Mary, Peter and John all went to the tomb and saw that it was empty, but there was something interesting in the tomb, something that caught their eye.They saw that the grave clothes had been tossed in a heap, BUT THE NAPKIN that was placed over Jesus face was folded neatly and placed at the head of the stony coffin…… Is that important?……….Absolutely!!
The Gospel of John tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not 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 the coffin.
In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little of the Hebrew custom or tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the master and servant and every Jewish boy knew this tradition.
Now if the master had finished eating, he would rise up from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and then would screw up the napkin and toss it on the table……… The screwed up napkin meant,…………. I’m done……….. The servant then knew, he was to clear the table.
But,…. If the master got up from the table, folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant WOULD DARE NOT 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”!!!
Peter and John spent three years with Jesus; they watched Him as He opened the eyes of the blind, as He literally raised people from the dead. They saw Him heal the sick, the compassion He had for the poor and the lonely, the outcasts……… Then…….. They watched Him die.
As they saw Him die all their hopes and dreams would have shattered!! All they could think of was, “IT’S OVER……..IT’S ALL OVER”. …….For three days they were in the depths of despair, the lights of their soul had gone dim……. Peter even said I’m going fishing; I’m going back to what I used to do.
After three days they saw the empty tomb, BUT THEY ALSO SAW the folded napkin. “He’s not finished yet;……..He’s coming back”.
I thank God today that “He’s not finished yet”
Right now Jesus is busy saving souls; the bible says that Jesus came into this world for one reason,……to save sinners. John 3:17 “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved”.
In the eyes of God there are only two kinds of people, those who have already been saved, ………. And those who need to be saved.
Some mistakenly say that good people are saved and bad people need to be saved. This is incorrect as all need to be saved; there is no-one so bad that they cannot be saved.
We are all sinners in need of saving. In God’s eyes there is no difference, there are no big sinners or little sinners. In God’s eyes, there are sinners like you and me who have been forgiven, and then THERE ARE the sinners who have not yet been forgiven, but certainly CAN BE.
‘The napkin is still folded, He’s still saving souls”
A few days before Christ died, He took the disciples aside and told them what was about to happen. He said, “I’m going to be betrayed, arrested, beaten and crucified. Then He looked at the disciples and said, “All of you are going to desert me when the heat is on”.
Peter in true fashion rose up in typical style and said, “Not me”.
Can you see Jesus shaking His head saying to Peter, “You are going to deny me three times before tomorrow”?
Now let’s go forward in time when they found the empty tomb and the angel tells Mary and the other women to tell the disciples to meet with Jesus in Galilee.
Mark 16:7 “Now go and tell His disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you before He died.”
Can you imagine how Peter might have felt. Jesus wants to see him, what for? He not only denied Jesus three times, but he also cursed and he ran off deserting Him.
Peter was in total despair, He couldn’t have meant him, He would have meant the other disciples, not me. But they replied that the angel had named him,the disciples and Peter!!
Why did Jesus want to see Peter?………. To rebuke him? ……………No to restore him!
One of the sweetest scenes in the Bible is Peter and Jesus coming together, and Jesus hugging him and saying,“Peter do you love me”?
Did you notice!!.. Jesus does not mention anything about Peter’s denial, .. Jesus does not mention anything about Peter’s Dessertion of Him,……… Did you notice that Jesus didn’t mention anything about Peter’s cursing?
Do you love Jesus?Jesus loves you.The napkin is still folded.
Are there friends, neighbors or maybe even a member of your family that you are concerned about…… It’s not too late……… Go to them……. Tell them about Jesus. Do it in love, be gentle, understanding compassionate.
We are to imitate Jesus and He was always gentle and loving with ordinary people like you and me. Nowhere in the New Testament will you find an account where Jesus was abusive or scolded an ordinary person like you or me. Yes He was critical of the Pharisees and Sadducees, but not the ordinary people they were the leaders, AND THEY BURDENING THE PEOPLE TERRIBLY.
Jesus wants you and me to be a part of His great commission,.. ……we are to be the messenger,………. He will do the rest. ………God does all the real work, we deliver the message, God opens their heart so that they can hear the truth. It is Jesus who will bring them home.
Now let’s look at the key issues. When Jesus arose from the dead,…He folded the napkin to let us know He is coming back, His work is not finished.
When Jesus met with Peter in Galilee He didn’t remember any of Peter’s sins. He hugged him and asked him “Do you love me”.Do not be concerned, Jesus won’t remember your sins either. I beg of you, don’t wait until it’s too late.right no.. the napkin is still folded.
Jesus won’t scold you; He will hug you like He hugged Peter and ask you, “Do you love me”. The napkin is still folded Amen.
Let’s pray. Dear Jesus, you suffered so much to save us, help us to remember all that you have done for us. Help us never to forget that you love us, and you are coming back for us. Amen.
Pastor Ian Kotzur