- Common Material shared between the gospel accounts
- Uniquely Matthew
- Uniquely Mark
- Uniquely Luke
- Uniquely John
It seems when Jesus left His clothes lying around His mum took a photo of them so she could show them to his father so he would deal with his son. The question is which photo mostly accurately matches the account of the Gospels? Is it A where Jesus seems to have left His clothes in rather a mess? Or is it B where he appears to have folded them nicely, like His mum had always told Him to do? I will let you work it out as you look at the accounts of both Luke
These grave clothes are highly significant. Especially when we compare Luke 24:12 with John 20:5-9.
I have given you each relevant passage in a number of different translations because there is a major difference between the versions.
- (AMP) But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; and stooping down and looking in, he saw the linen cloths alone by themselves, and he went away, wondering about and marveling at what had happened.
- (BBE) But Peter got up and went to the place where the body had been put, and looking in he saw nothing but the linen cloths, and he went to his house full of wonder at what had taken place.
- (CEV) But Peter ran to the tomb. And when he stooped down and looked in, he saw only the burial clothes. Then he returned, wondering what had happened.
- (ESV) But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
- (GNB) But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; he bent down and saw the grave cloths but nothing else. Then he went back home amazed at what had happened.
- (GW) But Peter got up and ran to the tomb. He bent down to look inside and saw only the strips of linen. Then he went away, wondering what had happened.
- (ISV) Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. He stooped down and saw only the linen cloths. Then he went home wondering about what had happened.
- (KJV) Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
- (LITV) But rising up, Peter ran to the tomb, and stooping down he saw the linen lying alone. And he went away wondering to himself at what had happened.
- (MSG) But Peter jumped to his feet and ran to the tomb. He stooped to look in and saw a few grave clothes, that’s all. He walked away puzzled, shaking his head.
- (NASB) But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.
- NLT) However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.
John 20:6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there,
- (AMP) But the burial napkin (kerchief) which had been around Jesus’ head, was not lying with the other linen cloths, but was [still] rolled up (wrapped round and round) in a place by itself.
- (BBE) And the cloth, which had been round his head, not with the linen bands but rolled up in a place by itself.
- (CEV) He also saw the piece of cloth that had been used to cover Jesus’ face. It was rolled up and in a place by itself.
- (ESV) and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.
- (GW) He also saw the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head. It wasn’t lying with the strips of linen but was rolled up separately.
- (ISV) and that the handkerchief that had been on Jesus’ head was not lying with the linen cloths but was rolled up in a separate place.
- (KJV) And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
- (LITV) And the grave cloth which was on His head was not lying with the linens, but was wrapped up in one place by itself.
- (MSG) and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with the linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself.
- (NASB) and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.
- (NLT) while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings.
- (YLT) and the napkin that was upon his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but apart, having been folded up, in one place;
Something happened when Peter and John saw the cloths or the grave clothes when they looked into the tomb. Luke and John’s version as it is translated above tell us that both Peter and John were impacted by what they saw in the tomb when they looked inside. John’s version tells us he (John) reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Peter then arrived and went inside and noticed the linen wrappings lying there, but the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings.
Luke’s version tells us the disciples heard the news that Jesus was alive from the women but they didn’t believe it. Hence on hearing the news Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings. On observing those wrappings Peter then went home wondering what had happened (NLT). John’s version informs us that when John entered the tomb he saw and believed. Believed what? Believed what the women had been telling them, that Jesus had risen from the dead. He adds “up until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead”. Then they (Peter and John) went home. From the above account it seems that John went home believing and Peter went home wondering what had happened.
My questions related to this passage are as follows:
- What was it Peter and John saw that made them react as they did?
- Are the reactions of Peter and John actually different?
- Is it that Peter is left wondering what happened while John goes away believing?
- What was it about the grave clothes that evoked this response in Peter and John?
There are other questions that came to my mind but for today’s Gem I wish to focus only on the grave clothes. The state of the grave clothes is a major question. It mirrors the state depicted by the two photos above (taken by Mary at the time – joke) Of course Mary didn’t take these photos. But they do depict the two points of view held by Christians related the grave clothes and the state they were left in. You can see from the above translations the following dichotomy.
Notice too the differences recorded in the versions related to Peter’s reaction between wondering, confused, puzzled or full of wonder, amazed, marvelled. So which is it? Was Peter puzzled while John went away believing. Or were both Peter and John amazed and full of wonder? What is it they have both seen? Just the grave clothes, that’s all. So what is it about these graves clothes that made them awe-struck?
Let’s investigate what Luke wrote for us. Luke is the doctor and has written us an ordered account so we may know the facts of the story of Jesus. Surely he must know something about grave clothes. We would expect him to know that John went with Peter as well. John is the disciple that Jesus loved. He calls himself that. So surely he can be trusted to have correctly told us that he was with Peter when they both went to the tomb. In fact John tells us that he outran Peter and got to the tomb first. But then after having looked inside the tomb from the outside he allows Peter to go in first. Isn’t it interesting that the only aspect of the story recorded by both writers concerns the grave clothes. There is something significant about these grave clothes. We know both disciples ran to the tomb after they doubted the women’s report. So why then would Luke omit John? Notice Luke’s focus throughout is centred on the doubt and the unbelief. Luke’s is the gospel that gives a major focus to Peter’s failure and his weakness in the midst of the final hours of Jesus. Who better to personify doubt and unbelief than Peter? Could Luke be deliberately omitting John and focusing on Peter to make a point?
The focus of both writers is the grave clothes so let’s set what Luke and John have to say about them. Notice too that the context of their sprint to the tomb is the women’s comment that JESUS’ BODY is not there. They concluded that someone moved Him. Luke records for us that Peter stooped over and looked in. Peter wasn’t stooping to get in the door, he was stooping to have a closer look. [Parakupto] has the idea “to bend over in order to see something better”. He didn’t find it hard to get in the entrance to the tomb. Rather he was bending down to have a closer look at the grave clothes. It seems that John saw enough from the doorway but then goes in later to have a better look. Both men have a good look at the grave clothes. The two words which point to the burial cloths are the words [mona] “ lone” and [othonia] meaning grave cloths. Meaning there is nothing but the grave clothes. Only the grave clothes are left. There are only the grave clothes and not body in them. It seems these grave cloths are left folded. What does that mean? Did Jesus get up and fold up His clothes like His mother taught him. Is that the point? That the grave clothes were left folded separately? No way!
Look what happened with Lazarus after Jesus called him from the grave. “And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” (John 11:44). You don’t just discard your grave clothes after you rise from the dead. You have been bound in layer upon layer of linen cloth wound around you. There were several hundred pounds of spices and myrrh gum mixed in with the grave cloths. The point is there was a weighty wrapping placed around the body which would have restricted movement. If indeed someone had stolen the body and moved it they would have taken the grave cloths as well. If however the body was taken and the grave cloths left behind then they would have been left in a haphazard pile of cloth which had been unwound after getting the body out of it. But stop and think, why would they leave the cloths and take the body. They would take both if they were want to hide it with the purpose (so the theory goes) that they could come back later and say, “No He didn’t rise from the dead – we have the body, here it is.”
No, what John and Peter witness is something else again. The grave cloths are there still in the form they were lain down when they contained Jesus’ body. But now they are without the body they once contained. These grave clothes are still lying in the position and form they were in, mixed with layers of spices in the position they were in when they contained the body. They are undisturbed. Still folded in layers as they were when the body was present. They are there undisturbed but the body is not in them. They still hold the form they held when the body was present only now there is no body. The sight of the grave clothes caused John to believe. Peter is [thaumazo’d]. We might say traumatised but the Greek word [thaumazo] means to admire, be in wonder at, to be awestruck. Peter is astonished and amazed and goes off to collect his thoughts on his own.
What they had just seen was staggering. It appears as though Jesus has gone but his grave clothes are still intact in the position in which they were placed when He was left in the tomb. Now you have to admit that is amazing. Jesus has just simply passed right through His grave clothes and left them in the same position in which they lay undisturbed. I defy any of you to do that. We could talk about numbers aspects of the proof of the resurrection which I have done before. Many have looked into the proofs or validity of the resurrection of Christ so I don’t need to report. (See Frank Morison – Who Moved the Stone?) Morison was a skeptical investigative journalist who sought to disprove the resurrection by applying his skills to the evidence but ended up becoming a Christian. When we approach the matter of the validity of Christ’s resurrection from a courtroom viewpoint the evidence is overwhelming for only one outcome – He Is Risen.
Now I have added another – the state of the grave clothes is compelling evidence for the resurrection. Just the grave clothes alone were enough to convince John and Peter of the fact that Christ had risen. They had not yet seen the risen Christ. Throw yourself on His Mercy and Grace and trust Him now. As Watchman Nee once wrote, “Our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.” Believe and step out into your new life now. If you already believe, stand with John in awe and wonder as you contemplate the grave cloths and ponder how on earth Jesus could have done that. Or go with Peter off by yourself to ponder on these things before you come to your conclusion. But whatever you do, DON’T JUST WALK AWAY AND FORGET ABOUT IT.
If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.Timothy Keller
The most radical demand of Christian faith lies in summoning the courage to say yes to the present risenness of Jesus Christ.Brennan Manning
Here the whole world . . . like cast off clothes was left behind hereafter may resume them on her Easter Day.C S Lewis
Only by the power of Christ’s resurrection can you pass through your grave clothes to attain to the risen life of the Age to Come.Ian Vail
I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. JesusJohn 11:25-26
PS: I think you will conclude with me that neither of the photos at the beginning accurately depict what the grave clothes actually looked like.