John 20:3-8 – Peter and the other disciple went out, heading for the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and got to the tomb first. Stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying there, yet he did not go in. Then, following him, Simon Peter came also. He entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. The wrapping that had been on His head was not lying with the linen cloths but was folded up in a separate place by itself. The other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, then entered the tomb, saw, and believed. The pace of a story in the Bible is important. When a story slows down to point out details, it should cause you and I (the readers) to slow down and pay extra attention. As you read John’s account, it seems that almost that the entire story is built around the undisturbed grave clothes. Why are these clothes so important?
We get a clue when we see the reaction of John—the other disciple—in v. 8: “The other disciple…entered the tomb, saw, and believed.”
What was it that John believed, and what caused him to believe it? We must remember that the reason he and Peter went to the tomb was because Mary Magdalene told them that someone took the body of Jesus out of the tomb. But when John looked in, he didn't see evidence of a theft. Think about what he saw.
Luke’s Gospel says it this way: “When Peter stooped to look in, he saw only the linen cloths” (Luke 24:12; HCSB). What else should have been there? The body! But there was no body; only the cloths remained. And they remained in such a way as to suggest a body used to be in them. The inference here is that if the grave clothes still contained the body of Christ, they would be lying in precisely the position they were presently in.
So when John looked at the clothes and the Bible says he “saw and believed,” he knew that no one took the body of Jesus away. If an enemy of Jesus took His body, they wouldn’t have removed it from the clothes and then neatly arranged the clothes to make it look like He had risen. And if the friends of Jesus had taken His body, they would have kept His clothes on Him.
No one took the body of Jesus away. When John saw the arrangement of the grave clothes, he instantly believed that Jesus had risen from the dead. God had intervened! God had performed the greatest miracle of all time!
Furthermore, v. 7 tells us that the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head was “by itself.” It was not with the body clothes, but on the very spot where His head had rested.
His head cloth was “folded up.” In other words, it had not been manually unfolded, and none of the fastenings were undone. This means that the head cloth was not removed from the head; rather, the head had been removed from the cloth.
The linen clothes were there. The head cloth was there. Nothing had been undone. None of the folds had been disturbed. There was no change in their position. Everything was there...except the body.
When John saw the grave clothes, he knew that there was only one Person who could have got in that tomb. Not the Jews, not the Romans, not the disciples, but only God. Every other piece of evidence for the resurrection of Christ was outside the tomb, but the grave clothes were inside.
God Himself provided evidence for the resurrection of Christ. There should be no doubt in our hearts: Jesus is alive!