God Removed the Body
When Peter and John heard Mary Magdalene say, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him,” they took off running to the tomb of Jesus leaving Mary far behind (John 20:2-3).
They ran together for a distance and then John outran Peter and came to the tomb first (v. 4). The huge stone covering the entrance to the tomb had been rolled away. John did not enter the tomb, but just stood there outside the entranceway. He was stooping and looking in, and “he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself” (vv. 5-8).
John bent over to get a better look inside the tomb. When Peter arrived a little later, he did not hesitate, but went straight into the tomb.
The apostle John repeats the thing that made for him the convincing proof that Christ had risen from the dead. The head wrapping that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head was lying there in its proper place, by itself, still rolled up, twirled round and about like a turban as if the head were still inside. John saw this convincing proof and believed (v. 8).
There were no signs of a hasty grave robber removing the body, or someone running with the body in fear of discovery. It was an orderly scene, not one of wild confusion. They could not have left the clothes wrapped up neatly just as they had been around a dead body. Grave robbers would have taken the body, cloths and all, or would have stripped the body and left the clothes piled up on the floor.
John noted that the linen clothes that had been tightly wrapped around the Lord’s head with the sweet fragrance and sticky myrrh which glued the linen to the body were still right where they had been around the head of Jesus when Nicodemus and Joseph had buried Him on Friday afternoon. Nothing was disturbed.
Peter stood there looking and looking at these undisturbed grave clothes on the stone slab. It was astounding and he looked in a prolonged gaze, scrutinizing the wrappings.
John then entered in with Peter and “saw and believed” (v. 8). John saw the same evidence and perceived to the point of believing that Jesus was alive, risen form the dead. It was a miracle, something utterly impossible unless God intervened and did it. That was the moment John believed Jesus had risen from the dead.
John saw with more than just physical sight. He perceived with keen understanding and believed. John lets us know that while all of the disciples who saw the risen Lord believed, he was the first to believe even before he actually saw Jesus alive in His resurrection body.
Why did he come to that conclusion? The head wrappings were rolled up, lying there in their original convolutions, just as they had been tightly wrapped in a winding manner around the Lord’s dead body. Late Friday afternoon Nicodemus and Joseph “took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen wrappings with spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews” (John 19:40). Nothing was disturbed! The long linen wrappings had been so tightly wound about the body and the head that they lay there undisturbed.
The body of Jesus had changed into a resurrection body and passed right up out of those wrappings without disturbing them. The condition of these wrappings gave evidence that Christ had passed out of them without anyone having to unwrap Him and release Him. The grave wrappings were left behind intact, but empty. Christ had passed right out of them. His resurrection body was something new, different and wonderful, like the glorified bodies of Moses and Elijah on Mount Transfiguration (Matt. 17:2-3).
With a hundred pounds (Jn. 19:39) of that sticky spices and gum resins no one would have been able to unwrap the body and put the wrappings back in their original form.
By deliberate design God had removed the body! Jesus was alive. He was resurrected. The body of Jesus had left the grave clothes just as they had rested around Him. He had simply risen out of them by the power of God just as He would later the same day enter and leave locked rooms without breaking doors down (vv. 19, 26).
The linen grave clothes subsided when the body of Jesus was removed because of the weight of the spices wound into them. The head cloth probably retained the concave shape twirled about the face. Only God could remove the body and leave the grave cloths as the eyewitness saw them. Jesus had risen in a glorified resurrection body.
John examined the sufficient evidence and concluded Jesus is alive. What conclusion do you draw after having seen the same evidence?
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006