Nancy Drew and her friend are dismayed by the sight of a ransacked room. They want to know: “Who would do such a thing?”
The answer, of course, is obvious: any burglar, thief, or interloper–anyone whose goal is to get in, find and take something, and then get out as fast as possible.
That’s why one simple detail in the Easter story speaks volumes, at least to me, and about which we can certainly ask the same question: Who would do such a thing?
The detail is found in John 20. Can you spot it? John 20:1-7 (CEB version) reads like this:
Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.” 3 Peter and the other disciple left to go to the tomb. 4 They were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and was the first to arrive at the tomb. 5 Bending down to take a look, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6 Following him, Simon Peter entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. 7 He also saw the face cloth that had been on Jesus’ head. It wasn’t with the other clothes but was folded up in its own place.
The cloth that was on Jesus’ head, the face cloth, was “folded up in its own place.”
Hmmm. Jesus’ disciples were accused of stealing Jesus’ body, but if you were concerned about the Roman guards milling about–guards who had been charged (on the pain of death) to carry out the responsibility of preventing just such a thing, would you take the time to unwrap the linen grave cloths–and then carefully fold the one that had been on Jesus’ face?
Who would do such a thing?
There’s only one answer that makes sense to me, and that is Jesus himself, after he was resurrected and needed to see in order to exit the tomb. We know from other stories that Jesus was an orderly person. He sat thousands of people into groups of fifty (Luke 9:14) for the miracle of feeding the 5000, for example, and he grew up as a carpenter. Anyone who knows anyone in work that involves precise measurements, knows that Jesus probably grew up caring about good order! Folding the cloth in his tomb fits the story of who he was and is–and not what we expect from someone in a great, big hurry.
Two millennia have passed since that first Easter, so it’s clear that believing in Jesus as the Son of God is ultimately a matter of faith. A folded cloth, the testimony of hundreds who claimed to see Jesus after the resurrection, the accounts of the disciples who all risked their lives (and nearly all gave their lives) in order to spread the good news, and the witness of millions today who claim that Jesus is present still–Immanuel, God with us–will not be enough to convince anyone of the truth of the gospel.
However, when you read about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, you probably need to ask yourself–Who, but God, would do such a thing?
Happy Easter! May you find hope in the good news today!