“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.” John 20:7 HCSB
I stared at the words on the page.
How many times had I read them, and yet I’d never really noticed this one particular part.
Though it was the disciple Jesus loved who reached the tomb first, it was Peter who entered.
And while scripture tells us John “saw the linen cloths lying there” (Jn 20:5), Peter was the one who noticed that the head covering of Jesus was folded up in a separate place.
Why? I wondered. Why would Jesus specifically fold the face cloth, then set it off separately from that which had covered His broken body?
When a portion of Scripture I’ve read a dozen times is figuratively highlighted for me and it:
Jumps off the page.
Stands out in a fresh way…
I call it a rhema moment. In Hebrew, “rhema” means an utterance (from Strong’s).
In short, it describes how the Holy Spirit often speaks through God’s Word—even a familiar passage—in a fresh, new way.
His divine utterance is a gift because it causes us to see the face of Christ more fully.
Having been struck by this particular verse, I asked the Lord, What’s the message You’re speaking?
Then I prayerfully reread the passage within its context, trying to place myself in the scene, and picture what has taken place.When a portion of Scripture I’ve read a dozen times is figuratively highlighted for me, I call it a rhema moment.
Why Did Jesus Fold the Face Cloth?
The reality of this mighty miracle isn’t one we ponder enough, at least until closer to the Lenten season.
Jesus is raised from the dead.
Although we are not given glimpses behind the stone which sealed the tomb, Scripture offers clues concerning what occurred.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, one can imagine.
On the third day, having conquered sin, Jesus—His nail-pierced hands and feet, spear-struck side, and bloodied brow—rises. And not from slumber but from literal death.
Indeed, He has defeated the grave.
Perhaps Jesus wanted to stretch and rub His eyes but was bound too tightly to do so.
Certainly, He managed a smile. After all, the great work of the Cross was behind Him. He had chosen to do the will of the Father, and eternal glory lay just beyond the tomb’s stone.
Were there ministering angels with Him to assist with removing the burial cloths? Do you think the linens simply fell away?
Or did Jesus rise, wiggle His hands free, then unwrap Himself, a little at a time? Was He able to inspect His once bruised and battered limbs, discovering that all of Him had been made new?
Free from the wrappings enshrouding His body, did He then remove the face cloth? But how could He have seen with His face covered? Was it the other way around?
It makes sense that Jesus would first take off the head wrap, that which covered His eyes, but it’s Jesus we’re talking about, so was that necessary?
Either way, Jesus chose to fold the face cloth, then lay it down separately, with intentionality.
Not merely a random act, or the Spirit’s utterances to John, that which guided his quill, wouldn’t have had him write it so specifically.
Certainly, this is a statement of some kind. Something to ponder.
It makes one ask—what is it?Although we are not given glimpses behind the stone which sealed the tomb, Scripture offers clues concerning what occurred.
A Call to Seek the Face of Christ
The Hebrew word for the question, “What is it?” is manna—that mysterious food which fell from Heaven to feed a rebellious, though chosen, people (Ex 16:14). So, again I ask—
What. Is. It?
Maybe Jesus made a statement to cause us to inquire because His intentionality in doing so beckons us, likewise, to be intentional in our search for an answer.
And the way to discover truth about our Savior, even concerning a folded head wrap, is when we…
Seek the face of Christ.
Ah. Perhaps we’re getting somewhere. Isn’t that what a relationship with Jesus is really all about—to earnestly seek the face of Christ here until, one day, we’ll see Him face to face, in Heaven?
Which takes us back to the tomb, to those early morning moments that made all the difference.
Jesus’s burial wraps were removed and the face cloth was folded and laid aside separately. I imagine light filling the space—the brilliance of the glorified Son—even before the stone is rolled away.
And although He would do so with all humility, Jesus is about to reenter the world’s stage.
Just as a star who’s hidden behind a curtain waits to be seen, our Savior, too, is ready. Once the stone’s removed, He steps forth.
It’s no mystery to Him.
No, He’s aware of what His followers will find—John, Peter, and finally, others who’ll see for themselves.
That heap of cloth.
The folded face covering.
A message for them, a message for us—then and now, for all time.
Seek the face of Christ.A message for them, a message for us—then and now, for all time: Seek the face of Christ.
Jesus Christ is Worthy of Our Worship
Still, it began with a Baby. The newborn, His body wrapped in cloth, likely only His face showing, was placed in a feeding trough where He was worshipped.
- First, by shepherds.
- Later, by wise men.
- Three decades down the road, by disciples.
- By those who were delivered from demons.
- By those who were healed, their lives restored.
And today, He alone is worthy of our worship. The message remains the same:
Seek the face of Christ
One day, there will be no mysteries, no portions of Scripture that raise questions, causing us to seek answers.
But, for now, there’s beauty in seeking. When “rhema moments” happen, and we inquire again, asking, “What is it, Lord?”
The questions lead us to lean in and look. Sometimes we peer into a manger. Other times, we imagine what’s behind a stone.
The ultimate answer?
It has been reserved for those who persist in their faith. It’s the reason Jesus came. It’s why He died and rose again. To make things right, to heal all our broken places. To redeem rebellious, though chosen, people.
“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit [utters]… To the one who conquers, I will give some of the hidden manna.” – Revelation 2:17a HCSB
Indeed, the mystery’s solved. The answer’s found in a folded head covering. Can you hear Him?
Seek the face of Christ.
Maureen Miller—wife, mother of three, and Mosie to two—lives on Selah Farm, a hobby homestead nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina. With a passion for God’s Word, she enjoys guest blogging, writing for several online devotion sites, and has been featured in a number of Christian collaboratives. She prays to have eyes and ears open that she might experience God in the miracles of His created world and blogs about what He has to say at PenningPansies.com.