In Matthew 27: 59, the Scripture reads:
And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud…
When the women come to the tomb on the morning of the first day of the week, they see an angel roll back the stone – not to let Jesus out (He just walked THROUGH the rock!), but to let the observers in. After telling them that Jesus wasn’t there because “He has risen, as He said.”, the angel adds:
Come, see the place where he lay. (Matthew 28: 6)
Now – why did Matthew include that detail? Why did the angel tell the women to see where He lay, as proof of His Resurrection? Yes, to show them that He wasn’t there, but there was also something there to see: the linen shroud mentioned earlier.
In Mark, we’re also told about Joseph of Arimathea wrapping the body of Jesus in a linen cloth:
And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. (Mark 15: 46).
In Mark, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome are mentioned going to the tomb at the beginning of Chapter 16. An angel is inside sitting on the right side. He tells them that Jesus is not there because He has risen. He adds:
See the place where they laid him. (Mark 16: 6)
In Luke, again we’re given the specific detail about Joseph of Arimathea:
Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. (Luke 23: 53)
Luke tells a similar narrative, but he mentions two angels. After the women tell the disciples, Peter runs to the tomb and notices the “linen cloths by themselves” as he looks in:.
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. (Luke 24: 12)
John’s Gospel was written years later, and even though he tells us many things not in the other three Gospels, his narrative of what happened after Jesus died and was taken down from the cross is similar:
So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. (John 19: 40 – 41).
John not only mentions the linen cloth, he also mentions the face cloth and, for whatever reason, gives us more details:
Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed… (John 20: 6 – 8)
To make sure we’re doing this correctly – rightly handling the Word of Truth – I’m going to harmonize those two sets of verses in the New American Standard Bible, which most Bible scholars agree is the most accurate English version (the verses above are from another accurate translation, the English Standard Version):
And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. (Matthew 27: 59 – 60 NASB)
Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. (Mark 15: 46 NASB)
And a man named Joseph, … a man from Arimathea… And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. (Luke 23: 50, 53 NASB)
So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. (John 19: 40 – 41 NASB)
All four tell us several details in common: that it was another man’s tomb (Joseph of Arimathea); that no one had laid in it; that it was cut out of rock, and other common elements. But all four Gospel writers (who did NOT copy from each other, but wrote about the same events, so, of course, there are similarities) mention that the material of the cloth Jesus’ body was wrapped in was made of LINEN. Why THAT specific detail?
Look at the four descriptions of the Resurrection of Jesus. Notice: the narratives are somewhat different from each other (as eye-witness accounts tend to be when told by four different people, but they can be harmonized), but all of them are accounts of people discovering that Jesus is not in the tomb. There are NO accounts of Jesus actually rising and the events of the actual event! ALL of them make a point to tell the people to LOOK AT THE PLACE WHERE JESUS HAD BEEN LYING! They all make it a point to examine this VERY SCIENTIFICALLY. They OBSERVE and are asked to make their own conclusion as to why they see what they see. Two of them, Luke and John, go into specific detail about the composition of the material – the cloths they wrapped Him in were linen.
“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying”. (Matthew 28: 6 NASB)
And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.” (Mark 16: 6 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. (Luke 24: 12)
And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; 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. (John 20: 6 – 7 NASB)
Notice, especially, the details in John’s description about the linen wrappings and the face-cloth. The question is:
Why are these details recorded? Does the fact that these cloths were LINEN matter? Obviously, it does.
And it makes absolutely no sense to say that these are 4th Century constructions by Constantine and the boys at the Council of Nicaea. Wouldn’t they have tried to make to stories sound EXACTLY alike if they were fakes? Wouldn’t they make sure it was SIMPLE to harmonize what happened on that Sunday morning? It can be done, but it isn’t simple. Also – why would they care what the wrapping cloths were made of – we don’t have a LOT of other details about the crucifixion of Jesus. Why no description of the event of His Resurrection? Why the attention given to the details about the “place where He was lying.”? Why does John, especially, tell us such minute descriptions of the “face-cloth” and the “linen wrappings.”?
Let me make it very simple: do you know what the Shroud of Turin, the cloth that apparently bears the photographic negative 3-D image of a crucified man who was also crowned with thorns? Whose image in anatomically accurate, containing real human blood, showing a mark and a pool of blood where Jesus would have had a spear mark and a pool of blood exactly as you would expect from a man whose blood had already stopped pumping? An image that has no distinct edges… that can’t even be seen close up, but only far away and under light that is not typical (like a photographic negative?)
An image that has the anatomical details all correct, including nail marks in the wrists and not in the palms of the hands (as medieval artists painted Jesus)? An image that, after scientists used the best available equipment to examine it, still cannot determine what made the image (other than the blood stains – which are real human blood)? An image that has an Orthodox Jew (Barrie Schwortz) spending his life trying to prove that it is authentic: the image of Jesus of Nazareth?
Does it make sense that a Pharisee named Sha’ul of Tarsus (known by his Roman name, Paul) would write in the 50’s AD a letter to the believers in Jesus in the Greek city of Corinth that unless Jesus rose from the dead, we are of all men “most to be pitied.”? You might deny the historicity of the Gospels, my doubting friends, but nobody doubts the historicity of Paul’s First Letter to the believers in Jesus in Corinth. And all of Paul’s letters: all of them not only verify the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of a Man who claimed to be Elohim (God) in human flesh – an anathema to, not only a Jew, but especially to the most religious of Jews, a Pharisee – if it wasn’t true.
All of this to say: for those of you who need scientific evidence to accept the truth of the gospel – there it is… the Shroud of Turin is the linen cloth mentioned in Scripture so obviously, and the Sudarium of Oviedo (in Spain) is the head-cloth. God (meaning Elohim) put those into Scripture to GIVE YOU SKEPTICS A PIECE OF INCONTROVERTIBLE PHYSICAL EVIDENCE – SCIENTIFIC PROOF! – that the Word of God is TRUE!
And do you need a historical record? How could you do better than the word of a Pharisee who wrote about all these things, saying things that he would NEVER say… unless they were true? So – whether you accept the historicity of the four Gospels (although there’s no reason why you should not), you cannot doubt the historicity of the Letters of Paul. Who would have written those letters, anyway? The manuscript evidence for each of them is overwhelming!
Here what Sha’ul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul) wrote in his second letter to the believers in Jesus (both Jews and Gentiles) in Corinth:
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Jesus of Nazareth, the only God-Man, lived a perfect life, keeping the Law of Yahweh as completely as it had ever been kept, never sinning, allowed Himself to be executed for our sins, the “just for the unjust”. He paid the complete price so that all who accept His sacrifice will have their sins forgiven, making it possible for us sinners to spend eternity in His glorious Kingdom. All we have to do is “Repent and believe the gospel” – recognize that we are, indeed, sinners, and then believe that His sacrifice as the Lamb of God (Elohim) was all we need.
There are no religious works! Religion is the devil’s invention (a very effective one). The truth is: there is NOTHING you can do to earn salvation (complete redemption). Sha’ul of Tarsus put it this way, in his letter to the believers in Jesus in Ephesus:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2: 8 – 9)
Accept the blessing that you don’t deserve – that NONE of us sinners deserve – His grace – so that you can experience forgiveness of sins and blessings forever!