Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.
The “other disciple” is none other than John. He had already observed the empty tomb. Though confounding, it was the grave-clothes which persuaded the disciple to believe. What was it about these clothes? We don’t necessarily pick it up in our own language. In the original language, there is an astounding orderliness to what was present in the tomb. John “saw and believed” this was a logical and irresistible conclusion from the evidence immediately before him. The body was gone from the tomb and yet the grave-linens were in a condition in which it appeared the body had simply passed out of them.
If friends had removed the body, they certainly would have not unwrapped it for reasons obvious. If it were foes who had removed the body, and if they had discarded the wrapping they would certainly have not been so painstakingly careful to recreate, with near impossible precision, the form of its wrapping. Everything in the tomb pointed to a care of deliberate design and purpose. It would seem Jesus left the grave-clothes just as they had been when worn by his lifeless body. He had simply risen out of them in His Divine power. This is the first proof of his conquering death.
In leaving behind his grave-clothes, Jesus splendidly fulfills an Old Testament type. This seen as we reflect on Joseph in Genesis. He was cast into the dungeon of Pharaoh—a place of condemnation. While there he was numbered with two criminals—two, as Christ was crucified between two thieves; one receiving blessing, the other foolishly mocking. From Joseph one received blessing, while the other a pronouncement of judgement. But Joseph did not remain in the prison, nor did Jesus in the tomb. Surprisingly Joseph received elevation into dignity and glory. In Genesis 41:14 we read “they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; and he shaved, changed his clothing.” Jesus clothes of burial were left behind. He was now clothed with immortality and glory.
Don’t simply consider these things to be of curious intrigue. This detail is very significant for us on this Easter date and also in a short time to come. Paul, in Philippians 3, reveals for us our future departure of the body which currently clothes our soul– “the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body.”
Theologian John Stott muses that “Christianity is in its very essence a resurrection religion. The concept of resurrection lies at its heart. If you remove it, Christianity is destroyed.” Paul says it with brevity in I Cor. 15:17, “And if Christ is not risen your faith is futile.” Most importantly is the statement and invitation from Jesus as the resurrection relates to you and me. In John 14, he says “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
Do you believe this?” Jesus is the way and gives us the way, then asks the question each of us must not delay to honestly answer.