Jasvir Basi, a brother in Christ who I met years ago at Grace Community Church who comes from a Sikh background shares this post recently about the meaning of the folded napkin in Hebrew culture and why it’s so meaningful to us as believers. Here’s the text,
“WHY DID JESUS FOLD THE NAPKIN?
John takes an entire verse (20:7) to tell us that after the resurrection of Jesus, the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was neatly folded, and placed at the head of the stony coffin.
“while the cloth that had covered Jesus’, head was FOLDED UP AND LYING APART FROM THE OTHER WRAPPINGS.” This is a very important and significant detail. The other wrappings was the shroud, Jesus’ burial cloth.
In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, we need to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the master and servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it. The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating. The servant would not dare touch the table until the master was finished.
1. Now if the master was finished eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers and mouth, clean his beard, and wad up the napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, “I’m finished.”
2. But if the master got up from the table, FOLDED HIS NAPKIN AND LAID IT BESIDE HIS PLATE, the servant would not dare touch the table, because the folded napkin meant, “I’m coming back!”
Let us be reminded daily during this post-Easter season, Jesus Christ is “NOT FINISHED.” HE IS COMING BACK for his faithful servants within his Church.
The folded napkin also proves that the body was NOT stolen as alleged by the Jews. Why would thieves waste time folding it neatly and placing it at the head of the stony coffin?”