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The Folded Napkin

by Submitted by Sandra Naugle

John 20:7 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV) and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

   John 20:7 American Standard Version (ASV) and the napkin, that was upon his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself.

   John 20:7 King James Version (KJV) And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

     No one knows if the below story, taken from the internet, is actually true.  Was this really a Hebrew custom when finishing a meal?  Many theologians refute it.  Many versions of the verse above tell us that the ‘napkin’ or ‘cloth’ that was about his head was ‘in a place by itself’.  There must have been some significance in that to have been included in the verse.

        The internet version:  The Gospel of John (John 20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes. The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed at the head of that stony coffin.

     Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, ‘They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!’

     Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. The other disciple out ran Peter and got there first. He stopped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in.

Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying to the side.

     Was that important? Absolutely!  Is it really significant? Yes!

In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have 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, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished…

     Now if the master were done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that 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.”

     But if the master got up from the table, and 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!”

 

 

       Sandra Naugle is Co-Editor of the Word and Work and attends the Henryville Church of Christ in Indiana.




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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4