The Finished Work
In Bible days, when you wanted a fine piece of furniture made, you picked someone with a reputation for excellence—a master carpenter or a finish carpenter. But these carpenters had an interesting custom. When a carpenter completed a job, he took off his apron, hung it up, and set it on his finished work, signifying the job was complete.
John’s depiction of the resurrection in his gospel: John 20:1-9 NLT
“Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings 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 apart from the other wrappings. The disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must first rise from the dead.”
- The Master Carpenter had finished his task. His death and resurrection secured our redemption. Indeed, It IS finished!
The folded cloth, another perspective:
A Jewish tradition of that time would reveal to us the important message represented by the folding of the cloth. (Quoted from Aleteia.org)
St. John’s Gospel specifies a curious detail in its recounting of the Resurrection.
When Simon Peter arrived after [John], he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered [Jesus’] head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Why would John have noted the placement of the burial cloths in light of the astonishing fact of the absence of Jesus’ body? And why would he have thought it important to include this detail in his telling of the events of that first Easter Sunday morning?
In fact, it was an important detail.
According to Father Chrystian Shankar, the rolling up and placement of this cloth hearkened to a Jewish custom of the time. It related to a common practice used by servants and masters of this era.
A servant, after he had prepared the dining table for his master, would stand to the side, out of sight of the master, but attentive to the progression of the meal. He wouldn’t dare to return to the table until the master had finished his meal.
When the master was finished, he would rise, clean his fingers, mouth, and beard, and leave the “napkin” crumpled in a ball on the table. The wrinkled, discarded napkin indicated “I have finished.”
If, however, for whatever reason, the master left the table with the intention of returning, then he would crease the napkin into folds and leave it beside his dishes. This was a message for the servant that he was not to disturb the table, given that the master had indicated: “I am returning.”
This, then, is perhaps the reason for John’s attention to the detail of Our Lord’s face cloth.
Jesus had told them with his words that the Son of Man would return. That morning, he repeated the promise, with the seemingly inconsequential, but very symbolic, gesture of leaving his face cloth rolled to the side, assuring us that he’d not left for good.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, “I am going away and I will come back to you.” (John 14:27-28)
Beautiful, Marian! Wishing you a joyous Easter! He is risen!
Thank you for your bright, hopeful comment here, starting the conversation so early, L. Marie! 😀
A lovely post, Marian I love the Easter scriptures…it also made me think of my mother she would only ever use cloth napkins on the table never paper…I wish you a joyous Easter Marian 🙂 x
Your mother obviously enjoyed entertaining, observing all the niceties of the holiday. I imagine she, like you, enjoyed cooking and baking. Thanks for sharing from Thailand, Carol! 😀
You are welcome,Marian and yes my mother enjoyed cooking and baking 🙂 x
Thank you, Marian. I loved learning this. Easter blessings to you and your family………..
Thank you, Jack, it’s always nice to learn something new about a holiday you and I have observed since we were little tots. 😀
Good morning, Marian! I’m late because I was updating my computer and couldn’t get on, so I took a walk. I hope you didn’t panic that I wasn’t here right away! 🤣
I’m not certain these were real customs, but nice stories. Wishing you and yours a most joyous Easter!
Thanks, Merril! You are welcome whenever you arrive here.
I know about computer business. This morning I got a warning about updates. I usually let that to my web guy because if I do it myself, some plugins won’t work.
You may be cooking and baking Seder-type foods, so I’ll look for postings on Facebook and your blog. 😀
You’re welcome, Marian.
This was for Mac updates. I don’t have a Web guy. 😊
Yes, I started some cooking, but tomorrow is the big day to cook (lots of stuff I don’t eat)! 🤣
Very interesting. I never thought of that detail before. Happy Easter!
Blogs and books have to be both entertaining and informative as far as I am concerned. You have introduced me to some new resources in your book. It works both ways, Shirley. 😀
Fascinating. I didn’t know this Jewish custom about the cloth/napkins. It does add insight. Happy Easter!
Thanks for reaching out. I’m glad that you can connect to something new here, Ally! 😀
Fascinating post, Marian… Easter blessings and love! <3
And to you, Bette. Thank you! ;-D
Thank you, Marian, for that interesting detail, about why the burial cloths were placed so carefully There is so much we can learn from scripture if we take the time to ponder and meditate! Your last photo of Ideals Magazine triggered a special memory for me. As a teenager I used to babysit at our pastor’s house. They had these beautiful magazines and after the children were put to bed I made myself a piece of toast (our family didn’t have a toaster) and looked at Ideals magazines. Just loved the pictures, the poetry, etc.! I have some of them in my collection and there was one my grandchildren wanted me to read over and over again when they were little. It will be a memory for them!
Thank you for noticing the scriptural detail here–and the nostalgic magazine, Elfrieda! You are such a good, good grandma, passing on treasures from by-gone days.
When we cleared out Aunt Ruthie’s house, we found dozens and dozens of Ideals magazine., some I remembered from my own childhood.I picked out a few, and I believe we donated some to the Gift and Thrift shop in Mt. Joy, PA. We just couldn’t keep them all. 😀
Thanks be to God
The perfect expression of gratitude, Colleen. Thank you! 😀
Hi Marian, this is so interesting. I did not know about the napkin and the tradition of eating. Thanks for sharing about it and I wish you and yours a wonderful and blessed Easter.
I’m glad this touched you. And thank you for the good wishes too, The same to you and your family, Robbie. 😀
This is fascinating, Marian. I did not know about the Jewish tradition of the master folding his napkin and setting it beside his dishes as a sign that he was going to return to the dinner table. Indeed, this gives a whole new meaning to the detail of the Lord’s face covering being found folded in the tomb and set to the side. I just shared this with my husband. He did not know this, either, and he is a chaplain. Thank you for enlightening us!
Thank you for noticing, Linda Lee. The website cited above, Aleteia.org, represents a Catholic organization online and appears to be a creditable source. I’m sure there are scholarly texts to back up the facts, but I believe the reference to be a solid one. Happy Easter to you and yours! :-C
I learned something new from this post, Marian, thank you! It brings to mind a conversation with my dad about the importance of considering historical context when reading Scripture. Without the historical context, the full import of the passage could be missed.
Thanks for your meaningful reply, Liz. I’m always happy when readers like you can link something new to a memory or to a previous insight. Your dad was very wise. 😀
You’re welcome, Marian. Being reminded of things I’d forgotten is one of the side benefits of being part of the blogging community.
I SO agree, Liz! ((( )))
What a beautiful and intriguing post. I wasn’t aware of this. It fits in perfectly with the incredible synergy of the Gospels and our Lord’s promise that he is risen … and so we will when our time comes.
I suspect that you, like me, are very familiar with the gospel story of Easter. That’s why learning some cultural context gives a well-known story another layer of meaning. Yes, and thanks for the reminder of the blessed hope of a resurrected body one day. Thanks, Susan! 😀
I never heard these background stories before, very interesting. A lovely Easter post, Marian. Thanks.
You are welcome, Melodie. Easter-time is a sacred season, I, too, am happy to learn something new about the wondrous story of our salvation. 😀
An interesting perspective I’ve never heard before. Thank you so much. Happy Easter!
Happy to introduce you to these ideas, Arlene! They were new to me too. 😀
We can always use a reminder of what the season of Easter is about. Sometimes messages in our society get so mixed up. Thanks for sharing, Marian, and Happy Easter!
You are right There is no Easter without the Resurrection, and these stories remind us of the season’s true meaning. Thanks for the good wishes–and the same to you and your family, Pete! 😀
I love this explanation. Thanks so much. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Easter with all the blessings this time entails.
Thank you very much, Darlene, and the same to you! 😀
Thanks Marian, so interesting! I must say that here at home we use (pretty) paper napkins, though cloth napkins if guests are here. Sometimes the paper napkins are definitely re-usable and they’re good enough to go instead of being thrown in the recyclable trash. I shall be observant from now on as to my use of them. I loved your post especially now at Easter.
A blessed Easter to you and family.
From the paintings, it looks like napkins of Bible days were large, almost like towels. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about napkins, Susan. 😀
Marian — Happy Easter to you and yours.
Thank you, and the same to you, Len, Evan, Luna, and all! 😀
I enjoyed this little historical post. Wishing you a Happy Easter, Marian. <3
Thank you for noticing, Debby. I’m not sure what you observe this weekend, but perhaps it will include Seder food. Good wishes all around: 😀
Thank you Miriam. It may be Seder food. 🙂 Happy Easter 🙂 x
It’s been a bit of a challenging week so to read your words and themes of Easter and renewal was very comforting. I do always learn something new from your biblical stories Marian. Have a Rejoiceful weekend!!!
I am expriencing some discouraging moments too this week. How interesting that when our words are broadcast we touch readers in all seasons. Blessings to you during this challenging time, Melanie! 😀
I am sorry to hear that Marian; sending an extra hug. 🙂
Thank you for caring, Melanie!
Beautiful, Marian. I’m reading this on Good Friday, always a mournful day for me, and didn’t know about the significance of the cloth. I’m also noting how Jewish and Islamic rituals come at the same time as Easter this year. May we all receive the blessing of renewal and Peace.
As I’m tapping these words, Good Friday is ending, the Seder tables are set for Jewish families, and those of the Islamic faith fast during Ramadan. I’m glad you learned something new about the Resurrection and the significance of the cloth.
Blessings to you as you await the Monarchs and other signs of spring.. 😀
I never heard of that tradition, and it’s an important one! Thank you for sharing. I wish every day was an Easter – a re-awakening and renewal of hope and faith and belief that the Spirit never dies. Love to you and your family, Marian.
Pam, I too feel the need for renewal–after a lively celebration at church and then dinner at our house yesterday. Although I’ve passed on Easter dinner hosting to my kids, I told them I would host this year provided they would do all the work. Well, . . . .
They did bring food, they helped with the serving, but somehow when it was time to clean up, they scooted out the door. Thank God for CareBear! 😀
Oh dear. I know the problem. But I must admit, I don’t like help in the kitchen so I ‘scoot’ them all out!
Good idea, Pam–if you have the energy–ha ha! 😀