The Carpenter's Cloth
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I just spent part of this afternoon reading A Carpenter's Cloth by Sigmund Brouwer. It chronicles the last week of Jesus' life before His death and resurrection. The following is Brouwer's last entry. Last Thursday friends and I were talking about why the linen in Jesus' tomb was folded. Brouwer has an explanation that I love! Here it is.
During Jesus' time there was one way a carpenter let the contractor know a job was finished. A signature, so to speak.
Imagine a hot afternoon in Galilee. Jesus has completed the final pieces of a job he has worked on for several days. The hair of his strong forearms is matted with sawdust and sweat. His face is shiny with heat. He takes a final—and welcome—drink of cool water from a leather bag.
Then, standing to the side of his work, he pours water over his face and chest, splashing it over his arms to clean himself before the journey home. With a nearby towel, he pats his face and arms dry.
Finally, Jesus folds the towel neatly in half, and then folds it in half again. He sets it on the finished work and walks away. Later, whoever arrives to inspect the work will see the towel and understand its simple message. The work in finished.
Christ's disciples, of course, knew this carpenter's tradition. On a Sunday of sorrows, three years after Jesus had set aside his carpenter tools, Peter would crouch to look into an empty tomb and see only the linens that the risen Lord has left behind.
A smile will cross Peter's face as his sorrow is replaced by hope, for he will see the wrap that had covered Jesus' face. It has been folded in half, then folded in half again and left neatly on the floor of the tomb.
Peter understands. The carpenter has left behind a simple message.
It is finished.