Cloths — In Birth and In Burial

Met with a friend yesterday, a buddy I try to connect with regularly to talk about what he’s been reading in the Word. Yesterday we spent a few minutes on 1Corinthians 15 and the resurrection. If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then our faith is in vain (1Cor. 15:14). And though there have been those who have tried to put forth a theory that Christ didn’t really die on the cross, but just swooned and later revived, from John’s testimony in His gospel, I’m pretty sure the One who hung on the cross that day did so until all were satisfied that He was dead.

Jesus said Himself, “It is finished” and bowed His head and gave up His spirit (Jn. 20:30). His executioners, well versed in how to kill a man by crucifixion, saw that He was dead and so determined no reason to break His legs to hasten the process (20:31-33). One of them, for good measure and to provide empirical proof, (kind of like cutting into a roast to make sure it’s done), pierced Jesus’ side with a spear “and at once there came out blood and water” — further proof that the man on the middle cross had breathed his last (20:34).

And should there be any doubt, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus came and took the body, slathered it with 75 pounds of burial spices and wrapped it in linen cloths. Any life left would have been smothered. But they too knew He was dead and so they prepared His body for burial and laid it in a tomb.

Jesus was dead. It was over. All that was left, or so most thought, was for Him to return to the dust. And so, that He was seen three days later by the disciples, that He was seen by hundreds over the next few weeks before His ascension, was glorious proof that truly the work was finished. Sin atoned for. Death defeated. Our faith so not in vain!

And this morning I continue to chew on the juxtaposition of His death with His birth. This morning’s focus? My Savior wrapped in cloths.

And while they were there, the time came for [Mary] to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

(Luke 2:6-7 ESV)

So [Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus] took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.

(John 20:39-40 ESV)

In birth and in burial my Lord was wrapped in cloths.

Cloths to keep the Baby warm. Cloths because the Man was dead. Lovingly swaddled by a mother full of wonder as to what His miraculous birth should mean. Quickly sheathed by disillusioned disciples trying to delay the stench of death, wondering what His life had been for.

Immanuel, God with us, wrapped in cloths because He was born into His creation’s world. Jesus, the Son of God, wrapped in cloths because He had been put to death at His creation’s hand.

The first, a scene which through the ages has evoked a sense of peace, hope, love, and joy. The second, a scene of confusion and apparent defeat.

But then came the morning. When the cloths were shed and the Savior rose again.

The morning which fulfilled the hope of that first Christmas morning. The morning which points to another dawn breaking when He returns in glory, majesty, and power. Another morning when of cloths. When “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He is called is The Word of God” (Rev. 19:13 ESV).

And we shall behold Him!

See Him in cloths in the manger. Remember Him in cloths in the tomb. Anticipate His return in cloths of righteousness and redemption.

O come let us adore Him!

Because of grace. For His glory.

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