Hovering over the last few verses of John 19 this morning, and one word jumps off the page. A word that is commonly heard at this time of year in the re-telling of the birth of a Child. But this morning the word is not associated with a birth, but with a death. Not with a cooing baby, but with a cold body. Not with a promised Savior, but with a pulverized sacrifice. Meditating this morning on Jesus, from cloths to cloths.
So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
(John 19:40 ESV)
Cloths. That’s the word that struck a chord. Brought to mind the other use of cloths found in the New Testament.
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 2:7 ESV)
From swaddled in cloths to bound in cloths. The Word who was in the beginning, through Whom all things were made, “and without Him was not any thing made that was made” (Jn. 1:3) began life on earth wrapped up and contained and, He finished life on earth wrapped up and contained.
The swaddling cloths were to be a sign that in the city of David a Savior, Christ the Lord, was born (Lk. 1:11-12). But the linen cloths were to act as a sure sign that the Savior had died. The first cloths kept His infant body warm. The final cloths confirmed His body was cold. His side had been pierced, His death certificate had been verified, His body had been bound within 75 pounds of burial spices. The Author of Life was dead.
Born of a virgin who swaddled Him in cloths. Buried by a Pharisee who swaddled Him in cloths.
All men are from dust to dust (Eccl. 3:20), as God has determined their days. But the Son of Man was from cloths to cloths as the Father had purposed from before the foundation of the world.
You can’t really do Christmas in its fullness without remembering also the cross.
Can’t remember the Light of the world without worshiping the Lamb of God.
Can’t truly believe that “the hopes and fears of all the years” were met in the One wrapped in swaddling cloths, without also knowing that such enduring hope is found only through empty linen cloths. For it is a hope grounded in a death and resurrection.
Because I live, you also will live. (John 14:19b ESV)
From cloths to cloths. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Only because of God’s grace. Only for God’s glory.