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Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. (John 20:1-19)
We do not see the risen Jesus yet; we see burial wrappings. So let’s take a good look at the burial wrappings inside the tomb. The headpiece is rolled up and put to the side. Why are not the other wrappings rolled up and put to the side? That does not make any sense. Who wakes up in the morning to puff the pillow nicely and leave the rest of the bed unmade? Who would do that? The reason the burial wrappings around the body are not rolled up is because you can’t roll them up. Remember, Nicodemus, brings one hundred pounds of aloe and myrrh to bury Jesus. The reason why is because this is a royal burial. Remember during Jesus’ trial before Pilate, Jesus told Pilate that he was a king. Pilate believed him and announced him as a king to the Israelites. Not only that, but he also went on to write the inscription that Jesus is king in all the languages of the world and placed the placard over his head. So Nicodemus gave Jesus a royal burial. Myrrh is a great product. Not only does aloe and myrrh make the tomb smell nice, it also preserves the body. Myrrh is a hardener; it is a resin. So the wrappings turn into a hardened shell, like a cocoon or a mummy. So you cannot fold or roll up clothing that has been soaked in a hardener.
Here is the question. Why didn’t Nicodemus put aloe and myrrh on the headpiece? Why didn’t he finish the job? Was he in a hurry? How long does it take dip the headpiece in a hundred pounds of resin? No. Nicodemus gave Jesus a royal burial because he was a king. But he left the lid off the shell, he left an opening because he believed that he would rise. How did he know?
The last time Nicodemus was with Jesus, they had a conversation. In that conversation, Jesus told a confused Nicodemus: “When I am lifted up He will draw all people to myself.” Nicodemus had no clue what he was talking about. Then Jesus told him, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” There was no way for Nicodemus to understand what Jesus meant by that statement. It made no sense at all to him. Then Jesus begins to needle him. “What? You are a Pharisee; you are a teacher of the Law? How is it that you do not understand divine truths?” I can imagine Nicodemus running home and pulling out all of his scrolls in search for answers. Then that night laying his head on the pillow while trying to figure out what Jesus meant “What was he trying to say,” But finally on that day, Nicodemus was standing under the cross preparing to take him down for his burial, the words that Jesus spoke finally made sense to him. “When I am lifted up I will draw everyone to myself. God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” There before him is Jesus, lifted on the cross with a placard translated in every language so anyone in the world could read it. At that moment everything Jesus said made sense. He got it. God so loved the world that he gave his only son. He understood what that meant. “Whoever believes in me will never die.” At that moment he got it. He gave Jesus a royal burial because he believed that Jesus was a king. He left an opening because he believed that Jesus would rise.
Now, it is the third day, Easter morning, and there is lots of energy. The beloved disciple and Peter race to the tomb. The beloved disciple gets there first. He does not go in the tomb but he looks in. The Greek word that is used is “glanced.” He glanced into a dark cave and probably saw dark shapes, the hardened mummified wrappings that could not be folded or rolled up. Next, Peter goes into the tomb and he looks. But there is a different Greek word. He “theorizes.” It is not until he gets inside that he sees the mummified wrappings with an opening. It is hollow, nothing inside. He is trying to figure out what happened. He is theorizing. He does not understand. The beloved disciple goes inside and looks. But there is again a different word. He goes in and he “gets it.” He understands. It is the moment that deep and profound knowledge enters his body. He got it. It is Einstein just after he figured out relativity. The Wright Brothers at the moment they figured how to fly a plane. It is the football receiver who finally figures out how to catch a football on the winning drive of the Super Bowl that beat the undefeated Patriots. It is the blind man, who for the first time in his life, has, color, depth, height, and light fill his body. “And the other disciple went in, saw and believed. We are the beloved disciple. Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? On this day I get it. It is the greatest feeling, and I am never going to let it go away. Ever.
Happy Easter.Back to All Homilies