It is helpful to understand the process of preparing a body for burial at the time of Jesus’ death. First, the body was washed with lukewarm water. This washing could not be performed by one person alone. Aromatic spices were readied. The spices were mixed with a gummy substance known as myrrh. Probably 75 to 100 pounds of spices were used in preparing Jesus’ body (see John 19:39, where we learn about the amount Nicodemus brought). After the washing, the body was wrapped with linen cloths that had been sewn together. As the wrapping was performed, the spices and myrrh were placed between the layers and folds of cloth. The process began at the feet and moved up. Those readying the body for burial “would wrap the torso to the armpits, put the arms down outside the wrapping, and then wrap to the neck. A separate cloth was wrapped around the head. The final encasement could weigh between 117 and 120 pounds” (Josh and Sean McDowell, Evidence for the Resurrection, [Ventura, CA: Regal, 2009], 174-175).
The encasement, of course, hardened. In John 20:8, John saw this hollow shell that previously had held His Master’s body but now held only air. (See the article “Jesus’ Resurrection: What John Saw at the Tomb”). Had Jesus’ body been stolen, the thieves never would have been able to remove the body and leave the graveclothes behind. So it was clear to John (and probably to Peter as well, see v. 6) that something supernatural had taken place.
Indeed, it had—and John, as well as the rest of the disciples, would soon come to understand that the thing that had happened was nothing less than a total and complete resurrection from the dead.
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