A Voice in the
Wilderness

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" He Saw and Believed "
- John 20 -

Then Simon Peter came...and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself. Then [John]...went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that it was necessary for Him to rise again from the dead. (Jn20:6-9)

Back when this was first drafted as a 'portion' in 2001, there had been a movie on TBN documenting 'proofs' of Jesus' resurrection. Various apologists from time to time produce works and publish books to 'prove' that Jesus rose from the dead. (This is being moved out of the Portions and being made into an Article, because it is perfect for this spot in the current John series)

So... why is 'proof' of Jesus' resurrection necessary? Because if Jesus did not rise from the dead, our "faith is vain; [we] are still in [our] sins" (1Cor15:17) and the world would be correct in scoffing at us and "pitying" us (vs19) for believing in such "hokus pokus in the sky, in some great by and by". Jesus' resurrection is at the very core of Eternal Life. Where the world focuses on the living "here and now", Scripture teaches that we "die" to sin. (Rom6:2) That we "died with Christ". (Rom6:8, Col2:20) But we believe that if we die with Him, that we "also live with Him". This is the closing king-pin of the Gospel, that Jesus "died for our sins..that He was buried.. AND that He -ROSE- again the third day according to the Scriptures". (1Cor15:3-4) This was the message the early Church preached, and was the reason for much of their persecution from the Jewish elite, that "they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead" (Acts4:2) And it was the basis for Paul's imprisonment when the Jews were after his life. The "hope of Israel" (Acts28:20, 23:6, 24:15)

One of the prime functions of the apostles was as "witnesses" to Jesus Christ. You see, the "Gospel" Paul summarizes he does not give by itself, but includes the fact that the Gospel comes with documentation.

When Jesus rose again, He "was seen..." (1Cor15:5) It is not some made-up story... some vision with no proof of authentication. Paul lists all those who saw Him. And indeed, as Jesus commissions the message they are to proclaim, He gives the 1) Crucifixion and 2) Resurrection (Lk24:46). That's the "Gospel" Paul proclaimed in 1Cor15. The expected response to the preaching of the Gospel is "Repentance" (vs47). And the outcome of that response to the preaching of Christ's Death/Resurrection, Repentance, is "Remission of sins".

And then notice... "And you are witnesses of these things". (vs48)

Jesus did not compose/manufacture a "story" and "theory" by which to organize a "cult". No. He actually "died" and "rose" again. But when He rose He did not just "disappear". He proved His work. When He was healing "everybody" He touched, it was said, "He has done all things well". (Mk7:37) And when He died, His soul was not left "in sheol/hades" (Ps16:10, Acts2:27) He was not a "martyr" to some "cause".

But rather, He "-gave- His life" (Mt20:28) to redeem us.

Besides showing Himself as "flesh and bones" (Lk24:39), what proof is there? What was it that John saw, which made him "see and believe", even before Jesus appeared to them?

The burial clothes.

Some of today's modern translations (e.g. NKJV) get this passage wrong. The face cloth was not "folded". (vs7) Folding indicates something a person might do if they were doing what was rumored, that the disciples came and "stole His body" away. (Mt28:13-15) If one was going to "unwrap" the wrappings, what does one do with the cloth? It cannot be wrapped again without 'something' to give it form. Thus, unless one is going to leave a disheveled 'pile', they are going to "fold" it.

But the text actually says it was "rolled/wrapped up" in its own place where the head would be. The cloth that had wrapped the body was wrapped where the body had lain, and the face cloth was wrapped, separate from the body wrappings, where the head had been. All of this, still "wrapped".... but -EMPTY-. No body. And due to the burial ointments that would have dried hard, they would have been in the 'shape' of the body that had occupied them. But since Jesus had risen, it was like an empty cocoon! That's why the angel invited, "See the place where the Lord lay" (Mt28:6) This was said to the same women who previously had watched how/where He had been laid. (Mt27:61) They had watched Joseph (of Arimathea) wrap the body and bury it. They saw 'where' the body was laid, and 'how' the wrappings had been wrapped. The wrappings were still there just as Joseph had done it, but Jesus "..is not here; for He is risen.."

Thus, John "saw and believed".

Now... just as the priests would wave the sheaf of the firstfruits on the "day after the sabbath" (Lev23:10-11) after Passover, and Jesus' resurrection is "Christ the firstfruits" (1Cor15:23) it goes on to say regarding "each one in his own order... afterward those who are Christ's at His coming".

"..in Christ all shall be made alive" (vs22)

Speaking to Believers, now... do you realize that what Jesus did, we will do also? When "He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is". (1Jn3:2) A "firstfruit" is an indication that the rest of the harvest is to follow in similar fashion. The "dead in Christ will rise first" and then at a given moment those who rose and "we who are alive and remain" will be "caught up together at the same time with them" to the Lord. (1Th4:16-17)

Just as John "saw and believed" as he saw the empty wrapped clothes, when the Church is resurrected/raptured, many are also going to "see and believe". No (to you scoffers), it is not a "secret" rapture! The Believers are not "slinking away" quietly. God will be announcing the event with a "shout" and a loud "trumpet". (1Th4:16) Elijah did not slink away when God came for him. It was a rather spectacular event with a whirlwind and a chariot of fire. And his mantle fell to the ground and Elisha picked it up. (2Ki2:11-13) A "mantle" being a "cloak/garment".

You see... when Jesus resurrected, the only clothes He had were His burial clothes. When He hung on the cross, He was hung naked, and the soldiers gambled over His clothing. So, those clothes He had, when He rose, were left behind in the condition they had been occupied by His body. And John "saw and believed".

In like manner, at the rapture I somehow suspect our clothing will be left, as they were being worn at the time the Lord called us to Himself. Socks inserted into laced/tied shoes, extending up into the pants legs. Shirts will be tucked into the pants. Ties will be tied to the collars of empty shirts, sleeves filling out the inside of the coat, etc., only empty.

And also... When Jesus comes to "receive [us] unto [Himself]" (Jn14:3), somehow I really doubt that very many of us will be "alone" by ourselves. I expect that there will, again, be "witnesses". Many of whom will, again, "see and believe". And just as the first witnesses were mostly all martyred for their witness, those in the coming 70th week will also be martyred for their "testimony/witness of/to Jesus". (Rev12:17, 20:4)

Amen!

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