Scholars and historians have debated the subject and many people have wondered why a sentence in Scriptures was dedicated to a seemingly unimportant detail about the burial cloth of Christ. To grasp the meaning of this seeming oddity, we need to have an understanding of the Hebrew traditions of that time.
First, the Scriptural passage:
“And the napkin that had been about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but apart, wrapped up into one place.” ~John 20:7
St. John Chrysostom explains that this folded cloth is proof Christ’s body could not have been stolen: “They drew near and saw the linen cloths (othonia) lying, which was a sign of the resurrection. For neither anyone intending to remove the body would have first stripped it. Nor if any had stolen the body would thy have taken the trouble to remove the napkin and wrapped it up in one place. How would they have done it? They would have taken the body as it was. For this cause, the Evangelist John tel us by anticipation that it was burried with much myrrh, which glues linen cloths to the body not less firmly than lead. Thus, when you hear that the napkin lay apart, you may not bear with those who say that He was stolen. For a thief would not have been so mindless as to spend so much trouble on a superfluous matter. For why should he undo the cloth and remove the napkin? Besides, how could he have escaped detection if he had taken so much time in so doing? He would have been caught delaying and loitering. But why do the linen cloths lie apart, while the napkin (soudarion) was wrapped together by itself? That you may learn that the action was not done hastily or in a clamorous manner, the placing some in one place, some in another, and wrapping them together.”
Hebrew dining tradition centered around the servent and his master. Naturally, the servent served his master. The custom was that if the master was finished, the napkin would be tossed in a wad on the table, signifying that the master had finished eating. If the master left the table but was returning, the master would fold the napkin neatly.
Jesus Christ, the true Master, was telling us that He is returning from the dead, just as he said.
~Damsel of the Faith