The famous (or infamous?) Shroud of Turin is claimed to be the linen cloth in which the body of Jesus was wrapped after His crucifixion. It seems, however, that this shroud actually dates from the Middle Ages.
John gives a very detailed and fascinating account of the linen / cloth left behind following Jesus’ resurrection from the dead; he and Peter were the first (human) eye-witnesses inside the empty tomb. He describes them seeing the linen strips that had been wrapped around Jesus’ body, lying as if still enfolding it and the burial cloth that had been around His head, folded and separate from the linen. (So there was no full length shroud in any event!)
Peter and John clearly saw an orderly scene with no evidence of the violence or disturbance that might have been expected from grave robbers. Indeed, such robbers would have wanted, in all likelihood, the valuable linen / cloth – and certainly wouldn’t have spent time unwrapping Jesus’ body, and then leaving the linen / cloth neatly behind.
The overall impression John gives is that the risen Jesus had simply passed through the linen and the cloth, in much the same way as when He later appeared to the disciples in a locked room. John Stott beautifully suggests that what Peter and John saw was “like a discarded chrysalis from which the butterfly has emerged”. What a stunning image of the wonderful reality of that first Easter Sunday – Jesus gloriously resurrected (not resuscitated) in a way that was both continuous and discontinuous with how the disciples had previously seen Him. And this is our hope, because “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15v20). We may at present be earthbound ‘caterpillars’, but we look forward to flying as beautiful ‘butterflies’ when we meet our victorious Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4v17) – and this is all because of our wonderful risen Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Hallelujah and Happy Easter!