Let’s read John 20:6-7 from the New King James Version: “Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.”

In order to answer your question we need to know what is meant by the word “folded” (which is translated “wrapped” in the KJV and “rolled up” in the NASB). The Greek word is ENTULISSO and it means “to twist or entwine.” It was the custom in that day, when preparing someone for burial, to bind the body of the deceased with linen and then to fold or wrap a handkerchief around their head.  We have an example of this when the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11:44: “And he who had died came out BOUND HAND AND FOOT WITH GRAVECLOTHES, AND HIS FACE WRAPPED WITH A CLOTH.”  In the case of the Lord Jesus, we read that “Joseph of Arimathea….and Nicodemus….took the body of Jesus, and BOUND IT IN STRIPS OF LINEN WITH THE SPICES, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.” There is no mention specifically of folding or wrapping a cloth around His face, but perhaps that act was included in the words “bound it in strips of linen.” If not, it was surely done for he followed carefully “the custom of the Jews” which did indeed include “folding or wrapping the head with a handkerchief.” What we should take away from this is that it was NOT Jesus who “folded His linen cloth after His resurrection”; it was done by Joseph and Nicodemus BEFORE His burial.

I believe there are two main purposes for Scripture informing us of the linen cloths and the handkerchief lying in an orderly manner in the tomb.

1) It teaches us that the Lord Jesus’ body was able to rise from the dead by passing right through the grave clothes (without disturbing them). Later that day, we read these remarkable words, “Then, the same day at evening…when THE DOORS WERE SHUT WHERE THE DISCIPLES WERE ASSEMBLED, FOR FEAR OF THE JEWS, Jesus came and stood in their midst.” The Lord came into the room without opening the doors! He passed right through doors (or walls) without breaking them down. He rose from the grave in a GLORIFIED BODY that is able to defy natural laws by passing miraculously through solid material. The same thing was true was when He left the tomb, for He passed right through His linen cloths and handkerchief. I would encourage you to read Philippians 3:20-21 and 1st Corinthians 15:35-49 to see that every believer will one day possess a glorified body that will be capable of the same thing.

2) It disproves the lie that the Jewish chief priests and elders concocted after His resurrection. In Matthew 28:11-13 we read, “Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, ‘Tell them His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’” If the disciples had stolen the Lord’s body they would NOT have taken the time to carefully remove the grave clothes and meticulously wrap them together again. No, they feared for their life at that time and thus they would have taken the body with the grave clothes and ran off as quickly as possible.  (366.1)  (DO)