The following study is presented with one intention: to cause its readers to think.
Too often, throughout the Body of Christ, we do things out of religious obligation, many never knowing why we perform this or that religious act. As "Believers," we simply believe, assuming that SOMEBODY - our leaders (we hope) - have a handle on things, and we move along, often too ashamed to ask for fear of making waves. Multitudes of sincere Believers solemnly perform their denominational duties on an almost "professional" level. A new member can only hope to one day become as adept at their own performance of the prescribed methods. For a moment, let's take a good look at Good Friday.
Ask almost any kid how many hours are in a day and you'll get "24" as the answer. Multiply that by 3 days and you get 72 hours every time. When we know that Jesus arose from the grave on what we refer to as "Easter morning," if we work backward for one 24 hour period, we land squarely on Saturday morning, right? When we work backward for a second 24-hour period, we wind up squarely in the middle of Friday morning. Finally, when we work backward for a third and final 24-hour period, there we are, squarely in the midst of "Good Thursday" morning. Pretty simple, yes? Not rocket science at all.
Wait. It gets better!
Was Jesus referring to a LITERAL 3 Days/3 Nights when He said He'd be "3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth" and so fulfill "the type of Jonah" (Matt 12:39-40), what did He mean? How about when He said, "The Son of Man must suffer...be killed and AFTER 3 days rise again" (Mk 9:31)? Three days and three nights is 72 hours, right? Working BACKWARDS from Resurrection Sunday brings us to...Good Friday?
NO! Good Wednesday, actually.
The Hebrew day was measured from one sunset to the next (6PM to 6PM), generally referred to as "evening to evening" (Lev 23:32; Ex 12:18). The Roman time-keeping method was midnight to midnight. Several Scriptures refer to the variances in Hebrew vs. Roman time: Jn 19:14 (6AM to sunrise); Mk 15:25 (9AM on the day of crucifixion); Matt 27:45 (noon to 3PM). The 'twelve hours in the day' referred to in John 11:9 referred to sunrise and the twelve hours of the night FROM sunset. Here's where the expression 'a night and a day' in 2 Corinthians 11:25 denotes a complete day.
So, 6PM on Saturday (the Sabbath) started the first day of the week (our Sunday), important when studying the resurrection accounts. Jesus was killed the 3rd hour (Hebrew time, 9AM) and hung on the cross 3 hours. At the 6th hour (Hebrew time) darkness covered the land until the 9th hour (noon to 3PM), completing the 9 hours of agony on the cross. Because the NEXT day was the HIGH Sabbath, beginning at 6PM, the body was placed in the borrowed tomb just before sunset (Jn 19:31).
Before labeling this as heretical teaching, observe: the confusion comes from the variations between Hebrew and Roman time-telling, as well as the MUCH overlooked fact that there was an EXTRA festival Sabbath taking place in that final week BESIDES the regular weekly Sabbath. This will be explained later, if you're interested. Stay with me.
WHERE DOES "EASTER" COME FROM?
The early translators of the Scriptures translated the Greek word for "Passover" (the whole week of the festival) as "Easter." Why? This was a pagan festival named for the Saxon goddess, Eastra, which no doubt got her name from the Assyrian/Babylonian goddess of fertility, Ishtar (which explains the eggs and reproductive rabbits as the poster children for the occasion).
Now, God does not seem to be into our religious feast days and holy days as much as people seem to think He is (Amos 5:21-24). Yes, Jesus participated in them, but He was under the Law as much as any other good Jew of His day. When it comes to Holy days, today is as Holy as any, for the Scripture says, "THIS is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!" (Ps 118:24).
Remember, before reading one more word: "The traditions of man make the Word of God of no effect," (Mk 7:13). We must not check our brains at the sanctuary door. If we do that in regard to Good Friday, logically-speaking, when ELSE are we doing so? We are not obligated to buy every can o' peas on the shelves of our denominational grocery stores. The Bible does NOT say that the truth will set us free. It says "they shall KNOW the truth and the truth will set them free."
KNOWING the truth... is THAT the key? Jesus said, "I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life." Knowing JESUS, having a RELATIONSHIP with Him...THAT is the key!
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Now, I realize that, whether this message is accepted or rejected, it will not save or condemn a single soul. DO ask yourselves, however, if there might be any OTHER erroneous doctrines of devils or of man which you may have been spoon-fed, when it's the doctrines of GOD and of Christ that are ALL that matter. All other doctrines simply serve to put us, and keep us, in religious bondage. The word "religion" itself MEANS "a return to bondage." Jesus came to set us FREE!
So, study, pray about it, check out these verses and see if the haze doesn't begin to clear...
Familiarize yourself with these Old Testament 3-Day types:
Gen 22:1-14; Gen 40:12-19;42:17; Ex 3:18; 5:3; 8:27; Ex 15:26; Num 33:8; Num 10:33; Josh 1:11; 3:2; Esther 4:16; Jonah 1:17; 3:3
MORE? Josh 2:16,22; 9:16; 14:14; 19:4; 1 Sam 9:20; 20:5,19; 30:12-13; 2 Sam 20:4; 24:13; 1 Chron 21:12; 1 Kings 12:5; 2 Kings 2:17; 1 Chron 12:39; 2 Chron 10:5; 20:25; Ezra 8:15,32; Neh 2:11; Hosea 6:3
Familiarize yourself with these New Testament 3-Day Signs:
Matt 12:39-40; Matt 14:32; Mk 8:2; Lk 2:46; Lk 13:32; Jn 2:1; Jn 2:18-21; Acts 9:9
Here are the 3 Days/3 Nights of Calvary as referred to in Scripture...
The following examples speak of 3 days AND 3 nights:
Jonah 1:17; Esther 4:16; Matt 12:40.
THE SABBATH DAY. WHICH ONE?
Scripture reveals that Israel observed the weekly Sabbath, the 7th day of the week (Ex 20:8-11; 31:12-18; Deut 5:12-14). Additionally, besides these WEEKLY Sabbaths, there were FESTIVAL Sabbaths! If any of these fell during the ordinary week, they counted it as an EXTRA Sabbath in that week, meaning there were sometimes TWO Sabbaths in one week: the FEAST Sabbath and the WEEKLY Sabbath.
Proof? Lev. 23:1-4 deals with WEEKLY Sabbaths of Rest. Leviticus 23:4-44 deals with holy convocations, or Sabbaths, which are ADDITIONAL Sabbaths in the week. Note verses 7-36 where "holy convocations" are referred to and verses 24-39 where plain "Sabbaths" are referred to. There were ALSO Sabbath YEARS of rest for the land, including Jubilee (the 50th year, Leviticus 25).
So, there were TWO Sabbaths in the Passover week, the week of Jesus' crucifixion: the FEAST Sabbath, or HIGH Day, as well as the WEEKLY Sabbath. Got it?
Why does the Church get confused? First, we don't take time to note the "fixed" points of Scripture. Second, the Gentile translators of the Scriptures did NOT understand the Law concerning Hebrew feasts and Sabbaths. Finally, the accidental, if not blatantly arrogant assumption that the Roman, midnight-to-midnight method was the method used by the writers.
THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS
There are 16 references in the New Testament speaking of the 3 Days/3 Nights of Christ's redemptive work. In His first mentioning of His sufferings (Matt 16:21), Jesus says He would be 'raised again the third day.' In John 2:19, He had already mentioned 'three days' as the time after which He would raise up 'the Temple of His body,' This expression occurs 11 times in regard to His resurrection. The expression 'after 3 days' (Mk 8:31), is used to describe the same event. This shows that 3 Days/3 Nights MUST include 3 days and the 3 PRECEDING nights. The full 3/3 is evidence of the resurrection on the THIRD of the THREE DAYS, each preceded by a night.
WHY 3 DAYS AND NOT 2 OR 4?
Numbers 19:11,12 says that a man who touches death was to purify himself on the 3rd day. Leviticus 7:17,18 says the flesh of a peace offering was NOT to be kept beyond the 3rd day, but was to be burned as unfit for eating. Didn't Jesus become sin at the cross, causing God Himself, because of His holiness, to turn His face? Didn't Jesus descend into the flames of Hell upon His death? Also, Herodotus (AD 86-89) wrote that embalming took place AFTER three days. Finally, the Jewish custom was not to accept as evidence the identification of a dead body AFTER 3 days because, in the Middle East, decay occurs quickly. The fact that Lazarus was dead 4 days was proof that he was REALLY dead, without hope, and 'stinketh,' (Jn 11:17,39).
God apparently has a "thing" about 3's. We believe in a triune God, don't we? We're 3-part beings ourselves, body, soul & spirit. If this study presents enough evidence to convince anyone that they've been spiritually misdirected regarding the Good Friday tradition, I advise that they rejoice in the revelation and leave it at that. Paul gave us some pretty good instructions for handling this type of situation in Romans 14. Check it out.
ALLOWING SCRIPTURE TO GUIDE US
1) the HIGH Day of Jn 19:31 was the FIRST day of the feast; Jesus "gave up the ghost."]
2) the FIRST DAY OF THE FEAST was the 15th day of Nisan which began at SUNSET on the 14th
3) SIX DAYS BEFORE THE PASSOVER (Jn 12:1) takes us BACKWARD to the 9th of Nisan
4) AFTER TWO DAYS IS THE PASSOVER (Matt 26:2; Mk 14:1) takes us to the 13th of Nisan
5) THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK (resurrection day, Matt 28:1) was from our Saturday sunset to Sunday sunset, fixing the days of the WEEK.
6) Going BACKWARD from the THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS (Matt 12:40) we arrive at the day of BURIAL, before sunset on the 14th of Nisan, i.e., BEFORE our Wednesday sunset!
This makes the 6th day before Passover the 9th of Nisan, our Thursday sunset to Friday sunset. Before Wednesday, Nisan 14th (commencing on Tuesday at sunset), was the PREPARATION DAY on which the crucifixion took place. All four gospels agree this was the day of the Lord's burial (before our Wednesday sunset). The bodies should not remain on the cross the Sabbath day, "for that Sabbath was a HIGH DAY," therefore, not the USUAL 7th day, or WEEKLY Sabbath (Jn 19:31).
WHATS FOR SUPPER?
Since Jesus was crucified on PREPARATION DAY, He could NOT have eaten the Passover lamb at the Last Supper. It wasn't slain till evening of the 14th of Nisan (afternoon). On that day, the daily sacrifice was killed at the 6th hour (noon) and offered by the 7th hour (1PM). Clearly, this did not take place till 4 hours AFTER the Lord had been hanging on the cross and wasn't completed till the 9th hour (3PM) when HE GAVE UP THE GHOST.
No Passover Lamb could have been eaten at the Last Supper the previous evening, though Jesus had sent Peter and John to make arrangements to eat the Passover (Matt 26:18; Mk 14:14; Lk 22:8-15). John 18:28 CLEARLY indicates that the Jews brought Jesus before Pilate in the early morning, careful not to enter the palace so they could avoid becoming ceremonially unclean as "they wanted to be able to eat the Passover." This refers to the whole festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread, which lasted seven days and included a number of meals.
Rather significant that the lambs were killed when THE Lamb of God actually died, eh? With these facts, we can piece together the events of the Lord's last week as recorded in the Gospels.
As for the 3 Days and 3 Nights before His resurrection, they were as follows:
1) FIRST NIGHT AND DAY IN THE TOMB:
The First Day of the Feast (THE HIGH DAY), the 15th of Nisan, our Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset.
2) SECOND NIGHT AND DAY IN THE TOMB:
The Second Day of the Feast, the 16th of Nisan, our Thursday sunset to Friday sunset.
3) THIRD DAY AND NIGHT IN THE TOMB:
The Third Day of the Feast, the 17th of Nisan, our Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.
4) THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, the 18th of Nisan, our Saturday sunset, the THIRD DAY of Matthew 16:21, NOT the third day of the feast.
Considering these details, we can summarize that Jesus was actually crucified on a Wednesday, NOT a Friday.
WHY THE MISTAKES ALL THESE CENTURIES?
Matthew 28:1 was translated from the Hebrew/Chaldee and Greek as "After the SABBATHS, toward the dawn of the day following the SABBATHS... ." All 7 days of the Paschal Week were SABBATHS on the old Hebrew calendar. Obviously, the translators did not understand the distinctions in the Hebrew Sabbaths in the Passover Week. A bit arrogant but we'd probably do the same thing today, assuming that everyone told time and used the same expressions for various parts of the day as we do. Because of this, these translators assumed Jesus was crucified on Friday, because He was crucified the day before the WEEKLY Sabbath. In the Passover Week, THURSDAY was a Sabbath, a HIGH DAY, an EXTRA Sabbath. Two Sabbaths in one week, causing confusion in the Church to this day.
THE BOTTOM LINE
In short, Jesus was crucified Wednesday morning, the third hour. From noon to 3PM, there was darkness on the land. By 6PM, Jesus was in the tomb, as the bodies could not remain on the cross on a Sabbath day, for "THAT SABBATH was a High Day" (Jn 19:31). It was NOT a weekly Sabbath, NOT a Saturday. It WAS the Passover Sabbath...a Thursday.
Therefore, Jesus was crucified on Wednesday. Good Wednesday, if you like.
We hear lots of talk about "Living in the last days." We should live our lives serving the Lord with gladness, as if today were OUR last day. As special days go, the two most special days we should consider at this point are:
1) the day we die and
2) the day Christ returns.
In either case, the question is: "Are we ready?"