As we are in the midst of the “Easter season,” it might be interesting to take note of what the Bible says and compare it to what we have thought and heard all our lives. I am not trying to be critical or to make any changes in anyone’s celebrations. Whatever we think or do will not change what actually happened. This is just another trip down one of the little traveled by-ways of the Word. (Scriptures are printed at the last of the study and the underlining for emphasis is mine.)
Many years ago I was trying to reconcile the traditional idea of the crucifixion of Jesus on a Friday and the resurrection on Sunday with Matthew 12:39-40. Because we are so familiar with the Jewish Sabbath beginning at sundown on Friday evening, it seems only reasonable that Jesus was crucified on Friday. However, there is no way that Jesus’ own specific prophecy can be fulfilled by the time between Friday sundown and Sunday sunrise. Even counting part of a day as a full day will not provide three days and three nights.
With that in mind I decided to work backwards from a known time, sunrise the first day of the week, our Sunday. Going backwards three days and three nights from that point puts the crucifixion on our Wednesday rather than Friday. That would make the ‘Last Supper’ on Tuesday evening and the trials on Wednesday morning. (See the attached Crucifixion Timeline.)
But that left the dilemma of how the Sabbath could be Wednesday night and Thursday instead of the usual Friday night and Saturday. Then I found that it was possible, because of the celebrations the Jews observed, that there could be TWO Sabbaths in a week. One such celebration was the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the day immediately following the Passover (referred to in John 19:31 as a ‘high day’). This day could fall on any day of the week just as our holidays can move through the days of the week. Then the regular Sabbath would also be observed.
This would make possible the literal fulfillment of Matthew 12:39-40. It would also allow a day in between the Sabbaths for the women to purchase and prepare the spices they brought for Jesus’ body; something they would be prevented from doing on a Sabbath of either kind. If Jesus were crucified on a Friday and rose Sunday morning, there would not have been opportunity for the women to purchase and prepare the spices they brought to the tomb. The day between Sabbaths allows time to prepare for what the scripture says occurred.
It is likely that Jesus actually rose from the dead shortly after sundown on Saturday evening. This would correspond to the time that the priests reaped a representative sheaf of grain to use in the sacrifice of firstfruits early the next morning. We are not specifically told when the resurrection took place, only when the empty tomb was found. A Saturday evening resurrection and Sunday morning presentation would fit well with the typology of the feast of firstfruits. The grain for the Firstfruits was harvested after sundown, processed through the night and then presented the next morning. Jesus was both our Passover (I Corinthians 5:7) and the Firstfruits from the dead (I Corinthians 15:20, 23).
Again, I neither require, nor even ask, anyone to agree or make any changes. But I think it is something interesting to contemplate. Have a blessed time celebrating His resurrection. THAT is what is most important.
Click the timeline image below to enlarge and view.
Matthew 12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
John 13:1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
John 18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.
2 And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.
3 Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.
13 And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.
24 Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.
28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.
29 Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?
John 19:1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.
13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.
14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!
17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:
18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.
Luke 23:56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
Luke 24:1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
John 20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Leviticus 23:6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
Leviticus 23:10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
Leviticus 23:15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:
16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.
I Corinthians 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
I Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
I Corinthians 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits ; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.