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I may step on a few toes today, but that’s not my intention.
After we’re finished, if there are any questions, I’ll be happy to
talk to anyone. But, do you
remember when you first learned that Santa Claus isn’t real?
Well, many things that you “know” about Easter aren’t real either.
We’re going to look at a few of these from the Bible, and hopefully
glean a better understanding of the events surrounding our Lord’s crucifixion,
burial, and resurrection.
Now, I’m not
just talking about things such as the Easter Bunny, or eggs, which are both
symbols of fertility and were involved in the worship of the pagan goddess
Oestre (from which we get our word “estrogen”).
Many pagan religions believed that the world hatched from an egg, and a
rabbit (actually, a hare) is a good symbol for fertility for obvious reasons.
Early church fathers timed Easter in such a way that it coincided with
the pagan festival celebrating the goddess Oestre.
Perhaps it was for good reason, perhaps not; speculation runs rampant on
the subject. I don’t know if they
set the date when they did for self-preservation out of fear of persecution or
out of compromise to the pagans to try to embrace all religions; I don’t know
if it was practicality or ecuminicism. But,
We need to look beyond all of that.
As I mentioned a moment ago, even the name “Easter”,
comes from a pagan goddess. Does
that mean we need to quit calling it Easter?
Well, I certainly don’t think of the pagan Goddess when I say
“Easter”, any more than I think of the astrological implications of the name
“Sunday”, or of the Germanic god Woden, when I say “Wednesday”.
But, I think it’s important to know the origins of the word.
In the early part of the first
century, hope for a Messiah burned in the hearts of the Jews.
Prophecies in the OT, all proclaimed this promised Savior.
Different views about the Messiah were common.
Some thought he would be a great prophet; others expected Him to be a
great warrior like King David who would overthrow the Romans and reestablish the
glory of Israel. Basing their
beliefs on certain prophecies, many knew that the time was at hand.
It was during this time of great
expectation that swelling crowds gathered to hear a young preacher cry out to
his countrymen to repent and return to God.
His message was so powerful that it prompted some to think that he was
the Messiah who had been promised. He
answered them that he was not the one, but was the one who was sent to prepare
the way for him.
The brief ministry of John the
Baptizer pointed to one who was born of humble origins, who was named Jesus.
Jesus’ ministry was supported and authenticated by signs and wonders.
His divinity was accepted by some and rejected by others.
Some came only to be fed (John 6:26-27).
Others simply came to be entertained by the miracles.
No one had seen such miracles, nor heard one speak as this teacher from
Nazareth. Some of the people began
to say that Jesus was the son of David, which is a term for the Messiah.
What is the sign of the true
Messiah? Speculation as to the true
identity of Jesus seemed to be a popular topic of conversation according to the
Scriptures. But, no matter whom
they thought He was, most of the religious leaders viewed him as a threat to
their positions of power. One day,
a group of them tossed out a challenge to Him:
“Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”
Were they asking for proof of
His divinity, or were they just asking for more miracles to titillate their
senses? To a Jew, healing of
leprosy should have been sign enough. Leprosy
was considered an act of the finger of God, and curing such could also only be
performed by a direct agent or action from God. Perhaps, they were simply trying to protect their positions,
and were hoping that they were wrong and He would trip himself up.
No matter the reason they were seeking for a sign, the godly are more
impressed by truth than by signs. Signs
are emotional, and as such are only for the weak in faith, and false signs
easily deceive people such as that.
How many people who profess to follow Jesus today have really thought
about what these two verses say? Have
you? Why was this one sign so
The One we worship as the
Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God, said that the only outward, visible sign of
His genuineness as the Messiah was that as Jonah was three days and three nights
inside of the sea-monster (the word used could be whale, fish, leviathan, or
sea-monster), He would be entombed in the bowels of the Earth for three days and
Jesus was saying that he would
die, yet remain dead for only a short, but specific period of time.
These two facts together would prove that He is the true Messiah.
As a part of this sign that would prove his identity, He specified
precisely the length of time that He would remain dead.
Does God do anything halfway?
No, he completes his promises in such a way that there can be no doubt of
them. Think about the Law: He
only held his disciples to the standard of observing the spirit and intent of
the law. The Law was not intended
to be a burden to men; it was intended to ease their burdens. Man had perverted the Law in such a way that it became a
burden. Yet, Jesus upheld the law
entirely, both in intent and the letter of the law, of both God and man.
There can be no doubts. Right?
Three days and three nights
comprise a total of 72 hours. Yet
today, it is almost universally believed that Jesus died and was buried on late
Friday afternoon, and was resurrected early Sunday morning.
Now, if that were true, then based on His own words, the only sign of His
authenticity as Messiah had failed miserably.
No matter how you look at it, there is no way that you can fit three days
and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning.
Jesus made many prophecies concerning his death, burial,
and resurrection. Matthew 16:21
says, “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that
he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief
priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”
Matthew 17:22-23 says, “And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said
unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they
shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again.
And they were exceeding sorry.”
[Mark 8:31] Here,
Jesus states explicitly that His resurrection would occur after or at the end of
three days. Not after one day, or
one and a half days, or two days, but after three days.
So, Jesus must have been resurrected just as the third day was ending,
which was three days and three nights after He was placed in the tomb.
This is the only way that the prophecies could be
consistent. Are they consistent?
If not, the Bible is worthless, because Jesus is a flawed Messiah.
But, the prophecies are consistent. When some of His followers came to the tomb early on Sunday
morning, the angels told them that He was no longer there.
Matthew 28:6 tells us, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he
said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
When Peter was teaching the first Gentiles called into the
Church, he taught them that Jesus was the Messiah, He was put to death, and He
was raised from the grave the third day. [Acts
10:37-40] Why was it necessary that
Peter add “the third day”? Peter
was simply confirming that Jesus indeed had fulfilled the sign of Jonah!
Years later, Paul affirmed not only the resurrection of Jesus, but also
that it was on the third day. You
can find that in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, which says, “For I delivered unto you
first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins
according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the
third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of
Does “three days” or “the third day” mean parts of
three days? Does it mean Friday
night, all day Saturday and Saturday night, and Sunday morning?
The expression “three days” is used as a Hebrew idiom
to mean any part of three days. It’s
just a common way of reckoning, just as years are when you say how old you are.
If I say I’m going somewhere and returning on the third day, I could
leave this evening at 5 PM, and arrive back the day-after-tomorrow at 8 AM, and
that would fulfill what I said. But,
to the Jews, when the number of “nights” is stated in addition to the number
of “days”, then the expression is no longer just an idiom.
It’s a literal statement of fact.
Three days and three nights is three days and three
Is it possible to fit three days and three nights
between late Friday afternoon and Sunday morning?
No, it’s not. We have a
serious timing problem here. The
traditional view of a “Good Friday” burial and an “Easter Sunday”
resurrection cannot be reconciled with Jesus the Christ’s own statements about
how long He would be in the tomb, and they can’t both be correct.
What does Colossians 2:8 teach
us? “Beware [take heed]
lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the
tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after
do most churches assume and teach that Jesus died and was buried on Good Friday?
Traditions of men! That’s
simply what most people have always been taught.
We need to be careful of that. But
because that’s what they’ve always been taught, they assume that’s what
the Bible teaches.
The Scriptures do
say that He was buried on the preparation day, which was the day before a
Sabbath. On the preparation
day, cooking and housecleaning were done; this was on the day before a Sabbath,
in preparation for the Sabbath. The
weekly Sabbath, as we all know, falls on Saturday, the seventh day of the week.
Now, we have to remember also, according to the Biblical
reckoning, days begin at sunset. So,
all weekly Sabbaths start Friday evening at sunset. [Mark 15] When
does Mark 15 tell us that Jesus was entombed?
[Mark 15:42-46] This passage
tells us clearly that Jesus was entombed late in the afternoon on the
“preparation day”, just before Sabbath began at sunset.
But, there are two kinds of Sabbaths.
What many people don’t think about is that the Sabbath spoken of here
was not the weekly Sabbath day, which begins Friday at sunset and lasts until
Saturday sunset. [John 19:31]
Here, the apostle John tells us specifically, that the day on which Jesus
was crucified immediately preceded a special Sabbath, and not just a regular
weekly Sabbath; it’s called a “high” day or a “great” day.
This Sabbath, we see from Scriptures, was “a high day”.
In addition to the weekly Sabbaths, God also commanded seven Holy Days,
or annual Sabbaths (Leviticus 23), most of which could fall on different days of
the week. Sometimes, the annual
Sabbath could also fall on a weekly Sabbath.
Jesus the Christ, like the Passover lamb that was killed to
spare the ancient Israelites from the angel of death, was slain on the
preparation day for the Passover. The
Passover is observed on the 14th day of the first month of the Hebrew
The Jews were rushing to finish the burials of the
condemned men before the annual or high Sabbath began at sunset.
This preparation day was the day before the Passover.
The day after Passover begins the Feast of Unleavened
Bread, which is also an annual or high Sabbath. There was more than one Sabbath that week.
Now, don’t take my word on this, this is proven by the statements in
the Bible regarding Mary Magdalene and the other women, who planned to put more
spices and ointments on the body of Jesus, having been unable to do so because
He had been entombed in such a hurried manner.
[Mark 16:1] We
see in this passage that after the Sabbath was over, they bought spices.
Since it was unlawful to buy, sell or work on the Sabbath, the women had
to wait until the Sabbath was past before they could purchase more spices.
(Luke 23:54-56 tells us that they observed the burial, then went home and
prepared spices before the Sabbath; this does not preclude their purchasing more
spices after the Sabbath, which would be Saturday evening after sunset to us,
nor is it certain that we are discussing the same women, although that is
probable.) It’s like when my wife
goes to the grocery store and buys stuff. But,
later in the evening she realizes that she didn’t get enough eggs, so she goes
back the next day. So, they rested
on the weekly Sabbath, and then bought more spices after sunset, intending to
put them on His body early on Sunday morning.
When we compare the different Gospel accounts, the true
sequence of events becomes clear. The
women prepared some spices on Wednesday evening (by our reckoning) before
sunset, and then they purchased more spices after sunset on Saturday in order to
put them on His body on Sunday morning. But,
if he were in the ground three days, what about the intervening day?
What about Friday? Why did
they not anoint his body then?
Let’s take a close look at the chronology of this event.
We know that on Sunday morning, when the women went looking for Him,
Jesus was already gone from His tomb. (He
didn’t arise on Sunday morning by the way we reckon time today.)
So when did these events take place?
We know from Scriptures that Jesus was born before Herod
the Great died. By our current
calendar, Herod the Great died in about 4 BC.
Because he had all children less than two years of age put to death,
based on what the Magi told him, we know that Jesus would have been born in
about 5 BC. Since our calendars
(both Gregorian and Julian) have a 1 BC and a 1 AD, but no year zero, and Jesus
entered the public ministry at the age of 30, and served about three years
before his crucifixion, we can assume that he was crucified in about 29 AD. The Perpetual Calendar from the Encyclopedia Britannica shows
that in 29 AD, the Passover fell on a Thursday (Wednesday evening by our
reckoning). Therefore, the Feast of
Unleavened Bread began on Friday (Thursday evening), and followed by the regular
weekly Sabbath (Friday evening until Saturday evening).
[Luke 23:44-46] tells us, “And it was about the sixth
hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the
sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when
Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my
spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the
Between the ninth hour (3 PM) and sunset on Wednesday,
Joseph of Arimathea (who had not agreed with the counsel on condemning Jesus)
and Nicodemus (both disciples of Jesus) asked for permission to remove His body
from the cross and put it in a tomb, which was nearby.
By the way we reckon time today, Jesus was crucified on
Wednesday, and placed in the tomb before 6 PM.
He arose from the grave some time after 6 PM on Saturday, which would be
early Sunday morning, the first day of the week, according to Jewish time
keeping. This explanation fits
Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 12:40 that He would be three days and three nights
in the heart of the earth. Nothing
else fits. John 20:1 tells us,
“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.” He
was already raised!
Jesus said He would be “three
days and three nights in the heart of the earth”. If He were buried in the late afternoon, then He must have
been resurrected at around the same time three days and three nights later.
Joseph and Nicodemus placed him in the tomb in the late afternoon on
Wednesday, just before the sun went down for.
Three days and three nights later would have been at approximately the
same time of day, just as the sun went down and evening came.
This places the resurrection on
Saturday around sunset, not on Sunday morning, by our reckoning.
As we just saw, when Mary went to the tomb while it was still dark on
Sunday morning, He was already raised!
Jesus would have been buried on
Wednesday evening, and raised about the same time, three days and three nights
later. This fits perfectly with the
three nights (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday) and the three days (Thursday,
Friday, and Saturday). This is the
only time frame that fits within Jesus’ proclaimed sign of how long He would
be in the tomb.
As we have seen, this fits
perfectly with all the details recorded in the Gospels.
The sign was fulfilled, just as He said it would be.
But, does Jesus ever do anything in any way that isn’t perfect?
[Mark 16:1: Salome is
Jesus’ half-sister and the mother of John the Baptizer; Sabbaths, not
Sabbath.] Not only did He spend
three days and three nights in the Grave, but also it was three complete
Sabbaths. He did no work on those
Sabbaths, just as the law commands. He
wasn’t raised until they were completed.
The tradition of a “Good Friday” crucifixion and an
“Easter Sunday” resurrection, as we commemorate them today, are proven from
the Bible to be nothing but traditions of men, without foundation in Biblical
fact. Which will you believe:
A man-made myth, or the only sign that Jesus announced would be proof
that He was who He said He was? As
far as I can tell, the complicated method for setting the date for Easter,
pretty much prevents the possibility of even celebrating on the correct day
Does that mean that I think we need to quit celebrating
Good Friday and Easter Sunday? Not
necessarily. But, we do need to
remember that’s not the way it happened.
If we wanted to celebrate it on the correct days, this year, Passover is
on the 26th, if I’m not badly mistaken. But, we’re not bound by the law.
Turn to [Exodus 31] to close. The Lord gave the weekly Sabbath for the benefit of man, not
as a burden. But, man has twisted
it just like everything else into a burden.
[Exodus 31:12-18] The weekly
Sabbath was given as a perpetual covenant between God and Israel.
Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, and entombed on Thursday,
according to the Jewish calendar. That
Thursday was a high Sabbath; it was the Passover.
Christ is our Passover and He shields us, just as the little Passover
lambs shielded the firstborn children in Egypt.
Remember, the Passover is just for the firstborn, not all the children.
It’s about position. Jesus
died for all, but the Bible tells us that His blood was shed for many.
He died that all might be saved. We’re
saved by His death, but we’re sanctified by His blood.
The second day in the tomb, beginning Thursday evening, was
a high Sabbath; it was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
This feast represents cleanness; you had to sweep all the leaven or
impurities from your house. 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 says, “Your glorying is
not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 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,” and Galatians 5:9 says, “A
little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”
Leaven represents Phariseeism, or the traditions of men, as opposed to
the laws of God. Sort of like the traditions surrounding Easter.
The third day in the grave, from Friday evening until
Saturday evening, was a weekly Sabbath, which was given as a covenant to man, as
a type of the coming Kingdom rest of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
He rested in the heart of the Earth for three Sabbaths, and
that completely and utterly fulfilled the sign of His authenticity, that He
would spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The Bible tells us that when He died, his body was in the grave, His
spirit went to be with the father, and His soul went to hell (Sheol).
In all three He rested, and all three are represented in the three types
of Sabbaths that are represented here. It’s
complete: Body, soul, and spirit.
But even those nearest to Him lacked faith or maybe they
lacked understanding. The women
were headed to rub spices on His body on Sunday morning, even though He said
that He would be raised. Perhaps
they thought He simply meant that He would be resurrected in a spiritual sense,
but that’s not what He said. They
were unbelieving; they lacked faith.
I know we could go on and on, discussing the implications of the feasts and such, but this is enough for now. Thank you for bearing with me. I hope that this has been a blessing to you, and not too confusing. We need to have complete faith, and not suffer from unbelief like those in His life often did. He has given us everything we need to have that kind of faith; we just have to exercise it. Let go and let God. That’s my prayer for us all.