There exists some confusion regarding the days of the Easter events, when Jesus was arrested, crucified and came alive from the dead.
In Western culture we reckon a day from Midnight to Midnight, but we need to keep in mind that the Jewish day begins at Sunset, and ends at Sunset. A ‘Sabbath day' begins Friday at Sunset and ends Saturday at Sunset.
If we keep this in mind, as we read the records of the death of Jesus we will find that the whole matter is simplified.
The Bible tells us.
Jesus arose from the dead on the First day of the week, early in the morning.
Mar 16:9 "Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons".
Matthew 28:1-6. "Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come; see the place where the Lord lay".
The Biblical narrative continues.
To confirm from the mouths of His enemies that He said that He would be 3 days and 3 nights in the tomb.
Mat 27:62-66. "On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, 'Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, "After three days I will rise.' Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first.'"
Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how." So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
Now we need to count backwards.
The First Day of the Week is Sunday and He arose early that day.
So He was in the tomb, Sat Night – Sunday. = 1 day.
Count additionally, Friday Night – Saturday = 2nd day.
Count additionally, Thursday Night – Friday = 3rd day.
So His Crucifixion took place from 9 am – 3 pm on Thursday.
Early on this Thursday morning of the Crucifixion, In John 18:28, it is said that, the chief priests would not go into the judgment-hall lest they should be defiled, "but that they might eat the Passover," evidently meaning that it was to be eaten that day.
In John 19:14, the day on which he was crucified is called "the preparation of the Passover" - that is, the day on which it was prepared to be eaten in the evening. So putting these facts together we see that the ‘Preparation of the Passover' took place that year on Thursday, with the Lamb being eaten after Sundown on Thursday, which was the new day; reckoned by the Jewish people as Friday.
The following references clear this up for us.
Now Thursday evening to Friday was the High Sabbath of the 7 days of Unleavened Bread;
Lev. 23:5-6. 'On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord's Passover, and on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread".
John 19:31 "Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away".
The first night and day in which our Lord lay in the grave, Thursday night to Friday at sunset, was called the great day of the Sabbath - "a high day;" that is, the day after the Passover Lamb was killed, this Sabbath occurring on the first day of the 7 day feast properly, and therefore a day of special solemnity.
1. Jesus held the Last Supper on Wednesday evening, was arrested, and then tried.
2. Jesus was crucified at 9 am on Thursday, the day of the Preparation, at the very same time the Passover Lamb was slain.
3. Thursday night and Friday was a High Sabbath (the women could not attend to the embalming that day).
4. Friday night and Saturday was a regular weekly Sabbath (again the women did not go to the grave or do any work).
5. Saturday night and Sunday was the Third day. The women went early Sunday morning to the Grave site, and found an empty Tomb.
After three days I will rise
The women met Angels, who announced that Jesus was Alive!
Whatever day you celebrate, the fact that Jesus really came alive from the dead, and is coming back for those who love and serve Him, is the great hope we can rejoice in.
His death paid for your sin, and you can find forgiveness and peace with Him as a free gift, because He lives, and loves you unconditionally. All you need do, is accept the gift from Him.
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- © 2009 Jim Cole-Rous