For Christians, the traditionally hallowed day of the death of Jesus is Good Friday. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Sunday, at which many a Christian congregation holds a memorial sunrise service. What has always puzzled me is that there are only 36 hours between Friday at 6 PM, when Jesus was in the grave, and Sunday, at 6 AM when he was raised. This is because Jesus, in his own words, clearly stated that the Son of man would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Matthew 12 (KJV)
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.
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It seems important to distinguish that this is a sign as opposed to a miracle. Miracles are events where something that happens normally in nature is sped up, slowed down, or reversed. When Jesus turned the water into wine, we see the natural fermentation process accelerated. Miracles are very significant, to be sure, but Jesus so emphasized this sign about himself as to harshly warn a wicked and perverse generation who would seek one. The only sign they would be given would be the sign of Jonah. [note]Jonah 1 and Jonah 2[/note]
The Passover lamb is a figura umbrae, [note]Latin for ‘shape of the shadow.’ [/note] or shadow, of Jesus Christ’s death, and it is described with great detail in Exodus 12:1.
Exodus 12 (KJV)
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:
4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening [note]GK H6847 | S H6153 עֶרֶב ʿereḇ 134x n.[m.] . evening, twilight, dusk, the fading of the day; twilight can extend into the dark of the night. → evening; twilight.[/note].
7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.
11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover.
The month that is described in this passage is Nisan. [note]Nisan |ˈnisən, nēˈsän| noun (in the Jewish calendar) the seventh month of the civil and first of the religious year, usually coinciding with parts of March and April[/note] As you see, God changed it to be the first month in the Hebrew calendar.
There also are very specific instructions about the Passover lamb. It was to be brought into the house with the family on 10 Nisan. On Nisan 14, at the end of day, the lamb is sacrificed. This is necessarily before dusk, because 15 Nisan begins at 6 PM, and not six hours later at 12 AM. 14 Nisan is known as the Preparation of Passover, and 15 Nisan is Passover.
In Egypt, God passed through slaying all the first born. Only the occupants of the houses where the blood of the Passover lamb had been applied to the door posts and lintel of the house were spared grievous judgment. The Passover lamb is the figura umbrae [note]Latin for ‘shape of the shadow.'[/note] of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for us. His blood marks the posts and lintel of our hearts.
The weekly Sabbath, [note]sabbath |ˈsabəTH| noun, (often the Sabbath) a day of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by Jews from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians on Sunday[/note] or day of rest, starts at dusk, i.e. 6 PM, on Friday and ends at 6 PM on Saturday. It is also noteworthy that Passover is called a special, or high, Sabbath, and in addition to the meal of bitter herbs, unleavened bread, and roast lamb, it carries the same work restrictions as the weekly Sabbath.
Now it is also important to understand that the Hebrew calendar is lunisolar. [note]lunisolar |ˌlo͞oniˈsōlər| adjective, of or concerning the combined motions or effects of the sun and moon.
• of or employing a calendar year divided according to the phases of the moon, but adjusted in average length to fit the length of the solar cycle.
• of or denoting a 532-year period over which both the lunar months and the days of the week return to the same point in relation to the solar year.[/note] Our calendar today is the Gregorian solar calendar, named for Pope Gregory. It replaced the Julian solar calendar, which was named for Julius Ceasar. The Julian calendar is based on a 365.25-day year, which is a few minutes longer one solar revolution. The Julian calendar has gradually advanced over the centuries, and today is more than two weeks ahead of the Gregorian calendar which replaced it precisely to correct this problem. [note]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_calendar[/note]
In the Hebrew calendar, 14 Nisan is the day of Preparation of Passover. It is also called the Fast of the Firstborn. [note]“Fast of the Firstborn: When Passover begins after Shabbat” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, March 12, 2015. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Fast_of_the_Firstborn&oldid=650985787.[/note] It is always on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday, but never a Tuesday or Thursday.
Let’s summarize the most important things to glean from the above discussion. Jesus Christ, the Passover Lamb, was killed on 14 Nisan at the end of the day of Preparation of Passover, the same time as all the other passover lambs were being slaughtered. He died at 3 PM, sooner than was expected. His body was taken down off the cross, and given to Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. They prepared it for burial with some 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes, and transported it to a nearby newly hewn, and as yet unused, tomb. Both these men were working against the 6 PM deadline in time for Passover.
Looking ahead to Sunday morning, the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene discovers the empty tomb. The angel she encounters tells her that Jesus Christ has risen, and is not there. Remember that 15 Nisan begins at dusk, and Jesus is in grave, and literally in Sheol. From 15 Nisan to the first day of the week, there must be three days and three nights.
If 14 Nisan falls on Friday, as is church tradition, then between dusk Friday and sunrise Sunday, Jesus could have only been in Sheol from the night of 15 Nisan to sunrise 16 Nisan which is only a day and a half. If 14 Nisan falls on Saturday, then he could have been in Sheol only the night of 15 Nisan, or just 12 hours. If 14 Nisan was on a Monday, then counting to sunrise Sunday results in six days and seven nights. These are all untenable if we are to believe that Jesus Christ meant what he said about three days and three nights.
The only viable option left for when Jesus died is where 14 Nisan fell on a Wednesday. Counting from sunset on Wednesday 14 Nisan to sunrise on Sunday 18 Nisan there are three days and four nights. This doesn’t seem to work at first either though. However, there is something quite assumed in the scripture about Sunday 18 Nisan. Here are the two harmonic accounts in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark of the tomb that Feast of Firstfruits morning.
Matthew 28 (NIV-1984)
1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stonec and sat on it.
3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.
4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
Mark 16 (NIV-1984)
1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.
2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb
3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”
There is one detail that is stunningly absent. There is nothing said about exactly when Jesus arose! The best that we have assumed till now, is that the women arrived immediately after Jesus was raised and the stone rolled away. But the scripture says nothing that indicates that Jesus had risen even shortly before , or sometime during the night. It simply doesn’t say when he was raised. There is little reason to think even, that the presence of the angel rolling away the stone had anything specifically to do with Jesus being raised from the dead. If Jesus didn’t need any help coming back from Sheol, it’s certain that the stone walls of the tomb had no strength to confine him.
This highlights the notable contrast in how Lazarus appeared after Jesus raised him from the dead. Lazarus was wrapped in his burial linens, and had to hobble out to have them removed. Jesus’ body was translated straight through the burial linens and out of the tomb. That’s why the grave clothes were left neatly folded with the head covering separate but nearby.
John 20 (NIV-1984)
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.
4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.
6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there,
7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.
8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.
9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
Without any other scripture to consider, the only thing we can do is to take Jesus at his word about three days and three nights at face value. If his death and burial occurred just before sunset on Wednesday 14 Nisan, then he rose again on Saturday 17 Nisan, at the end of the third day. The presence of the angel the next morning was necessary for the sake of the women, but was not required for Jesus to escape death or the tomb.
If Jesus’ resurrection occurred at sunset on Saturday the end of 17 Nisan, why did the women not show up at the tomb until sunrise on Sunday 18 Nisan? They were observing the Sabbath rest until 6 PM Saturday. By that time, it was getting dark. The lack of light caused them to put off their visit to the grave until daylight the next morning.
Learning the true day of Jesus’ death is highly significant because it confirms to us the accuracy of scriptural prophecy as well as absolute authority of Jesus’ own words. It also reveals something most equally amazing. Look here at the list of weekdays by year in which Preparation for Passover falls on Wednesday.
|Day of the Week
for 14 Nisan
Preparation of Passover [note] The Shepherd’s Page, http://www.abdicate.net/cal.aspx[/note]
|Age of Jesus
Variously Proposed Nativity Years [note]Summers, Ray, and Jerry Vardaman. Chronos, Kairos, Christos Two. Mercer University Press, 1998, p.61-63.[/note]
|Gregorian / Julian
|12 B.C. [note]Vardman & Kokkinos[/note]||7-5 B.C. [note]Finegan & Maier[/note]||3-2 B.C. [note]Filmer & Martin[/note]|
|3774||Mar 31/Apr 2||14||Mon||25||18-20||15-16|
|3785||Mar 31/Apr 2||25*||Mon||36||29-31||26-27|
So which Wednesday 14 Nisan is the Preparation of Passover in which Jesus Christ was crucified? Let’s take a look at this scripture in Luke.
Luke 3 (NIV-1984)
1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—
2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.
3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
4 As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.
6 And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’”
7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.
9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11 John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”
12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.
16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.
19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done,
20 Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.
21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened
22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli,
The first verse very specifically ties the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry to the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Ceasar. He ruled as emporer from A.D. 14-37, which would mean that, at first glance, John the Baptist begins preparing the way of the Lord in the year 29.
The date of his ascension as Roman emporer in A.D. 14 however does not probably correspond to his first year of reign as verse 1 might suggest, because of the practice of antedating. [note]antedating |ˈantiˌdātiNG| noun, an example or instance of a word, phrase, etc., at a date earlier than previously known or recorded:[/note] While Tiberius actually ascended in A.D. 14 when Augustus Ceasr died, he would have antedated the year of his reign from as far back to the point at which Augustus appointed him as heir, which was A.D. 4. [note]BibleChronology.com, The Antedating of Tiberius, http://www.biblicalchronology.com/tiberius.htm[/note]
More importantly though, there is a descrepancy in date of Augustus Ceasar’s death as indicated by astonomical evidence which places his demise at A.D. 10 instead of A.D. 14. [note]BibleChronology.com, The evidence from eclipse and comet sightings. http://www.biblicalchronology.com/evidence.htm[/note] Also the first year of a reign does not count the actual year of ascencion usually, because the first year must be a whole, and not a partial, year. Therefore, rather than appointing Tiberius as his heir in A.D. 4, he did so in A.D. 1.
As a combination of at least the error of Augustus Ceasar’s death and when Tiberius Ceasar antedated his reign, we can see that the fifteenth year of his reign does not likely point to year A.D. 29, but sometime earlier, perhaps A.D. 25-26. The significance of course is that if A.D. 29 is correct, then there is not enough time for John to have been ministering, and Jesus to have been baptized and start his ministy, and also to have observed the three documented Passovers in scripture before the Wednesday Preparation of Passover in A.D. 30.
That particular Wednesday occurrence of Preparation of Passover of A.D. 30 does not occur again until A.D. 37 which seems far too long. This is especially more significant when you see that the beginning of Jesus’ ministry at about age thirty is noted in Like 3:23 of the scripture above.
In conclusion, it appears to me that Jesus’ ministry started circa A.D. 29-30 which is when John baptized him. The first Preparation of Passover was on a Wednesday A.D 30 with two subsequent occurrences on Monday and Saturday. His final Preparation of Passover where he was crucified was again on a Wednesday A.D. 30. This three and a half years of Messiah where he is cut off, is also mentioned in the following prophetic scripture, with which I’ll close and leave you the reader to ponder.
Dan. 9 (KJV)
20 And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God;
21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Even so Lord Jesus, come and redeem our selves as you have redeemed our souls. -Amen