The Christian Church traditionally has celebrated the death of Jesus on Good Friday during the so called Easter week. When this tradition began is unclear. Assyrian Christians, Russian Orthodox Christians, Greek Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics and Evangelical and Protestant Christians from East and West have different celebrations and traditions but most consider and celebrate Good Friday as the day of the crucifixion of Christ on the Cross at Calvary. We know that the idea that Jesus died on a Friday dates back to before the fourth century because during that time Jerome explained in his commentary on the book of Jonah’s prophecy about the death and resurrection of Jesus that “Matthew inspired by the Holy Spirit was not clear and probably referred to a portion of days and nights, or at least that was his interpretation.”
This still seems to be the interpretation that the Catholic Church gave and was assimilated by the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther in his message of the resurrection said: “How we can say that he rose again on the third day if it was only in the grave one day and two nights; How can we persist on believing that there were three days? To this we can answer that Jesus was in a state of death for at least three days. Because if he died around 2 pm on Friday, Saturday day and night and rose on the third day which commemorated now, then it was dead of the third day at dawn but then it happens to be only a portion of the day. In this sense Paul and the evangelists write that he rose again the third day.” This then is Luther’s interpretation of the following two controversial scriptures:
As Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, so shall the Son of man in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. Mathew 12.40
But the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Jonah 1.17
The primary reason why traditional Christianity celebrates Christ’s death on a Friday afternoon is simply because of an incorrect understanding of the Jewish celebration of the Shabbat festivities. Christ’s death did not occur during the celebration of the weekly Shabbat BUT during “Shabbat Hagadol” or ‘The Great Shabbat’ the feast of Passover, also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread as we will see by the many scriptures concerning the passion of the Lord.
Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.” Matthew 26.17-18
After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death. Mark 14.1
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. Luke 22.1
Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?” Mark 14.12
The feast of Passover or Unleavened Bread begins on the 15th day of Nisan. This is the same day that Jesus Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26: 26-28)
This festival always begins on the 15th day of Nisan and ends seven days later with the feast of “first fruits” according to the Jewish calendar and has nothing to do with the any day of the Roman calendar. How wonderful that in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ we find the fulfillment of the institution of the Passover which was declared by God as a “solemn feast”. ‘Likewise Christ’s death is the sacrifice of the first fruits and he is the firstborn of all creation (Col. 1:15) and he is the head of the body, which is the Church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that in everything he might have preeminence’. (Col. 1:18)
Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. 7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. 8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. 10 You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. 11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. Exodus 12.1-11
‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. Exodus 12.14
So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. Exodus12.17
These verses show the importance placed on the sacrifice of the cross as the means of freedom for the individual, the family and the nation. They point to the passion and death of Jesus Christ for our redemption, justification and sanctification. It is wonderful as Christ was offered as the Passover lamb who takes away the sins of the world exactly in the ‘month of redemption’ according to the traditional prayer of Rosh Hashanah which declares‘ In Nissan our parents were redeemed from Egypt and in Nissan we will be redeemed’
The apostles Mark and Matthew described the day of the crucifixion in great detail:
Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate. Mark15.1
On this day both Matthew (27.45) and Mark (15.33, 37), tells us that Jesus died on exactly the ninth hour which is equivalent to 3.00 pm. Jesus died on the 17th day of Nisan.
Three days and three nights after his death correspond exactly to the day of the first fruits. Because Jesus Christ is the first fruits of them that have fallen sleep.
But now Christ is risen from the dead; and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen sleep. 1 Corinthians 15.20
The scriptures declare that Jesus Christ would be raised on the third day. (Matthew 16.21 Matthew 17.32, Luke 9.22, 18.33, 10.40 Acts, 1 Corinthians 15.4
The Scriptures inspired by the Holy Spirit clearly describe the events that occurred during the feast of Shabbat Hagadol or the Great Shabbat which is also the feast of unleavened bread. We have to understand the Jewish calendar to understand when Christ was resurrected. The incorrect interpretation assumes that Jesus died on the weekly Sabbath and not in this special feast held annually and that is the reason why when we got Mark 16.1-2 we assume that Christ rose on Sunday, the first day of the week.
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. John 19.31
Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. Mark 16.1-2
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. Matthew 28.1
But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. Mark 16.6
6 He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come; see the place where the Lord lay. Matthew 28.6
When the two Mary’s came it was gone in the grave he had already risen. He was no longer in the tomb. Mark 16.9 verse in some biblical versions says:
Now when He was risen early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. Mark 16.9
The translators based on their paradigms installed commas in the wrong places, the original texts do not contain uppercase letters or commas thus a simple mistake can change the context of a verse.
This verse should read this way to match the rest of the text and context of the narrative:
Having Jesus risen, the morning the first day of the week…
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. John 20.1
Incorrect translations are based on paradigms and interpretations, However, we must allow the bible to interpret itself
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1.20-21
Men have been sadly mistaken in their interpretations and this has caused large errors in theology and doctrine. One of the main rules of biblical interpretation is in the first Biblical use of the word or the term.
We find the Biblical definition of a day in the book of Genesis and it defines a day as the evening and the morning that is a period of exactly twenty four hours (Genesis 1.5, 1.8, 1.13, 1.19, 1.23 and 1.31)
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. So the evening and the morning where the first day. Genesis 1.5
The Bible also states that one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day BUT here it clearly points out to the evening and the morning.
God defined night and day, evening and morning as one day. So when Mathew 12.40 and Jonah 1.17 say three days and three nights they refer to exactly 72 hours. There is no way to take three days and three nights if Christ died on a Friday at 3:00 pm and had risen early on the first day of the week. Jesus prophesied three days and three nights. What then is the answer?
Jesus Christ died on the 17th day of the month of Nisan or AVIV; that date fell on a Wednesday at three in the afternoon or the ninth hour and He rose exactly three days and three nights after the end of the Great Shabbat at 3.00 pm which on that year also happened to be the weekly Sabbath therefore when the women arrived at the tomb, Jesus was not there, He had already risen.
In Jesus, God had fulfilled all the requirements of the Passover lamb for the sins of the world, to be the first fruits of the Church and for redemption, justification and eternal sanctification of the saints. Likewise all the prophecies concerning Jesus’ death by the mouth of his holy prophets were fulfilled some 700 years later exactly as spoken by the prophets inspired by the Holy Spirit
But this man (Christ) after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made his footstool; For by one offering He hath perfected forever those that are being sanctified ………. Then He adds I will never again remember their sins and transgressions. 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for their sin. Hebrews 10. 12-14 and 17-18
God’s word MUST be rightly divided in order to be able to explain any apparent contradiction, that is the challenge to which every teacher of His word will be held accountable.