The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matt 12:40
If you believe that Christ is the Messiah, then he had to fulfill all the prophecies concerning such. He had to fulfill them to the letter as that was criteria to establish the fact that He WAS and IS the Messiah.
Days and Three Nights
Obviously, had Christ been crucified on Friday, He couldn't possibly have spent three days and three nights in the grave by Sunday morning. The verification of that fact is simple. What was left of Friday afternoon can be counted as day one. All day Saturday is day two. Friday and saturday nights until dawn Sunday total two nights. The period comes up short by one day and one night.
Even counting a few minutes of Sunday morning as the third day would not suffice. There would still be one night missing. Furthermore, no part of the day on Sunday may be counted because we are distinctly told that the angel rolled away the stone "as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week" (Matthew 28:1). The tomb was already empty at that point, so Christ must have risen from the dead sometime prior to dawn. How long before we are not told.
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Matthew 12:38-40
But later on two came forward, and said, "This man stated, I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days." Matthew 26:61
Now on the next day, which is the one after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, "Sir, we remember that when he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I am to rise again.' Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last deception be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go, make it secure as you know how." And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone. Matthew 27:62-66
The above verses show that Jesus had openly taught that the major sign that He was the Messiah was that He would die and three days later rise again. Even more clearly, He said that He would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. This promise meant that 72 hours would pass from His death to His resurrection and that this would be the sign for the Jews that He was who He said He was (the Messiah). The Friday crucifixion with a resurrection before sunrise on Sunday morning totals approximately 36 hours. If we understood Jesus to mean that within three days and three nights He would rise again, then any period short of that would suffice. But He taught that after three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, then He would rise again. This logically would necessitate the crucifixion on a Wednesday, then the daylight and nighttime periods of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday would be three days and three nights. We count from either His actual death shortly after 3 PM or from the time His body was laid in the tomb, shortly before the annual Sabbath began, although I believe we should count the 72 hours from the time the body was laid in the tomb.
You'll notice that the above text from Matthew 27, recorded that the chief priests met with Pilate the morning after the crucifixion to get permission to post a guard and seal the tomb. The Bible records that this was the day after the day of preparation. This day of preparation is the 14th of Abib/Nisan, when the homes were scoured for any leavened bread within the house and a preparation of food was readied for the Passover meal, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread [Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, John 19:14, 31, 42]. Therefore, the grave of Jesus was not sealed until the morning of the 15th of Abib/Nisan, on the annual Sabbath. In the text from John 19, we learn that the body of Jesus needed to be removed from the cross because the Sabbath was about to begin and that Sabbath was a high day or annual Sabbath. This is consistent with the other verses which teach that the day of preparation was the day that Jesus died. Now we only need to determine whether the annual Sabbath and weekly Sabbath fell on the same day, which would lead us to the conclusion that Jesus died on a Friday afternoon, shortly after 3 PM as commonly taught. If not, then He died on another day of the week.
The Jews therefore, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. John 19:31
And Nicodemus came also, who had first come to Him by night; bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. And so they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. John 19:39-40
And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave. Matthew 27:59-61
And Joseph bought a linen sheet, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen sheet, and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was laid. Mark 15:46-47
And it was the Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed after, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. And they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. Luke 23:54-56
In totality, the above verses together give us the complete picture of what happened after Jesus' death, how His body was prepared for burial, and who observed this process. It is extremely important to notice that none of the above texts alone gives the complete story, and that you have to read all together to get the whole story. Joseph took Jesus' body after receiving permission from Pilate, bought a linen sheet, and bound the body with Nicodemus' assistance. Nicodemus had brought a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, which they bound with the body. The tomb was near where Jesus was crucified, and belonged to Joseph who had carved this tomb out of rock. It was a new tomb that had never before been used. Also, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses accompanied the body from the cross and watched the entire process of burial. When Jesus' body was laid in the tomb, then Joseph, assisted by Nicodemus, rolled a large stone in front of the tomb opening and left. Finally, the two Mary's left and prepared spices and perfumes, before resting on the Sabbath. Up to this point, we have no evidence that the annual Sabbath and weekly Sabbath did not fall on the same day as traditionally taught.
The next collection of verses will explore the role of the women in preparing spices and perfumes with which they intended to anoint the body of Jesus.
And they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared. and they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Luke 23:56, 24:1-2
Now late on the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his garment as white as snow; and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. Matthew 28:1-4
And when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might anoint Him. And very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. Mark 16:1-4
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. And so she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." John 20:1-2
You may have to reread the above verses to notice that the women who had watched Jesus' body being laid in the tomb, prepared perfumes and spices. The Mark 16 text says that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary bought spices AFTER the Sabbath and prepared them. While the Luke 23 text states that the women prepared spices and then rested on the Sabbath. This is consistent with an annual Sabbath on Thursday, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the weekly Sabbath on Saturday. We know that these are the same women because the Bible verses all relate that Mary Magdalene was involved in all these events. However, two other Mary's are mentioned, one the mother of James and Salome, and the other the mother of Joses. In all cases, Mary Magdalene was involved. Therefore, the women saw Jesus' body being laid in the tomb on a Wednesday afternoon, they rested on the annual Sabbath on Thursday, and bought spices on Friday. They prepared the spices on Friday and then rested according to the commandment on the weekly Sabbath on Saturday. After the weekly Sabbath, they intended to anoint Jesus' body with the perfumes and spices. Therefore both intuitively and by evidence, we have proven that Passover was on a Wednesday, and that Jesus did as He had said, which was to rise again after three days and three nights. What remains to determine, is whether Jesus rose as the weekly Sabbath was ending or at sunrise on Sunday?
You'll notice through a comparison of the four gospels that Mary Magdalene and the disciples went to the tomb a number of times. In some it was still dark, and in some it was already light. It wasn't until it was light on Sunday that they actually discovered that He had risen, in the first visits the tomb was empty. The above text in John 20, tells us of the first visit by Mary Magdalene when it was dark, the tomb was empty, and she had not been told that Jesus was risen, and only saw the stone rolled away. I will leave it to the reader to compare the applicable verses in the four gospels to reconstruct the various visits to the tomb. However, there is one verse which seems to tell us that Jesus rose on the first day of the week.
Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. Mark 16:9
The above text would seem to conclusively prove that Jesus rose early in the evening on the first day of the week, what we would call Saturday night. Some commentators have speculated that verses 9-20 of this chapter were later added since they weren't in any of the early manuscripts. Whether or not that is true, the reader ought to know that the meaning of a verse may be altered by the addition of a comma or a deletion. The original text did not have these punctuation marks in the Greek text, so they were added later. If a comma is added after risen, the verse takes on an entirely different meaning. Now after He had risen, early on the first day of the week He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. This change is not altering scripture since it was not written with punctuation marks. This makes the verse consistent with all the four gospels, where Mary Magdalene visited the grave, shortly after the Sabbath ended, and saw the empty grave with the stone rolled away, but did not see an angel or see Jesus. It was later, when the sun had risen on Sunday morning that she came with Mary the mother of James and Salome back to the tomb, saw an angel who told her that he had risen, and then saw Jesus. One can imagine that Mary asked Mary Magdalene, "Who would roll away the stone?" as they approached the tomb, since Mary Magdalene had not mentioned that she had been there earlier and saw the empty grave. Then she went and told the disciples that she saw the angel and saw Jesus. What any reader should realize is that the Holy Spirit gave us the four gospels with fragments of the story in each, and it takes a study of all together, to arrive at the complete picture. The following verse clearly shows us that Mary Magdalene came to the grave as the weekly Sabbath was ending.
Now late on the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. Matthew 28:1 (NASB)
Bishop Papias was an early church bishop in Syria and he wrote that the book of Matthew was originally written in Aramaic, and then translated into Greek by the apostles. Irenaeus and Clement also mentioned seeing the original Aramaic of the book of Matthew. We have some precedence and evidence that at least some of the new testament books were first written in Aramaic, and translated by the apostles into Greek, and Matthew is one of them. I say all of this because the Aramaic of Matthew 28:1 in Aramaic is much clearer than the Greek. A literal, word for word translation of the Aramaic directly to English is as follows (commas separate meaning of each word).
in the evening, at Sabbath, when went up, the beginning (the dawning), belonging, to the last of, in the Sabbath, arrived, Miryam, the Magdalene, and Miryam, the different (the other), came to see, the tomb (the grave).
It is obvious by repeating "the Sabbath" twice, that it is making the point that it was at twilight, that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the tomb. By stressing "the last of the Sabbath", the verse drives home the point that this was Saturday evening, but that the twilight period still belonged to the Sabbath. There were no streetlights then, and no flashlights, so if the full moon had not yet risen, then when it got dark, it got really dark, really fast. The 2 Mary's had just enough time to look around and leave. No one can read the Peshitta Aramaic of Matthew 28:1 and mistake it for any other understanding than that the Mary's arrived at the tomb at twilight on Saturday evening and the stone had already been rolled away.
Why didn't the 2 Mary's try to anoint the body of Jesus on Friday, since they had prepared the spices and perfumes on Friday before the weekly Sabbath began? It is because in Matthew 27:62-66, Pilate had given the Roman order to have the grave sealed on Thursday morning, and they had put the Roman seal on it and posted guards until the 3 days were complete. Therefore, if the 2 Marys had tried to annoint the body on Friday, they would have broken the law and been arrested. They waited until after the 3 days, so as to avoid arrest. The apostles were all in hiding at the time, fearing possibly their own arrest, so it fell to the 2 Mary's to annoint the body.
The fact is that the Last Supper celebrated with the bread and wine by Jesus and the disciples took place on the evening of the fourth day of the week (we would say Tuesday evening). Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday and was in the grave 3 days and 3 nights. He rose from the dead late on the Sabbath. Finally, He revealed Himself to Mary Magdalene and the disciples on the first day of the week, shortly after sunrise. Of course this means that we have a Palm Saturday and not a Palm Sunday. It also means that Jesus performed the sign He said He would, and that Sunday being the Lord's day is a fabrication of the bishop of Rome. Bishop Sixtus instituted this teaching at Rome shortly after the death of the Apostle John, and later Bishops of Rome perpetuated the error he brought into the church. In due time, even the keeping of the Passover bread and wine remembrance was outlawed with excommunication.
The Last Supper and the Crucifixion
graphic by Michael J. Harris
A superficial reading of the gospels does tend to lead one to the conclusion of a Friday crucifixion, when read separately, so one cannot blame the majority of believers for this false belief.
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