For example, the Catholic and most Protestant Churches have traditions of ‘Good Friday’ and ‘Easter Sunday’. So, they reason that Jesus died and was buried on Friday and then rose as the sun was rising on Easter Sunday morning. To satisfy the ‘3 days and 3 nights’ prophecy they use a Jewish tradition that states that any event occurring at any time on a day can be construed as involving the entire 24 hour period of the day (or an entire day). So Jesus died and was buried on Friday (one day), was at least figuratively in the grave on Saturday (day two), and He rose on Sunday morning (day three). This works for them.
Now, Seventh Day Sabbath keepers seem to ‘hate’ Sunday. For many decades the Worldwide Church of God (apart from the Seventh Day Adventist was one of the largest Saturday worship day groups in the U.S.) actually twisted scriptures to make the Day of Pentecost fall on Monday. It took years for them to finally admit their mistake and then set Pentecost on Sunday each year. With this in mind, it is no wonder that such organizations would not want any other important event occurring on Sunday. Therefore, they use another Jewish tradition of beginning days at sunset to structure the time elements of the death, burial, and resurrection. They want the resurrection to take place on Saturday and not Sunday. They teach that Jesus was resurrected on Saturday afternoon just before sunset (which they believe would start the first day of the week, Sunday.) To find the time and day of Jesus’ death and burial they simply back up, Friday afternoon (one day), Thursday afternoon, (day two), and Wednesday afternoon, (day three). Most of these groups make a point that these 3 days and 3 nights must involve 3 twelve hour days and 3 twelve hour nights. The Jewish tradition that says any parts of days is counted as a whole day in this case is not acceptable to them.
Sorry, but I just don’t agree with either tradition. More importantly, the Word of God does not agree with either of them as well. God is seeking those who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. So, let us look into this matter so we can see the truth of God and believe it rather than the traditions of man.
There are two ways we can approach this study. We can start with the death of Christ and then work forward to His burial and then finally His resurrection or we can work backward from His resurrection to His burial and then His death. Either way we should come to the same time each event actually took place. Both approaches seem simple enough but things get complex fairly rapidly right after His death and just before His resurrection. Therefore, we will begin this study at the time of His death and see if we can work forward in a reasonable manner.
Before getting into what day Jesus was crucified on, let us determine the hour. From the gospels of Mark chapter 15 and Matthew chapter 27, we find that about the ninth hour which in Israel time would be 3 pm in the afternoon. In John 19:30 it says Jesus last words were "It is finished!” After this we read He “breathed His last” or “yielded up His spirit” or in other words, He died.
The next event after Jesus death was the soldiers began breaking the legs of the two thieves who were crucified on either side of Jesus and when they came to Jesus they found He was already dead. This was done because the day Jesus was crucified was considered by the Pharisees as being the Preparation Day for “that Sabbath was a high day.”
John 19:31-34 (NKJV)
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.
32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him.
33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.
34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.
This is where the Catholic and Protestant churches make a gross mistake. They take this scripture to mean the Preparation Day for the weekly Sabbath, which is Friday. However, this preparation day was for a High Holy Day, an annual Sabbath. John 19:31 says so. (This was by Pharisee time reckoning. Jesus actually had already observed the Passover day correctly on the previous evening on the 14th of the month. But the Pharisees killed the Passover on the 15th. Jesus died on the 15th (actually on the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread, and actually on the High Holy Day, High Sabbath) at the precise moment that the Pharisees were killing their passover lambs. The Pharisees reckoned time differently than Jesus and different from the Sadducees. Jesus kept Passover at the same time as the Sadducees, on the evening before His death. He died at the exact moment that the Pharisees were killing their lambs on what they considered as the preparation day. They ate those lambs later that evening after sunset when they thought that the High Sabbath began. The statement about "preparation day" was written in scripture as a witness to the Pharisees, who had witnessed His Death at the same moment they were killing their lambs. Also, it was written like that because the Pharisees had much influence upon the Jews concerning time reckoning.
From scripture, we find that the Jewish tradition required that bodies not be left hanging on a cross on the Sabbath (annual or weekly). Here is another error theologians have made. There was no custom or tradition that required that a burial be completed before a Sabbath day began. When we consider what actually took place after Jesus’ death and the time that His body was placed in the grave we find it would have been nearly impossible for His body to have been taken down, prepared for burial, permission having been given, and then the placing in the grave in less than 3 hours.
Let us take each event and consider what actually took place. First, Jesus dies after the ninth hour (3 pm local time in Jerusalem). Next, the Jews ask Pilate to have the legs broken so the person would actually suffocate and die if still alive. As the legs were broke on both thieves, we can assume with reasonable certainty that they were still alive at that time. After the soldiers broke the legs, it could take a few minutes for the first person to suffocate and die. Then they broke the legs of the second person and he suffocated and died. Then the soldiers came to Jesus and because they saw he was already dead, they did not break His legs. Next, there was probably quite an outcry of mourning from those who had witnessed Jesus’ death.
Matthew 27:57-61 (NKJV)
57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.
58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him.
59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.
61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.
We continue with the next event that occurred ‘when evening had come.’ The word ‘evening’ comes from the Greek word ‘opsios’, which according to Strong's concordance (G3798) means "late afternoon or early evening or nightfall or later evening". A deep study of the word opsios/evening could find that "evening" can be "1. Noon 2. between noon and sundown. 3. a time associated with sunset." Since we know that Jesus had already died around 3 pm, and Matt. 27:57 says "When evening had come", the context shows the event of verse :57 could not have been at noon and the time between noon and sundown had also already come, therefore that places verse 57 at sunset. We find that after Jesus had died, Joseph of Arimathea went from the scene of the crucifixion to the palace to see Pilate. After Joseph was given an audience with Pilate, he asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate then sent for the centurion who was in charge of the crucifixion and who might have still been at the site. After the centurion came to Pilate, he was asked if Jesus had been dead for some time. The word used in this question about how long Jesus had been dead is from the Greek word palai meaning sometime since, ancient, a great while ago. When Pilate heard that Jesus had been dead for ‘sometime’, he gave Joseph permission to take the body.
Next, we find that Joseph went to a merchant and purchased fine linen to prepare the body of Christ (Mark 15:46). Afterwards, Joseph carried the linen to the crucifixion site, with help of several others took Jesus off the cross, and carried the body of Jesus to a garden that was near the new tomb that was to be his tomb when he died. After they arrived at the tomb, Nicodemus, showed up with a hundred pounds of a mixture of myrrh and aloes. Using the linen and the spices, they then prepared the body and wrapped Jesus using strips of linen according to the custom of the Jews. In John 19:42 the Preparation day is again mentioned as a reason they selected the new tomb of Joseph because it was near the crucifixion site. In Luke 23:54 we find that at the time of the burial, “the Sabbath drew near”. The word used for ‘drew near’ is the Greek word epiphosko meaning "to begin to grow light or begin to dawn". Here we find that the time of day Jesus was being placed in the grave is the next morning over twelve hours after Jesus had died and this was just before sunrise. They had worked all night preparing the body of Jesus for burial. No person who had come to accept Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, mankind’s Savior would have allowed some kind of slipshod burial process to have taken place in a matter of minutes before the sun went down simply to follow Jewish traditions even if there were some that required it at that time. Jesus had taught His disciples that many Jewish traditions were wrong as they sought to replace the commandments of God.
The burial of Jesus just before sunrise fits in perfectly with His prophecy that He would remain "3 days and 3 nights" in the heart of the Earth (tomb/grave). He did not say He would be in the heart of the Earth "3 nights and 3 days" as would have been necessary if His burial had taken place just before sundown as some Seventh Day Sabbath keeping groups wrongly claim. This also provides the only timing that aligns with His resurrection. However, before we jump forward three full days, let us continue event by event.
After they placed the prepared body of Jesus in the tomb, they rolled a stone over and blocked the opening. Matthew 27 starting in verse 62 we find that early that day, the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate and convinced him to have the tomb sealed and a guard to keep the body from being stolen from the tomb so Jesus’ disciples could claim He had been resurrected as He had prophesied.
Now there are two scriptures that seem to contradict each other involving several women who had followed Jesus. Read each verse.
1 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought (agorazo: go to the market to purchase) spices, that they might come and anoint Him. (Mark 16:1 NKJV)
Luke 23:56 (NKJV) "Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment."
In Mark 16, it says when the Sabbath was past, then they bought or went to the market and purchased spices that they would be using to anoint the body of Jesus. Then we read in Luke 23 that they prepared the spices and then rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. The clue to understanding these two verses is found in the last part of Luke 23:56. The Sabbath they rested on was the weekly Sabbath, which is the fourth Commandment. The other Sabbath that had passed was the First Day of Unleavened Bread, which was a high day, an annual Sabbath. There were two Sabbath days that week and two preparation days. The day they bought spices was the same day they prepared the spices and it was between two Sabbaths.
Therefore, as far as our time line goes, we have noted that Jesus was placed in the grave just before the sun rose. Then 2 days and 2 nights pass and then we come to the weekly Sabbath, "the third day". During the day portion of this Sabbath we read that the women rested. That completes 3 days that Jesus spent in the grave. Now what happened during the night portion? The next scriptures tell us things begin to happen as the night portion nears its end. As the third night was ending making it 3 full nights in the grave. Exactly as Jesus had prophesied,
Matthew 12:40 (NKJV) 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.
The next event that took place is found in Matthew 28 beginning at verse 2, we read:
Matthew 28:2-4 (NKJV)
2 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.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
In every account we find no mention that the women who first came to the tomb felt the earthquake, saw the angel roll the stone from the door of the tomb, or saw any soldiers who had been standing guard. Therefore, these things must have happened while the women were on their way to the tomb and before they actually arrived at the tomb. The next event is the women on their way to the tomb.
We find recorded in Matthew 28:1 “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.”
In John's account in John 20:1 it says “Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark.”
Luke 24:1 says, “Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning.”
Mark 16:2-3 says, “2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?”
Verse 3 adds they were talking among themselves wondering who would roll away the stone from the door of the tomb so they could go in and anoint the body of Jesus with the spices they had prepared. Again, even as they walked along there is no mention of an earthquake or of guards or of the tomb being sealed. It appears that they had not visited the tomb since Jesus’ burial and they were not aware of the tomb having been sealed or of guards being posted on the high day after they had left.
It really should not come as a surprise to us that the wording in Matthew 28:1 is the same as we found in Luke 23:54. In Luke, we found the time of the burial was as “the Sabbath drew near.” Now exactly three days later, we find in Matthew “as the first day of the week began to dawn.” In both cases the Greek word epiphosko meaning to begin to grow light or begin to dawn is used. Jesus fulfilled His own prophecy exactly.
There is one event that happened that is not mentioned in the scripture but based on what we have read so far and the next recorded event of the women arriving at the tomb, we know it must have happened. Jesus rose from the dead. He was the first of the first fruits the scriptures mention in Colossians 1:18 and 1 Corinthians 15:12-23. In His glorified state, he did not need the angel to roll back the stone covering the door to the tomb. He could have walked through the stone walls and left the tomb without assistance. The stone was rolled back for mankind to see the empty tomb.
The next event is when the women arrived at the tomb. They find the stone is already rolled away. Interesting that they were told by an angel in Matthew 28:6 that "He is not here; for He is risen, as He said." Why is it that people today do not believe Jesus’ word when He told His disciples about His death and resurrection? There is no way to get 3 days and 3 nights if you begin as nighttime starts. Also, if Jesus had intended that His time in the grave would have simply been parts of three days He would have said so.
Finally, let us consider an overview of all the major events with the days of the week noted and the time of the day as applicable. If we back up 3 days and 3 nights, we find that Jesus was crucified on the fourth day of the week or Wednesday afternoon about the ninth hour or 3 PM in our method of recording time. As it was getting dark that day, Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate to get the body of Jesus given to him for burial. Pilate summoned the centurion to verify that Jesus had been dead for some time. Afterwards, Joseph stopped and bought fine linen at a market place and then with the help of others took the body of Jesus off the cross. Then with Nicodemus, Joseph and probably others began to prepare the body of Jesus for burial according to the custom of the Jews using a hundred pounds of spices and fine linen. All of this took almost the entire night. Very early the next morning, the body of Jesus was laid in the tomb and a stone was placed over the door just as the sun was about to rise to actually begin the fifth day or Thursday, which was also a high day or Sabbath (the First Day of Unleavened Bread, see Leviticus chapter 23). The following day was the sixth day or Friday, which is the Preparation Day for the weekly Sabbath. The women went to the market and bought additional spices and prepared them. Then they rested the weekly Sabbath intending to go to the tomb and anoint the body of Jesus after the Sabbath was ended. The next morning as the sun was about to rise ending the Sabbath and beginning the first day of the week or Sunday, the women started walking to the tomb. While they were on their way, there was an earthquake, the stone was rolled away by an angel, and the soldiers guarding the tomb were so terrified they became like dead men. What is not recorded but must have happened: Jesus arose from the dead and the soldiers ran away. When the woman arrived, there were no soldiers, they did not see Jesus, they saw the stone was rolled back from the door of the tomb, and they saw and spoke to one or more angels. Since the sun had not risen, technically it was still the Sabbath when Jesus rose from the dead.
This article’s purpose was to establish using the scriptures the timing of the events from the death of Jesus Christ to His burial, and finally to His resurrection. I believe this has been indisputably accomplished.
Catholics and Protestants may be close to the actual timing of the resurrection of Jesus Christ but they are totally in error as to the timing of His death and burial. Most Seventh Day Sabbath keeping organizations are correct with the timing of the death of Jesus Christ as far as the day of the week but they are totally in error as to the timing of His burial and because of this they are in error of the timing of His resurrection. While Jesus did not rise from the grave on Saturday afternoon, He also did not rise on Sunday. When the sun came up on the first day of the week (we call Sunday), He had already risen from the dead perhaps minutes or seconds but definitely not hours before the sun broke upon the horizon. Technically, it was still Saturday. We know absolutely that it was very early Sunday morning when the women arrived at the tomb and found it empty.
The truths this article has revealed may be a very difficult pill to swallow for most Seventh Day Sabbath keeping organizations. They need to begin to realize that they have been wrong to follow the Jewish tradition that says days begin at sunset. Many scriptures further support the truth that each day actually begins at sunrise. Anyone who reads Matthew 28:1 along with Luke 23:54 and checks the wording with a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance should see that these scriptures clearly state that the next day was about to begin with the rising of the sun (as it began to grow light). There is no way anyone can honestly say these scriptures are saying the next day was about to begin with the sun setting (as it began to grow dark).
There is a mindset called “Institutional Thinking” wherein members and leaders of organizations are virtually locked into a set of doctrines or way of doing things. Some individuals when given proof that they are in error will admit privately that they are wrong yet; they cannot or will not admit their error openly and try to change from error to truth. Another mindset is called “Not Invented Here.” The group has a mentality that if someone within their leadership does not come up with a new idea they reject it from others even if they know it is the truth. I have found that individuals who are outside the leadership core of organizations (religious, business, and industry) are the ones who generally discover new truths and new ideas. They could bring tremendous changes for the better if listened to by the leadership but most often the previously mentioned mindsets will not allow this to happen.
Author: Richard (Contributing Writer).
Wednesday the 15th: 1st Day of Unleavened Bread. High Sabbath. Calendar Day runs from dawn to dawn.
Jesus dies at exactly 3 pm Israel time at the exact moment that the Pharisees killed their Passover Lamb.
After He was already dead, the soldiers pierced His Side.
(The Babylonian Pharisees incorrectly observed all days from sunset to sunset. They also killed the Passover a day late. This day that Jesus died was incorrectly considered by the Pharisees to be "the Preparation day". In their view, The High Sabbath would not start until sunset on the 15th).
Joseph of Arimathea went from the scene of the crucifixion to the palace to see Pilate.
After Joseph was given an audience with Pilate, he asked for the body of Jesus.
Pilate then sent for the centurion who was in charge of the crucifixion and who might have still been at the site.
After the centurion came to Pilate, he was asked if Jesus had been dead for a good amount of time.
When Pilate heard that Jesus had been dead for a good amount of time, he gave Joseph permission to take the body.
Joseph went to a merchant (before sunset) and purchased fine linen to prepare the body of Christ (Mark 15:46).
Afterwards, Joseph carried the linen to the crucifixion site. He arrives at/after sunset (Matt.27:57).
With the help of several others, he took Jesus off the cross, and carried the body of Jesus to a garden that was near the new tomb, close to the Crucifixion site. (Everything had to be in close proximity due to restrictions of the Pharisees who thought that the High Sabbath began at sunset. But the disciplines understood Jesus' practice of observing dates from dawn/sunrise to dawn/sunrise).
Nicodemus showed up, after dark (John 19:39 even as he had also first come to Jesus by night) with a hundred pounds of a mixture of myrrh and aloes.
Using the linen and the spices, they then prepared the body and wrapped Jesus using strips of linen (John 19:40).
3 a.m. Jesus is placed in the tomb and the stone is rolled over the doorway.
Countdown of 3 days and 3 nights (72 hours) begins. Matthew 12:40
16th: From 3 am Wednesday night until 3 am Thursday night is one day and one night.
(I am not declaring a "day" to start at 3 am. But rather only that Jesus' 72 hours in the tomb began & ended at 3 am which was near dawn)
17th: 3 am Thursday until 3 am Friday = second day and night.
18th: 3 am Friday until 3 am Saturday = "the third day", Concludes 3 days and 3 nights.
Resurrection of Jesus at 3 am Saturday on the 7th Day "Sabbath" before sunrise. He had been dead 3.5 days. Rev.11:9-11
A little later the same night, while it was still dark but getting close to sunrise, the two Marys arrive at the empty tomb.
When does the Day Start
Passover & Communion This article also gives more information concerning Jesus died on the 15th.
Proof that the Blood Moons of 2015 marked the exact times of Jesus' birth and death
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When Was Jesus Actually Buried and When Did He Actually Rise from the Grave? Copyright 2012 I Saw The Light Ministries