Many (if not most) believers seem to think that Yeshua (Jesus) was resurrected on a Sunday, and they attempt to use Luke 23:54-24:10 as proof and justification to change God's seventh day Sabbath to the first day. But is this a huge mistake! Where and when did God ever tell us that Sunday is now HIS Sabbath? The answer lies indisputably in the Bible which, when viewed from a "Hebrew perspective," tells us that Yeshua was most likely resurrected at the end of the Sabbath, almost exactly "3-days and 3-nights" after his entombment; and not early on a Sunday morning (the first day of the week).
Furthermore, most who have studied the timeline of the last week of the Messiah simply assume the crucifixion was on a Friday, so it is not surprising that their timeline matches that expectation. The vast majority of articles on the Internet assessing the timeline of the crucifixion do nothing but assume the crucifixion was on Friday!
The truth is, a major problem exists with a Friday crucifixion! No matter one's definition of "3 days and 3 nights", that particular time period is not possible with a Friday burial at sunset and a "Sunday" resurrection before sunrise! This article will show that He was in the grave just before sunset on Wednesday night.
Man has debated the time of Messiah's resurrection for the last two thousand years. Catholics and most Christians have based their Sunday worship on the mistaken assumption that "Jesus rose on a Sunday". Rather than to view the Bible from God's perspective and the clear Scriptures provided, most have used their limited, human mindsets to lead them down the wrong path and come up with the wrong conclusions - which means their view of the Gospels is skewed.
In order to back up this very serious allegation, we will use hermeneutics: allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture:
Matthew 12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall NO SIGN be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: (KJV).
Matthew 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall NO SIGN be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed. (KJV).
What was the "sign of Jonas"?
Matthew 12:40 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. 41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (KJV).
The SIGN for which we are searching is "Three days and three nights" approximately 72 hours (a total of 3 nighttime periods and 3 daytime periods, not necessarily exactly 72 hours) from death/burial to resurrection of our Savior.
Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. (KJV).
Matthew 17:23 And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry. (KJV).
Matthew 20:19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again. (KJV).
(See also Matthew 27:64; Mark 9:31; Mark 10:34; Luke 9:22; Luke 13:32; Luke 18:33; Luke 24:7; Luke 24:46; Acts 10:40; and 1 Corinthians 15:4.)
A thorough study of the Bible reveals that Yeshua was in the grave three days (daylight periods) and three nights (periods of darkness), and it tells us that He died as the lambs died at the late afternoon of Passover which preceded the High Holy Day (15 Nisan [see Leviticus 23:5-6])*. This article will show that He was in the grave just before sunset on Wednesday night, according to scripture, "preparation day" for the High Holy Day (John 19:31); all day Thursday and Thursday night; all day Friday and Friday night, and all day Saturday (as Jonah was in the whale three days and three nights) until sometime just before sunset or at sunset on Saturday when He was resurrected. When the two Marys arrived at dawn the next morning, they found He had already risen. (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1-4; Luke 24:1-2; John 20:1).
(*Note: In John 18:28 we read that "they" led the Messiah to the governor and that "they" did not want to enter the building and so become defiled so "they" would not become unclean and unable to partake in the Passover meal. Who were "they"?
"They" were not the Roman guards who had the authority to arrest the Messiah! The Roman guards could not care less about what night it was; or whether it was the Passover! "They" were the entire Sanhedrin and Cohen HaGadol who were out to "get" Yeshua to have Him arrested! (Matthew 26:59; Mark 14:55; Luke 23:51; John 18:19). The point is, these men were the highest Jewish leadership and they, of all people, could not be defiled for the Passover which was to happen the next evening after this very night! If that happened, the entire Jewish leadership would be forced to observe Passover the next month! (Numbers 9:1-12). That clearly cannot happen! The entire Jewish leadership defiled? No. For this to be the case, the Passover cannot have yet happened which is why the leadership was concerned about becoming defiled.
This is significant proof that the arrest of the Messiah was after sunset the 13th of Nisan, when it was now the nighttime hours of the 14th, "Preparation Day" for that next afternoon's ritual observance of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread - the High Sabbath day. If this were the evening of Passover when the date would have then been the 15th of Nisan, not only are all the scriptures negated, but even a corrupt Sanhedrin would not have been "out" seeking blood after sunset the 14th when it was then the High Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread!)
Scripture tells us that Yeshua died about 3 p.m. (the ninth hour - Matthew 27:46-50); that He was buried later that same late afternoon (John 19:31).
Matthew 27:45 And from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken me? (MKJV). ** (See also Mark 15:33-34 and Luke 23:44)
**While the scripture from the MKJV states "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?", such interpretation has led to the false teaching that Yeshua was quoting Psalm 22:1 and that YHWH somehow abandoned Yeshua and left Him on His own. But where Matthew 27:46 in Greek is transliterated "Eli, Eli lama sabachthani", the Peshitta (Aramaic) reads: Eli, Eli lama azbatani - "My God! My God! Why have you spared me?" There is a very clear difference between "forsaken" and "spared" given the Messiah's situation - hanging from the stake, suffering, ready to die. He was not "deserted" or "forsaken"; rather, He was simply ready to conclude the ordeal and was only questioning why it could not end. Indeed, moments later, Yeshua's body died.
It was now just before the onset of the High Holy Day, almost time for the Passover meal and the Judeans wanted Him off the cross and in the grave before sundown so as not to desecrate the holy day which would begin at sunset. This meant He was entombed at approximately 5 p.m. shortly after His crucifixion - which means that "3 days and 3 nights" would also fall at approximately 5 p.m.! Here are the Scriptures to verify this understanding:
John 19:14 "Now it was the preparation day of the Passover, about the sixth hour."
John 19:31 It was preparation Day, and the Judeans did not want the bodies to remain on the stake on a Shabbat, since it was an especially important Shabbat. So they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies removed. (CJB)
Many people think this "preparation day" fell on Friday in advance of the weekly Sabbath. However, as we mentioned above, John 19:14 and 31 tells us it was not preparation day for a regular Shabbat; rather, it was for a High Holy Shabbat - the Passover followed by the 1st day of the Feast of Unleavended Bread. Therefore, the Judeans wanted the bodies of Yeshua and the thieves off the crosses before sundown.
(Of course, "preparation day" could have been a Friday if the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread that year fell on the weekly Shabbat! However, that possibility must be dismissed because when the women arrived Sunday morning to find the tomb empty only 1 day and 2 nights had passed and prophecy is not met. Even the loosest possible counting including a Friday burial, the empty tomb is found only after "3 days and 2 nights".)
John 19:41 In the vicinity of where he had been executed was a garden, and in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been buried. 42 So, because it was Preparation Day for the Judeans, and because the tomb was close by, that is where they buried Yeshua. (CJB).
The above Scripture supports that Yeshua was placed in the heart of the earth approximately 5:00 p.m., just about sunset on the day He died. "Three days and three nights" must end near the same time we started the count - also about 5:00 p.m., or near the end of the 3rd Hebrew day.
Even on the eve of His death, Messiah Yeshua kept and "fulfilled" the Passover: He became our blood substitution, our redemption, just as the lamb's blood was substituted for the people of Israel. Yeshua died on Wednesday the 14th of Nisan, and He rose some time before sunset on the following Sabbath exactly three days later, depending on when He was placed in the grave. The Sabbath is in commemoration of YHWH's rest at creation (Genesis 2:2), and Yeshua's rest after His redemption of mankind. The Sabbath is for a reminder of the sign (three days and three nights) of who Yeshua HaMashiyach (Jesus Christ) is: He the Lord of the Sabbath.
One more thing: There are those who argue that Yeshua must have resurrected in "FirstFruits" which they assume was on a Sunday as "the day after the Sabbath" (Leviticus 23:11). There are two problems with that belief as a condition on the events of the crucifixion and resurrection: First, the "sabbath" mentioned in Leviticus 23:11 was the High Holy Sabbath of the 1st day of the Feast of Unleavened Break, not the weekly sabbath. This is verified within the context of Leviticus 23 itself. Second, "firstfruits" is an event, not a day and firstfruits don't "rise", they are "presented." Yeshua was "presented" as the firstfruits, yes; but He did not have to "rise on [a day called] firstfruits!"
Now, exactly how do we know that He died on the 14th of Nisan and that, that particular 14th of Nisan fell on a Wednesday? Two reasons: First, we know the approximate time and day of the resurrection. Yeshua was already resurrected when the women arrived at the tomb on Sunday morning (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1-4; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). We know the burial was at or near sunset, so 3 days and 3 nights earlier from the resurrection establishes Wednesday as the day of the crucifixion. Since Passover begins the late afternoon of the 14th of Nisan (Exodus 12:6; Leviticus 23:5), the crucifixion had to be no later than that day.
Second, the series of events which took place just prior to the crucifixion fit the calendar that year with the 14th of Nisan at the middle of the week. In both cases, we have only to "work backward" from the "anchor point" (the crucifixion/burial) to see that the two accounts match:
- 6 days before Passover. We know Yeshua was in Beit-Anyah (Bethany) six days before Passover that year, (John 12:1). He was given a dinner in His honor.
- 5 days before Passover. After sunset, it became 5 days before Passover. The dinner in Yeshua's honor with El'azar was held, (John 12: 2). A large crowd of Judeans had gathered to see El'azar, the man Yeshua had raised from the dead, (John 12:9).
- 4 days before Passover. Scripture says it was the next day, a large crowd gathered in Yerushalim to await the arrival of Yeshua, (John 12:12). It is now four days before His arrest and crucifixion.
Yeshua, the Passover Lamb, fulfilled Zechariah 9:9 when, He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, as the people waved palm branches: 9 Rejoice with all your heart, daughter of Tziyon! Shout out loud, daughter of Yerushalayim! Look! Your king is coming to you. He is righteous, and he is victorious. Yet he is humble - he's riding on a donkey, yes, on a lowly donkey's colt. (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-38; John 12:12-18).
(The Bible tells us that Yeshua had been staying at Beit-Anyah by the Mt. of Olives (Matthew 21:12; Mark 11:11-12; John 11:1). This is not Beit-Anyah, the town of the same name, which we know was about 1.5 miles from Jerusalem, (John 11:18). But it is a "Sabbath day's journey" from the area of the Mt. of Olives to Yerushalayim, (Acts 1:12; Mark 11:1). A Sabbath day's journey is the distance permitted by Torah for travel on the Sabbath, about 2/3 of a mile. This "Beit-Anyah" was a tract of land and properties at the edge of the Mt. of Olives where many lived, (Mark 14:3, John 11:1).
After arrival in Yerushalayim, Yeshua went to the Temple, but then returned to Beit-Anyah (Mark 11:11).
- 3 days before Passover. The next day, (Mark 11:12), now 3 days days before His arrest and crucifixion, He returned to Yerushalayim and cleansed the Temple (Matthew 21:12; Mark 11:15, Luke 19:45). Then He left Yerushalayim, (Mark 11:19). The Gospel of John, skips identifying the next 2 days.
- 2 days before Passover. The next day, now 2 days before His arrest and crucifixion, He returned to Yerushalayim (Matthew 26:2; Mark 11:27; Mark 14:1), passed the withered fig tree (Mark 11:20) and was confronted by the Torah-teachers, (Mark 11:27).
- 1 day before Passover. The next day, now 1 day before His arrest and crucifixion, Yeshua spent the day teaching, then had His talmidim go prepare a place for Passover, (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12;Luke 22:7-8). [Note: All the Gospels state it is the "first day of Matzah" or "the day of Matzah" and this throws many. Matzah is required at the Passover meal which begins in the late afternoon of the 14th of Nisan (Exodus 12:18) so the "1st day of Matzah" is understood as the evening of the 13, and after sunset the 13th, as matzah will be needed by the next late afternoon. This means that when the Gospels say it was the "1st day of matzah", there is no discrepancy that this is the late afternoon of the 13th.]
- Day of Passover. Now just after sunset the 13th, beginning the 14th of Nisan, the day of His arrest and crucifixion, Yeshua ate His last meal with His Talmidim, (Matthew 26:17-21; Mark 14:12-18), telling them that He "had wished to have Passover with them", (Luke 22:15, but His talmidim did not understand that Yeshua would be dead the next evening and could not celebrate the Passover with them).
As promised in Exodus 12:25-28 there was to be a perpetual explanation of the Passover service. This Messianic fulfillment took place when Yeshua showed His disciples how to celebrate the Passover Seder the evening before His death. During this time He explained how HE IS the fulfillment of the Passover seder (Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Just as He delivered the Israelites with a mighty hand from the bondage of Egypt, so is He delivering us from the bondage of sin with His mighty right hand! It was here that He explained the meaning of His person in the Passover elements. Afterwards, He and His disciples went to Gethsemene, where they spent part of the night.
During the night Yeshua was arrested (Luke 22:47-54) and we are told that His trial continued until some time between 9 a.m. and noon, when He was crucified, (Mark 15:25; John 19:14-16).
At 3:00 p.m. (the 9th hour) on 14 Nisan, just before sunset, Yeshua died, (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34-37). It was preparation day, (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:31;) By sunset, He was removed from the stake, (John 19:31; 19:41).
- Day after the Passover, 15 Nisan. This is the High Holy Day, the Sabbath, (Leviticus 23:6). The cohanim went to Pilate to ask that the tomb be sealed and guarded. (Matthew 27:62). The 15th was the 1st night and day of the entombment.
- 2nd day after the Passover, 16 Nisan. This was the 2nd night and day of the entombment. This is FirstFruits, (Leviticus 23:11) when the first omer of the new crop is brought to the Temple.
- 3rd day after the Passover, 17 Nisan. It is now the weekly Sabbath, and the women are resting, (Luke 23:56).
- Resurrection discovered, 18 Nisan. It is now after the weekly Sabbath, and the women are up early, before sunrise to head to the tomb where it is found empty, (Matthew 28:1-2; Mark 16:1-4; Luke 24:1-2; John 20:1).
So we know the Messiah's death on the stake was on the late afternoon of the 14th of Nisan, by the timeline of last week given by the Gospels, He was buried and was already resurrected when women arrived at the tomb before sunrise the 1st day of the week. Now let's work this backward to see what day-of-the-week the Passover had to be that year:
- Early Sunday morning, the 18th of Nisan, the 1st day of the week, the women arrive to find the resurrection had already happened.
- The 7th day of the week, 17 Nisan, the women stayed home and rested.
- The 6th day of the week, 16 Nisan, was FirstFruits.
- The 5th day of the week, 15 Nisan, the High Holy Sabbath of the 1st day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
- The 4th day of the week, 14 Nisan, Passover. Yeshua was removed from the stake and buried just at or before sunset.
- The 4th day of the week, 14 Nisan, Passover. Yeshua was arrested and crucified.
- The 4th day of the week, 14 Nisan, was Passover. As the day began, after sunset the 13th, Yeshua and His talmidim ate.
- The 3rd day of the week, 13 Nisan, was the day Yeshua was confronted by the Torah teachers at the Temple. Yeshua had His talmidim prepare for Passover.
- The 2nd day of the week, 12 Nisan, was the day Yeshua cleansed the Temple.
- The 1st day of the week, 11 Nisan, was the day Yeshua rode into Yerushalayim on a donkey colt.
- The 7th day of the week, 10 Nisan, was the weekly Sabbath. Yeshua spent the beginning of that Sabbath in a dinner in His honor, for his resurrection of El'azar.
- The 6th day of the week, 9 Nisan, Yeshua was in Beit-Anyah and was invited to the home of El'azar, the man whom Yeshua had resurrected.
Thus we see that by looking at the timeline, both by considering the prophecy "3 days and 3 nights" alone and examining the events of the week presented in the Gospels, not skewed by assuming the crucifixion was on a Friday, we find that the crucifixion was on the 4th day of the week - Wednesday!
The astute reader will note something most amazing and significant in the timeline just presented! While most assessments the timeline argue that the 10th of Nisan, the day that the perfect lambs were selected by Israeli families at the original exodus, (Exodus 12:3-5), means that the Messiah's entrance into Yerushalayim was on that day. Thus those assessments erroneously "glorify" the Messiah as He was "hailed" upon riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. But we find no scripture "glorifying" the lamb chosen to be slain on the behalf of the Israelis! Nowhere in scripture do you find the chosen lambs "put on display" for all to see and admire as some argue. Instead, we find that on the 10th of Nisan, Yeshua was having a quiet meal in His honor with El'azar, the man whom Yeshua raised from the dead! A quiet ceremony, the family of El'azar chose Yeshua, in exactly the same manner as the Passover lamb would have been chosen! No pomp and circumstance! No glory imposed on the lamb! Yeshua rode into Jerusalem on the 11th of Nisan, quite unknown to the Israelis as their chosen lamb! Do you see the significance here? El'azar had been given life from the Messiah! Just four days later, the Messiah would give His life for all the rest of us!
How do we know He was resurrected BEFORE the weekly Sabbath (Saturday) ENDED?
Matthew 28: 1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
(Some versions read: "After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week.... But this does not mean that Yeshua rose on a Sunday, because in "Old Testament" times (and according to the Hebrew calendar), a new day began at sundown - yet "daytime" began at sunrise. Therefore we can't fully take what is expressed in English to imply exact times. The bottom line is that, by the time the two women arrived at Yeshua's tomb just after sunset Saturday, or just after sunrise Sunday, Yeshua was already nowhere to be found!)
As shown above, the Scriptures - read in context - are abundantly clear as to when our Savior died; when He was buried; and that His resurrection would have been 3 days and 3 nights later. He did not rise on Sunday, and He never said to change His Sabbath to the first day of the week. Therefore, there is no reason for the mainstream Christian church to adhere to the Sunday Sabbath tradition.
While many argue the exact meaning of "3 days and 3 nights" in an attempt to show that Friday-Sunday meets "3 days and 3 nights" or that the day of the crucifixion counts as the "1st day", or that "any part of a Hebrew day counts as a day", there is a curious fact very often overlooked. Yeshua said, in response to being asked for a miraculous sign to prove who he was, "A wicked and adulterous generation is asking for a sign? It will certainly not be given a sign except the sign of Yonah! 'With that he left them and went off' ", (Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4; Luke 11:29). Three days and 3 night is the only sign! How can we diminish its meaning and impact by arguing over this only YHWH-given sign? It seems to be the only measure by which to assess the full meaning of the Messiah's relationship to us, as our Passover blood substitution.