Friday, April 06, 2012

Why I believe in "Good Friday"

Growing up, I was taught that Jesus didn't actually die on Friday, but that "Good Friday" was just one of the many inaccuracies of the Roman Catholic Church. It was argued that it was impossible for for Jesus to have died on Friday if He were to be in the grave for three days and three nights. After all, Jesus said that's how long He would be in the grave: 

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.

If a day is twenty-four hours, then the only day that Jesus could have died on was probably Wednesday and then Thursday as the first day and night, Friday as the second day and night, Saturday as the third day and night and finally...up from the grave He arose on Sunday morning. Makes mathematical sense right...except for Wednesday night which would make it four nights and three days. So, others have argued that Jesus died on Thursday. Just any other day but Friday!!! We don't want the Catholics to be right about something! Well, let's look at why they are right about this and Jesus could not have died on any other day but Friday.

First of all, Jesus died on Passover
Pilate said this on the day of Crucifixion: John 18:39 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
John 19:14  And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!
John 18:28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.
The reason they had to get him off the cross the same day of His death was because it was the day of Passover and that evening the whole nation would be having Passover dinner and the next day was a Sabbath day:

John 19:31-32  The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.  32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.

What day does the Passover land on and how do we know? Look at the Jewish calendar and find what day it lands on every year as was prescribed by Moses:

Leviticus 23:5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover.

The first month of the Jewish year is Nisan and today is the 14th day of that month...and what day of the week is it today? Friday. Jesus fulfilled all the Spring feasts in Leviticus 23 and even Paul calls His sacrifice our Passover:

1 Corinthians 5:7  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.


The next day is the Sabbath, this is why the ladies would not have brought incense on that day and it is the day of unleaven bread. Jesus fulfilled that day by being buried and not undergoing decay which is what the leaven represents. The next day is Sunday, the feast of firstfruits which Jesus fulfilled by being the firstfruits of those who sleep by rising from the dead.

1 Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

So, with all of that said, the time frame and the calendar confirms that Jesus had to have died on the Friday. But what about the three days and three nights thing that Jesus said? In our zeal to be faithful to the literal interpretation of scripture, we in our Western minds cannot imagine any other meaning beside three consecutive 24 hour periods. But is that what Jesus meant and is that what the first century Jew would have understood? There is a very important book that every Bible expositor should have called "Figures of Speech in the Bible" by E.W. Bullinger.
A figure of speech is when we say something like: "It's raining cats and dogs". Taken literally, it means that canines and felines are falling from the sky. But none of us would understand it that way. It's an idiom that means "it's raining really heavy!"
This book explains that the Jews had a figure of speech which Jesus used when he said: "three days and three nights". The idiom communicates that anything that happens within a three day period at during the day or during the night counts as having happened during that three day period.

Thus, Jesus died on Friday during the day and was buried in the night = first day.
Jesus was in the grave all day and all night on Saturday = second day
Jesus rose from the grave Sunday in the day = third day
Because the idiom counts a night as anything that happens in the preceding day, then Sunday is considered "a day and a night" even though Jesus wasn't in the grave Sunday night literally.

The other thing to consider is that if Jesus had been in the grave from Wednesday night to Sunday morning, he would have undergone the beginnings of decay. This was promised not to happen:
Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

So, either you have to deny that Jesus died on Passover in spite of all the Biblical proof, or you would have to deny any significance to Jesus dying on Passover as our Passover, or you have to deny the meaning of the idiom to maintain that Jesus did not die on Friday when you're probably not qualified as a Hebrew scholar.

Here you have a cohesive argument that doesn't deny any of these components...Happy Good Friday!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

From my understanding...

Jesus died on Wednesday. The week of passover is different for us on the Gregorian calendar every year, adjusts by a few days on different years.

Thursday would have been a special sabbath being the week feast of unleavened bread Leviticus 23:5–8, or as John calls it, a "high day" John 19:30–31. Therefore Jesus was removed from the cross before this special sabbath would begin (6PM)

Mark 16:1–2
And when the sabbath was PAST, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had BOUGHT sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

That is why in Mark, it says when the Sabbath (high day, Thursday) was PAST, while in Luke it says the ladies bought the spices BEFORE the Sabbath (Saturday)

Luke 23:54–24:3
And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew (Saturday) on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day (Saturday) according to the commandment. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

So there happens to be two sabbaths during the week of feast of unleavened bread. Actually ends up being three in a short time period. 1st day of unleavened bread, then the Saturday Sabbath, then the 7th day of the feast.

William Dudding said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks for commenting. That's an interesting explanation, but I don't quite understand a few things. So, are you saying that Jesus was crucified toward the end of the seven days of unleaven bread?

I see the three Sabbaths in a one week period here: First day of Passover, Saturday, and last day of Unleaven bread:
Leviticus 23:5-8 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover (this is Friday - Nisan 14). 6 And on the fifteenth day (Saturday Sabbath) of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day (Friday) ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein (the other Sabbath Thursday?).

If Jesus died on Wednesday of the week of unleaven bread, then he would have died after the traditional Passover date of Nisan 14 (first month, fourteenth day)?

Also, how do you know that Thursday is a High Sabbath from these verses you mentioned:
John 19:31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

Mark 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

The only Sabbath that would land on a Thursday would be that last day of Unleaven bread. Mary and the others saw where he was buried on the day he died, and is seems the Scriptures say that they waited for the next day and then came the day after to find him gone on the first day of the week:

Luke 23:54-24:1-2 And that (the day He died) day was the preparation, and the sabbath (Saturday)drew near. 55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 56 ¶ And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

Your time line isn't make sense to me

Anonymous said...

I'm not speaking as an authority. But from what I understand is that the feast of unleavened bread are at slightly different dates each year for us on the Gregorian calendar. That would hence shift things around a little bit. Not be exactly the same for this year.

Thomas Pryde said...

Interesting observation...if it has to be exactly 3 days and 3 nights, there is a problem. Count it backwards:
Saturday evening to Sunday sunrise - 1 night
Saturday sunrise to evening - 1 Day
Friday evening to Saturday sunrise - 2 nights
Friday sunrise to evening - 2 days
Thursday evening to Friday sunrise - 3 nights
Thursday sunrse to evening - 3 days

This means Jesus would have had to die at sunrise on Thursday morning. Except we are told exactly what time Jesus died, at about 3 in the afternoon. This means none of the days you could possibly choose provide exactly 3 24hour periods.

Anonymous said...

Bible days start at sunset and end at sunset "There was evening and there was morning,the first day" see Genesis
Jesus died on Wednesday 3pm and was in the tomb before sunset on Wed. He was in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights.
Wednesday evening - 1st night
Thursday morning - 1st day
Thursday evening - 2nd night
Friday morning - 2nd day
Friday evening - 3rd night
Saturday morning - 3rd day
He resurrected on Sat evening which is the beginning of Sunday (first day of the week). He did not resurrect on Sun morning. His tomb was already empty on Sun morning at sunrise. See John 20
"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance."

Jesus' body was embalmed by Nicodemus using myrrh and aloes so it would not have rotten from Wed evening to Sat evening. See John 19
"Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[e] 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs."