In a couple of days, the Christian world will celebrate the Passover or Easter weekend.  I am fully aware of the ongoing fights about whether it is a celebration of the Passover or Easter or anything else and about the specific regulations of various churchgroups in this regard.  But the purpose of this discussion is not about these disputes, but on another matter.

The point I want to raise is one that also has been ongoing for centuries and the Moslems utilize this fact to create disputes and to create doubt in the hearts of many Christians about the truth of the Word of God and the doctrines that the Church is proclaiming.  And it is all about the day when Jesus Christ was crucified and whether He was in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights, or not.

Over centuries the Church has proclaimed that Jesus Christ was crucified and buried on the Friday before the Sabbath, but if this is then true, how is it possible that He was in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights according to scripture.  Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and said:

For just 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. Mat 12:40 

So, if this is true according to the words of Jesus Christ, somewhere, something is wrong because the math’s don’t add up for Him to have been in the grave for such a period if it was from the Friday – and then being raised from the dead on the first day of the week (which was early Sunday morning according to the doctrines of the Church).  This fact was accepted by millions of people without any proof and even in my younger days, we accepted it without questioning it.  It was a case of faith without proof. 

But God don’t expect me and you to accept things blindly, especially not when it is doctrines from man and when it don’t match up with His Word.  All doctrines should be tested against the Word of God and at least two to three other scriptures should attest to the truth being proclaimed. 

The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth and “declares unto you the gospel which I preached unto you,  which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved”;  and then he continues in verse 3 & 4 “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” (1Cor 15:1-4)

With this in mind now that Jesus was buried and IN the grave for at least 3 days and 3 nights (72 hours),  that means He did not rise on the Sunday morning, but rather on the Monday – which is the second day of the week.  Coming back again to Scripture, we find more than one statement that Jesus in fact rose on the first day and therefore we can accept this as truth according to scripture. (Mar 16:9; Luk 24:1).  But the puzzle is not solved yet and therefore we have to search Scripture for the real and true answer. 

The Word of God teaches us that the disciples asked the Lord Jesus where He wants them to prepare for the Passover meal as it was the time for the celebration of the feast of Passover.  After they have eaten the Passover meal, the Lord introduced what we know today in the Church as the Lord’s Supper (New Testament Passover), which is the partaking of the symbolism of the Saviour’s broken body and shed blood, in remembrance of His sacrificial death, until He comes. 

Now there is a deep revelation in connection with the three feasts that is celebrated at the same time and it starts with the feast of Passover (14th day) and continues over the next 7 days and includes 2 other feasts, such as the Feast of Unleavened Bread and First fruits (Barley harvest).  All these feasts refer to and is a type of the work and ministry of Jesus Christ.

With Passover,  they would kill a lamb (which originated in Egypt with the last plague and the blood had to be smeared on the door posts), and eat the Unleavened Bread also as a reminder of the same time when they did not have the time to leaven the bread because of the haste to leave Egypt.  But all three feasts refer to Jesus Christ as follows:

 

 

Passover

 

 

First Month,

14th Day

(April 14)

 

Israel’s Deliverance

out of Egyptian

bondage

 

Death of the true Lamb of God on the Cross

 

Justification by faith in the

 Blood. Repentance, regeneration, redemption adoption

 

Unleavened Bread

 

First Month,

15th-21nd Day

 

The going out of Egypt

 

The burial of Christ

 

Sanctification and Separation from evil. Water Baptism

 

First fruits

 

First Month,

18th Day

 

Crossing the Red Sea

 

The Resurrection of  Christ

 

Walking in resurrection and newness of life

Jesus Christ was crucified exactly on the Feast of Passover to completely fulfill the feast and the true meaning behind it all – to finally bring salvation and redemption through His blood and sacrifice.  He is also the Unleavened Bread being broken and eaten by His people, because He is the Bread of Life (Joh 6:48) and also the first fruit from the resurrection from death. 

The 1st century people in Judea measured their days from sunset to sunset.  After sunset on the 13th day (which in actual fact is the start (evening to day) of the 14th day) Jesus ate the Passover with his disciples and introduced the New Testament Passover (the Lord’s Supper).  He was in actual fact then taken into custody the same night and then flogged and crucified on the Wednesday the 14th and died before 15:00 the same day and buried before sunset.  The next day (Thursday) of the feast (first day of Unleavened Bread) was a special “high day” and also a Sabbath.  (See Lev 23:6-7).  The first day of the feast of unleavened Bread was also seen from the Law as a holy day and therefore also a Sabbath.  Therefore, in the week of Jesus’s crucifixion there were two Sabbath’s (the annual Sabbath (Wednesday/Thursday) of the Feast and the weekly one on Friday/Saturday).   Then Jesus also rose on the third day {which is now the 18th day of the feast when they celebrated the Feast of First fruits (Barley harvest)} and therefore Christ completely fulfilled all three feasts. 

 The Word of God gives true evidence in this regard from the book of John: 

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would 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. (Joh 19:30-31)

So, the real answer about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was all along written in the Word of God but unfortunately it was the Roman Catholic Church who changed the celebration dates of it all – for whatever reason I don’t know.  He was never crucified on a Friday, but on the Wednesday and buried before sunset and rose again after sunset on Saturday evening – which makes it three days and three nights (72 hours).   The women who went to the tomb only arrived on the morning of the first day, but by then Jesus had already risen to fulfill His word.  They did not see the resurrection – they only found an empty tomb.

And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. (Mar 16:6 – ESV)

Past Eric Heath is the President of Galilee International Ministries (SA) in Pretoria and is available to lecture or minister on specific subjects as required. He can be contacted through this website. 

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