PASSOVER & THE CRUCIFIXION
We will examine Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection as a fulfillment of the Old Testament Passover. That ancient event in Egypt (Egypt is a symbol for World) where the angel of death passed over the children of Israel, served as a prophecy of the future event where the blood of God's paschal Lamb saved His Israelites from the death penalty, that had resulted from their breach of the Old Covenant. The ancient Israelites commemorated their exodus from Egypt every year by celebrating the Passover as an annual festival. Christians have celebrated their own "Passover" as Easter, the day of victory when Jesus arose from the dead, thereby securing relief from the old death-penalty they had earned. Ultimately, there will be a total of three Passovers. The first one was in ancient Egypt about 1450 BC. The second was at Jesus' crucifixion. The third will be the second-coming of Christ, when that same Lamb saves Israel from the worldwide destruction. Once the ancient prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus, it became no longer necessary to commemorate the traditional Passover prophecy. So, the early Christians replaced that traditional commemoration with a celebration of the prophecy's fulfillment, namely the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Today, there are many so-called "Christians" who think they are doing well by continuing to honor the ancient Old Testament prophecy while scorning any celebration of its real fulfillment by Jesus. The present day arrogant slap-in-the-face at Jesus reveals that some are not His true sheep recognizing their Shepherd. For many centuries, Christians have known Easter as Jesus' Resurrection. Now, a new generation of modern Christians teaches that because the word Easter (Istar) referred to a Pagan festival, then we should not celebrate Jesus Resurrection. No, Easter is the Resurrection of Christ for simple Christians who never knew anything about Nimrod, Semiramis, Tammuz, and Bel. Nor do we care if that ancient Pagan religion had a festival about Easter time. Christians will celebrate their Lord's Resurrection regardless of what ancient Pagans did, or do. Perhaps we should change our celebration name from Easter to Resurrection Day. While the secular non-Christians do celebrate Istar's fertility festival with colored eggs and Easter bunnies, true Christians celebrate the Passover festival of Jesus' Resurrection on Easter day. Lord's Passover would be a good term for use by Christians today, or else Resurrection Day.
While I celebrate the Easter fulfillment of the Passover prophecy, I do not scorn the ancient Passover festival which our Israelite ancestors celebrated for fourteen hundred years between the Exodus and Jesus. Jesus' second Passover event was the fulfillment of the first Passover event which served also as a prophecy, so Jesus' death was coincident with the festival of Passover. One question that has long been frustrating is how three nights can be squeezed between Friday and Sunday, as Jesus foretold He would be "in the heart of the earth" for three days and three nights. Some people claim the crucifixion happened on Wednesday and the Resurrection happened on Saturday evening. The earliest Christians, at the time of St. John, Jesus' disciple, and John's successor, Polycarp, believed the crucifixion was on Friday with the resurrection on Sunday morning. Since the disciples were there, it is likely they had some influence on Friday being honored as the day of crucifixion. Today we must wonder why some people are so anxious to overturn what the disciples believed. Let's look at the passages in the four Gospels and determine the actual sequence of events, with their proper timing. The end paragraph of conclusion serves as a summary of events.
Matthew 12:40 Jesus said: "Just as Jonah was in the belly of the sea monster three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights." [One might note that Jonah was not dead in the whale, and that Jesus did not say He would be dead for three days. Perhaps His words, "in the heart of the earth" don't mean physical death for all three nights.]
From the Jewish "Order of Prayers," the Sephath Emeth, p. 281: "And in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, is the Passover unto the Lord. And on the fifteenth day of this month shall be a feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten. On the first day day shall be an holy convocation, [high sabbath] ye shall do no servile work." This modern Jewish custom makes Unleavened Bread into an eight day festival, with Passover on the first day, but the meal is on the second day. That isn't how God instructed the Passover to the ancient Israelites in Exodus 11 and 12. The meal should be on the first evening of a seven day festival of Unleavened Bread. That first day is called "Passover" and is a High Sabbath. It works out on Jesus' schedule to be a Wednesday.
FRIDAY - 9th of 1st Month (Nisan/Abib)
JESUS AT BETHANY - ANOINTING. John 12:2-8. "The sixth day before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. There they gave a supper for Him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one reclining with Him. Then Mary, taking a pound of genuine, expensive, spikenard ointment, anointed Jesus' feet and wiped His feet with her hair. [cf. Mat. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9]
SATURDAY - 10th of Month
ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM Mat 21:1-11 "When they came near to Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, 'go into the village opposite you and immediately you will find a donkey tied and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me, and if anyone asks, you say, "The Lord has need of them," . . . and the very large crowd spread out their garments on the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees, spreading them on the road. And the crowds who went ahead of Him and who followed were shouting, 'Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven.'" (cf. Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19) [God told the Israelites in Exodus 12:3-7: "Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, 'On the tenth of this month let them take everyone a sheep according to the houses of patriarchal families, everyone a sheep for a family . . . And it shall be kept by you until the fourteenth day of this month. Then the whole multitude of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two sideposts and on the lintel of the door of the house in which they are to eat it.'" Based on the schedule of Passover being on the 14th of the month, that being a Wednesday, this triumphal entry into Jerusalem must have been on a Saturday. Jesus' (God's Lamb), entry into Jerusalem places that Lamb at the place where it will be killed, keeping the O.T. instructions.]
SUNDAY - 11th
Jesus cleanses temple of bankers (Mat 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46) He does healings in temple (Mat 21:14)
MONDAY - 12th & TUESDAY - 13th
Jesus curses fig tree (Mat. 21:18-20; Mark 11:12-21). Jesus' authority is questioned. Parables of two sons, wicked tenants, and king's son. Question of tax money. Sadducee's question. Great commandment. Woes pronounced against Pharisees. Widow's offering. Discourses and prophecies of end-times (Mat 24). Parable of ten virgins (= 10 northern tribes of Israel). Parable of ten talents. Discourse on Judgment day. (See Mat. 21:18-26:16; Mark 11:27 - 14:11; Luke 20:1 - 22:6; John 12:20 - 50)
WEDNESDAY - PASSOVER (14th of Abib - Month of New Corn)
PASSOVER was set by God for the 14th of the first month of the year, the so-called Hebrew month of Nisan or Abib (the Greek Septuagint calls this the "month of new corn" in Ex. 13:4; 23:15; 34:18; and Deut 16:1). This is also the first day of a seven day festival of Unleavened Bread. On this day the Israelites of Egypt killed their lambs and marked their doorways with blood so the angel of death would pass over them, and then ate their late-night meal, burning up all leftovers, per instructions given in Exodus 12:3-7. The next day they began their Exodus from Egypt.
"On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?' He said, 'Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, "The Teacher says, My time is near, I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'" (Mat. 26:17-18 See also Mark 14:12-16 & Luke 22:7-13)
Luke 22:1 "Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near." vv. 7 & 8: "Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So, Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, 'Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it."
Regarding the setting of a date for Passover, an early Christian practice is stated in the Constitution of the Holy Apostles. Some scholars think this was written in the third century, but some think it might even be apostolic. It could well be from the early 100's, which would provide us a good insight into their practice. In Book V, Section XVII: "Observe carefully the vernal equinox, which occurs on the twenty-second of the twelfth month, which is Dystros (March), observing carefully until the twenty-first of the moon, lest the fourteenth of the moon shall fall on another week, . . ." In this year of 2005, the spring equinox is March 20. The new moon was March 10. By counting the new moon day, the 14th day of this moon is Wednesday, Mar 23 which is the proper day for Passover. And it just happens to coincide with our Holy Week, with Good Friday being on Mar 25.
PASSOVER MEAL: Celebrated in the evening, in the Upper Room by Jesus and His disciples. After the meal, Jesus and His disciples went to Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives, to spend the night, where He was later arrested, probably well after midnight since most were no longer able to stay awake. The prophecy or model of the first Passover doesn't require Jesus' death to be on the very same day as the Passover celebration meal in the late evening of that day. Those who demand that Jesus' crucifixion happened on the evening of the Passover have a real problem with the fact that Jesus ate the Passover meal Himself, then went to Gethsemane for the night, was arrested early morning hours, and had trials the next day. He couldn't have been killed on the same day on which He ate the Passover meal! But He, this Lamb, was killed during the seven day festival loosely called "Passover."
Mat. 26:19-21 "So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve, and while they were eating . . ." (cf: Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-20; John 13 - 17)
John 13:1 "Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. [They spent a long time at that supper. Besides the meal itself, John recalls several chapters worth of conversation, including a foot-washing in Chap. 13. Chapter 17 records Jesus' high-priestly prayer for the Elect in that upper room. So, it was very late when they finally went to Gethsemane.]
GETHSEMANE THAT NIGHT
Although it has been neglected by modern Jews, an all night Vigil was part of the ancient Passover celebration. Jesus was keeping that Vigil, praying through the night, before He was arrested. (Mat. 26:36-56; Mark 14:32-52; Luke 22:39-51; John 18:1-13)
John 18:1 "After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered."
Mat. 26:36 "Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, Sit here while I go over there and pray." (also Mark 14:32ff)
Luke 22:39 "He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him.
Mark 14:46; Mat. 26:50 "Then they laid hands on Him and arrested Him."
THURSDAY - DAY OF TRIALS (15th Abib)
Here is a day full of activities which has always been assumed to take place between 6am and 9am, an unlikely miracle in my opinion. Keep in mind that besides the time used in questioning, they walked as a large crowd with Jesus under heavy guard. So, these events didn't happen quickly! Jesus was arrested near daybreak in the morning, taken to the house of old Annas (John 18:13), the retired but still "virtual" high priest, who yet held great power, and whose son-in-law Caiaphas was the de facto high priest. Peter and others followed along. Annas questioned him, then sent him to Caiaphas (Jn 18:24). The priests and council questioned him (Mark 14:55-65; 15:1). Then they bound Him and took Him to Pilate, who questioned him at length. Pilate then sent him to Herod for questioning, who then sent him back to Pilate, who then washed his hands of the injustice. There was no justification by Roman law for His death, and Pilate felt a need to clear himself and the Romans of this mob action. Then, to satisfy some custom, the crowd demanded the release of a prisoner, Barabbas. Pilate then handed Jesus over to the soldiers to be crucified. That was about noon (Jn 19:14). The soldiers then spent some leisure time mocking and beating Jesus in the courtyard, changing his clothes, putting on a crown of thorns, etc., and finally led him away to be crucified. Obviously, all those events could not have been accomplished during the morning of this day, before 9am, the "third hour." The common people's day (not the Hebrew day) began at 6am, making 9am the 3rd hour of a day. So, we must assume that the soldiers had Jesus the afternoon and evening of this day, mocking him and keeping him in custody overnight, most likely in a cave-type jail, which was the first of three nights Jesus would spend in the "heart of the earth." Jesus could have called legions of powers to rescue Him, or could have simply vanished before their eyes. Instead, He yielded Himself to this earth, and this night in prison was equivalent to death. Early the next morning the events began that ended at Calvary, to be crucified at 9am. (See full accounts: Mat 26:57 - 27:33; Mark 14:53 - 15:22; Luke 22:54 - 23:26; John 18:13 - 19:17)
Luke 22:54 Then they seized him [in Gethsemane late Wednesday night] and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house [Annas]." vv. 66 "When day came [Thursday morn], the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council." [Here it is significant that daylight had arrived, 6am or so, before He was questioned at the high priest's house. The Jews arrested him and tried him before their council.]
Mark 14:53-54 "They took Jesus to the high priest [Annas]; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire."
Mat. 26:57 "Those who had arrested Jesus [Jewish Temple Guards] took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and elders had gathered. But Peter was following Him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest . . ."
Mat. 27:1 "When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people conferred together against Jesus. . . . They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
Luke 23:6 "When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he was under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. . . . v.9 He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer."
Mark 15:1 "As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate." (details of Pilate's questioning are in Mark 15:2-15)
Mat. 27:15-31 "Now at the festival [later this same day Thursday] the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. v.26 So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. . . . After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him." [see also John 18:40 & 19]
John 19:13-14 "When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge's bench at a place called the Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon." Since Passover was the previous Wednesday, it is impossible for this day of trials to be the day prior to the Passover. It had been Passover evening when Jesus ate the Last Supper! Actually, the Greek word for Preparation (paraskeue) had become a common word for Friday, as it still is in Greece today. So, John is speaking about the regular day of Preparation of Passover week, namely Friday. There is a real conflict in these accounts. If Jesus was crucified at 9AM, it, first, would not have been possible to accomplish all the trials in various parts of the city before 9AM, and second, John's remembrance that it was about midday when Pilate had Him is notable. So, it is clear that He was not crucified at 9am on the morning of this day. Then, after Pilate turned Him over to the soldiers, they had leisure time to torment Him in the courtyard. It can only be that this all happened on Thursday, with Jesus being kept overnight, probably in a cave type cell.
FRIDAY - CRUCIFIXION (16th Abib)
CRUCIFIED: The soldiers led Jesus across the valley to the hill of Calvary. Along the way they compelled Simon of Cyrene to help carry the cross. At nine in the morning He was crucified. At noon the land became dark until 3pm, when Jesus finally died. It only becomes possible to unravel the tangle of times and events when we understand that the people did not consider all days to begin at 6pm. From ancient times, the sabbath was kept from 6pm Friday evening until 6pm Saturday evening, but that schedule only applied to the Hebrew's sabbath. Otherwise the people considered morning to be a daybreak, like 6am. The 3rd hour of a day was 9am, and so on. Without knowing that, some people try to make the 3rd hour (of crucifixion) to be nine o'clock Wednesday evening, with His resurrection being Saturday evening after 6pm. But the following verses make it pretty clear that Jesus death happened during daylight hours. We must not do violence to the Scriptures in order to force them to agree with some preconceived notion. (See full accounts of crucifixion: Mat 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19)
Mark 15:25 "It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him."
Mat. 27:45 "From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o'clock Jesus cried with a loud voice . . . " [Those who demand that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday night because the "third hour" would be 9pm are denying the clear scriptures in these verses. Noon is not another word for midnight!]
Mat. 27:57-66 "When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb."
Mark 15:42 "When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council. . .went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body." [Pilate granted Joseph the body. It was taken to his tomb, wrapped in a linen cloth, and a stone was rolled against the door. Two Marys watched where He was laid.]
Luke 24:53-54 "Then he [Joseph of Arimathea] took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment."
John 19:31 "Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a great one." [This sabbath would occur within the Passover week of Unleavened Bread, making it doubly special.]
REGULAR SABBATH - SATURDAY (17th Abib)
This Saturday regular sabbath cannot always be on the 17th of Abib because the 14th of Abib is not always on a Wednesday. This sabbath might occur anytime within the week on our calendars. But, in calculating the crucifixion and resurrection schedule, this sabbath was the datum from which I worked in order to find the other days.
Mat. 27:62-64 "The next day [Saturday/sabbath], that is after the day of Preparation [Friday], the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, 'Sir, we remember what that imposter said while he was still alive, "After three days I will rise again." Therefore, command the tomb to be made secure . . ." [So, they placed guards at the tomb]
RESURRECTION MORNING - SUNDAY (18th Abib)
It was Sunday morning, after the sun had risen, when the women went to the tomb, but found the stone rolled away, and Jesus gone. (See full accounts in: Mat 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20)
Mat. 28:1-7 "After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples.
Mark 16:1-2 "When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.
Mark 16:6-7 "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you."
"Mark 16:9 "Now after He rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene. . ." [Those who claim Jesus arose on Saturday evening deny too many clear verses which clearly denote daybreak on Sunday.]
Luke 24:1 "But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away. . ." v.6: "Remember how he told you when he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again."
John 20:1 "Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.
All four gospel writers place the arrival at the tomb in the early morning, right at dawn. Mark mentions that the sun had risen; John says not that it was getting dark, but that it was still dark - meaning morning; the others speak of early dawn. Clearly, the women did not go to the tomb on Saturday evening, after 6pm of the sabbath.
The church historian, Eusebius, tells of a controversy among the early Christians regarding setting the proper date for the Passover and Easter. He writes, "A question of no small importance arose at that time. For the parishes of Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour's Passover. It was necessary to end their fast on that day, whatever day of the week it should happen to be. But it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world to end it at this time, as they observed the practice which, from apostolic tradition, has prevailed to the present time, of terminating the fast on no other day than on that of the resurrection of our Saviour." (Church History, by Eusebius Bk. 5, Ch. 23:1) He is saying that the church groups of Asia Minor (w/Polycarp, about 150ad) set Passover on the 14th of Nisan (Abib) regardless of when the resurrection day might then fall. But the rest of the Christian world wanted Resurrection day to be on a Sunday, so they adjusted the Passover day to be the Wednesday prior to that. Christians today determine Easter to be the first Sunday after the first full moon after spring equinox, and do not heed the lunar calendar month of Nisan or Abib. Eusebius, in his Life of Constantine; Ch. 18, records the emperor's words as: "And first of all, it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. For we have it in our power, if we abandon their custom, to prolong the due observance of this ordinance to future ages, by a truer order, which we have preserved from the very day of the passion until the present time. Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way." The Emperor was arguing that Easter be set as the day of resurrection, always on a Sunday, abandoning the Jewish method of using 14th of Nisan. He indicates that Sunday had been honored "from the very day of the passion until the present time." This is one more piece of evidence that the Saturday sabbath was changed to a Sunday sabbath immediately after the resurrection. His comments also reveal the general attitude of the early Christians, that they abandoned quite completely all the ancient festivals and rituals of their Hebrew ancestors, and that they did it without qualm, believing that Jesus had given them "a truer order."
Note: The Hebrew sabbath always began on Friday evening at 6pm, lasting until Saturday at 6pm. For all other purposes, the people used the words "dawn" and "morning" and "daybreak" for the time when the sun comes up and begins the day. "Night" meant the dark period and "day" meant the light period. Some people today are claiming that Jesus died on Wednesday evening and rose on Saturday evening because evening was the beginning of a day. The New Testament passages quoted above make it clear that Jesus was not crucified at 9pm in late evening, but rather at 9am during the daylight hours. Then, while on the cross, darkness covered the land from "noon" until 3pm when Jesus died. It was the three hour period between 3pm and 6pm in which they hurried to get Jesus laid in the tomb because 6pm would start a sabbath. There is a popular movement today to use such techniques of twisting the scriptures and common sense in order to denigrate our Easter celebration, our highest holy day. If the promoters of chaos would try to work out their schedule completely, they would find it won't work. Instead, they are content to cause dissension among sincere Christians.
Wednesday. Passover (HIGH SABBATH) First day of Passover, the beginning of an seven day festival of Unleavened Bread. While Passover itself was a single day event, the seven day festival is also called Passover, in general. The Passover meal is eaten, with all its symbolism, including the cup of Elijah. It was this meal that Christians know as Jesus' Last Supper. After the meal, Jesus and His disciples went to the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. It would be appropriate, and very special, if Christians today commemorated our Lord's Passover on Wednesday evening with a meal of lamb and bread and wine. After the meal is cleaned up and nothing left, we could maintain a Vigil for at least a portion of the night if not all night. The Passover Vigil was kept through ancient times, and it was that vigil that Jesus was keeping in Gethsemane. Early Christians altered some of these practices because they believed the technical details were less important than the devotion of one's heart and mind. They believed Jesus brought us a truer way.
Thursday. Day of Several Trials. Sometime after Wednesday's midnight, in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jesus was arrested and taken first to trial at Annas' house, then to the high priest Caiaphas, then to the governor, Pilate, then to Herod, then back to Pilate, who, about noon, tried to release him, unsuccessfully. Jesus was then turned over to the soldiers who tormented him further. He was held overnight, perhaps in some dismal cave-type jail cell which makes this His first night in the heart of the earth.
Friday. Golgotha. By 9am Jesus had been led to Golgotha where He was crucified. At noon the sky went dark, lasting until 3pm, when Jesus finally died. Since Friday was considered a day of Preparation (preparing for the next day sabbath), it was necessary to get Jesus off the cross and into a tomb where proper wrapping with spices would have to be delayed until after the sabbath.
Saturday. A Regular Sabbath. No one went to the tomb, or did any work on this day.
Sunday. The Resurrection. Here is the victorious fulfillment of the Passover prophetic model. It is this Passover fulfillment, the messianic hope of ancient Hebrews, that Christians celebrate as Easter. The Passover is still being celebrated, as God requested, by Christians who merely call it "Easter." It is this event that Christians hold most important, above all others, in our religion. Our Shepherd knows our hearts and our union with Him. It is also this event that is scorned by those who are not true sheep of our Shepherd. The false sheep prefer the ancient prophecy but despise the fulfillment of it. We can witness all about us the process of God separating His own sheep out from all the others, the wheat from the tares, or Israel from Edom. I do not wish to disturb or confront those who wish to use Paganism as their excuse to scorn our Lord and God, Jesus the Christ. Easter is the day when our hearts are filled with God's Holy Spirit in a joyousness that no one else can ever know. Perhaps we could change the name of this day from "Easter" to "Resurrection Day." That would give the confusers no opportunity to connect a simple word with ancient paganism, and it would clearly announce to the world what this day really means to the true sheep of Christ. But it really isn't necessary to change the name; our despisers would just find other reasons to scorn our Lord and God.
by Roger Hathaway, March 30, 2002
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