Good Friday (When did Jesus die and rise?)

An Examination of the Text and Data - Good Wednesday or Friday?

The Elder Testament and minor Textual Criticism may yield answers, but whether Jesus died on any day of the week, is not of any large significance but rather the fact that He did die, was buried, rose again and is our Savior. 

So, allow this exercise to be one of theological significance if any. 

'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, is a Passover offering to the LORD. 23:6 Then on the fifteenth day of the same month will be the festival of unleavened bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 23:7 On the first day there will be a holy assembly for you; you must not do any regular work. 23:8 You must present a gift to the LORD for seven days, and the seventh day is a holy assembly; you must not do any regular work.’ 

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is annual Sabbaths that are to be observed as a day of rest in addition to the weekly Sabbaths. In Jewish tradition, the eating of unleavened bread remembers the Exodus from Egypt. "Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread (matzah), the bread of affliction, for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste, that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt" (Deut. 16:3) 

This should ignite reflection in the Christian. YHWH's act of freeing the Israelites from Egypt is what YHWH consistently pointed to as a reminder and shaped many laws around the remembrance of YHWH's act of freeing. 

However, we also find significance in the unleavened portion of these texts. Bedikat chametz, the removal of all leaven from a home, is in remembrance and obedience to this command. Leaven, maybe the symbol of death and decay, the rising of dough is only possible with natural decay. Some believe that without the fall of man there would be no leavened bread, though that can be much up for debate as a death in Genesis is highly spiritual and we have substantial theological and contextual evidence of death prior to sin. 

This traces back to the Early Sages, where they saw 'yetzer hara' as leaven; the evil impulses or effects of sin within us. This lines more greatly with the above statement on the spiritual effects, rather than the physical. 

We shall come back to this importance and it's connection to Christ later. For now, we will speak to the topic of when Christ actually died. The day that these would occur would be the 15th and 21st of Abib/Nisan. These leading to the Passover Prophecy which tells us that Christ would die on the 14th of Abib/Nisan. 

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you!” 39 But he answered and* said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation desires a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah! 40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. (Matt. 12:38-40)

And they did not find it,* although* many false witnesses came forward. And finally, two came forward 61 and* said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it* within three days.’ ” (Matt 26:60-61) 

Now on the next day, which is after the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees assembled before Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember that while* that deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore give orders that the tomb is made secure until the third day, lest his disciples come and* steal him and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it* as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went with the guard of soldiers and* made the tomb secure by* sealing the stone. (Matt. 27:62-66) 

Jesus was open and clear about his foretelling death and resurrection. Though, I must admit that it more clear to us today because we have the entire scope of Scripture along with knowledge of hindsight. These hearers may have thought it was a parable, metaphorical or something else. This promise meant that seventy-two hours would pass from His death to His resurrection and that this would be the sign for the Jews that He was who He said He was (the Messiah). The Friday crucifixion with a resurrection before sunrise on Sunday morning totals approximately 35-38 hours. If we understood Jesus to mean that within three days and three nights He would rise again, then any period short of that would suffice. But He taught that after three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, then He would rise again. This logically would necessitate the crucifixion on a Wednesday, then the daylight and nighttime periods of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday would be three days and three nights. We count from either His actual death shortly after 3 PM or from the time His body was laid in the tomb, shortly before the annual Sabbath began, although I believe we should count the 72 hours from the time the body was laid in the tomb.

Above we find that Pilate grants the guarded tomb request of the Chief Priests which is recorded to have taken place the morning after the crucifixion (the day after the day of preparation) - the 14th of Abib/Nisan. This would mean that the grave was not sealed until the 15th of Abib/Nisan, on the annual Sabbath. In John, we discover the removal of Christ's body from the cross prior to Sabbath. 

Scriptures that tell the entire story: 

But the Jews (Judeans), because it was the day of preparation (evening of the Sabbath), they were saying, "These bodies should not pass the night on their crosses, because the Sabbath day is approaching, for that Sabbath was a high day (an annual Sabbath)." And they asked Pilate to break the legs of those who had been crucified, and they would be taken away (die quickly). John 19:31

And Nicodemus came also, who had come before to Yeshua (Jesus) by night; and he brought with him spices of myrrh and aloes for Yeshua (Jesus), about a hundred pounds. And they took away the body of Yeshua (Jesus) and wrapped it with linen and with spices, just as is the burial custom of the Jews (Judeans). John 19:39-40

And Joseph (Yosef) took the body and wrapped it in a sheet of pure linen; and he placed it in his own new tomb, which was cut in stone. Then they rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb, and they departed. And Miryam Magdalitha (Mary Magdalene) and the other Miryam (Mary) were there, sitting opposite the tomb (grave). Matthew 27:59-61

And Joseph (Yosef) bought linen, took Him down (from the cross), wrapped Him, and placed Him in a tomb that was hewn out in the rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. And Miryam Magdalitha (Mary Magdalene) and Miryam (Mary) the mother of Joses saw where He had been laid. Mark 15:46-47

And it was the Preparation Day (the eve of the High Sabbath), and the Sabbath was about to begin. Now, these women who had come with Him out of Galilee were approaching, and they saw the tomb and how His body had been laid. And they returned and prepared sweet spices and ointments. Then on the Sabbath, they rested according to the commandment. Luke 23:54-56

And they returned and prepared sweet spices and ointments. And on the Sabbath, they rested according to the commandment. But on the first day of the week at early dawn while it was dark they came to the tomb; they brought the sweet spices, these they had prepared. And there were with the other women. And they found that the stone was rolled away from the tomb. Luke 23:56, 24:1-2

But in the evening in the Sabbath that was beginning the first day in the week, Miryam Magdalitha (Mary Magdalene) and the other Miryam (Mary) came that they might see the tomb. And behold there was a great earthquake; for the angel of MarYah (YHVH=Yahweh) descended from heaven and he came and rolled away from the stone from the entrance, and he sat upon it. But his appearance was like lightning; his clothing was white as snow. And from the dread of him, those who were keeping watch were shaken and they became like dead men. Matthew 28:1-4

And when the Sabbath was over, Miryam Magdalitha (Mary Magdalene) and Miryam (Mary) mother of Yaqov (James) and Salom (Salome) bought sweet spices that they might come and anoint Him. But in the morning on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun arose. And they were saying among themselves, "But who will roll away the stone for us from the tomb?" And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, for it was very large. Mark 16:1-4

Now in the first of the week, Miryam Magdalitha (Mary Magdalene) came to the tomb in the very early morning while it was still dark. And she saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. And she ran and she came to Shimon Kaypha (Simon Peter) and to that other disciple whom Yeshua (Jesus) had loved, and she said to them, "They have taken away our Lord from the tomb, and I don't know where they have laid Him." John 20:1-2

Though not one entire Gospel tells the entire story, we have the above scriptures to reference that paint a full picture in great detail of what occurred while Jesus lies in the tomb. The many marys appear here where we have Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Salome, and Mary of Joses. The women saw Jesus' body being laid in the tomb on a Wednesday afternoon, they rested on the annual Sabbath (Mary brought spices after the Sabbath - See Luke above) and brought spices on Friday. They prepared the spices on Friday and then rested according to the commandment on the weekly Sabbath on Saturday. Afterward, post-weekly sabbath, they intended to anoint his body. Thus, we see that Passover was on a Wednesday and that Jesus did as He said, which was to rise again after three days and nights. 

Jesus then rose when? Sabbath's end or sunrise on Sunday? You'll notice through a comparison of the four gospels that Mary Magdalene and the disciples went to the tomb a number of times. In some, it was still dark, and in some, it was already light. It wasn't until it was light on Sunday that they actually discovered that He had risen, in the first visits the tomb was empty. The preceding text in John 20, tells us of the initial visit by Mary Magdalene when it was dark, the tomb was empty, and she had not been shown that Jesus rose, and only saw the boulder rolled away. However, there is one verse that seems to tell us that Jesus rose on the first day of the week:

Now after He had risen () early on the first day of the week () He first appeared to Mary Magdalene () from whom He had cast out seven demons. Mark 16:9 () are placed to show where you can place the commas for English. 

Some textual criticism comes into the playground because many Scholars speculate that verses 9-20 of this chapter were later additions. The original language is important here also, as to remove punctuation. 

Like any text, the complete account in all four gospels is vital to understanding the complete nuanced context. 

Now late on the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. Matthew 28:1 (NASB)

Irenaeus and Clement mention the Aramaic being primary in the use of Matthew. If we hold to this, we have some credence that at least some of the New Testament books were first written in Aramaic and translated into Greek. For this, I wish to refer to the Peshitta. 

"But in the evening, in the Sabbath, when the first of the week was dawning, Miryam Madalitha and the other Miryam came to see the Tomb." Matthew 28:1

"In the Sabbath" makes it understandable that it was twilight when the Mary's went to the tomb. The twilight period belongs half to the day ending and a half to the next day beginning. Sabbath ended half hour after sundown, the text says it was still the sabbath. 

Note, please again, that Jesus' death at apparently 3pm on Wednesday would mean that he would be buried after 6 pm, which is further backed by Peter's words in Acts 2 (Evening (when 3 stars appear) is when the next day occurs Jewish tradition). 

To summarize this view it suggests that there were really two Sabbaths on the week of Jesus' crucifixion. The first Sabbath occurred on the evening of the crucifixion (Mark 15:42 and Luke 23:52-54). Following this Sabbath, the women purchased spices (Mark 16:1). The Wednesday point of view holds that the "Sabbath" mentioned here was the Passover (see Leviticus 16:29-31; 23:24-32, 39 for examples of high holy days (Sabbaths) that are not necessarily the seventh day of the week).

On the week of Jesus' death, the second Sabbath was the weekly Saturday. Luke 23:55-56 says, "The women who had come with Jesus... went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment." Unless there were two Sabbaths that week, the women would not be able to purchase the spices after the Sabbath but prepare those same spices before the Sabbath. If the crucifixion occurred on Thursday, the Passover would have started Thursday at sundown and ended at sundown on Friday, at the beginning of the weekly Sabbath (Saturday). If the women purchased the spices following the first Sabbath (Passover), they would have purchased them on Saturday and would have violated the Sabbath.

There are issues with this view and the other views. This article attempts to use the data at hand to derive at a clear point about the death and resurrection timeline. However, the death and resurrection of Jesus' timeline doesn't truly matter as the fact is - He died, was buried and rose again. In the beginning of this article I started talking about the unleavened bread and how important that was, I will save that for another article but for the time being please see these other writings on the reliability of Easter's claims.