The observances of Good Friday and Easter Sunday were something that I was brought up on. However, there are those who would point to the Bible and say that these observances aren’t supported by scripture.
Is this really the case? I’ve been challenged with this idea, so I’ve decided to explore the Bible for myself to see what it says on the matter, allowing scripture to speak for itself. What I’m presenting here is what I’ve found as a result of my search.
The claims that Good Friday and Easter Sunday are invalid largely hinge on the words of Jesus Christ, when He issues a prophecy concerning his own entombment and resurrection. He says that He would be entombed for “three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40). Some might look at this and interpret Him as saying that three days means 3 twelve hour periods, as the Bible sometimes uses the word “day” to refer to the 12 hour period of daylight, as we do in the modern vernacular. However, Jesus is being quite specific when He says “three days and three nights”. For His statement to be true, He had to have been entombed for three periods of night and three periods of day, 72 hours total.
There’s a lot at stake here. If anyone else made a mistaken prophecy concerning Him, that would be one thing. However, this would be the prophecy that He made about Himself. When Christ made a prophecy about Himself, He put His own legitimacy on the line!
With this in mind, let’s examine just how many days and nights can fit in the Good Friday Easter Sunday explanation for His entombment.
This can be quite troubling to those who discover it for the first time. Obviously, there is no reconciling the Good Friday Easter Sunday timeline with the words of Jesus Himself. Where there’s two conflicting accounts, they can’t both be true. So, who is right? Would it be most of the Christian world today with the Good Friday Easter Sunday timeline? Or would it be Jesus Christ Himself with His three days and three nights timeline? To find the answer to this question, we must explore the Bible.
There is another apparent contradiction in that one of the gospels tells us that the women purchased and prepared spices before the Sabbath (Luke 23:56), while another gospel tells us that the women purchased and prepared embalming spices after the Sabbath (Mark 16:1).
To those who first discover this apparent contradiction, this can be quite distressing. After all, if there is an internal contradiction within the Bible itself, then the accuracy of the Bible can be called into question. More than a few people’s faith may be hanging on the answer to this concern. Therefore, a satisfactory answer to it must be found.
Thankfully, there is an answer to this question, and it also satisfies the requirements of the three days and three nights prophecy that Jesus Himself issued.
A professing Christian can be forgiven for not being aware of the details with the Biblical Holy Days listed in Leviticus 23. After all, they are not usually exposed to teachings regarding these observances in Sunday school. As one reads about these Holy Days, which include Passover, Day of Atonement, and the Days of Unleavened Bread, it should become clear that there is more than one category of Sabbath. Relevant to this discussion, there are two:
- The weekly Sabbath
- High Day Sabbaths
The weekly Sabbath is the customary Sabbath that occurs one day of the week. Much of the Christian world observes something like it by observing Sundays, the first day of the week. The Biblical Sabbath occurs from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, the seventh day of the week, which would be the day observed by Christ Himself.
A High Day Sabbath would be a day of rest associated with a yearly observance, such as the Days of Unleavened Bread. A High Day Sabbath is distinct in that it does not necessarily occur on a particular day of the week. This should not be challenging to the modern imagination, considering that there are holidays that shift from one day of the week to another year by year.
When we understand this, we can understand that there need not be a contradiction between the gospels concerning when the women purchased and prepared spices. This can be satisfied when we consider that the act of purchasing and preparing spices occurred between two different Sabbaths, the first being a High Day, and the second being the weekly Sabbath.
Let’s see how this would play out:
As we can see, not only does this satisfy the claim that the women purchased and prepared spices before and after Sabbaths, it also satisfies Jesus Christ’s own prophecy concerning his entombment and resurrection: that he would be entombed for three days and three nights. This timeline shows the gospels in harmony with each other, and with Jesus Christ’s own prophecy.
However, this brings up another troubling question. Most churches today teach the Good Friday Easter Sunday explanation for the entombment and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why would they do this if it cannot be reconciled with what Jesus Himself said?
The answer is somewhat complex, and involves the strong pull of tradition, peer pressure, and simple ignorance regarding the backgrounds of Jesus and His disciples.
When reading the Bible, it’s easy to be caught up in the narrative, understanding the significance of the events taking place, but overlooking certain details that may have far reaching implications. While easy to overlook, those details may be very important, even to the point of distinguishing true Christianity from false religion. The Bible was written in a manner that is very deliberate. There is no instance where an important detail is left out, or something unnecessary was accidentally added. This is especially important considering that true Christians care whether they get it right. That’s where those details really come into play. They might end up being our way of telling who is who in the world of religion.
There is a lot more to this subject that can be explored. I think that for most people, the above provides plenty of food for thought until they determine to look into matters some more.