Day of the Passover
Leviticus 23:5 describes the Passover. It says, “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S Passover.” Exodus 12:6 also describes the time of the Passover, “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.” Notice these verses say the Passover happens in the evening. This is verified in the New Testament when Jesus ate the Passover with His Disciples. Mark 14:16-17, “And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. And in the evening he cometh with the twelve.”
Luke 22:7-8 says, “Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.” Some people think that Jesus was crucified during the Passover because He was the Passover Lamb. It is a good thought, but according to the Bible He wasn’t crucified during the Passover because He celebrated the Passover with His Disciples. He DID offer them His body and blood symbolically at the last supper during the time the Passover was killed, to show that He was the Passover Lamb. This is also mentioned in Matthew 26:17-20.
But the best evidence that Jesus was not crucified during the Passover is the passage in Matthew 26:3-5, “Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.” The rulers were not about to kill Jesus on the Passover, because they were afraid of the people and what their reaction would be if they crucified anyone on such a special feast day as the Passover. That would be worse than working on the Sabbath.
Day of the Resurrection
Christ rose on the third day, not “after” three days. See Esther for an example. Esther 4:16 says, “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day.” Verse 5:1 says, “Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house.” Esther said to fast three days, day and night, yet she went before the king on the third day. It was probably morning, as the King had to notify Haman, then they went to a banquet she prepared (Esther 5:5), then Haman went home and called all his friends to come visit (Esther 5:10), then Haman told everyone about how special he was (Esther 5:11) and finally they built a gallows (Esther 5:14). This all happened AFTER Esther went in to the King. So when it says “the third day” it could very well be in the morning of that third day. The main point is that, regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, any of the days He was in the grave could have been a partial day. It didn’t have to necessarily be three complete days.
The phrase, “the third day,” appears 15 times in the New Testament, eight of those spoken by Jesus Himself. It does say “after three days” in Mark 8:31, but when the Bible says “after three days” the Bible’s built-in dictionary defines it in the next verse. Matthew 27:63-64, “Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, AFTER three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure UNTIL the third day…” Why would they only want the sepulchre secured UNTIL the third day if they thought Jesus would rise AFTER three days?
Day of the Crucifixion
There are different beliefs about what day Jesus was crucified. Good Friday is a Catholic belief that Jesus was crucified on Friday. He wasn’t. There are those also who believe that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday and rose Saturday evening. There is no Biblical evidence of that. The Bible is clear that Jesus was crucified on Thursday and rose Sunday morning.
Luke 24:17-21, “And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the THIRD day since these things were done.” This happened on Sunday (see Luke 24:1, 13). What is 3 days before Sunday? It’s Thursday.
Don’t fall for the “a day begins at 6pm” theory. The Bible is written for all men, not just for Jews, and as such, a day in the Bible is described the way it’s always been. There is no writing in the New Testament that states a day is from one evening to another. It does mention that in Leviticus, but it is describing a feast day. A day in the Bible is not from 6pm one day until 6pm the next day. Many people believe that, but let’s see what the Bible says.
Notice what Jesus said in John 11:9, “Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day?” A day in the Bible is from morning to night. It is not from evening to evening. In the Bible, a day was 12 hours, from 6am to 6pm. Notice Mark 15:33 says, “And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” The sixth hour is noon and the ninth hour is 3pm. So 9am would be the third hour. The hours are based on a day starting at 6am. When someone says, “I’ll see you Wednesday,” they are usually talking about sometime between 6am and 6pm. If they are coming after 6pm, they would say, “I’ll see you Wednesday evening.”
The night was in watches. A watch was 3 hours long. From 6pm to 9pm was the first watch. From 9pm to midnight was the second watch. From midnight to 3am was the third watch. From 3am to 6am was the fourth watch. Matthew 14:25 says, “And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.”
Exodus 16:23 says, “And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.” Notice it says “tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath.” Notice also it says “kept until morning.” This verse shows that the holy Sabbath begins in the morning. If the Sabbath begins at 6pm, why doesn’t it say “kept until evening?” If the Sabbath is one day, and it begins in the morning, then it ends in the morning. A day, which includes day and night (see Esther 4:16), is from morning to morning.
There is a parenthetical expression in Matthew that agrees with Exodus 16:23. A parenthetical expression is a descriptive addendum to the sentence. Matthew 28:1 says, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” The two commas separate the identifier. It would read perfectly clear without it – “In the end of the sabbath came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” The identifier is highlighted here: “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” The phrase in between the commas describes the words “the end of the sabbath.”
Another such sentence is John 20:1, “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.” It would be a perfectly clear sentence without the descriptive statement in between the commas. The phrase “when it was yet dark” describes the word “early” so you know just what early means. The same with Sabbath. The phrase “as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week” describes “the end of the sabbath.” The parenthetical expression is common English grammar.
Luke 23:55-56 says, “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 according to the commandment.” They had the spices and ointments, but they were resting on the Sabbath. Notice Luke 24:1 says, “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.” If they were resting on the Sabbath, and the Sabbath lasted until the evening, they wouldn’t have come in the morning. It says they rested the Sabbath day, and then it says they came in the morning, so the Sabbath was over when the morning came. If the Sabbath ended at 6:00 in the evening, they would have come after 6pm, because it was probably lighter outside in the evening after 6pm than it was early in the morning right before the sun came up (see John 20:1). But they didn’t come in the evening. They came in the morning.
It says the same thing in 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. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.” Notice it says two things – the Sabbath was past, and it was very early in the morning.
The Apostle John called Sunday the “Lord’s Day” in Revelation 1:10, which is called that because Jesus rose from the grave on Sunday. This Bible study is based on what the Bible actually says, without anyone’s opinion or belief. In the Bible, a day was a normal day. All the previous Scriptures show that Jesus was not crucified on the Passover, that He was crucified on Thursday and not Wednesday or Friday, and that He arose ON the third day, not after three days.