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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:
Matthew 28:1 is quite an amazing verse. It gives us a powerful key to finding the timing of the Resurrection. Many have assumed that Christ was raised on Sunday morning, following His Friday Crucifixion. This is the commonly held And it is because folks believe that Christ raised on Sunday morning that keeping Sunday as a holy day appears justifiable. But according to Matthew 28:1, Christ didn't raise on Sunday morning. The Resurrection took place just before the sun set on Saturday - known as the Sabbath!
For most of us, we have observed days and
nights changing at midnight for all of our lives. It is difficult, for some, impossible, to
think in any other reference. To the Hebrew mind, however, a day was made up of
“evening and morning,” (Genesis 1:5, 1:8, 1:13) not morning, noon, and night, as is
now regarded in the progression of a day.
The devout Jews in the first
century began their days at sunset. Their calendar was based upon the movements of the heavenly bodies, in
which the first day of a new month began with the sighting of a new crescent
moon just after sunset. Calendar modifications had been made since the days of
Jeroboam [“Calendar Reform under Jeroboam,” in King, Cult, and Calendar in
Ancient Israel, Jerusalem:
Magnes Press, 1986.] None of the
calendar changes altered the evening-morning reckoning, however. The Jews in Christ’s day kept Sabbaths from
sundown to sundown, just as they do today.
"From evening to evening, you
shall celebrate your Sabbaths," Leviticus 23:32.
The word “dawn” in the phrase, “as it began to dawn toward the first day of
the week, “ is found in only two places:
Matthew 28:1 and Luke 23:54. The Greek word usage in each of these texts
is slightly different from the other. The number in Strong’s Concordance
for “dawn” is #2020. Dr. Spiros
Zodhiates in The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, has this
to say about the meaning of the word for “dawn”:
besides, denoting accession, coming or drawing toward... In Luke 23:54 the verb has the meaning
to draw near, as the Jewish Sabbath
which began in the evening (Leviticus 23:32 [cf. John 19:31 with Deuteronomy21:22-23]) To dawn as the daylight, to grow toward daylight (Matthew 28:1). In the evening of the Sabbath when the Jewish
day was drawing on towards the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the
other Mary went (or better, set out)... (page 644).
Here, by inference, Zodhiates suggests that Mary Magdalene and
other womenhe admits that the “dawn” refers to the approach of a new day, in order to preserve the traditional
Easter Sunday resurrection, he interrupts Mary’s trek to the sepulcher with the
great earthquake. He believes it must have delayed her arrival until the
daylight was approaching. This would harmonize the Matthew 28:1 reference to
“dawn” with traditional beliefs of a pre-sunrise resurrection.
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 sepulcher. (Matthew. 28:1)
In this scenario, Mary, and
perhaps the other women, would have been out all night. They would have left their houses as soon as
the sun went down, but mysteriously not arrive at the sepulcher until just
before dawn of Sunday morning.
There are other possibilities, however. Take a closer look at each of the two Scriptures
carefully. Matthew 28:1, the first of
the two, reads:
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 sepulcher.
The second text, Luke 23:54
And that day was the
preparation, and the Sabbath drew
The word "dawn" from Matthew 28:1 and the words "drew on" from Luke 23:54 are translated from the same original Greek word: epiphosko. But notice that the word “dawn” does not appear in Luke
23:54. Instead, in the English translation, epiphosko, has been rendered
“drew on.” According to The New
Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words, epiphosko, (#2020),
means “to begin to grow light, to begin to dawn, and draw on.”
Clearly, epiphosko, like many
English words, has more than one meaning:
To approach, or draw on, as when
the sun goes down.
To begin to show light, as in the early morning.
Here are all of the entries in the Strong’s
Concordance for the word “Dawn”:
Matthew 28:1 – In the end of the sabbath, as
it began to dawn toward the first day
week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. (Vs. 2) And, behold there was a great
earthquake… [Dawn - #2020 - epiphosko]
There is another scripture
which uses the word epiphosko, but it is
not translated “dawn.” Instead, it is
rendered “drew,” which is also accurate, since epiphosko means, “to begin, or to draw on.” That text is found in Luke 23:54, and reads:
And that day was the
preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.
[drew - #2020, to begin, or begin to dawn toward].
According to the Scriptures, we can see that the timing of Christ's Resurrection is focused on the
sundown at the end of the seventh-day Sabbath. We can see this clearly because the Sabbath "draws on" or "approaches" when the day nears sunset on Friday.
But there's another interesting detail to pay attention to. According to Matthew 28:1, the ending of the Sabbath coincides with the beginning of the first day of the week.
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 sepulcher.
One cannot say that the next
day is “approaching,” if the “approaching” happened in the morning and
the previous day ended at the evening, as we read in Matthew 28:1. There
are eight or nine hours of nighttime between the evening and the morning. If one uses Bible reckoning, there will be no
controversy, however. The approaching of
one day is the same as the receding of the day before it. Thus, as Friday is receding into the dusk,
Sabbath is approaching, dawning, drawing nigh. When the sun disappears over the
horizon, Friday ends and Sabbath begins.
Similarly, when Sabbath is approaching to the time of sunset, Sabbath is ending and the first day of the week is beginning.
But, if Christ didn't resurrect on Easter Sunday (and He didn't), it throws the whole Good Friday to Easter Sunday model into question... Let's take a closer look at the Passover and timing of Christ's Death.
The Passover itself was not a holy day. It was called a “preparation day,” for it was the day the house was cleansed of all leaven, and the Passover lamb was prepared for the evening meal. The whole day’s events commemorated deliverance: historically, deliverance from Egypt, and, symbolically, deliverance from sin. Regardless of the day of the week on which the 14th of Nisan (Abib) fell that year, it would be regarded as “Preparation Day” for the annual Sabbath coming the next day.
The first day of the Week of Unleavened Bread was a annual Sabbath, a High Sabbath. If the 14th of Nisan (Passover) fell on the Seventh day of the week, the weekly preparation day (Friday) served as preparation time for both the weekly and the annual Sabbaths, bringing the Passover meal an evening earlier.
Let us then follow the record
of events as we consider the possibilities and probabilities in this
constricted time frame. Without telephones, automobiles, or computers, we now
take for granted to speed travel and communication, it would be virtually
impossible to accomplish so much in so little time.
Certainly, we would not
suppose that Joseph of Arimathea, who went secretly to Pilate to beg for the
body of Christ, did so during the trial. The followers of Christ were
completely overcome with horror that the One who had, just a few days before,
ridden into Jerusalem amid shouts of “Hosanna to the son of David!” was now
facing torture and death. They could not
be shopping and arranging connections for smooth and expedient transitions
during the trial!
followers had seen Him heal the sick and raise the dead. Surely, had we been
there, we would have hoped with them that He would come down from the cross in
power and glory. His friends must have
clung to that prayer while He hung there dying.
Sometime after He was placed on the cross, and when all hope for the
Glorious Kingdom had perished in the hearts of His faithful friends, Joseph of
Arimathea sneaked into Pilate’s palace for a quick, private interview. He wanted permission to take the body of
Yeshua and give it a proper burial. This took time to elbow his way through throngs
of people, make contacts, get papers, and walk back up Golgotha. Remember, there were no phones, no e-mail, no
fax machines, no rapid transit through the crowded city streets.
This was Friday afternoon
(according to the traditional view) and it was getting late when “Plan B for
Burial” went into the mental machinery. Everyone in Jerusalem knew the urgency of the
situation. Deuteronomy 21:22, 23 was now in play:
And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God); that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
In addition to the above
statute, there would have been a Sabbath day approaching, and all issues,
regardless of complexity, must be resolved before the Sabbath began.
Joseph finally gained an
audience with Pilate (I can’t imagine that Pilate wanted to see anyone after
his wife’s dream and rebuke, plus his own growing inner torment!). How much time must that have taken? One hour?
More? Then he bought new linen after Christ had expired (Mark 15:44, 46)
and met Nicodemus, who accompanied him
up Golgotha to take down the body. Stores close in all Jewish communities at
least one hour before sundown. He must
have hailed a shopkeeper as the “Closed” sign was being placed in the
Joseph and Nicodemus arrived
at Golgotha just as the centurion ordered the soldiers to hasten the death of
the three on the stakes. Joseph had known The Lamb of God was already dead. The
sun was going down on that Preparation Day; the Sabbath would soon begin.
The body was prepared in a
hurry. The women volunteered to do a better
job later. Certainly, the sun must have been lingering on the edge of the
distant hills when they laid the body in Joseph’s new tomb. Fortunately, the tomb was not far from the
The sad followers of Christ
kept that Sabbath. So, when could the
women buy the spices, recorded by
Mark (16:1-2) as happening after the
Sabbath was passed? In the
Friday-to-Sunday model, there is no time to do it!
Nor in the Thursday-Crucifixion Model is
there any time for the purchase and preparations, for Friday would have been
the annual Sabbath, the High Sabbath and first day of Unleavened Bread, with
the seventh-day Sabbath following it.
Another issue that makes the
Friday-to-Sunday model unreasonable is the fact that the next day after
the crucifixion the priests went to Pilate with the request to secure the tomb
through the third day (Matthew 27:62-63).
The next day after Friday is Sabbath. How reasonable is it to believe
that the priests approached Pilate on the Sabbath for a three-day guard at the
tomb, if day-one is in the past, and day-two is half over? The last half of “day-two” is going to be the
first day of the guard.
They all had
heard about The Sign: Three days and three nights, just like
Jonah. It seems illogical, knowing they knew The Sign, to think
that the priests would ask for the full three days guard duty when half of the
time has already passed. It was because of The
Sign that the priests were worried in the first place! Having come to the
Sabbath (in this scenario), they would have asked for 1 ½ days of service, or,
at best, two days of guard duty. They
knew the count had to begin with the Messiah’s entry into the tomb. The tomb is
what they were to guard.
Finally, although less
important perhaps, it seems misleading, certainly inaccurate, to contend that
any few minutes of a day can be counted as “the day.” We estimate to the
nearest whole number. Even if our reasoning differs from Eastern thought, The
Son of God would not give a prophecy ofiHHimself, which could not be deciphered in other cultures. Furthermore, we must
admit that three nights are simply not there, not even in a fraction.
Only the Wednesday Crucifixion Model allows time to do all that is recorded as having been done. Only the Wednesday Crucifixion Model respects the religious culture of the Jews, without misleading students of other cultures. Only this Model fits all specifications given by the Bible writers, as shown by the following charts:
Feast of Unleavened Bread
The Weekly Sabbath
*Preparations were made for the Passover meal in the evening.
*Crucifixion took place in the afternoon.
*Veil rent from top to bottom when Christ died.
*An earthquake rattles everyone’s nerves.
*Joseph of Arimethea asked for the body of Christ.
*He with Nicodemus prepared the body.
*Christ’s burial at or near sundown.
*Rolled a stone over the tomb entrance.
*The women followed and watched all that happened.
*First day of Unleavened Bread was a High Sabbath.
*Everyone rested to observe the festival.
*No shops could be opened for business.
*Priests fearing the people, appealed to Pilate to secure the tomb through the third day.
*Seal and guard set at the tomb.
*First 24-hours in the tomb.
*Women buy and prepare the spices.
*Preparation for the weekly Sabbath day is also completed.
*Second day of Pilate’s guards watching over the tomb.
*Second 24-hours in the tomb.
*Christ in the tomb for the third 24-hour period ending at sundown.
*Resurrection at sundown. *Earthquake after shocks. Graves previously opened, then release their enlivened saints.
*These risen saints went into the city.
*Christ came from the tomb exactly 72 hours after being placed in the tomb.
Most importantly, only the Wednesday Crucifixion Model follows all specifications, including Christ’s own prophecy, His Sign. What was the sign of Messiah's Authenticity? Remember what sign He gave when the Pharisees asked for proof He was the Messiah? He said:
Notably also, the prophet Daniel foretold that Messiah would die (be cut off) in the midst (middle) of the week. Because Christ would die in the middle of the week (Wednesday is quite literally the middle of the week), the Sacrificial system would cease at that point:
Daniel 9:26-27 "And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off... And He shall confirm the Covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease."
Does this sequence match the Gospel record? Yes! In every way!
Day 0-1 Wednesday Killed the Passover Lamb
Ate the Passover meal in the evening
Christ crucified at the time of the sacrifice
"Eaten" by the earth in the evening
Day 1-2 Thursday First day of Unleavened Bread – a Sabbath
All stores closed
Day 2-3 Friday Second day of Unleavened Bread – not a Sabbath
Women bought their spices and prepared them
Preparation for the weekly Sabbath
Day 3 Sabbath Third day of Unleavened Bread and the 7th day Sabbath
All Jerusalem rested
Jesus (Yahshua) came from the tomb near the end
of this 24-hour period; probably the same hour He had been buried.
Day 4: Sunday Wave sheaf at 9:00 a.m. (Lev. 23:10; time – Jewish
tradition) Always waved on the day after the weekly Sabbath. It was begun after Israel entered Canaan and planted fields for harvest. It had not been celebrated in the wilderness. There they had had no harvest.
*Note: According to the U. S. Naval Observatory records, Passover was:
Wednesday, April 28, if in the year 28:CE, and
Wednesday, April 25, if in the year 31 CE