An Easter Enigma

Christmas doesn’t confuse Christians. At least not that I know of. It’s no secret that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25. In fact, He might not even have been born in winter. But we aren’t apt to knock ourselves out trying to figure out the actual date.

Easter is an interesting enigma, however. Christians typically view Jesus’s death and burial as occurring on a Friday because the Bible says the next day was the Sabbath. And the Bible says the women found the tomb empty early on Sunday morning. Hmm. That adds up to two nights, one whole day, and part of two others.

What? Jesus said He would be in the grave three full days and nights. This seeming discrepancy has bugged me–and probably a number of other Christians–for years.

It’s amazing what a search of the Internet can reveal. I found two somewhat partially conflicting articles which both explain how Jesus actually remained in the grave three full days and nights.  If you want to read the details, check out “The Two Sabbaths of Passover” and “Good Friday or Good Wednesday.” 

Jesus and His disciples ate their last meal together in the evening of what was actually the beginning of Passover day. (Remember: Jewish days ran from sundown to sundown.) Later that evening He was arrested, tried, and condemned to death. The entirety of His crucifixion and burial took place on what was still Passover day, the “Day of Preparation.”

Jesus couldn’t be left on the cross after His death because the Sabbath would be starting shortly at sundown. There wasn’t even time for the women to anoint the body properly; He was simply wrapped in a linen shroud.

How thankful we should be that Jesus’s disciple John said something in His Gospel that the other Gospel writers apparently took for granted and consequently didn’t bother to mention. He referred to that Sabbath as a “high day,” meaning it was not the regular Friday-sundown-to-Saturday-sundown Sabbath. And that makes sense. The day after Passover day itself was to be a special Sabbath. So the Old Testament taught .

So that week had two Sabbaths, and Jesus had to be buried before the beginning of the first one–the special one.

Accepting the fact that Jesus arose on Sunday, “the first day of the week,” as the Bible says, let’s count backward.

  • The first day of the week began at sundown on Saturday
  • The normal Sabbath ran from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown
  • The special Sabbath ran from Thursday sundown to Friday sundown
  • Passover day ran from Wednesday sundown to Thursday sundown

Are you still with me?

That’s assuming the special Sabbath occurred the day before the regular Sabbath. Since it began at sundown on Thursday, was Jesus  crucified on what was left of the day that ran from Wednesday sundown to that Thursday sundown?

Although Jesus would’ve been dead on our Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights–thank goodness Jewish days can’t change nighttime–do the days work out right? Those days would’ve had to run from just before sundown to just before sundown. And three full days by the Jewish calendar would last until just before sundown on the “first day of the week.”

But that doesn’t work. Jesus had already arisen before the women came to the tomb that morning and found it empty.

One of those articles insists that the two Sabbaths must have had an extra day in between. Jesus died late on our Wednesday, he said.  As “Lord of the Sabbath,” Jesus would have risen on the Sabbath itself but not be found alive again until the first day of the week. That would explain three full days in the tomb while eliminating a fourth night .

I have no idea what the accurate answer is, but I have no problem thinking of Jesus dying late on Wednesday rather than Friday.

The important thing is, Christ arose. I hope your Easter was a blessed one.

How about leaving a comment?

 

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Cross or Crucifix?

myCross If you’ve been following this blog long enough, you may recall something I posted a few years ago about the wooden crosses I used to make by hand. If you’re interested, you can find that post HERE.

The process was tedious, especially using sandpaper to shape each cross after using a coping saw to cut the small piece of wood into a very rough lower case t-shape. But I loved doing it and would probably still be doing it except for the fact it got to be too rough on these aging hands.

I quit making walking sticks for the same reason. I needed (and still need) my hands for other things. Like playing guitar and bass. And keying new novel manuscripts into my laptop.

As a Christian, I’ve long understood the significance of wearing a cross, even though a number of people probably wear them because they simply like the shape. I wouldn’t put it past some people to wear a cross superstitiously–as a good luck charm.

Hmm. Sad.

The cross is an important Christian symbol because it reminds us of Jesus’s crucifixion. I’ve read recently that the Romans didn’t invent crucifixion, but took it to a new level of cruelty. Anyone who watched The Passion of Christ or the ninth episode of The Bible miniseries (or was it the eighth?) got a too-realistic depiction of the way Jesus suffered and died.

One thing I’ve become more aware of over the years is the importance of the crucifix to Roman Catholics. A crucifix, as most of you know, depicts Christ hanging on the cross. I honestly don’t know whether He’s dead yet. There’s something to be said for a reminder of the horrible way Jesus suffered and died to accomplish God’s mission of bringing salvation to mankind.

You may not be aware of this, but Protestants and Evangelicals don’t generally wear crucifixes or value them the way Roman Catholics do.  They prefer to emphasize an empty cross because Jesus’s death as payment for the sins of mankind was only half of His mission. He also came to give eternal life, and the depiction of His death on the cross fails to tell “the rest of the story.”

So a regular cross–an empty one–is a reminder that Jesus’s mission didn’t end there. He had to be taken down and placed in a borrowed tomb. It wasn’t until three days later when the stone sealing the tomb was found removed on the third day and angels announced His resurrection that Jesus began appearing to His followers. Alive again. Human death had been conquered, and the second part of His mission was complete. His Believers now had the assurance of eternal life.

I’ve never seen a necklace depicting an empty tomb. I can’t imagine what one would look like. But the empty cross  and the empty tomb go together like hand in glove.

I have every respect for Believers who prefer to wear a crucifix. Especially if they understand and believe in the whole story.

What about you? Are you a cross wearer or a crucifix wearer? What does it signify to you? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger