I ran across a very interesting point of view on an online forum that I frequent. I had never heard this idea before, and it is rather intriguing. I really hope to hear some opinions from my readers on their take on this. Have you heard of this or do you follow this idea? It is rather interesting, and I hope to do some research on this to figure out what is going on, but here is the argument copied straight from the online forum:
This was brought up in the Sabbath thread, and I was blown away by all the people saying Christ was actually crucified on a Friday. I have never heard anyone say that before and have been taught Wednesday by multiple pastors. I grew up thinking we celebrated Good Friday as the crucifixion just because it was convenient for a weekend holiday in a similar manner to how we celebrate Christmas which isn’t on the actual birth date of our Lord. Now truth be told, what day it was doesn’t REALLY matter, but I think it’s still important when it comes to the overall prophecy of Christ as our Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7) and First Fruits resurrection (1 Cor 15:20).
Leviticus 23:4-8 “These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. But you shall present a food offering to the Lord for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.”
Here we have two specific dates outlined for Passover and Unleavened Bread. The Jewish understanding of days is evening to evening, 6pm – 6pm. So the Passover DAY would go from the evening where the 13th turns into the 14th and last until the evening where the 14th turns into the 15th. I won’t post the text here, but the story of the actual Passover from Exodus 12 that is being remembered by this feast has the command for the lambs to be chosen on the 10th, they were slaughtered on the 14th at twilight (which was 3pm for the Jews according to Josephus who states in Antiquities that they were celebrating the feast in like manner as the scriptures outline), and then the blood was put on the doors with the Passover Feast held that evening eating unleavened bread and the lamb with bitter herbs as the day changed into the 15th, marking the start of the Unleavened Bread’s first day which was to be a holy day of rest (in other words, a High Sabbath different from the weekly Sabbath. Sabbath means “rest” not “seventh day” as some people assume). The angel of death passed over at midnight, and the Egyptians awoke the next morning to find their first born dead. So the actual DAY of Passover is a Day of Preparation for the Passover feast itself by taking your lamb to be slaughtered as well as preparation for the High Sabbath. The FEAST of Passover takes place at the END of the day.
With that in mind, here is the time line from all 4 Gospels of when the disciples and Christ ate the Last Supper:
Matthew 26:17-20 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve.
Mark 14:12-17 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. And when it was evening, he came with the twelve.
Luke 22:7-14 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11 and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.
John 13:1-4 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all say the day for the timeline was the day of Unleavened Bread. From Leviticus, we would assume that’s sometime on the 15th. However, the 15th would be after the lambs slaughtered and after Passover feast. It would also be a High Sabbath where they wouldn’t be doing any work. But here we have them preparing for the Passover still and doing things that certainly would have been considered work.
Mark and Luke explain a bit further and even state that the day, while calling it Unleavened Bread, was the day the lambs were to be slaughtered. Neither of them are quite clear, in the English anyway, if the lambs have ALREADY been slaughtered, or if they are still yet to be slaughtered when this conversation is taking place, just that this is the day of slaughter, which we know from Leviticus is the 14th. It reads as though they are preparing for the actual Passover feast, and Matthew and Mark both declare “when it was evening”, giving the impression that this was the evening at the end of the day after they had made all their preparations and were about to have the actual Passover FEAST, but it doesn’t say that for sure. It very well could be the evening prior, at the START of Passover Day. This meal they would have shared would be taking place the evening where the 13th had turned into 14th and would still be considered a Passover MEAL because it’s still happening on Passover DAY. Traditionally, this would be the last supper they could have with leavened bread and would mark the ceremony of getting rid of all leaven in the house (from the command in Ex 12:15), using it up, disposing of it, etc. John even calls this meal not a Passover or Passover meal like the others do, but “supper”, and I believe all these Gospels tell the truth and work together and that none of them are THE feast of Passover at the end of the day. Many commentaries will support this as well. This is not my own interpretation on the fly. An interesting thing to note is that this last supper which was the last supper where they were getting rid of the leaven (typically conveyed in the NT as hypocrisy, boasting, malice, and evil) is also when Judas, the betrayer, was called out and sent to go and leave to do what he had to do for turning Christ over, in a sense, purging the “leaven” from the group. I digress.
Why am I trying to explain this wording? Because JOHN’s introduction of the time says it was BEFORE the FEAST of Passover. He flat out states that all of this going on, the disciples finding a room and preparing for the meal, was BEFORE the holiday feast but was still SUPPER, coinciding the timing of evening with the other three writers, meaning the actual DAY of Passover when the lambs were slaughtered had not happened yet. Esther mentioned in the Sabbath thread that this was taking place on Unleavened Bread in response to me saying that the Sabbath referred to later on in the passage was the High Sabbath, not the weekly Sabbath. I think her point was that if this was happening on Unleavened Bread (15th), then the High Sabbath would be done by the time Christ was killed, leaving only the Saturday Sabbath to follow. But if this discourse all happened on the evening of the 15th, or even the evening of the 15th into the 16th, any time during the true first day of Unleavened Bread, then this means one of two things- Christ would have either been killed on a high Sabbath which is weird that everyone would be out yelling and holding a trial and killing people when their laws were to not kill on a Sabbath day, or Christ’s death would be AFTER Passover, which is very troubling to me to believe this when there are verses that explicitly call him our Passover Lamb.
So why is it called Unleavened Bread then instead of them saying Passover? Many extra-Biblical writings (both Jewish and Christian) make it pretty clear in their notes and arguments that this whole feast, from the start of the Passover Day, through the High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread, lasting the 7 days of unleavened and ending on the final High Sabbath were commonly referred to as ONE feast, with a general term of either “Passover week” or “Feast of Unleavened Bread.” Josephus in his Antiquities refers to the 14th and 15th both as Passover, and he also refers to the whole celebration of Unleavened Bread as being EIGHT days which includes Passover the 14th. This was a common understanding and likely comes from the first Passover in Exodus, the Lord’s description was not as detailed to separate the days as shown at the beginning of my post in Lev 23. Exodus 12:18 “In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.” Having this end on the 21st is still seven days starting from the 15th, but the Lord’s description of Unleavened Bread being in the evening of the 14th acknowledges that they would begin the Passover feast likely before sundown, and it would still be going on as the day turned into 15th. So technically they are one in the same. It would have gone from that evening (14 starting the 15) to the evening where the 21 ends and turns into 22. So, Passover 14, Unleavened Bread 15-21. Eight days together all considered one holiday in layman’s terms.
The reason I’m laying down all this ground work first is because that’s the night they went to the garden, Jesus gave his will to the Lord’s, Judas appeared with the crowd to betray him, he was taken to Pilate and crucified, the time of death according to the Gospels being the ninth hour, 3pm… 3pm when the Jews would have been slaughtering their own lambs in the temple. Interesting side note, the Jewish Encyclopedia, in its section on Passover, says this- “The animal was slain on the eve of the Passover, on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan, after the Tamid sacrifice had been killed, i.e., at three o’clock, or, in case the eve of the Passover fell on Friday, at two.” IF Christ were crucified on a Friday, the timing of him being the Passover lamb would have been off, because they would have started slaughtering lambs at 2pm. It doesn’t really fit.
But moving on to the third feast- First Fruits. Here’s the next part in Leviticus 23:9-11:
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.”
So we have been given the 14th and 15th as dates for the first two, and then this feast is “on the day after the Sabbath.” So this is either the day after the 15th High Sabbath (which could have just been said the 16th), the day after the regular weekly Saturday Sabbath, or the day after the 21st last day of Unleavened Bread High Sabbath (which could have just been said the 22nd). There is actually a bit of argument between modern Jews of when to celebrate First Fruits. There is a divide between them celebrating on the 16th and the Sunday after weekly Sabbath. Like I said in the Easter thread, this year is unique in that with Passover being on Friday, the weekly and High Sabbath both fall on Saturday, making First Fruits for both camps fall on Sunday ALONG WITH Christians celebrating Resurrection Sunday. I am fascinated by this, lol. But getting back to my point! I do believe First Fruits was to be celebrated after the weekly Sabbath which is why no date is listed, because it ALWAYS would be on a Sunday, so the actual date would change, whereas Passover and Unleavened Bread as fixed dates means the days of the week they fall on change.
IF Christ were crucified on Friday, that would mean that year Passover was also on a Friday like this year, double Sabbath on Saturday, and he rose on First Fruits Sunday.
But there are some problems with this, because if we accept Christ as dying on Passover the 14th, which I outlined above, then we get to John 19:31:
Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.
and Mark 15:42
And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
When Esther posted this verse in the Sabbath thread, her NLT translation explicitly translates this as “this all happened on Friday, the day of preparation.” I think this is extremely misleading as a translation. I went through every single version of the Bible available on biblegateway.com, and the only other translation that says Friday is the God’s Word Translation. Even The Message doesn’t say Friday! They all say some variation of the day before Sabbath.
I also believe scripture interprets scripture. Whatever day they were on when Joseph took Christ’s body to be buried so it wouldn’t happen on a Sabbath we are given this as another story in the time line:
Mark 16:1-3 “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”
So Mark tells us AFTER the Sabbath, they BOUGHT spices. And then on the first day of the week in the morning (Sunday morning) they went to go to the tomb, and that’s when they found it empty. So I guess if this is the weekly Sabbath, they would have purchased the spices Saturday night after 6pm. But. Luke 23:56-24:1:
Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.
Now they are resting and celebrating a Sabbath AFTER buying the spices. The only way both of these can be true is if there are two Sabbaths between Christ’s death and resurrection and a day in between them for the women to go buy spices to anoint Christ.
This is why I spent a lot of time at the beginning of my post clarifying which day Christ was crucified on, because to fit all this timeline in, you need three days and nights which is EXACTLY what Christ prophesied:
Matthew 12:40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
If Christ died on a Friday, the day before the weekly Sabbath, then you have a few options to try and make this work. It was suggested in the other thread that it wasn’t referring to a full 72 hours, so you would have part of Friday day, Friday over night, Saturday day, Saturday overnight, part of Sunday day, but I don’t understand where the third night is? Sunshine (sorry, I don’t remember your name!) mentioned the Jewish calendar of evening being the start of the new day, which I agree with, but I still don’t see how it works to give us 3 NIGHTS and 3 days, even in a partial sense.
I think the only logical explanation is:
Tuesday evening after 6pm, the start of Nisan 14- Last Supper Meal
Tuesday overnight- Christ at Gethsemane, taken away, mocked, etc
Wednesday Day, Day of Preparation, Passover Day Nisan 14- Christ on trial, hung on the cross, died at 3pm coinciding with Passover lambs being slaughtered
Wednesday evening before 6pm- Joseph takes Christ to bury him before sundown when it would turn into the 15th
Wednesday overnight of the start of Nisan 15th- Christ’s 1st night in the grave
Thursday day Nisan 15- High Sabbath, Christ’s 1st day in the grave
Thursday overnight start of Nisan 16-Christ’s 2nd night in the grave
Friday day Nisan 16- Women go to buy spices because it’s the day after the Sabbath. Christ’s 2nd day in the grave.
Friday overnight start of Nisan 17-Christ’s 3rd night in the grave
Saturday day Nisan 17-Women rest on the Sabbath. Christ’s 3rd day in the grave.
SATURDAY EVENING Nisan 17 6pm- End of the third day. I imagine this is when Christ rose, the third day. 6pm is also the start of:
Saturday Nisan 17 6pm- Start of First Fruits, coinciding with Christ’s resurrection as our firstfruits.
Saturday overnight- Who knows where Christ is and what he is doing! My goodness, would love to find out.
Sunday morning Nisan 18- Women arrive at the tomb and find Christ gone. The Bible never says he rose that morning, just that they found him gone by then.
1 Corinthians 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
This is why I don’t believe this feast should be celebrated the day after the Unleavened Bread Sabbath, because with this timeline, if we put it on the 16th, First Fruits that year would have been on a Friday, and we know Christ was still in the grave on Friday which does not line up at all with the Biblical imagery of the fulfilled prophesy.
Anyway, you can disagree with everything if you want. I’m sure there is more to the argument, and I do think the stories leading up to the last supper coincide with describing each day accurately until Wednesday when this all happens. It’s how I have been taught, it makes a lot of sense to me, and you guys said you were interested in seeing another view