It is imperative that God’s people learn to study and think! Too many Christians are content to go with the flow of the mainstream religious community; they fail to contemplate and confer with the Scriptures, and this failure leaves them unable to rightly divide truth. Today’s Christians are a generation illiterate in the Scriptures. As a result, we are easily intimidated by our Christian friends and acquaintances. We are so unnerved when we find ourselves out of the mainstream that we quickly capitulate on any potentially controversial subject.
In this day and time of terrorism, the word fundamentalist has literally brought fear into the hearts of those Bible believers who hold dear the literal interpretation of the Scriptures. As a result, we find ourselves outside the religious loop, grappling with issues that were crystal clear to the past leaders of fundamentalism. However, we must not allow religious tradition to take precedence over the inspired words of God. This is a day when those who study and digest the Word of God must become a breath of fresh air.
In this article, we will discuss the subject of Good Friday in light of the Bible, rather than religious tradition. Dr. John R. Rice, founder and editor of The Sword of the Lord,once told about a man who was running for office. After a day of campaigning, he went to his campaign manager and said,
“Guess what my opponent did?”
“He called me a liar.”
“That’s too bad.”
“But he did worse than that.”
“What was that?”
“He proved it on me,” the politician answered.
Now I am going to prove to the religious world that its teaching and practicing of Good Friday is wrong. All over America, on the Friday before Easter Sunday, Good Friday services are conducted. In fact, many Baptist churches and schools shut down on that Friday in observance of a Catholic holy day. Some Baptists even hold Good Friday services. They start the services at noon and end the services at three o’clock in observance of the supposed day of crucifixion so many centuries ago. This belief and practice is erroneous!
I will prove to you that our Lord was crucified on Wednesday. He was laid in the grave about six o’clock on Wednesday evening. He was in the grave Wednesday evening, all day Thursday, Thursday evening, all day Friday, Friday evening, and all day Saturday; He rose from the grave on Sunday.
It is very important to remember that the Jewish day started with the evening. The Bible does not say that the morning and the evening were the first day. It says, “And the evening and the morning day were the first day.” (Genesis 1:5) The Jewish day began at six o’clock in the evening, not at midnight as our day does.
Our Lord was in the grave three days and three nights. Which days was Jesus in the grave? He was in the grave during the days of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Which nights was Jesus in the grave? He was in the grave during the nights of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. He came out of the grave at the evening time early Sunday morning.
Let us take a closer look at the matter of the three days and three nights. In the Bible, the day is usually the light part of a twenty-four hour period. Thus, three days would be three periods of the light part. There are other meanings of the word day in the Bible. It can be used to refer to such periods of time as “the day of the Lord,” “the day of calamity,” “the day of vengeance,” the day of “visitation,” and so forth. However, normally the Lord speaks about the light time in the twenty-four hour cycle when speaking of the day.
In Genesis 1:3-5, is the Lord talking about a twenty-four hour period when He talks about a day? No. He called the light day, and the darkness He called night. So, when the Lord talks about a day, He is talking about the light part of the twenty-four hours. When He is talking about the darkness, or night, He is talking about the dark part of the twenty-four hours. So, the evening and the morning were the first day.
When our Lord talks about three days in the grave, what does that mean? It simply means three light periods. When He talks about three nights, He means three dark periods. The evening and the morning are a complete day.
John 11:9 says, “Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in a day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.” According to our Lord, there are twelve hours of light in one day. Exodus 13:21 says, “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light; to go by day and night…” So, when the Lord says day, He does not mean the day and the night; He means the light part of the twenty-four hours.
Matthew 12:40 says, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights. How many hours are in a day? There are twelve hours of light and twelve hours of darkness, which equals twenty-four hours. Three times twelve equals thirty-six hours of light, and three times twelve equals thirty-six hours of darkness. Thirty-six hours of light plus thirty-six hours of darkness equals seventy-two hours all together. Therefore, Jesus was in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights or seventy-two hours.
The Lord Himself told us how many hours are in the day—twelve—and how many hours in the night—twelve. Thus, the Lord told us that He was in the heart of the earth for a total of seventy-two hours.
For the sake of discussion, let us assume that Jesus was crucified on Friday afternoon at three o’clock. We have nine hours left until midnight. So, from midnight Friday until midnight Saturday we have twenty-four hours. Now, add twenty-four and nine, and you have a total of thirty-three hours. Jesus came out of the grave sometime Saturday night. So, let us add six more hours to the thirty-three, and we end up with a total of only thirty-nine hours.
It is impossible for Jesus to have been crucified on Friday! Since Jesus had to be in the heart of the earth for seventy-two hours, if He had been crucified on Friday, He would have needed to stay there Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. However, 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 Bible tells us plainly that Jesus rose on the first day (Sunday), not the second day (Monday).
Why do so many churches observe Good Friday? They do so simply because their churches are built on traditions, not the Scriptures.
Luke 23:52-54 says, “This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.”
The Sabbath was the day after the crucifixion. What day is the Sabbath? Saturday. If the Sabbath was the day after the crucifixion, then what day would it normally seem that our Lord was crucified? Friday! If we do not study the Scriptures carefully, it would seem that our Lord actually was crucified on Friday, as the Catholics teach. This is where the Good Friday doctrine emerges. The answer is an easy one.
There are two kinds of Sabbaths. There is the seventh day Sabbath and the high day Sabbath. In Leviticus 23, we have seven Sabbaths apart from the weekly Sabbath. These seven Sabbaths are the high day Sabbaths. They are as follows:
– The first Feast of Unleavened Bread Sabbath (the day after Passover – verses 6-8)
– The second Feast of Unleavened Bread Sabbath (the seventh day of the feast – verse 8)
– The Pentecost Sabbath (fifty days after the first Feast of Unleavened Bread Sabbath – verses)(15-21)
– The Sabbath of the Trumpets (verses 24-25)
– The Sabbath of Atonement (verses 27-32)
– The first Feast of Tabernacles Sabbath (verse 34-35)
– The second Feast of Tabernacles Sabbath (verse 36).
None of these Sabbaths deal with the seventh day of the week. Thus, we have seven Sabbaths plus the weekly Sabbath.
John 19:31 says, “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.”
The question is, Was Jesus crucified before one of the seven Sabbaths of Leviticus, or before the weekly Sabbath? John 19:14 says, “And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!” According to this verse, Jesus was crucified the day before the Passover Sabbath (or the first Feast of Unleavened Bread Sabbath), not the weekly Sabbath. Thus, Jesus had to have been crucified on Wednesday, with Thursday being the Passover Sabbath.
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.”Now, to which Sabbath is this verse referring? It is referring to the weekly Sabbath. The Sabbath after His crucifixion—which occurred on a Thursday—was a high Sabbath, and the Sabbath before His resurrection was a weekly Sabbath—Saturday—because the Bible says that the next day was the first day of the week.
The conclusion is quite clear. Jesus could not have been crucified on Friday because there were two Sabbath days that had to occur before He was resurrected. Therefore, the first night our Lord was in the grave was the Passover Sabbath (the first Feast of Unleavened Bread Sabbath), or Thursday, the first month and the fifteenth day. Therefore, the second Sabbath was the weekly Sabbath.
That is why Mary Magdalene said, “…after the sabbath.” Jesus was in the grave during two Sabbaths: the first Feast of Unleavened Bread Sabbath (also called the Passover Sabbath) on Thursday, and the weekly Sabbath on Saturday.