20 Mar Did Jesus Die on Friday?
Millions of Christ followers will gather this coming Friday to observe what has come to be known as “Good Friday”. However, the question is, Did Jesus really die on Friday or is this a mistake that has and continues to be propagated by the Church? First, where did this idea come from? The gospels state that a request was made by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus for the body of Jesus (Luke 23:50-52). The Jews wanted the bodies of the 3 who were crucified off the cross before the Sabbath day began (John 19:31-33). Pilate granted the request and the body of Jesus was taken to a nearby garden (John 19:41). Therefore the conclusion was drawn that Jesus died on Friday. Second, did the early followers of Christ recognize or venerate this day? No, the entire focus of the Christ followers and the church (the ekklesia- Greek which means called out ones) was on the resurrection. He who they saw dead and buried was alive! This was the driving force behind everything the church did. Tell the story, make disciples, go to the entire world, why? Because He who was dead lives! Third, since the early church did not recognize this day, when did it start? In 313 A.D. the Roman Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan which in a general sense brought the ongoing persecution of Christians to an end. Many years later, some historians argue that it was in the late 6th century, the Catholic (defined as ‘universal’) church that gradually came into existence began to venerate the day.Therefore for more than 500 years the Christ followers did not pay homage to this day.
So, did He or didn’t He die on Friday? First, the confusion comes from the fact that westerners and Gentiles in particular did not understand Judaism and the religious calender. Therefore, when the gospel writers stated that the Sabbath was coming they assumed it meant Saturday. They were wrong! The apostle John was the only one of the gospel writers who pointed out that it was a ‘Special Sabbath’ day that was approaching (John 19:31) In the Jewish religion (taught to me by my Jewish friends in Israel) all High Holy days are considered Sabbath days. Therefore there can be more than one Sabbath day in a week. Second, Jesus clarified this Himself when in Matthew 12:40 he states:
for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster,
so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (NASB)
Jesus used a historical event to clarify that He must be in the grave 3 days and 3 nights. If He had not been there 3 days and 3 nights Jewish belief would have said He was never actually dead. There is no way one can get 3 nights from Friday to Sunday, the first day of the Jewish week.
Conclusion: First, it was a Special Sabbath, not the usual Sabbath that was being referenced. So Friday was a Special Sabbath and then came the regular Sabbath on Saturday. Second, it is the nights that must be reconciled (this refutes the partial day theory taught by many Bible Colleges and Seminaries).
So, why bring this up? I’m not trying to start an uproar within the body of Christ, but I am saying that when there is a conflict between man’s tradition and The Word of God, God’s Word rules! Romans 3:4 says, May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar! (NASB) As for me and my house we are going to Stand of The Inerrant Word of the Living God! Will you?
Just My Thoughts!
P.S. Email me for my free PowerPoint, The Palm Sunday Mystery at firstname.lastname@example.org