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The Crucifixion: Good Friday or Wednesday

By Clovis E. Miller

(Revised 9-16-2013)

There are differences of opinion as to which actual day of the week Jesus was crucified and buried on. Most Christians hold to the "Good Friday - Easter Sunday" tradition. Others hold that Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday, and still others believe he was crucified on a Thursday. We may not all agree on the timing, but we are all in agreement that those things did happened!

In this study, we shall take a look at how a Wednesday crucifixion may better explain some verses of Scripture that appear to be contradictions in some people's understanding.

First off, it is important that we understand the order of a normal day, as set by Scripture. That order was established by Gen. 1:5, "...the evening and the morning were the first day." Unlike the day we observe (midnight to midnight); a full Biblical day extends from one evening to the next. The crucifixion of Jesus (the slaying of the Passover lamb) was a prophetic fulfillment of the first of the seven holy convocations established in Leviticus Chapter 23, all of which were set in accordance with the Biblical day (Evening to Evening).

Jesus proclaimed that the only sign He would give to "an evil and adulterous generation" was, that He would be in the "heart of the earth" for three days and three nights (Matt. 12:39-40). This time period is a precise quote from Jonah 1:17. The structure of this phrase is identical to that which is used in Gen. 7:4,12, pertaining the the flood of Noah's day ("forty days and forty nights"); and also of Moses, when he went up on Mount Sinai twice for "forty days and forty nights" {Ex.24:18 ; Ex. 34:28}. The word for "days" in all of these passages, in Hebrew is, "Yom" (Strong's Hebrew #3117), meaning: "...a day (as the warm hours), whether lit. (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next),". The word for "nights" in the same verses is, "layil" (Strong's Hebrew #3915), meaning "...a twist (away from the light), i.e. night...)". Again, in the New Testament, we are told in Matt. 4:1-2 that Jesus was led into the wilderness after being baptized, where He fasted for "forty days and forty nights". So, in these passages, we are dealing primarily with the number of days spoken of, and not with a difference in phraseology, or of definition for the words used. In defense of a Friday crucifixon, it is often cited, that the Jewish people refer to portions of a day as a full day. Following that understanding, we could count part of Friday, all of Saturday and part of Sunday, in order to arrive at the three days time frame. If Jesus had said only, that He would be in the heart of the earth for three days, this might be a valid consideration. In this case however, He specifically stated that the length of time would be "three days AND three nights": therefore, it doesn't appear to be a valid conclusion for this particular situation, since there is no way to get three days and three nights out of a Friday-Sunday time frame. The fundamental question here is: Did Jesus leave the matter open for possible mis-interpretation; or did He state straightforward, to those present, that He meant exactly and precisely, what He said? Fulfillment as prophesied, would have effectively removed all excuses for not accepting Him as the promised Messiah.

A Wednesday crucifixion addresses this problem, and would provide the following order for the fulfillment of the Jonah prophecy:

1) The crucifixion of Jesus would have begun on Wednesday, 14 Nissan, about 9 AM. Scripture refers to it as, "the third hour" (Mark 15:25). That was the same hour in which the major oblation, or sacrifice, of the morning had just been offered up in the temple; and the Passover lamb, previously selected by the High Priest on the 10th day {Ex. 12:3} as a sacrifice for the nation, was tied to the altar of sacrifice. The High Priest would slay the lamb at the altar on that afternoon.

Ceremonially speaking, in Judaism, there were two evenings. The first began about 12 PM when the sun had reached its high point, and began to set. It was generally considered to be in its waning stage by about 12:30 PM. The "minor oblation of the evening" was normally offered up in the temple at about this time. Secondly, the evening began about sunset, with the ensueing darkness commencing the start of a new day. The major sacrifice in the temple, for the afternoon period was normally conducted at about 2:30 PM; the time period being referred to as, " bain haarbayim" (ben ha-'arbayim) -- meaning, "between the evenings". During Passover, the normal daily sacrifices in the afternoon, were moved back somewhat to make allowance for sacrificing of the Paschal Lambs that were to be killed on the 14th of Nissan, each year. According to Jewish Historian, Josephus, who lived to witness the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, Passover lambs were sacrificed between the ninth and eleventh hour (3 PM to 5 PM). Jesus, of course, died about the 9th hour (Matt. 27:46, 50).

2) After Joseph of Arimathea secured permission from Pilate to take the body of Jesus (Matt. 27:57-58): He was taken down from the cross, wrapped in linen, and layed in the tomb, which was then sealed, just prior to sunset (Luke 23:53-54). Jesus, as that "corn of wheat", or barley (John 12:24), was sealed in the tomb in the fleeting light of 14 Nissan, as "Chag Ha-pesach" (Festival of the Paschal Lamb), was giving way to the darkness which commenced the first "sabbath" of Unleavened Bread (Chag Ha-matzot -15 Nissan). He was that seed which would spring up and bring forth that sheaf of firstfruits (Lev. 23:10-11 ; I Cor. 15:20). The verse in John, appears to set the point for counting the time involved in the "three days and three nights" ("...when a corn of wheat falls into the ground..." - that is to say, when the body was closed up in the tomb, at burial). As one would cover seed with soil to start the germination process, so was it with His burial; causing the birth process of the new plant (the resurrected body) to be initiated. In another sense, the earth swollowed up the body of Jesus, just as the great fish swollowed up the body of Jonah. After being swollowed, Jonah went into the belly of the fish; and in like fashion, the Spirit of Jesus went into the heart of the earth (Col. 2:15).

3) Wednesday night and Thursday day (the first "sabbath" of Unleavened Bread) would constitute the first full day for the body of Jesus in the tomb (15 Nissan).

4) Thursday night and Friday day would be the second full day (16 Nissan).

5) Friday night and Saturday day (the weekly Sabbath) would be the third full day (17 Nissan).

From just prior to sunset on Wednesday to the same time on Saturday would constitute three days and three nights (Matt. 12:40).

Jesus stated that he would rise "the third day", which by the prophecy of Jonah and the calculation shown above, would need be, just prior to sunset, which announced the ending the weekly sabbath. The resurrection of Jesus would first be apparent to His disciples on Sunday morning (Firstfruits) as shown by Lev. 23:11; fulfilling the third of the prophetic feast days.

If we take the words of Jesus as literal, then the "three days and three nights" of which he spoke, contained exactly 72 hours; from the sealing of the tomb just prior to sunset on 14 Nissan, to His resurrection just prior to sunset, on the 17th of Nissan. (John 11:9)

14th Nissan 15th Nissan 16th Nissan 17th Nissan 18th Nissan 19th Nissan 20th Nissan 21st Nissan
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday
Wednesday Thursday1 Friday2 Saturday3 ( FF Sunday) Monday Tuesday Wednesday
Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

The above table shows where Firstfruits ("...the morrow after the sabbath." - brown color) would fall within Passover; relative to which day of the week the 14th of Nissan (the day of crucifixon) fell on. For example, if the crucifixion occurred on a Wednesday (14 Nissan); then firstfruits that year would have fallen on Sunday (18 Nissan). That would be in accordance with the Sadducees reckoning of Firstfruits (the morrow after the weekly Sabbath). On the other hand, if the crucifixion fell on a Friday (14 Nissan); then Firstfruits would have been on Sunday (16 Nissan). This is in keeping with the Pharisees reckoning of Firstfruits (the morrow after the first day of unleavened bread, which they called a "sabbath"), which always occurs on the 16th of Nissan. To literally fulfill both, the 'three days and three nights" of Matt. 12:40, and the feast of firstfruits of Lev. 23:10-11: it would have been necessary for Jesus to have been crucified on Wednesday, the 14th; sealed in the tomb before sunset; and remain there until after sunset on Saturday evening; the 17th; being resurrected just prior to the time the sheaf of firstfruits (FF) would have been cut by the temple priests. If Jesus came out of the tomb after sunset, doesn't it prove that He would have been resurrected on the fourth day? The answer to this question is, no: read on.

We tend to view the resurrection as the time when Jesus came out of the tomb; not the time when His spirit came back into His body. There was, undoubtedly, some span of time between His actual resurrection, and His coming out of the tomb. This is attested to by John 20:6-7, where Peter entered the tomb and found the "napkin", which was wrapped around the head of Jesus, folded and put in a seperate place from the linen burial cloths. Why was this small detail added to the account; except to indicate that there was some activity in the tomb after the resurrection. If someone has stolen the body of Jesus, it's not likely that they would have troubled themselves to fold the face cloth and put it in a seperate place. Had the resurrection and departure from the tomb been simultaneous, the head wrapping would, no doubt, have remained with the other cloths. The most likely thing which occurred after the Spirit of Jesus returned to His body; was that He prayed to the Father, giving thanks that His word had been fulfilled {Acts 2:26-28}. Jesus always honors the Father, keeping the Law of God and the feast days perfectly. The timing of His resurrection, at the end of the weekly Sabbath, and His coming out of the tomb just after sunset, coincided perfectly with the ceremonial practice of cutting the sheaf of the firstfruits of the barley harvest at that time. The significance of this will be shown a little later, in this article.

That single grain of barley, which had been planted three days and three nights earlier, with the sealing of the tomb, had now germinated and sprang up as a new plant. Though a seed comes to life through germination under the soil (out of sight), we do not know if the germination of that seed was successful, until we have seen that the seedling has broken thru to the surface of the soil. Then, and only then, can we be sure that the seed planted was a viable seed. The confirmation of that occurred by the light of the next morning, as Jesus was first seen by the women.

So, in these things we can see that Jesus was in his glorified body on "the third day" {Matt.16:21}: He rose from the dead in the waning moments of the Sabbath day; and came out of the tomb, at some point, after sunset had arrived, "after three days" {Matt.27:63}, which was the beginning of the first day of the week (i.e. "the morrow after the sabbath"). Scripture nowhere tells us that anyone actually saw Jesus come out of the tomb. The stone which covered the opening of the tomb was not rolled away to let Jesus go out, but to allow the woman who came to the tomb early Sunday, to go in {Matt. 28:1-6}. We know from the Gospel accounts, that after His resurrection, Jesus was able to appear and disappear at will. Even physical barriers , such as doors, or the tomb itself, were unable to restrict His movement {John 20:19 ; Luke 24:30-31}.

Luke 24:18-21 is often cited in an attempt to discredit a Wednesday crucifixion. The phrase, "...besides all this, today is the third day since these things were done" is most frequently quoted. Obviously, if we were counting Wednesday, the likely day of the trial and crucifixion, as the first day in this reckoning, then Sunday would be the fourth; not the third day. Bear in mind however, that the men, on their way to Emmaus, were explaining the events to Jesus, as though He was a stranger, who didn't know what was going on. In the course of their explanation, the last event which they would undoubtedly have relayed to Him, among "...the things which are come to pass there in these days...", would have been the sealing of Jesus' tomb and setting of the guard. That would have taken place on Thursday, the day following the crucifixion {John 19:31-33 ; Matt. 27:62-64}. So, Friday would have been the first day since this last event occurred. Saturday would have been the second day; and Sunday would have indeed been the third day, "...since these things happened.". Sealing the tomb and setting the guard was the last event to occur before the resurrection. When all of the events (i.e. the arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial, setting the seal and guard, and the resurrection) are taken into consideration; then the verses in Luke are in perfect harmony with a Wednesday crucifixion.

In Mark 16:1-2 (NKJV) we read,

1) "Now when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, that they might come and annoint him.

2) Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun was risen."

Then in Luke 23: 55 - Luke 24:1 we read:

55) "And the women who had come with him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how his body was laid.

56) Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.

24: 1) Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared."

At first glance there seems to be a contradiction here. How could the women prepare the spices and then rest the Sabbath, according to Luke; and purchase and prepare the spices after the sabbath was finished, according to Mark?

It's relatively easy to explain if we following the idea that Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday, rather than Friday.

Jesus would have been in the tomb, Wednesday night and Thursday day (the first sabbath of Unleavened Bread). After that sabbath had past, the women bought and prepared the spices: sometime between Thursday evening and Friday evening - which would also have been the preparation day for the weekly Sabbath; and the second day Jesus was in the tomb. They then rested on the weekly Sabbath, "...according to the commandment..." (Deut. 5:12), before going to the tomb the next morning, after the third day. So the preparation of the spices would have taken place on 16 Nissan, between two sabbath days: the first sabbath of Unleavened Bread (15 Nissan), and the weekly Sabbath (17 Nissan).

Some have taken issue with the idea, that if Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, and the women prepared the spices on Friday (the day between the two sabbaths), why did they wait until Sunday morning before taking them to annoint His body? The answer is quite simple: the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate on the day after the crucifixion (Matt. 27:62-65, 66), and secured permission to set a seal on the tomb, and post guards around it. Scripture doesn't tell us if the women went to the tomb on Friday or not; but if they had gone there and attempted to enter it they would surely have been arrested. The seal made it illegal for anyone to open the tomb, and any tampering with it would have been obvious. So, going to the tomb on Friday was not a workable option for the women. At best, the guards would not have been withdrawn before the third day was finished; and that day was the weekly Sabbath. Only then, would the women have had permission to enter the tomb. So, the first opportunity they would have had to annoint the body was on Sunday morning (the obvious reason they went to the tomb so early). Having the love for Jesus, as the women did, it was probably of little concern to them, with regard to the physical state of His body (i.e. the smell of decay).

In light of the rapid approach of the first "sabbath" of the seven days of Unleavened Bread; there appears to be some reason to believe that the synoptic Gospels, suggest that the women may have observed that the body of Jesus was not properly prepared for burial. Perhaps they intended to come back after the feast day, but found out afterwards, that the tomb had been sealed, and guards posted. This may possibly explain why they did not returned to the tomb with the spices until Sunday Morning.

In the accounts of Matthew 27:59-60, Mark 15:45-46 and Luke 23:51-53, it is recorded the Joesph of Arimathea took down the body of Jesus from the cross, wrapped it in fine linen cloth, and layed it in the tomb. There is no mention in these three accounts that he used spices in the burial process, as was the custom of the Jewish people. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary observed these proceedings, and seeing the body of Jesus put in the tomb, departed for their dwelling places. John's account (John 19:39-42) however, is conspicuous by the fact, that he doesn't even mention the women's presence at this point. Were they already gone when Nicodemus showed up with a hundred pounds of spices to be used in Jesus' burial; wherewith they bound His body,

" strips of linen with spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury"? (NKJV)

The women may have been totally unaware that Nicodemus had arrived with the spices, and that the men had given Jesus a proper burial. With the first "sabbath" of Unleavened Bread at hand, the women rested; the day following they were very busy, going to buy, and then prepare the spices. It was also the preparation day for the weekly Sabbath which began that evening. So, all in all, they probably had no time, or opportunity, to converse with either Joseph or Nicodemus; between leaving the tomb at the burial of Jesus, and returning there with the spices three and a half days later.

One point of interest here is: that Nicodemus brought 100 pounds of spices to use in the burial preparation of the body of Jesus. I have read that this was enough spices to have buried 200 people. So, why the excessive use of spices for this burial? Normally, the natural process would be allowed to begin, whereby the body would start to decay. After a year, or so, the tomb would be re-opened; the bones of the deceased collected, cleaned and placed in an ossuary (bone box). The box would then be set aside somewhere within the tomb. The tomb itself, would then be ready to be used for another family member. Such tombs were often used by families for generations.

Was the large amount of spices used because Joseph and Nicodemus remembered, understood and believed Jesus' statement that He would rise again at the conclusion of "...three days and three nights."? {Matt. 12:40} With such a large amount of spices, it's evident that they intended to preserve the body of Jesus for as long as possible. No doubt, they also knew of the prophecy as mentioned in Psalm 16:10, and repeated in:

Acts 2:26-27:

"Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption."

(Emphasis above is mine)

Both the Greek (Strong's #1312) and Hebrew (Strong's #7845) words for "corruption", as used in these verses refer to the decay of the flesh. The components used in the Lord's burial (myrrh and aloes) were of an antiseptic and preservative nature. Hence the body of Jesus, which had been so brutally beaten and otherwise damaged, could be preserved from bacterial decay, while the Lord's Spirit was absent from it. The prophecy above indicates that it was important that His body should not see physical corruption or decay. Remember, that it was also in John's account, that the prophecy concerning the bones of Jesus not being broken, was stated {John 19:33-36 ; Ex. 12:46}. This too, seems to factor in with His body being preserved. We may also ask the question: If the women had known that such a hugh volume of spices had been used in the burial of Jesus, why would they have brought even more to the tomb on that Sunday morning? Most likely, they went to the tomb expecting to find the burial of Jesus yet unfinished, because of the hurried fashion in which it was carried out, on the preparation day of the Passover.

In Scripture there are seven "high days" which occur annually:

the first and last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (also called Passover) - Lev. 23:6-8
the day of Pentecost (also called the Feast of Weeks, or firstfruits) - Lev. 23:11,15 ; Lev.23:21
the Feast of Trumpets - Lev. 23:24-25
the Day of Atonement - Lev. 23:27-28,31-32
the first and last day of the Feast of Tabernacles - Lev. 23:39

With the exception of the first and last days of Unleavened bread (where cooking was permitted, for ceremonial purposes), there was to be no customary work done; effectively making the seven feast days (sabbaths, or days of rest). Being annual ceremonial days, they were to be kept in addition to the normal weekly sabbaths; and may, or may not fall concurrently with a weekly sabbath day. A weekly sabbath doesn't become a "high day" simply because one of these ceremonial days falls upon it. They are set aside days, and regardless of which day of the week they fall on, they are considered to be high days because of the ceremonial duties performed, and the fact that no ordinary work was to be performed on them.

There were also three times each year, that all the males of Israel were to present themselves before the Lord. They were the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover), Pentecost (Feast of Weeks) and the Feast of Tabernacles (Deut. 16:16). The first day of Passover; Pentecost and the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles were high days (special days, or holy convocations) and "sabbaths" (Lev. 23:6-7 ; Lev. 23:16, 21 ; Lev. 23:34-35 ; John 19:31).

It it also true, that in the Greek rendering of Matt. 28:1, the sabbath mentioned there is in the plural form. It can therefore, be reckoned, that there were two sabbaths during that week: the first "high day" of Unleavened Bread (15 Nissan), and the weekly Sabbath (17 Nissan). The differences between the accounts of Mark and Luke, as cited above, help us to understand that each of these sabbaths fell on a seperate day, not both on the same day. Also, the day Jesus first appeared to the women, was not only the "first day of the week"(Sunday); but also the "first day of the weeks" (plural): meaning that it was the first day of the seven weeks to be counted to reach Pentecost; the next Feast day of the Lord (Lev. 23:15-16).

The resurrection of Jesus was the 'first step' in the fulfillment of the Feast of Firstfruits (Lev. 23:10-11). We may gain some insights into this by looking at the very time the ceremonial enactment of this was carried out.

We know from historical sources of the period, that the sheaf of barley for the wave offering, was cut between sundown and dark following the sabbath, and waved before the Lord the following morning , "the morrow after the sabbath" (Sunday). When the time came, priests from the temple went forth to cut the pre-designated sheafs for firstfruits, carrying with them baskets and sickles. They were accompanied by a large contingent of people who followed them to the field. After their arrival, five questions were then put to the people, three times: (1) "Has the sun set?"; (2) "With this a sickle?"; (3) "Into this a basket? (4)"On this Sabbath?" (5)"Shall I reap it now?". Each time the people would reply with a resounding "Yes!!". The sheaf was then cut; taken back to the temple for preparation, and offered up early the next morning.

Scripture states:

"Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such a time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn." (Deut.16:9)

When was the sheaf of firstfruits waved? Rabbinic writings show that it was waved early in the morning on, "the morrow after the sabbath" (Sunday). Four days before, at about the same time, the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb of God (the dying Jesus) was offered up. Now, the feast of firstfruits of the barley (pertaining to the resurrected Jesus) was also being fulfilled before God. The reaping and waving of the sheaf symbolized Israel giving the first and best of the harvest to God and its subsequent acceptance by Him.

Scripture also tells us, that after Jesus died, many graves of the saints were opened (God had marked the sheafs of firstfruits); and after His resurrection, those saints arose and went into the city, appearing to many {Matt. 27:52-53}. When Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, on that Sunday Morning, He told her,

"...Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to My brethern and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God'." NKJV (John 20:17 - KJV)

Jesus ascended to heaven two times after His resurrection: on that Sunday; and then forty days later {Acts 1:3,9}. There is an obvious reason why His ascension in the passage from John, is not a reference to that which was to happen forty days later. There would have been no real purpose for Him to have made such a statement, at that time, to Mary Magdalene, since He could tell the disciples Himself, that evening, or during the next forty days He would be with them. Instead, there is a sense of immediacy about His proclamation to her. He had a mission to fulfill: Firstfruits. So, it appears, that at the time (early Sunday Morning) when the High Priest would have been taking the "Omer", made from sheaf of firstfruits of the natural grain, up into the temple in Jerusalem, to be waved as an offering before God: Jesus would be ascending to the heavenly temple, with another sheaf of firstfruits (the resurrected saints); to make a wave offering to the Father. He thus fulfilled the Old Testament type of Firstfruits, which pointed to Himself as the High Priest, who would finish the work. {Lev. 23: 10-11}.

Sometime before the birth of Jesus, a controversy erupted between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, concerning which day to begin counting the fifty days leading to the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost). You can click the link on the right side of this page for more on this issue; but for the short course, a brief statement is in order.

The Sadducees, who generally represented the Priestly class, held that "firstfruits" should be conducted on the "morrow after the sabbath" (Sunday of the Passover week). However, since the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (15 Nissan) was considered to be a "sabbath" by the Pharisees; they declared that firstfruits should always be on the following day (16 Nissan). The Historical evidence we have, shows that it was the Pharisees which prevailed in the controversy, and the 16th of Nissan became the day on which firstfruits was offered up. Modern Day Karaite Jews hold to the Sadducees understanding; whereas Rabbinic Judaism, which evolved from the Pharisees sect, still maintains that firstfruits is to be observed on the 16th of Nissan. Is the latter view, in fact, the correct day for firstfruits; or did Jesus contradict their teachings once again, with His ascension to heaven on that Sunday? We know that Jesus fulfilled Firstfruits {I Cor. 15:20}, and that He first appeared to some of His disciples on Sunday, immediately following His departure from the tomb.

If He was crucified on Wednesday (14 Nissan) and buried that evening just prior to sunset, then firstfruits, according to the Pharisees, would have been cut just twenty four hours later, as the 15th was ending and the evening of the 16th of Nissan was beginning. So, if Jesus fulfilled Firstfruits according to this timing, then His resurrection would have occurred to early (before daylight on the 16th) to count it as happening on "the third day", as proponents of the Good Friday - Easter Sunday viewpoint advocate. I have read that under Jewish law, a person must remain in the grave for three days to be considered as legally dead. This may account for the reason that Jesus waited until the fourth day before raising Lazarus from the dead {John 11:17}; just to be sure that no one could dispute what happened.

An alternative to this may well be, that Jesus came out of the tomb just after sunset, when the weekly sabbath had ended (three literal days and nights after burial); and afterwards went to the opened graves (Matt. 27:52-53) and reaped the firstfruits (the saints who came out of their graves). The following morning, after speaking to Mary Magdalene, He took those saints to heaven, and as our High Priest, offered them up before the Father; returning to be with His disciples latter that day {John 20:17-19}. The resurrection of these saints would have occurred on the fourth day, just as with Lazarus. The firstfruits cut, and offered up by the High Priest that year, and the years afterwards; were nullified and rejected, by reason of the sheaf offered up by Jesus. The true sheaf of souls which the grain sheaves had represented, all of those centuries since the days of Moses, was finally fulfilled by the work of the promised Messiah. One might also wonder if these saints, offered as firstfruits, are the twenty four elders seen in Heaven, as mentioned in the Book of Revelation {Rev. 4:4 ; Rev. 5:9 ; Acts 2:5}.

We also read in Ephesians 4:8 and Psalm 68:18, that when Jesus :"ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men." Those who had waited for Messiah in "Abraham's Bosom" (Paradise) {Luke 16: 20-23 ; Luke 23:43}; some of which, it appears, went into Jerusalem after the resurrection of Jesus (Matt. 27: 53}, and were later taken up to heaven to be presented as firstfruits unto the Father, by our High Priest, Jesus. The gifts unto men were given 50 days later, as the Holy Spirit came down on Pentecost (the Feast of Weeks) and empowered the church {Acts 1:8 ; Acts 2:1-4}.

The "Good Friday - Easter Sunday" tradition, as we know it, was set up under the Roman Emperor Constantine, at the Council of Nicea in the year 325 A.D., almost three centuries after the resurrection of Jesus. His letter, to the Bishops not present at the Council, was highly anti-Jewish in its sentiment; even going so far as to accuse the Jews of being the murders of Jesus. The fact of the matter is: that the Jews condemned Jesus, but it was the Gentiles (Romans) who nailed Him to the cross. So we all had a part in His death. It was our collective and individual sins, which required Him to be put to death; otherwise there could be no redemption found for a single person on earth.

At that Council, the timing of the "Resurrection Day" (which had been identified with Sunday, or firstfruits of Passover week - found in Lev. 23: 10-11) was altered. Afterwards Firstfruits, or Easter as we call it, was to be celebrated, not necessarily, on the Sunday following the beginning of Passover; but rather on "...the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox". That's the way it was worded by the Council of Nicea. Simply put, that meant that Easter, which most Christians now celebrate as the resurrection day is to occur on the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring. So now, the timing of Easter does not always agree with the Biblical dating of Firstfruits.

One of the complaints against the Jewish observance of Passover was that it was possible for the 14th of Nissan to fall after the vernal equinox in one year and fall before the equinox the next time, therefore creating a situation where there were two Passovers within a one year period. Subsequent to the Council of Nicea, Christians were taught that any simultaneous occurance of Easter and Passover (or Firstfruits) was to be regarded as merely coincidental, and not to be viewed in any way as connected. Christians were to have nothing further to do with the Jews; or as Constantine put it, "...Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries..."

Does it really matter which day Jesus was crucified on? Do the Feast Days of the Lord have any relevance to us; or should we shun anything perceived, or understood, as being Jewish, as Constantine said? In Lev. 23, they are called the Feast Days of the LORD (not the feast days of the Jews; or, the feast days of Israel). He gave us those days as prophetic markers of His divine plan for the redemption of mankind. Three feast days are yet to be fulfilled (Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles). Should we reckon them to be irrelevant; or embrace them as events which can heighten our Christian understanding and experience? Should we do our best to follow the whole truth, or only that part that doesn't interfere with our traditional views.

The Apostle Paul said, "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind" (Romans 14:5). If we know the truth, we should walk in it, even if it runs contrary to the traditions of man!

“All that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them” - Matthew 23:3. {NKJV}

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