What day was Christ crucified and what impact might that have on your family? Join AMBrewster as he discusses the amazing fulfillments of Christ’s death and how it can change the way we do family.
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Welcome back to the second part of the The Confusion of the Crucifixion which is the fourth part of our current Easter series.
The first two episodes were designed to force our minds to the significance of the Resurrection. I stand by everything I said and believe we all need to submit to those Truths and help our families do the same.
But these two episodes are more for enrichment. They deal with something that has bothered my my whole life, and as I researched I was overcome with joy at finally being able to understand the beauty of what Christ did in a way that made biblical sense.
You don’t have to accept my conclusions concerning the crucifixion to be born again or be a good parent. But this — as with every other episode I’ve done — has been part of my parenting journey and has played a significant part in the growth of my family. So I welcome you to participate as you will.
And then the final episode of this series is designed to take everything we learned and apply it directly to our families. Does the crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ really have an impact on how you parent? I believe it should.
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Okay, please allow me to finish sharing my findings concerning the crucifixion and make some application.
And don’t forget there are free episode notes at TruthLoveParent.com so you can always find the references I cite.
Okay, so last time we discussed some observations that may help us see the value in celebrating Easter, and celebrating it with gusto.
But then we turned our attention to what is commonly known as Good Friday — the day we observe Christ’s crucifixion on behalf of the world.
And I made arguments designed to help us see that Jesus didn’t have to have been killed on a Friday, and — technically — it make more biblical sense to say that He was killed on Thursday.
We looked at the fact that the Jews frequently had more than one Sabbath a week. But the kicker for me — and it’s been a big deal since I was a little kid doing the math in my head on Easter Sunday — that Jesus Himself said that He would be buried for three days and nights.
So, today I’m going to add four more observations that continue to support this idea, briefly discuss why a Wednesday and Friday crucifixion wouldn’t fit biblical and cultural expectations, and make a couple applications for the family.
So, with the previous three observations from the last episode, here’s number four:
4. Consider the wording the disciples on the road to Emmaus used.
In Luke 24:21 we hear the disciples say to the man they did not yet recognize as Jesus, “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.”
This discussion happened on Sunday, the day Christ was resurrected. Again, the number of days fits with a Thursday crucifixion — Thursday day, Friday night, Friday day, Saturday night, Saturday day, Sunday night. Those represent three sets of days and nights that to the disciples walking down the road to Emmaus happened three days ago.
5. Consider the women who went to anoint Jesus.
Matthew 28:1 tells us, “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.”
What were these women doing?
These women were not on their way to prepare the body. That had been done by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. We read that in John 19:39-40. Mark 16:1 tells us these women were going to anoint the body.
Why did they wait until Sunday to do this important task? In their minds, they knew they were cutting it close. According to the events of Lazarus (John 11:39), even after embalming the body, decomposition was in full swing by the fourth day.
Of course, Acts 2:27 makes it clear that Jesus wouldn’t have to experience decomposition.
These women wouldn’t have attempted to anoint the body that late, so they headed out before the sun was up to get in on the tale end of the third day. But why not just anoint Jesus on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.
Well, a Thursday crucifixion would have put the body in the tomb right before sundown on the Passover. Friday was a High Sabbath and Saturday was the weekly Sabbath; the best these ladies could have done was to wait until Sunday.
6. Consider the Elements of the Passover.
Remember what we said two episodes ago, God is a God of symbol and ceremony. It’s so cool to see how Jesus’ Passion Week perfectly compliments the commemorations of Passover Week.
Okay, so John 12 tells us that six days prior to the Passover, Jesus visited Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Since the Passover was on the 14th of Nisan, then six days earlier would have been the 8th of Nisan.
So, Jesus would have arrived during the daytime hours of Friday which would have been the 8th. Friday even would have ushered in the weekly Sabbath (the 9th of Nissan). However, the meal Martha served and the anointment of Jesus performed by Mary would have been very wrong had they done that on the Sabbath.
Therefore, I’m going to suggest that the meal and anointing described in John 12 happened on Saturday evening, the 10th of Nisan which was no longer the Sabbath. Later in the day, the daytime hours of Sunday, Jesus entered into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday.
But Palm Sunday had more significance to the Jews. The lambs that were sacrificed on the 14th of Nisan were selected on the 10th of Nisan (Exodus 12:3) and presented for inspection that day. Jesus did just that in presenting Himself when He rode into Jerusalem. The lambs selected for the sacrifice were then taken home and inspected over the next four days to be certain they were pure and spotless. It’s interesting to note that the next few day Jesus was also questioned and tested by the Jewish leaders. This tradition of taking the lamb home was also done so that the family would feel the impact of sacrificing this adorable lamb that had lived in their house as a member of the family for the better part of a week.
Then on the 14th of Nisan, the Passover lambs were killed and their blood was spilled. The blood was then placed over the doorposts in remembrance of the first Passover and of God’s deliverance of His people from Egyptian bondage. With the 10th of Nisan on a Sunday, the day of crucifixion, four days later, would have been Thursday, the 14th of Nisan.
But just like the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem had multiple levels of significance, the day of Jesus’ death was no coincidence either.
Jesus and His disciples celebrated the Passover as early in the Jewish day as the possibly could (Wednesday night on the 14th of Nisan). Jesus did this because He knew what was going to happen. So they go out to Gethsemane, and the rest is history. Jesus is slaughtered on the same day that Passover lambs were being slain for the people who waited until the day of the Passover. That still would have been the 14th of Nisan, but it would have been Thursday during the day.
So, Jesus is buried before Thursday evening which would have been the 15th of Nisan and the High Sabbath Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Now, normally, the Feast of First Fruits would have been the very next day after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but the waiving of the sheafs was not allowed to take place on a Sabbath. Since the High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread happened right before the regular weekly Sabbath, the Feast of First Fruits had to wait until Sunday. The 17th of Nisan obviously would have started on Saturday evening, but during the day time hours on Sunday morning, the priests would wave a sheaf of grain before the Lord as an act of recognizing the provision of the Lord in the barley harvest.
My friends, Jesus had to raise on this day. Just as Jesus fulfilled the sacrifice of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, He also fulfilled the Feast of First Fruits when He rose from the grave and ascended to His Father. His ascension was a type of wave offering, and just as the first fruits of the harvest were waved as an offering to the Lord, Jesus ascended to the Father as the first fruits of the resurrection.
Do you remember I Corinthians 15:20? “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Now, check this out, Leviticus 23:12-13 give more understanding of the Feast of First Fruits. It reads, “And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the Lord. 13 And the grain offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, a food offering to the Lord with a pleasing aroma, and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, a fourth of a hin.”
Jesus was the lamb of the meat offering, and His blood was the wine of the drink offering. With His ascension to the Father on Sunday morning, the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the Feast of First Fruits.
So, with the selection of the lamb on the 10th day of Nisan (the day Jesus entered Jerusalem) and the wave, meat and drink offerings of the Feast of First Fruits, Jesus was the fulfillment of the Passover.
If we didn’t have a lot more to say, we could even talk about Pentecost and how God miraculously inserted Himself into that feast day as well.
But, here’s the last thing I want to say about the 17th of Nisan.
Check this out. All of the following events took place on the 17th of Nisan:
God miraculously used the 17th of Nisan to be a day of new beginnings. What more perfect day could there have been for Christ to rise?
Now, there are similarities between the work Jesus finished on the cross and each of the momentous occasions I just listed. Most of them involve God saving His people against all odds. But let me detail just one of them.
When the ark came to rest on the 17th of Nisan, it was after God’s judgment on the wicked people of Noah’s time. It was a picture of salvation for all those who trusted in God and went through the door onto the ark and were preserved through the flood.
Jesus’ death on the cross was also a flood-like outpouring of God’s judgment. It was God’s wrath poured out in judgment of the wickedness of man. This time it was not poured out on wicked people, but on Jesus Christ the only truly innocent man.
Jesus’ death was God’s judgment of man’s sin, and His resurrection and ascension is a picture of our salvation and rest in Him. Jesus often referred to Himself as the Door, and salvation is offered to anyone who walks through It (John 10:9).
Just as the ark saved Noah and his family from God’s judgment, Jesus saved us. And just as the ark came to rest on the 17th of Nisan, we find our rest in Jesus who rose from the dead and opened the way to eternal life in Him.
Okay, so I believe that Jesus’ own words, the words of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the women’s timing for the anointing of Jesus, and the elements of the Passover Week all perfectly substantiate a Thursday crucifixion.
But there’s one more super important consideration that I will share after I give some of the reasons that a Wednesday or Friday crucifixion don’t work.
First, Jesus’ words don’t work with a Wednesday crucifixion. Had Jesus been buried during the daytime hours of Wednesday, He would have been in the tomb four days and four nights.
And they don’t work with a Friday crucifixion either. Had Jesus been buried during the daytime hours on Friday, at best He would’ve been in the heart of the earth for two days and two nights. This is the issue I’ve had my whole life. There just aren’t three days and three nights in the heart of the earth if He was buried on Friday afternoon.
This also wouldn’t have work with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Second, when it comes to the women at the tomb, with a Wednesday crucifixion, the Feast of Unleavened Bread would have begun at sundown, Thursday the 15th of Nisan. The High Sabbath Day would have ended at sundown the following afternoon, which would then be the nighttime hours of Friday (the 16th of Nisan). When the sun rose following the nighttime hours, the women could have gone to the tomb during the daytime hours of Friday the 16th of Nisan to anoint the Lord’s body. The weekly Sabbath would not have started until the next sundown, which would be Saturday the 17th of Nisan. This raises the question, why didn’t the women go to the tomb during the daylight hours of Friday the 16th of Nisan?
If there had been a Wednesday crucifixion, this anointing would have needed to take place during the daylight hours of Friday, not Sunday. Had they waited until Sunday, the body would have already begun to decompose.
Granted, a Friday crucifixion is not a problem with the reasoning about the timing of anointing. The main problem that rules out Friday is the literal understanding of Jesus’ words.
But there’s another problem with Wednesday and Friday when it comes to Jesus’ visit with Lazarus. Placing the 14th of Nisan on a Wednesday and counting back six days puts Jesus’ journey to Bethany on Thursday Nisan the 8th. This places the 10th of Nisan, the day for presenting the Lamb, on Saturday — the weekly Sabbath. If this had taken place on a Sabbath there would have been violations of the Sabbath laws including cutting and waving palm branches, making a donkey carry a burden and the activities in the Temple on that day.
Also, consider that Jesus stayed at Lazarus’ house until after the Sabbath and traveled to Jerusalem after sundown Saturday, during the evening or early morning hours of Sunday. That would place His Triumphal Entry on Sunday. The problem becomes the date of Jesus presenting Himself as the Lamb would be the 11th of Nisan, not the 10th. When you then add the required four days, the crucifixion is placed on the 15th of Nisan, the Feast day, which was a High Sabbath day of rest.
With a Friday crucifixion, Jesus would have traveled to Bethany six days prior making his journey on the weekly Saturday Sabbath, the 8th of Nisan. Traveling that distance would have broken Sabbath laws of rest and the meal that Mary and Martha prepared and served would also have broken Sabbath laws.
But there’s yet another issue. If Jesus had been at Lazarus’ house on Saturday the 8th, He could have traveled back in the early morning hours of Sunday and presented Himself, however, it would have been the 9th of Nisan 9, not the 10th — the day for selecting the Passover lambs. Jesus could have waited until Monday the 10th to enter Jerusalem, but then we don’t have a Palm Sunday.
Okay, so the time has come to share my last thought. And this one is a big one.
I’ve just taken over a year worth of study and boiled it down into two episodes so you ad your family can appreciate the crucifixion and resurrection so much more.
But, I want to tell you about a snag I hit in my study.
So, I finally found an explanation that perfectly matches up with all the biblical data, and that lead me to wonder . . . well, if we know that Jesus died on a Thursday that also happened to be the 14th of Nisan, we should able to figure out with a huge amount of certainty which year He died and — consequently — which day on the Gregorian calendar.
So, I searched . . . for a long time . . . in many places, and I was unable to find a Thursday 14th of Nisan anywhere from 27 AD through 35 AD. In fact, some sources told me that it’s impossible to the 14th of Nisan to ever fall on a Thursday because of the way it’s calculated with the moon cycles and so on. However, it frequently falls on a Friday.
The Hebrew calendar is very complicated, because it has to align the solar year (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46-seconds) with the lunar year (12 months of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds). This means that it must make allowance for the fact that 12 lunar months are about 12 days shorter than the solar year. This isn’t easy. And if you get it wrong, even by a little bit, over time the two would slowly drift apart and you’d have your spring holidays in the fall.
And that adds some significant calculation issues as you work backward.
I was discouraged.
I knew Jesus was crucified on Passover and rose on the first of the week. Those points cannot be argued. And I started to understand why so many people were willing to overlook or explain away the whole three days and three nights thing in order to nail down a date.
But then I learned that there are some significant issues with applying current calculation models to past Jewish years. Nearly all the Hebrew year calculators on the internet have no problem extrapolating out the dates moving forward, but it can’t perfectly determine dates moving backward.
There are a number of factors I won’t go into right now, but one observation I will make is that the priests determined the calendar after the spring new moon when at lease two witnesses independently verified that they had seen the first waxing crescent moon.
Needless to say, there were defiantly also possibilities for human error due to overcast nights and the like.
And then I found it! Okay, stick with me.
The U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department calculated that in 34 AD the Vernal Equinox fell on Monday, March 22 and the astronomical new moon conjunction was Wednesday, April 7th.
Now, that may mean nothing to you, and I don’t have time to explain it, so allow that to encourage your own study, but this is what that means.
Therefore, the first evening the visible waxing crescent after the new moon would have been on Thursday, April 8th. That corresponds to the first day of Nisan. On the Gregorian Calendar, that would have been from Thursday evening on the 8th through Friday afternoon on the 9th. That means that in 34 AD, the 14th day of Nisan would have landed on Thursday, April 22nd.
I believe it’s safe to say that — according to our American calendar, Jesus Christ died at 3:00 pm on Thursday, April 22nd in 34 AD.
And for those of you who are concerned that might have made Jesus too old, just keep in mind that the date of Jesus’ birth was not December 25th, 1 AD. Scholars have debated that one for quite some time and yet all agree that Christ likely was not born then.
Anyway, that excited me to no end.
So, what’s the application? Well, that’s the entire purpose of our next episode, but I do want to leave you with this:
Consider again how Jesus’ death and resurrection beautifully fulfilled the memorials from hundreds of years earlier.
It was always God’s plan to make a way for your family members to be born again. Christ’s death perfectly appeased the wrath of God and did so in such a way that it even submitted itself to the ceremonial requirements Yahweh had set forth after the children of Israel left Egypt.
There is purpose to your life. God is at work. He’s communicating. He’s trying to get your attention. He’s trying to get your kids’ attention.
This study may be a part of that.
We should be so enamored with what Jesus did for us on the cross and from the tomb that it changes the way we live life.
We may not know exactly what day Jesus died, but we know for certain that He is amazing, and that He loves us, and that the power of the Resurrection is what enables us to glorify God in this life.
It’s what you need for your parenting, it’s what your kids need for school, it’s what your family needs for becoming everything God created you to be.
If that doesn’t amaze you and make you want to celebrate the immensity of Easter, then I don’t know what will.
I hope you’ll join us next time as we discuss some more practical ways we Easter can impact our families.
So, to that end, I’ll see you next time.
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