The Myth of a Wednesday Crucifixion

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Submitted: November 27, 2017

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The Myth of a Wednesday Crucifixion (Part 1)

Over the past few years, there has developed a false notion that Jesus was not crucified on a Friday, but on a Wednesday, and that He was not resurrected on a Sunday, but on a Saturday. The main verse used to support this false view is Matthew 12:40 where Jesus says that "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." With this statement, Wednesday supporters have made the assumption that "three days and three nights" refer to a literal 72 hours which, of course, cannot fit into the time frame of a Friday to a Sunday.

This verse is also sometimes used to support a Thursday crucifixion. Only there, those believers feel that the time-frame begins at the last hour of Thursday afternoon, then runs through all of Thursday night, all of Friday (day and night) and all of Saturday (day and night), thereby allowing Sunday morning to remain the time of resurrection. In order to address these two faulty interpretations, I must first establish that "three days and three nights" is a figure of speech which cannot possibly be interpreted as a literal 72 hours – or even as 61. I’ll begin by examining all the other places in the scriptures where the phrase "[#] days and [#] nights" is used.

The first use of this phrase is found in the story of Noah’s flood. In Genesis 7:11-12, we are told that it began to rain on the 17th day of the second month, and that it rained for "forty days and forty nights." Now, although we are not given the date of when the rain stopped, we are told in verse 8:3 that the waters did not abate "until after the end of [a] hundred and fifty days." (The forty days of rain clearly count as the first part of these one hundred and fifty, or else the math will not work). We are then told in verse 8:4 that "the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat." Now here, it must be noted that the ancient Jews did not count time as we do today. In the Old Testament, each month on the Jewish calendar had a maximum of either 29 or 30 days, and there wasn’t a place in which there were five 30-day months in a row. By using this particular system, we would then see that the five months which passed between the 17th day of the second month and the 17th day of seventh month could not possibly have contained more than 148 days. Hence, if the 148 days were indeed rounded up to even 150, then we could likewise speculate that the "forty days" of rain had also been rounded up to a more dramatic "forty days and forty nights."

Rounding up or round off certain numbers is certainly not an uncommon thing for an Old Testament writer to do. For one may observe how 2 Samuel 24:9 reports that the number of fighting men was 800,000 in Israel and 500,000 in Judah. The possibility of there being precisely 800,000 or 500,000 fighting men is not very likely at all. Likewise, it is quite unlikely that King David’s forces captured precisely 700 of King Zobah’s horsemen (2 Samuel 8:4) or that King Solomon had precisely 700 wives and precisely 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). Any rational-thinking reader can clearly see that the Old Testament writers often rounded up or rounded off their numbers to an even figure. Thus, when it comes to numbers in the Bible, a reader cannot always take them at absolute face value. This, of course, can therefore also apply to the phrase of "[#] days and [#] nights."

Now, of course, many scholars and theologians may argue that the writer of Genesis had actually been using an alternate calendar where the twelve months each had 30 days – for other scriptural evidence suggests that such a practice was common in the Bible, particularly with the Old Testament prophets and in the book of Revelation. Yet, even if this was the case, it still wouldn’t refute the possibility that the above phrase was still just a dramatic way of rounding up the numbers.

Moving on, I’d like to recall Job 2:13 which says that, when Job’s three friends came to visit their inflicted friend, "they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great." With the wording of this verse, the reader clearly sees that this period of seven days was a time of physical and mental unpleasantness. The reader may also easily envision that the aforementioned "forty days and forty nights" of Noah’s flood were also unpleasant, both for those cooped up inside the ark and especially for those on the outside drowning.

Likewise, a time of physical and/or mental unpleasantness also seems to be described or inferred in every other passage of Old Testament scripture where the phrase "[#] days and [#] nights" is used. For instance, the "three days and three nights" that the young abandoned Egyptian was starving in the field (2 Samuel 30:12) were days of physical suffering. The same can be easily said about the "three days and three nights" that Jonah spent in the belly of the whale. Also, when Elijah spent "forty days and forty nights" journeying to Mount Horeb, he was fleeing from those who would kill him (1 King 19:8-10). As for the two times that Moses spent "forty days and forty nights" on the mountain with God, the first time was spent receiving various instructions from God along with the two stone tablets (Exodus 24:12 - 31:18), during which time the Israelites fell into idolatry, making God furious enough to want to destroy them (Exodus 32). After this, Moses spent another "forty days and forty nights" fasting and pleading that God would spare the sinful nation (Deuteronomy 9:18, 9:25, & 10:10).

When seeing how the phrase "[#] days and [#] nights" was only ever used in reference to a time of unpleasantness, we can see that Jesus was merely referring to the three days and three nights in the heart of the earth as three days of great sorrow. Now, of course, those three days in the grave would not have been a time of sorrow or pain for Christ Himself since a dead body feels nothing (Job 14:21, Psalms 146:3-4, Ecclesiastes 9:5), but it certainly would have been a time of sorrow for His disciples. The only other New Testament verse that uses "[#] days and [#] nights" is Matthew 4:2 where Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights in the desert. But, as Mark 1:13 and Luke 4:2 point out, those forty days were spent being tempted by Satan, which clearly made them unpleasant.

If someone in the Bible wanted to make a literal reference to two or more 24-hour days, they would use the phrase found in Leviticus 8:35. Back in verse 33, Moses instructs Aaron and his sons to "not go out of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation in seven days . . . for seven days shall He consecrate you." In verse 35, Moses continues and says: "Therefore shall ye abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days. . . ." Now, when we look ahead to Leviticus 9:1, we see that the task was completed "on the eighth day." This, therefore, means that "day and night seven days" is what the ancient Jews would say if needing to refer to a literal 168 hours. If "seven days and seven nights" was taken literally, one would have to question why God didn’t use it in the above verse. Thus, we may conclude that if Jesus truly spent a literal 72 hours in the grave, His statement recorded in Matthew 12:40 would have been worded as follows: "For as Jonas was in the whale’s belly day and night three days, so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth day and night three days."

In addition to Matthew 12:40, there are two other verses which confused readers use to support the belief of a Wednesday crucifixion and Saturday resurrection. These verses are Matthew 27:63 and Mark 8:31 which say that Jesus would rise from the grave "after three days." However, this phrase is actually easier to explain than the previous one. Put simply, saying that Jesus would rise "after three days" means that He would rise after the last part of the Friday, after all of the Saturday, and after the first little part of the Sunday. Aside from these verses, however, all other related references quote Jesus saying He would resurrect "in three days" (that is, within three days) or that He would resurrect on the "third day." The latter quote is the one that appears most often.

Now regarding the "third day," I would like to recall that, in accordance with the scriptures, Jesus had to be crucified on the first day of the Passover. So then, if Friday was the first day of the Passover, then the third day of the Passover would naturally have been Sunday. Yet, if Wednesday was the first day of the Passover, then the third day would have been Friday, making Saturday the fourth and Sunday the fifth.

This assessment could be supported by Luke 24:13-21 which clearly takes place on the Sunday afternoon after the resurrection. Here, a disciple named Cleopas is travelling with another disciple when they encounter the risen Lord, whom they do not recognize at the time. In their discussion, Cleopas speaks of the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus (24:20) and then says that "today [(Sunday)] is the third day since these things were done" (24:21). Now, if Jesus had been crucified on a Wednesday, and if the Thursday had been regarded as the first day, then the Sunday would, most literally, have been the fourth day. Yet, the fact remains that Sunday is identified as the third day, which makes Saturday the second day, and Friday (the day of crucifixion) the first day.

To further support that Friday counts as the first day, let us turn to Luke 13:32 where Jesus says: "Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected." In this passage, the third day is identified as the day after the morrow. In other words, if today is a Friday and tomorrow is a Saturday, then the third day would no doubt be a Sunday.

A similar passage which shows that "third day" refers to the day after tomorrow is Exodus 19:10-11 where the Lord speaks to Moses and says: "Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai." Those who support a Wednesday crucifixion must believe that the following Thursday was the "first day," making Saturday the "third day." Now, if the preceding commandment was given to Moses on a Wednesday, then, according to this view, the Israelis would have washed their clothes on the Wednesday and the Thursday (the first day), then waited over the Friday (the second day) for God’s appearance on Saturday (the third day). But wouldn’t it have made much more sense to instead wash their clothes on the Thursday and Friday so that they would be their cleanest when God came on Saturday? After all, clothes can get quite dirty over the course of one day, especially when you’re living in the wilderness. Hence, this passage clearly shows that "today and tomorrow" are the first and second days, and that the day after tomorrow is the third.

For another similar example of how "first day" always refers to the day when an event begins, we can turn to the first chapter of Genesis which recalls the six days of creation. Here, we see that the first day was the day that creation began, and was not the day that followed the start of creation. If there had been a creation day that preceded this first day, then that would have to mean that there had actually been seven days of creation and not six. This, of course, would contradict what God said in Exodus 20:11.

Still another convincing argument comes from the account of Cornelius in the tenth chapter of Acts which covers the span of four days. On the first day, Cornelius is visited by an angel, is instructed to seek out Simon Peter, and calls his servants to find him (10:1-8). On the second day, the servants find Peter, who invites them to lodge with him for the night (10:9-23a). On the third day, Peter and the servants journey back to Cornelius’ home (10:23b). On the fourth day, Cornelius meets Peter (10:24-29) and tells him about the visit from the angel which occurred "four days ago" (10:30).

If Cornelius was visited by the angel on a Wednesday, then the "fourth day" when he met Peter would obviously have been a Saturday. This means that on the Friday (the third day), Cornelius would have said that the angel came "three days ago," and that, on the Thursday (the second day), Cornelius would have said that the angel came "two days ago" even though the visit actually occurred only 24 hours prior. This is irrefutable proof that "first day" refers to the day of an event and not the day after. And so, once more, we see that the Wednesday/Saturday view does not work because it completely contradicts Christ’s statement about rising on the "third day."

Keeping this last argument in mind, let us now turn back to the story of the suffering servant in 1 Samuel 30:11-13. In this brief account, King David’s men rescue and feed a young Egyptian boy who was abandoned in the field. According the narration in verse 12, the boy "had eaten no bread nor drunk water, three days and three nights." Yet, in verse 13, the boy is questioned about who he is and responds by saying: "I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days ago I fell sick."

When comparing this story to that of Cornelius, which reveals that "two days ago" was used in reference to an event that happened only one day prior, we clearly see that "three days ago" referred to an event that occurred only two days prior. Thus, a literal 72-hour interpretation of the "three days and three nights" mentioned in verse 12 would produce an undeniable contradiction with verse 13. Hence, it must be accepted that this particular phrase was merely interpreted as time of unpleasantness which covered the span of three days but did not necessarily cover a full period of 72 hours. One may admit that this ancient manner of interpretation seems rather illogical by modern English linguistics, but nevertheless, this is how the phrase was interpreted in the Old Testament and early New Testament times.

Moving on, there is yet another piece of evidence which proves that "second day" refers to the day after an event, and not two days after. In Exodus 2:11-14 (KJV), we are told that after Moses killed an Egyptian and hid the body, he went out again "the second day" and learned that a fellow Hebrew man had found out about what he did. Now, when Saint Stephen refers to this event in Acts 7:26-28, he says that Moses went out "the next day" and quotes the Hebrew man saying that the murder happened "yesterday." This, of course, proves that "second day" and "next day" mean the exact same thing – the morrow after an event.

Further evidence for this can be made by observing the Jewish rule of circumcising a male child on his eighth day (Leviticus 12:3, Luke 1:59, Philippians 3:5). Ask any Rabbi, and you will be told that if a boy is born on a Tuesday, he would be circumcised on the following Tuesday, and if born on a Saturday, he would be circumcised on the following Saturday despite the no-work-on-the-Sabbath rule (see John 7:22-23). Hence, if the boy’s circumcision date is regarded as the "eighth" day, then the date of his birth would be regarded as the "first" day, thus proving yet again that "first day" refers to the day of an actual event and not the day after.

Nowhere in the Bible does "first day" ever refer to the day following an event. Rather, it is always used in reference to the day of the event itself. When acknowledging that this is how the ancient Jews reckoned time, and observing how Jesus consistently said that He would be crucified and would rise again the third day, the fact becomes crystal clear that the day of crucifixion counts as the first day. If Jesus had been crucified on a Wednesday, then the third day would have been a Friday. Thus, there is undeniable proof that He died on a Friday and rose on a Sunday. These preceding arguments are so obvious and powerful that they completely refute the literal "72-hours in the grave" theory. Only the deceitful, the ignorant, or the very heavily brainwashed would remain unconvinced.
 

The Myth of a Wednesday Crucifixion (Part 2)

To continue this discussion on the false Wednesday/Saturday view, I must now address a few other arguments that are used to support it. One argument is made by recalling that Christ died on the first day of the Passover and that the second day of a Passover festival was always designated as a Sabbath, regardless of whether it was a Saturday or not. From this fact, we learn that in any year when the Passover did not begin on a Friday, there were two Sabbaths in that week. With this information, Wednesday supporters attempt to support the idea that, in the week Jesus died, there were two Sabbaths – the regular Saturday Sabbath and a Thursday Sabbath.

One verse used to support that idea is John 19:31 which says that the Sabbath following the crucifixion was a "high day." However, the wording of this verse gives no solid indication that it is actually referring to a Sabbath other than Saturday. For in a year when the Passover began on a Friday, the Saturday was regarded as both the regular Sabbath and as the high day because it was the second day of the Passover festival. There is no support for a Wednesday crucifixion here – or at least none that would hold up in court.

As a matter of fact, probable evidence that John 19:31 is actually, and specifically, referring to a Saturday can be seen by observing how, in the KJV, the author specifically refers to this particular Sabbath as a "Sabbath day" (as opposed to simply calling it a "Sabbath"), and that the author does this both times in that single verse when the day is mentioned. The reason this is significant is because in every other KJV verse where the phrase "Sabbath day" is found, the passage is very clearly referring to the regular Seventh Day Sabbath, and that the word "day" never follows whenever a non-Saturday Sabbath is mentioned. Hence, if the Apostle John intended to state or infer that this particular "high day" was a non-Saturday Sabbath, he would have been well-advised not to use the word "day" in either place of this verse. In fact, if Jesus was truly crucified on a non-Friday, then this particular verse would have been the ideal spot to clarify the matter once and for all by saying something to the effect of: "... for that Sabbath day was not a seventh day, but a high day." Yet, the Apostle says no such thing, and the reason why he doesn’t should be perfectly obvious.

Another verse used to support the idea of two Sabbaths is Luke 23:56 which says that after Christ’s body was placed in the tomb, the women returned and "prepared spices and ointments, and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment." Here, the Wednesday supporters claim that, if Jesus was crucified on a Friday and was buried at 5 p.m. (one hour before the Saturday Sabbath), there would be a contradiction with Mark 16:1 which infers that the women bought their spices "when the Sabbath was past." This helps generate the false belief that the only way to eliminate this discrepancy is to say that the spice preparation took place on the non-Sabbath Friday between Thursday and Saturday.

The idea that there had been two Sabbaths, however, is not the only explanation that can be given. For the precise wording of Mark 16:1 in the KJV says that: "... when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him." When removing the word "had" from this sentence, we would then have a very clear statement that the spices were definitely purchased after the Sabbath ended. Yet, when leaving that extra word in, we suddenly see a sentence which may very well infer that the spices had already been purchased sometime before Christ’s body was entombed. For the only other verse in the KJV where the phrase "had bought" is found is 2 Samuel 12:3 which clearly refers to a purchase that was made a long time prior.

The idea that the women purchased spices prior to Christ’s burial is not at all unthinkable when recalling that Martha’s sister Mary was in possession of expensive ointment six days earlier (John 12:1-3). Some scholars have also argued that, unlike the male disciples, the women were able to understand that Jesus was speaking literally when He said in Mark 9:31-32 that He would be killed, which of course helps explain why Mary anointed Him ahead of time. Hence, when comparing Mark 16:1 with Luke 23:56, and observing how the latter verse says nothing about when the spices were purchased, we could argue that the women purchased them at an earlier time and merely "prepared" them during the last hour of the Friday afternoon before the Sabbath began. This notion can be further supported by John 19:39-40 which clearly shows that Nicodemus managed to acquire spices before Jesus was placed in the tomb. So if he could do it, why not the women?

Now for those who may stubbornly and desperately insist that Mark 16:1 refers to a post-Sabbath purchase, we can also argue for an alternate solution that there had actually been two separate preparations. The first preparation would have occurred between 5 and 6 p.m. on Friday where the women prepared the spices which they already had. (Remember again that Luke 23:56 says nothing about when those particular spices were purchased). After preparing those spices, the women may have felt that they didn’t have enough, and so they went and purchased some more when the Sabbath officially ended at 6 p.m. the following evening. This, of course, could then be the event that Mark 16:1 was referring to.

Another possible explanation is that there were two separate groups of women – one that prepared their spices on Friday afternoon and the other that purchased and prepared on Saturday night. When observing how Luke 23:56 does not name any of the women who prepared their spices on Friday, it’s easy to rationalize that this group did not consist of Salome or the two Marys who are identified in Mark 16:1.

The idea that there been two spice-preparations (one just before the Saturday Sabbath and the other immediately after) is not at all absurd. In fact, when remembering how there were two very similar episodes where Jesus cleansed the temple (one at the start of His ministry and the other near the end), this totally plausible notion becomes one that can never be disproved. Personally, however, I prefer the earlier-mentioned theory that Mark 16:1 is merely referring to a purchase that occurred prior to Christ’s burial.

The final verse used to support the idea of two Sabbaths is Matthew 28:1. Here, the Wednesday supporters claim that, in the original Greek text, the word translated as "Sabbath" is actually plural. This claim, however, is untrue. In the Greek language of the first century AD, there were two words which meant a singular Sabbath. One was "Sabbata" and the other was "Sabbaton" which is the one that’s now thought to be plural. Now although "Sabbaton" is indeed found in Matthew 28:1, it is also found in Matthew 12:5, Luke 4:16, Acts 13:14, and Acts 16:13 which are all verses that specifically refer to a single Sabbath.

In the first century, "Sabbaton" meant "seventh day" and "Sabbata" meant "day of rest." It was only in other generations, and in other Greek dialects that differed greatly from the Koine dialect of New Testament, that "Sabbaton" was sometimes used as a plural word. When a New Testament writer needed to make reference to multiple Sabbaths, he would write "Sabbath days" (e.g., Matthew 12:12, Luke 4:31, Acts 17:2, etc.). Thus, Matthew 28:1 is not stating that there were two Sabbaths in the week of Christ’s death.

To finish denouncing the mythic tale of two Sabbaths, I’d like to examine Luke 6:1 in the KJV which speaks of an event that occurred "on the second Sabbath after the first." Here, we are told that this episode took place during a week where there were two Sabbaths, and that the regular Saturday Sabbath (the second of the two) was the day when the event occurred. Now in all the accounts of the crucifixion, there is not a single reference to a first Sabbath or second Sabbath of the week. If perchance, there was such a reference, then that would certainly settle this matter once and for all in favour of a Wednesday crucifixion. Yet, aside from Luke 6:1, there is not a single Sabbath in the entire the New Testament which identifies itself in this manner, nor is there a Holy Sabbath that is specifically identified as not being on the seventh day of the week. Hence, there is no proof that Jesus was crucified on any day another than Friday.

Moving on, a separate and more rare attempt to support a Wednesday crucifixion and Saturday resurrection is made when recalling how the Jewish Sabbath officially lasted from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Using this fact, Wednesday supporters try to claim that the word "dawn" in Matthew 28:1 is mistranslated and that it properly means "dusk." This allows them to claim that Mary Magdalene and the other women actually came to the tomb on Saturday evening and saw then that it was opened. To maintain this belief, however, Wednesday supporters must also claim that the women didn’t go inside the tomb because the evening had gotten too dark for them to see anything, and that this forced them to return home and try again at dawn.

Now, here’s one of the problems that comes with this notion. In the first century AD, there were no streetlights, meaning that when the sun started going down, it got really dark really fast. Thus, anyone beginning a journey at sunset would surely bring a torch, candle, or some other light-producing object to guide them through the pitch-black night. If the women truly went to the tomb on Saturday night, they would certainly have brought such an instrument with them to avoid getting lost in the dark. With it, they surely would have been able to enter the tomb on Saturday night and look around to make sure the body was still there. I support this by recalling how Mary Magdalene came to the tomb in the morning when it was "yet dark," and still managed to see that the tomb was empty (John 20:1). If she could see this then, she could surely have seen it the previous night as well. Thus, the idea that the women went to the tomb on Saturday night, but didn’t go inside, simply has no logical merit.

The claim of a Saturday night visit can also be proven false when reading Mark 16:2-3. These verses reveal that when the women were approaching the tomb on Sunday morning, "at the rising of the sun," they asked themselves: "Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?" If the women had seen that the stone was rolled away on the previous night, they certainly would not be asking this question the following morning. Hence, the fact that the women were asking this question on Sunday morning proves that they did not see an open tomb on Saturday night.

Now since Mark 16:2, along with Luke 24:1, clearly shows a Sunday morning visit to the tomb, the only attempted defense that the Sabbatarians might offer is to claim that those two verses (along with several others) were likewise mistranslated and that they also, in the original Greek, actually suggest a Saturday evening tomb-visit. Those who make such claims also tend to boldly state that these mistranslations were actually made on purpose in the KJV and in other subsequent versions in order to promote a Sunday-worshiping agenda. In reply to such a bold statement, I’d just like to say that this is a very serious accusation to make, especially when it comes from someone who very clearly has a Sabbath-worshiping agenda to promote.

An additional piece of evidence refuting a Saturday evening tomb-visit begins by observing how Luke 24:13-49 reports that the resurrected Jesus spent the Sunday afternoon with Cleopas and then only appeared to the Apostles after the evening had come. From this, we see that when John 20:19 reports the evening appearance to the Apostles, the author is clearly referring to the Sunday evening and not the Saturday evening. Yet, this same single verse also clearly identifies the Sunday evening as part of the "first day of the week."

If regarding a day as being from sunset-to-sunset, like the Jews did, then the first day of the week would be from the start of Saturday evening to the end of Sunday afternoon, thus making the start of Sunday evening the beginning of the second day of the week. But since John 20:19 keeps the Sunday evening as part of the "first" day, the author is clearly shown to be using the Gentile manner of regarding a day as being from midnight-to-midnight. This means that when the earlier verse of John 20:1 reports that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb on the "first" day of the week "when it was yet dark," the author is clearly showing that Mary came sometime after the midnight hour and not before. Ergo, there was no visit to the tomb on the previous Saturday night.

[Author’s Note: The most probable reason why John’s Gospel uses the Gentile manner of counting days from midnight-to-midnight as opposed to the Jewish manner of sunset-to-sunset is because the author was targeting a primarily Gentile/non-Jewish audience at the original time of writing. This can be evidenced by the way that the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles are referred as feasts of the "Jews" (John 2:13, 6:4, 7:2, 11:55). Such references wouldn’t make sense unless the readers were Gentiles/non-Jews who were aware of these feasts but did not celebrate them themselves having been told in Acts 15:23-29 that they were not bound or encouraged to keep the Old Testament laws and practices.]

Another separate argument against a Saturday night visit to the tomb comes from examining the narration of Mark 1:21-35. This early Gospel story begins with Jesus entering a synagogue on a Sabbath day (i.e., Saturday) where he heals a man with an unclean spirit. We are then told in verses 29-31 that immediately after leaving the synagogue (hence, the narration is still on Saturday’s daylight hours), Jesus came to the house of Simon Peter where He healed the Apostle’s mother-in-law. Following this, verses 32-34 report that when the evening had come and "the sun did set" (hence, the narration is now on Saturday night), many diseased and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus for healing. Lastly, the narration of verse 35 states that "in the morning, rising up a great while before day," Jesus went out to a solitary place and prayed.

Now even a novice scholar can understand that "rising up" in this particular verse refers to awaking from a state of sleep. And since Jesus spent the previous Saturday night healing many people before eventually going to bed, there is a very extreme unlikelihood that He would have woken up again and departed prior to the midnight hour. Rather, we may safely assume that the hour when Jesus awoke and departed was approximately between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m. since the narration states that there was still "a great while" before daylight. Hence, we can clearly place the event of verse 35 on a post-midnight Sunday morning.

From these observations, the reader can proclaim two facts: First, Jesus prayed and worshiped on a Sunday morning and not on a Saturday Sabbath, which also helps lend support for favoring modern Sunday morning church services as opposed to Saturday services. Second, this narrative story helps demonstrate that when the Gospel writers refer to a "morning" or "early morning" event, they are clearly referring to a post-midnight and not a pre-midnight hour. Hence, when the resurrection-accounts have the women coming to the tomb "very early in the morning" while "it was yet dark" (Mark 16:2 / Luke 24:1 / John 20:1), we can properly understand that the narrators are referring to a post-midnight Sunday morning and not to a pre-midnight Saturday evening.

When forced to acknowledge that the earlier-mentioned Matthew 28:1 does in fact speak of a Sunday morning visit to the tomb and not a Saturday evening visit, the Wednesday supporters will then attempt to suggest that Matthew 28:2-4 is a flashback which takes the reader back twelve hours. They support this by recalling how verse 2 states that there "was" (or "had been") a great earthquake at the moment of Christ’s resurrection, just as there was an earthquake at the moment of His death (Matthew 27:51). However, verse 28:2 does not state how long ago that earthquake was, and thus there’s no way to know if it occurred twelve hours or only one hour prior to the women’s arrival. Matthew’s final chapter is worded in such a way that no one can prove that a twelve-hour gap occurs between verse 1 and verse 2 or between verse 4 and 5. Thus, anyone wishing to believe in a Saturday resurrection is forced to make an unfounded assumption.

To further denounce the notion of a Saturday resurrection, let us examine the account of the guards who eye-witnessed the event. If Jesus truly resurrected at 5 p.m. on Saturday, then the events recorded in Matthew 28:2-4 would clearly have taken place at that time as well. Yet, when we look down to verse 28:11, we read that the guards came to tell the chief priests of the event at the same time that the women went out to announce that they had just seen Jesus alive. In other words, the guards came to see the priests on Sunday morning, and that is a fact which cannot be denied. Thus, a belief in a Saturday resurrection would require one to believe that the guards waited thirteen hours to report what they saw.

Now, if this were true, we would have to question why the guards decided to wait until the following morning. After all, it’s not as if the priests were already asleep at this time – for in truth, they would have been getting ready to eat dinner. Some Wednesday supporters answer this inquiry by recalling how the guards were so frightened by the angel that they "did shake, and became as dead men." From this statement, the Wednesday supporters theorize that the guards ended up in a comatose state for over twelve hours, which is why they couldn’t report what they saw until Sunday morning. Friday supporters, on the other hand, believe that the guards were only passed out for five or ten minutes after Jesus resurrected on Sunday morning, and that they woke up and left just before Mary Magdalene arrived.

Although the former theory is not totally implausible, the latter is far more believable because there’s no logic in God keeping the guards unconscious for over twelve hours. If they had awaken more quickly and reported to the priests on the Saturday evening, this fact would surely have been recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, thus preventing readers from getting the "false" impression that Christ rose on a Sunday. In other words, if God wanted to clarify for future Christians that Jesus rose on a Saturday, all He would need to do is wake those guards earlier, or at least have Matthew specify that the earthquake occurred on Saturday at dusk. The fact that God did not perform such a simple task leads us to reach only one conclusion: Jesus did not resurrect on Saturday night, but instead was risen early on Sunday morning.
 

The Myth of a Wednesday Crucifixion (Part 3)

In the previous chapter, I had explained how the idea of a Saturday night visit to the tomb made no logical sense. However, I neglected to mention the reason why some people got confused about this notion in the first place. Basically, according to certain scholars, the Greek word translated as "dawn" in Matthew 28:1 literally means "beginning." Yet, regardless of whether this is true, it does not make a difference as I shall explain.

The Sabbath, strictly speaking, was from Friday at sunset to Saturday at sunset. Yet, it was common in those days to unofficially extend it into Saturday night. In other words, although work was permitted on Saturday evening after sunset, most people continued to rest at that time because most jobs were too difficult to perform in the dark. But, of course, if certain anxious customers wanted to made occasional transactions at this time by candlelight, they would have been permitted, as was likely the case with Salome and the two Marys who wanted to buy spices on Saturday evening according to Mark 16:1. Yet, for most people, the Sabbath came to its end at sunrise on Sunday morning because it was then that everyone in the community resumed their normal work routines. Thus, when Matthew 28:1 says that the women came to the tomb at the beginning of the first day, the author is most certainly referring to Sunday at sunrise and not to Saturday at sunset. This also explains how the KJV’s translation of that verse is legitimate in saying that the women’s Sunday morning arrival at the tomb occurred "in the end of the Sabbath."

In another feeble attempt to claim that "beginning" refers to dusk and not dawn, a Wednesday supporter might turn to the Peshitta Aramaic Bible. In this Aramaic version of the New Testament, translated from the original Greek text in 170 AD, Matthew 28:1 is worded as follows: "In the evening, at Sabbath, when went up, the beginning, belonging to the last of in the Sabbath, arrived Miryam the Magdalene and Miryam the different come to see the tomb."

Now, only the less-intelligent Wednesday supporters think this quote supports a Saturday night visit because, in truth, it actually proves a Sunday morning visit. When people say that an evening had "went up," they mean that the evening was over and that the sun was about to rise. They do not mean the evening had just begun. For proof that "went up" literally means that something or someone has departed and gone elsewhere, the reader may recall a verse such as Genesis 13:1 which records that "Abram ‘went up’ out of Egypt . . . into the south." Thus, any rational-thinking person can see that Matthew 28:1 refers to the unofficially extended Saturday evening part of the Sabbath which had just ended when the two Marys arrived.

In Mark 16:2, we read that the women arrived at the tomb as the sun was rising. This, of course, means that when they actually departed from their homes, the time was technically the last hour of the unofficially extended Sabbath evening. Thus, when the Aramaic version of Matthew 28:1 states that the beginning belonged "to the last of in the Sabbath," it becomes clear that the author is making reference to the last hour of the night just before Sunday at dawn, and is not referring to Saturday evening at dusk.

Moving on, another powerful piece of evidence for a Sunday resurrection is Mark 16:9. This verse literally states that "when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene. . . ." In a pathetic attempt to neutralize this very powerful verse, the Wednesday supporters recall that the Greek language of the first century did not use commas. Using this information, they try to place a comma after "risen" to separate the time of resurrection from the time He appeared to Mary. Thus, they make it to read as: ". . . when Jesus was risen[,] early the first of the week He appeared first to Mary Magdalene." By doing this, they hope to legitimize a paraphrasing which says that "when Jesus was risen, He appeared early on the first of the week to Mary Magdalene." However, if this is what Mark originally intended to mean, he would have surely arranged his words in this order. The fact that he arranged them the way he did that he did proves that his intention was to identify Sunday as resurrection day. In short, Wednesday supporters have no authority to assume that a comma belongs after "risen." And besides that, putting one there makes the sentence sound grammatically awkward.

When seeing how Mark 16:2 already identifies Sunday morning as the time when the women visited to the tomb, the writer would have no logical reason to repeat the time again in verse 16:9 unless he wanted to also identify it as the time of the resurrection. Mark could very easily have shortened this verse to merely say that ". . . when He was risen, He appeared. . . ." Yet, Mark does repeat the day and time, and does so for the sole purpose of clarifying that Christ rose on Sunday. When acknowledging how powerful Mark 16:9 is in proving a Sunday resurrection, it becomes of little wonder why the Wednesday supporters prefer to use corrupted texts which discontinue Mark’s final chapter after verse 8.

Another problem with the Wednesday crucifixion view can be presented with the following question: If Jesus died and was buried in the tomb on a Wednesday, and if the Thursday was a non-Saturday Sabbath, why did the women not come to anoint the Lord’s body on the Friday instead of waiting until Sunday morning or Saturday night? The Wednesday supporting response to this is to say that the Roman guards were watching over the tomb on the Friday, having been posted there on the Thursday, and that they would have arrested anyone coming to the tomb at that time. For this reason, say the Wednesday supporters, the women had to wait until Sunday morning (or least Saturday night) when the guards completed their three-day watch. This theory, however, has no merit because there is one major flaw in it:

If the women were aware that the tomb was being guarded on the Friday, they most certainly would also have been aware that the guards had permanently sealed the stone in front of the entrance (Matthew 27:66). This stone-sealing was placed to prevent anyone from ever moving the rock away even after the guards had left, which is why an earthquake was needed to crack it loose again. And if the women had known that the tomb was permanently sealed up, they would have had no reason to return after the guards were gone because they still would have been unable to enter and anoint the body. The fact that the women came to the tomb on Sunday morning asking who would roll the stone back (Mark 16:2-3) shows that they were under the impression that the stone could still be moved.

It is therefore clear that Christ was crucified and buried on a Friday, and that the guards went to the tomb and sealed the stone on the Saturday morning. The women’s lack of knowledge regarding the stone-sealing is the only way that a post-Sabbath visit to the tomb, or any visit at all for that matter, can ever make sense. And, the only way the women would still have been unaware of the stone-sealing when they approached is if the event only occurred on the day prior.

Yet another powerful argument favoring a Friday crucifixion comes after examining the number of days spanning from Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem to His death on the cross. Friday-supporters believe that Christ entered Jerusalem on a Sunday where He was welcomed by people waving palm branches. This, of course, is what led to the institution of Palm Sunday on the Christian calendar. This date is calculated by starting with Mark 11:12-19 which says that on the morrow after His entrance, Christ cursed the fig tree and then cleansed the temple of the merchants and moneychangers. The day after that, according to Mark 11:20-21, the disciples noticed that the fig tree had withered. After discussing the tree, Jesus returned to the temple and spent the rest of the day preaching (Mark 11:27 - 13:37). Next, we are told in Mark 14:1-2 that there were two days to go before the feast of unleavened bread. (In Matthew 26:1-2, Jesus also mentions the two remaining days at the conclusion of His preaching). Finally, in Mark 14:12-18, we are told that on the first day of unleavened bread, Jesus and the disciples prepared and ate the last supper.

Numbers do not lie, and the numbers provided in the above verses demand the following chronology for a Friday crucifixion to work: Christ entered Jerusalem on Sunday, cursed the fig tree and cleansed the temple on Monday, discussed the withered tree and preached on Tuesday, ate the last supper two days later on Thursday, and was crucified on Friday. Now, if we push the crucifixion from Friday back to Wednesday, then these numbers will demand that Christ’s entry into Jerusalem also be moved from Sunday back to Friday. Yet, as already stated, Mark’s Gospel reports that Jesus cleansed the temple of its merchants and moneychangers the day after He entered Jerusalem. This means that, if Christ entered Jerusalem on a Friday, which is mandatory for a Wednesday crucifixion to work, then it would also be mandatory for Jesus to have cleansed the temple on a Saturday – a Sabbath. But would the first-century strictly-religious Jews have been selling and money-changing in the temple, or anywhere else for that matter, on a Sabbath day? Based on Nehemiah 10:31 & 13:15-22, the answer would be a solid no. This is therefore another piece of powerful evidence refuting the possibility of a Wednesday crucifixion.

This argument can also be tweaked to refute a Thursday crucifixion theory which would require Christ’s entry into Jerusalem to be moved from Sunday back to the Sabbath Saturday. As previously mentioned, the citizens welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem by cutting branches and spreading them on the road (Matthew 21:8 / Mark 11:8). When noting this, we may turn back to Numbers 15:32-36 to learn that a man who gathered wood on a Sabbath day was stoned to death for it. Thus, if gathering branches on the Sabbath was illegal, then cutting branches surely would be too. We can therefore confirm that the citizens of Jerusalem would not have greeted the Lord in this manner if He entered the city on a Saturday. Jesus Himself would also have broken the Sabbath laws if entering the city on a Saturday because He entered riding a donkey, and Exodus 20:10 clearly states that even animals were to rest on the Sabbath. In addition to this, such an entry into Jerusalem on a Sabbath day would have violated the words of Jeremiah 17:27. Hence, Jesus could only have entered Jerusalem on a Sunday, and not the day before or even two days before, thereby leaving Friday as the only day that Christ could have been crucified.

I would like to conclude this chapter with a quote from Ignatius (30 AD - 107 AD) who was a disciple of the Apostle John and the third bishop of the Christian church in Antioch. In the following brief excerpt taken from his Epistle to the Trallians, written around 60 AD, he explained how Christians of his time understood the meaning of Christ’s prediction that He would be in the grave "three days and three nights."

". . . On the day of the preparation, then, at the third hour, He received the sentence from Pilate, the Father permitting that to happen; at the sixth hour He was crucified; at the ninth hour He gave up the ghost; and before sunset He was buried. During the Sabbath He continued under the earth in the tomb in which Joseph of Arimathaea had laid Him. At the dawning of the Lord’s Day, He arose from the dead, according to what was spoken by Himself, "As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man also be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." The day of the preparation, then, comprises the passion; the Sabbath embraces the burial; the Lord’s Day contains the resurrection." – The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians, chapter 9, page 146 of Ante-Nicene Fathers, volume 1.

From this passage, we can be absolutely certain that Christians living just thirty years after the crucifixion and resurrection had no doubt whatsoever that Jesus was crucified on the Preparation day (Friday), laid dead in the grave on the weekly Sabbath day (Saturday), and rose from the dead on the Lord’s Day (Sunday). Thus, modern proponents of the false Wednesday crucifixion theory are forced to contradict both scripture and history to maintain their claims. I would also like to mention that the quote given above is just one of many pro-Friday documents that date back to the first and second century. As for the documents that support the Wednesday crucifixion view, the number of those dating back to the first or second century is . . . zero.
 

The Myth of a Wednesday Crucifixion (Concluding Thoughts)

There is no proof whatsoever that Jesus died on a Wednesday and rose on a Saturday. Instead, there is proof upon proof that He died on a Friday and rose on a Sunday. In Revelation 22:16, Jesus identifies Himself as "the bright and morning star" because, just like the sun in the sky, the Son of God rose in the morning – Sunday morning, that is.

I reiterate the fact that the phrase "three days and three days" in Matthew 12:40 is nothing more than a figure of speech and a long way of saying "three days." Interpreting it as a literal 72 hours, would completely contradict the repeatedly proven literal meaning of "third day." As well, when we look at any other places where "[#] days and [#] nights" is used, we find that they never give the date of the event’s ending and usually never even give the date of its beginning either. Thus, there is no proof that "three days and three nights" was ever used in a literal sense.

Now, after reading all the information I have presented in my past three chapters, some people may question why God allowed "three days and three nights" to be written in the first place when it is such a seemingly illogical and confusing figure of speech. My response is that, as far as I can tell, Jesus uttered this phrase is because it serves to help expose the mark of the beast. When reading Daniel 7:25, we see that one of the ways in which the beast will reveal himself in the last days is that he "will think to change times"– and clearly, the Wednesday supporters "think" they can rewrite Christian history and "change" the "time" of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Fortunately, Daniel’s prophecy only says that the beast will "think" to change times (that is, he will try), but it does not say that the beast will succeed. This explains why Good Friday has never been, nor will ever be, officially changed to Good Wednesday.

Without Matthew 12:40 to use as bait for the beast and his servants, we would have one less method of exposing false teachers in our churches. Thus, we can now know the truth that a Wednesday crucifixion is nothing more than cruci-fiction, and that honoring Good Friday is a very good thing to do.


© Copyright 2018 Lt. Colonel Chad. All rights reserved.

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