Have you ever wondered why we have adopted a 2-day blueprint of the Lord’s death and resurrection by celebrating Good Friday and then Easter Sunday, and yet Jesus prophesied Himself that His blueprint would be 3 days and 3 nights?
“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12:40).
It is so difficult for Christians to unlearn the idea that Jesus died on a Friday, or that we need to celebrate His death on a Friday. But God’s calendar is a lunar calendar, and even though Passover is always celebrated on Nissan 14, it doesn’t fall on the same day of the week each year. So what day of the week was it when Jesus died?
In order for us to follow scriptures to see how Jesus fulfilled the Spring Feast Blueprint, we must first recognize that there were TWO Sabbaths that existed during the week Jesus died and rose from the dead. The first was the “Sabbath” of the Feast of Unleavened bread (Lev. 23:6), also called a “High Holy Day:”
“Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away”(John 19:31).
The second was the weekly Sabbath:
“Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb” (Matt. 28:1)
Before both the Feast and weekly Sabbath, the Hebrews had what they called a “Preparation Day” in which all the work was done so they could “rest and cease from work” as the Lord commanded on these “holy days.” The first Preparation Day was to prepare for the Passover and the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread:
“That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath (First day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread) drew near” (Luke 23:54).
The second Preparation Day they prepared for was the weekly Sabbath that went from Friday night to Saturday night. It was the weekly Sabbath that the scriptures refer to when the women came to the tomb after their Sabbath and found it opened:
“Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen” (Mark 16:12).
Reviewing the events that transpired, Jesus died at 3PM before the Passover meal, becoming the sacrificial lamb for the Passover (John 1:29). During the day he was crucified, it was considered a “Preparation Day” until sundown.
It became dark for 3 hours between 12-3pm prior to when Jesus died.
“Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour” (Luke 23:44).
This darkness prevented the priests to kill any of the lambs in preparation for Passover in order to fulfill John the Baptist proclamation that Jesus was THE sacrificial Passover lamb.
“Behold! the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
The Jewish historian, Josephus, states that the killing of the lamb was between 3-5pm. Joseph of Arimathea offered to use his empty tomb to bury the body before sundown because it had to be done before the “High Holy Day” of the Feast of Unleavened Bread started (Matt.27:57-60). This tomb was in a garden nearby.
Mary, Mary, and Salome went out after the “High Holy Day” on Friday morning to buy spices and oils to put on Jesus body that was in the tomb. That day they prepared the spices. By evening, they had to “rest” because it was the weekly Sabbath. Once the weekly Sabbath was over (Sat, at sundown), they were able to visit the tomb with the spices. They went to the tomb while it was still dark very early on Sunday morning, and discovered the tomb empty.
“Now on the FIRST day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb” (John 20:1).
According to the Law, The Feast of Firstfruits always followed the Sabbath that came after Passover. The Priest was to take a sheaf of the firstfruits of everyone’s harvest and wave the sheaf before the Lord to be accepted on their behalf (Lev. 23:11).
It also goes on to say that when they wave the sheaf offering, they were to also offer a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering (consecration) to the Lord.
Jesus, as the “Firstfruits,” presented Himself to the Father on that FIRST day of the week.
Using the Feast Blueprint, the year Jesus fulfilled these Spring Feasts, Passover was at twilight on Weds, followed immediately by the “High Holy Day” of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Three days and three nights later brings us to the “first day” (Sunday). But this information doesn’t shift us to celebrate Passover on Weds. now instead of Fridays. It shifts us to honor it on the day God told us to which is the 14th day of Nisan. That day changes each year according to the lunar calendar. But the Feast of Firstfruits is ALWAYS celebrated on Sunday, which just happened to line up with Easter this year.
There is much controversy about what day Jesus actually died. Some scholars will share that the 3 days and 3 nights was just a phrase used in the culture in those days and was not literal. But even in the story of Jonah, which the Lord Himself references when speaking, the days and nights are specifically laid out.
“Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish 3 days and 3 nights” (Jonah 1:17).
One thing we do know in studying church history is that Good Friday and Easter were introduced in the 3rd and 4th Century. While the pagan holidays were being celebrated on those days, the leaders of the Church decided to create these holidays to lure some of the people who were following pagan deities toward Christ. In the end, they created the very thing they were opposing: a man-made holiday.
As significant as this SIGN would be concerning Jesus dying and rising from the dead, it would seem that God would make it plain for all to understand especially since this SIGN separates Jesus from all other “gods” man has formed into a religion.