OF THE CRUCIFIXION WEEK
Lord Jesus Christ clearly said in Matthew 12:38-40 that He would spend
"three days and three nights in the heart of the earth," just as Jonah
had spent "three days and three nights" in the belly of the great
fish. Isn't it strange, however, that almost universally throughout Christendom
we find that the remembrance of Christ's crucifixion is held on "Good
Friday" and that His resurrection is acknowledged as occurring on Sunday
morning, at dawn? By no stretch of the imagination or masterful manipulation of
Scripture is it possible to stretch the period from Friday evening to Sunday
morning into "three days and three nights"! Many have attempted to do
so and millions of Christians have accepted this viewpoint; but in all honesty,
it just can't be done.
are two vital issues at stake: the trustworthiness of the Bible and the Deity of
Jesus Christ. If the Lord only spent 36 hours in the grave--from Friday at 6 PM
until Sunday at 6 AM--then the Bible is not correct and the Lord Jesus is a
false prophet. And if this is true, then we are foolish to believe the Bible and
to follow Christ. We would be just as well off becoming Buddhists, Muslims or
you see, this is no small matter. As a Bible-believing Christian who openly and
unashamedly professes the Deity of Jesus Christ, I make no apology for standing
on the Word of God and against the teaching of men--even sincere, godly men--who
have explained away the prophecy of our Lord and the clear statement of
Scripture. For in so doing they have committed a terrible act against the
integrity of the Christian faith. I believe that diligent study of the Word of
God will yield the truth, and this is what we seek.
you're wondering why the vast majority of Christians accept the Friday-to-Sunday
burial of Christ if it is wrong? The only honest answer that can be given is
tradition. I firmly believe--and hope that you will to after you have finished
this book--that tradition is wrong in this instance and that the Bible is clear
and we have to make no apologies or excuses for Christ's words.
key to properly understanding the "three days and three nights in the heart
of the earth" is knowing the chronology, or time-event sequence, of the
crucifixion week. As creatures of time, we always want to know when something
happened, and what happened before and after. The Bible has recorded the
significant events of the last week of our Lord's life on this earth. We'll have
to do a little "digging" to find them, but then the Word of God
commands us to "study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that
needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." II Tim.
this study, Scripture will be our basis, and the upholding of the honor of our
Lord and His infallible Word will be our motive.
Sign of the Prophet Jonah
are several preliminary details that we need to consider before we actually
begin to set forth the chronology of the crucifixion week. Although they may
seem unrelated on the surface of things, as the study progresses, we will see
their importance and relevance.
Prophecy of Jonah
certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would
see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous
generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the
sign of the prophet Jonas: For 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." Matt. 12:38-40.
the scribes and the Pharisees refused to accept the Messianic claims of the Lord
Jesus. His words were not good enough for them. They wanted something more. They
demanded an unmistakable sign. The Jews walked by sight, not by faith.
Lord Jesus Christ responded to their demand by quoting Jonah 1:17, which says
that the prophet Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great
fish. Then He clearly applied this passage to His own coming experience, saying
that He would be "three days and three nights in the heart of the
earth." Our Lord said that three full days would pass between the time of
His entombment and the hour He arose from the dead. The Jews did not question
the literalness of Jonah's three days and three nights in the great fish, and
there is no reason to believe that our Lord did not mean that His own entombment
would not be literally fulfilled.
Typology of Jonah
captivity in the great fish and his subsequent deliverance is a type of the
death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The death and bodily
resurrection of Christ after three days in the tomb is the sign that God is now
using to authenticate the Gospel message. That's why the Apostle Paul wrote, "For
I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ
died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that
he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." I Cor.
was the only Old Testament prophet who was ever sent away from
the time our Lord gave the sign of Jonah to the Jews, He was about to depart
importance of the sign of Jonah is that if Jesus Christ did not spend exactly
three days and three nights in the tomb, then the Gospel message is not being
authenticated, the Lord Jesus Christ's words are in error and the Bible is not
true. No wonder Satan is so eager to perpetuate the "Good Friday"
crucifixion and the Sunday morning resurrection. For in so doing he is attacking
the Lord, the Bible and the Gospel at the same time.
appropriate point to begin our detailed consideration of the crucifixion week is
with an incident that occurred at
they came to
is a significant point in Mark's record that we should not overlook. Bartimaeus
called the Lord Jesus Christ the "Son of David." This is the only
place in Mark's Gospel that this title appears. Elsewhere the Lord is referred
to as the "Son of man." But Bartimaeus called Him the "Son of
David," and he was healed of his blindness.
spiritual blindness of the nation
Passover Feast was, by far, the greatest crowd gatherer of all
is approximately 17 miles from
the pilgrim crowds reached the vicinity of
purpose in considering the details of the journey from Jericho to Jerusalem is
to help us understand today that it would have been next to impossible for a
group of traveling pilgrims to leave Jericho in the morning and arrive in
Jerusalem on the same day. It took a minimum of two days to make the trip. And
this fact has an important bearing on establishing the day of the week as well
as the day of the month on which our Lord's last journey to
our Lord began His journey to
Apostle John tells us of our Lord's arrival at
Jesus six days before the passover came to
last eight miles on the
however, John 12:12-15, which reads:
the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus
was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet
him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name
of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is
written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an
basis for what is known as Palm Sunday is found in this passage. It is generally
taught that the triumphal entry occurred on the first day of the week, and that
by observing Palm Sunday, Christians are properly commemorating the first
significant event in the crucifixion week.
me point out that verse 12 definitely states that the so-called triumphal entry
took place "on the next day" after our Lord's arrival in
thing that was deeply ingrained in the consciences of the Jews of that day was
the Sabbath. The Rabbinical laws of the Sabbath had been worked out to the
minutest detail, one of which pertained to the "Sabbath day's
Sabbath day's journey is mentioned only in Acts 1:12, where we read, "Then
returned they unto
know from secular records that some flexibility was allowed in the length of the
Sabbath day's journey to permit Passover pilgrims encamped on the outskirts to
a long eight-mile journey toward
facts lead to only one valid conclusion: the journey from
First Century Jewish Traditions
observance of the Passover recalls
Law of the Passover
law of the Passover is considered in three books of the Pentateuch: Exodus,
Leviticus and Numbers. Three specific days are mentioned in conjunction with the
observance of the Passover Feast. The first date of importance is the tenth of
Nisan, the first month of the Jewish year, which in Moses' day was known as Abib.
This is the date on which the Israelites were to select their Paschal lamb.
"In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a
lamb." Exodus 12:3.
next important date is the fourteenth of Nisan. Exodus 12:6 has these
instructions: "And ye shall keep it (that is, the Paschal Lamb) up until
the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation
Passover lamb was to be slain on the fourteenth. However, God's instructions
permitted some tolerance as to the exact time of the slaying of the sacrifice,
and this is extremely significant. The literal translation of the last clause of
verse 6 is "between the evenings," not "in the evening."
to Hebrew reckoning, a day begins at sunset. So the fourteenth of Nisan begins
at 6 PM on the day we would call the thirteenth. And the fourteenth ends and the
fifteenth begins at 6 PM on the following day, the day we would consider as the
fourteenth. Therefore, the Passover extends from sunset on the thirteenth to
sunset on the fourteenth.
the observance of the first Passover, God specifically instructed Moses that the
lamb was to be slain in the evening of the fourteenth, which was the
evening that ushered in the day of the fourteenth. The Jewish custom down
through the centuries, therefore, was to slay the lamb early in the evening of
the fourteenth of Nisan (which actually was done late in the afternoon of the
thirteenth) and partake of it at the Paschal supper, which was on the evening
preceding the day of Nisan fourteenth. The highly significant point, however, is
that the law permitted the sacrifice to be slain any time "between the
evenings." Thus God made provision for His Son, the true Paschal Lamb,
to partake of the symbolic Paschal lamb on the evening of the fourteenth
and still offer Himself as an acceptable sacrifice before the setting of the sun
on the day of Nisan fourteenth. God's way is perfect just as His Word is
upon the setting of the sun upon the day of the fourteenth of Nisan, the
fifteenth of Nisan began. And according to Leviticus 23:6-7 and Numbers 28:18,
this was the day that initiated the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In it, the
of the main reasons the Christian church holds to a Friday crucifixion is
because the crucifixion day was followed by a Sabbath. Early church leaders
jumped to the conclusion that this was a seventh-day Sabbath without carefully
consulting the Scriptures. The Old Testament clearly teaches that every Nisan
fifteenth was a Sabbath--and a high Sabbath at that. But John 19:31 tells us
"that sabbath day was an high day." Therefore, the day of our Lord's
crucifixion did not necessarily occur on Friday. It could have occurred on any
day of the week.
to the Passover
the days of our Lord, it had become customary to kill the Passover lambs on the
afternoon of the thirteenth of Nisan rather than on the evening of the
fourteenth. Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us that there were sometimes
as many as 250,000 lambs slain on the occasion of the Passover. It was necessary
that the lambs be slain by the priests in the temple. We can imagine the
momentous traffic jam that resulted from this and we can well appreciate that
several hours of time would be required to sacrifice all these lambs.
the killing of the Passover lambs began about two or three o'clock in the
afternoon of Nisan thirteenth. Then by five to five-thirty in the afternoon, all
the lambs were slain. Josephus confirms that in the years just before the time
of Titus's destruction of
sundown on the thirteenth of Nisan, the fourteenth began. The lamb had been
prepared, and when the roasting was complete, the participants gathered around
the table and ate the Passover supper. God's law of the Passover and Feast of
Unleavened Bread calls the fourteenth of the month Nisan "the
Passover." However, by the time of our Lord, the Jews had come to call this
day the "Preparation day." To them the major feast day, the
"high" day, was the fifteenth of Nisan, the day the Scriptures
designate as the first day of Unleavened Bread.
at the time of our Lord's crucifixion, the fourteenth of Nisan, the day on which
the Passover lamb was eaten, was called the day of "Preparation." The
following day (the high Sabbath day, the fifteenth of Nisan) was called the
"Passover day," although this was actually the first day of the Feast
of Unleavened Bread.
modification is confirmed by Matthew 26:17-19. Notice particularly verse 17: "Now
the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus,
saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?"
If this passage were to be interpreted in strict accordance with the law of
Moses, it would not make any sense. "The Passover" was the fourteenth
of Nisan and the Paschal lamb was to be eaten on that day. "The first day
of the Feast of Unleavened Bread" was Nisan the fifteenth. So we can
conclude that the terms associated with the observance of the Passover Feast
which appear in the New Testament are used in accordance with popular usage in
that day and not strictly according to the definition of the law of Moses.
Time of the Resurrection
developing the chronology of the crucifixion week, there is one event that we
can definitely associate with a particular day of the week. That event is the
resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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. And very
early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at
the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away
the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that
the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the
sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long
white garment; and they were affrighted. And he said unto them, Be not
affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of
passage records the discovery of our Lord's resurrection and tells us the time
of this discovery. More literally translated, this passage reads as follows: "And
the Sabbath being past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the (mother) of James, and
Salome brought aromatics, that having come, they might anoint him. And very
early on the first (day) of the week, they come upon the tomb, the sun
having risen." This account shows that this visit came very early on a
same incident is recorded in Luke 24:1-3. "Now upon the first day of the
week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the
spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the
stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the
body of the Lord Jesus." So Luke also recorded that the discovery of
the empty tomb came very early on a Sunday morning.
first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto
the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she
runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved,
and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we
know not where they have laid him."
carefully that none of these Gospel reports describe our Lord's resurrection.
These passages tell of the discovery of the empty tomb when the women came to
anoint the Lord's body very early on a Sunday morning. The resurrection had
already taken place sometime prior to this event. The idea that the
resurrection took place at sunrise on a Sunday morning is not Scriptural. All
three Gospels positively state that as early as the time was--even while it was
"yet dark"--the Lord had already risen.
Sabbath is Ended
could know for certain when the resurrection of our Lord happened if we had just
one definite witness to the exact hour of its occurrence. Well, God has seen fit
to give us this witness in the Gospel of Matthew.
the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week,
came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there
was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and
came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it."
described an event that seems to have occurred very closely in conjunction with
the actual resurrection. This is the earthquake that took place when the angel
descended from heaven to roll back the stone from the door of the tomb.
emphasis here is upon the descent of the angel and the accompanying earthquake.
The time of this event is set by the opening phrase "in the end of the
sabbath." This designates a specific time of the day.
word translated "began to dawn" in Matthew 28:1 is the Greek "epiphoskousa,"
which literally means "the coming of the light." Dr. H. A. Griesemer,
a Greek scholar, has made the following remarks concerning this word. "The
word 'dawn' is very misleading. We speak of the dawn as the opening of the day,
the light that comes with the rising of the sun. We always associate the dawn
with the sunlight, but the Greek word here is 'epiphoskousa,' which means the
shining of the sun or the moon. You will observe that the passover feast always
occurred at the time of the full moon. Just as the sun was setting, the moon
would be rising."
George R. Berry in his Interlinear Greek-English New Testament translates the
opening part of Matthew 28:1 as follows. "Now late on the sabbath, as it
was getting dusk toward the first day of the week..." We can establish the
time referred to by Matthew as the time of the setting of the sun on the
seventh-day Sabbath. So, just as the sun had set at the beginning of the Jewish
first day of the week (remember, the Jewish day always began with the evening at
the setting of the sun); there was an earthquake, the angel of the Lord
descended, and he rolled away the stone and sat on it.
resurrection occurred at the "end of the sabbath," just as the first
day of the week was beginning, which according to Hebrew reckoning would have
been sunset on Saturday, or around 6 PM.
the stone would not have been rolled away from the tomb before our Lord arose
from the dead. Furthermore, Matthew 27:51 tells us that there was an earthquake
at the time of our Lord's death. So it seems reasonable that the second
earthquake would have occurred at the moment of our Lord's resurrection.
Therefore, Matthew supplies the definite witness to our Lord's resurrection at
sunset on Saturday afternoon, 72 hours after His burial.
requirements of prophecy also help us to pinpoint some of the key events of the
crucifixion week. The Lord Himself prophesied that He would be resurrected on
the third day. Matthew 16:21 says, "From that time forth began Jesus to
shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto
to Jewish reckoning, the setting of the sun marked the end of the day, but that
point in time was also a part of that day. However, sunset also marked the
beginning of the next day. So Christ also was resurrected on the first day of
is another prophecy that required the Lord Jesus Christ to be resurrected on the
first day of the week. The Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:20, "But
now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that
slept." Jesus Christ in His resurrection fulfilled the law of the
firstfruits. Leviticus 23:9-11 contains God's instructions concerning this law:
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel,
and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and
shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits
of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to
be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath this priest shall wave
it." The offering of the firstfruits, which typified the resurrection
of our Lord Jesus Christ, was to be waved before the LORD "on the morrow
after the sabbath"--on the first day of the week!
evidence that our Lord was resurrected at sunset on Saturday is overwhelming.
Only this exact point in time permits our Lord's resurrection to literally
fulfill the prophecy for three seemingly incompatible situations: (1)
resurrection after "three days and three nights in the heart of the
earth," (2) resurrection "on the third day," and (3) resurrection
on the first day of the week--"the morrow after the sabbath."
most important day in conjunction with the crucifixion week is obviously the day
of resurrection, which we have seen is Saturday-Sunday (Nisan 18). However,
there are two other key days that we need to investigate from a Scriptural
position before we can unfold the chronology of the crucifixion week.
upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the
sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with
them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered
in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus." Luke
it has been shown from the Word of God that the resurrection took place at
sundown on the day that we would call Saturday, the traditional "Good
Friday" myth can be dispelled once and for all. All arguments supporting a
Friday crucifixion evaporate when we come to this realization. Furthermore, we
can unreservedly apply the prophetic typology of Jonah, who was (according to
our Lord's words) in the belly of the great fish for "three days and three
nights." And this definitely fixes Wednesday as the day our Lord was
crucified and buried.
Lord died about three o'clock in the afternoon. Matthew 27:46-50. He was placed
in the sepulchre at sunset. The Lord was crucified "between the
evenings" on Nisan fourteenth in order to literally fulfill the Levitical
law of the Passover. Therefore, Nisan the fourteenth began at sunset Tuesday,
and that day extended to sunset on Wednesday. The Lord Jesus Christ partook of
the Paschal supper on the evening of Nisan fourteenth, and He died as the true
Paschal Lamb on the day of Nisan fourteenth. So both the type and antitype were
fulfilled. Both were slain "between the evenings" as required by God's
was Nisan fifteenth, the "high Sabbath" of the Passover. Levitical law
called this day "the first day of Unleavened Bread." Friday was Nisan
sixteenth, Saturday was Nisan seventeenth, and Sunday (the first day of the week
and the day on which the offering of the firstfruits was to be brought) was the
eighteenth of Nisan.
let's count backward from Wednesday, Nisan fourteenth, and see where other
significant events of the crucifixion week fit into the chronology. First, we
need to recall God's detailed instructions for the selection of the Paschal
lamb. These are given in Exodus 12:1-3.
the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the
Paschal lamb was to be selected and set apart from the other members of the
flock on the tenth day of Nisan. Now, if Wednesday was Nisan fourteenth, then
Tuesday would have been Nisan thirteenth; Monday, Nisan twelfth; Sunday, Nisan
eleventh; and Saturday, therefore, would have been Nisan tenth. The tenth day of
Nisan occurred on a regular seventh-day Sabbath.
prophecies and types were fulfilled during the crucifixion week; so it only
seems natural to wonder what event of the crucifixion week fulfilled the
selection of the Paschal lamb on Nisan tenth. Certainly if Jesus is the true
Paschal Lamb, there must be some event that pointed to His selection and
acceptance during the week. The answer seems obvious. Let's notice the words of
they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon
him. And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off
the trees, and strawed them in the way. And they that went before, and they that
followed cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the
means "Save now!" The triumphal entry was the fulfillment of the
prophetic type represented in the law of the selection of the Paschal lamb. It
was on this day that the multitude turned out to greet our Lord Jesus Christ and
to recognize Him both as the King of Israel and as the One who had come to bring
physical salvation from Roman oppression. The nationalistic fervor that had
arisen on the
triumphal entry into
this is not the only prophecy that was fulfilled on that day. About a century
earlier than Zechariah's prophecy, the prophet Daniel was chosen of the Lord to
give us the great time prophecy found in Daniel 9:25-26. "Know therefore
and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to
build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore
and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous
times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for
prophesied that Messiah the Prince would be cut off after 69 "weeks of
years," which is 483 years (in 360-day prophetic years exactly 173,880
days), after "the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build
is one further piece of evidence that shows that the triumphal entry took place
on a Saturday rather than a Sunday. This comes from noticing what our Lord did
after He arrived in
focal point of the activity of the next day comes in Mark 11:15-16, where we
read, "And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and
began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the
tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would
not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple."
the day of the triumphal entry, Jesus entered into the temple, He looked around,
and He left. On the following day, He entered into the temple and drove out the
money-changers. Why did He not do this on the first day? The answer is obvious.
The Lord did not cleanse the temple on the first day because it was the quiet
Jewish Sabbath. There was no merchandising on that day! The Lord would not have
hesitated to cleanse the temple on the first day if the business activities were
in progress. And He did not need 24 hours to decide what to do about the
disgraceful situation there. This passage is powerful circumstantial evidence
that the triumphal entry did indeed occur on the seventh-day Jewish Sabbath.
Chronology: Friday Through Sunday
Jesus six days before the passover came to
are now ready to consider the details of the chronology of the crucifixion week.
We have developed a number of time-points, and the basic structure of the events
during this week has emerged. But now it's time for us to begin at the day that
our Lord Jesus Christ made the final part of His journey to Bethany from Jericho
and step-by-step carefully go through the details of the Scriptural record that
will take us event-by-event to that early Sunday morning when the empty tomb was
the Ninth of Nisan
starting point is John 12:1-3. You'll recall that there had been several changes
in the observance of the Passover since God had given this feast through Moses
at the time of the Exodus.
Scripture referred to the fourteenth of Nisan as the "Passover" and
the seven days of Nisan fifteenth through the twenty-first as the "Feast of
Unleavened Bread." However, in the days of our Lord, the Jews referred to
the entire eight-day celebration as both the "Passover" and the
"Feast of Unleavened Bread" interchangeably. The high point in the
celebration was the Passover Sabbath, which was observed on Nisan fifteenth. To
the Jews of our Lord's day, this was the focal point of the entire celebration,
and it was referred to as the "Passover." The day previous, Nisan
fourteenth, God's Passover, was referred to as the Preparation day.
when John wrote that "Jesus six days before the passover came to
Lord Jesus Christ arrived in
does not tell us whether or not our Lord spent that entire evening in the home
of Martha and Mary. The inference is that He did. It is significant that after
our Lord's arrival in the vicinity of
the Tenth of Nisan
the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus
was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet him,
and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the
Lord." John 12:12-13. This was the
next day, the day following that evening on which our Lord Jesus Christ was
anointed by Mary for His burial. It was Saturday, Nisan tenth, a seventh-day
Sabbath, and the day on which God's law said that the acceptable "lamb
without blemish" must be selected and set apart. Christ began the day by
presenting Himself to
what did the Lord of the Sabbath do when He reached the temple? Mark tells us
that "Jesus entered into
was the Sabbath. All was quiet. There were no money-changers or merchants at
work in the temple. The Lord Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, simply inspected
His house. "He looked round about on all things."
temple was a beautiful structure. But despite the beauty of this magnificent
edifice, our Lord saw a great deal of ugliness, too. The evidence of a sinful
and disobedient people was all around. But on this particular day, Nisan the
tenth, the temple area was quiet, for it was a Sabbath. Thus our Lord simply
inspected His Father's house and then withdrew Himself to
the Eleventh of Nisan
on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: And seeing a fig
tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon:
and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was
not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter
for ever. And his disciples heard it."
day was Sunday, Nisan the eleventh, the first day of the week. It was just one
week prior to that time when our Lord would come forth from the tomb in
resurrection life, "the firstfruits of them that slept." It is most
appropriate that the incident of the cursing of the fig tree took place on this
day. This incident is a living parable which predicts the setting aside of the
the first day of the week, Sunday, the temple area was a beehive of activity
once again. Only two days remained until the fourteenth of Nisan which ushered
in the eight-day celebration that the Jews referred to interchangeably as the
"Feast of Passover" and the "Feast of Unleavened Bread."
the temple merchants, Nisan fourteenth was a time of business--big business.
There were many thousands of pilgrims present in
was like "Christmas" for the temple merchants. The business that they
did during the Passover season often determined whether their fiscal years were
successes or failures. In the same way, many businesses of our day have to
depend on their volume of Christmas business for financial "success."
on this first day of the week, the money-changers and merchants were in their
booths early. No doubt they were calling out to the pilgrims who passed into the
temple courts, hawking their merchandise and services. It is no wonder that the
Lord Jesus Christ, in righteous anger, said to them, "Is it not written, My
house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a
den of thieves." Mark 11:17. And in this we see the fulfillment of the
prophecy of Malachi 3:1. "And the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come
to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold,
he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts." And as we have seen, this occurred
on Sunday, Nisan the eleventh.
Chronology: Monday and Tuesday
the Twelfth of Nisan
the disciples saw the withered fig tree, Peter, who remembered the incident of
the previous morning, called the Lord's attention to it.
in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the
roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig
tree which thou cursedst is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them,
Have faith in God." Mark 11:20-22.
Lord used this object lesson of the withered fig tree to deliver a great
dissertation on faith and prayer.
occurred on the second day of the week, Monday, Nisan twelfth. We have no way of
knowing whether the dawning of this Monday was the proverbial cloudless one or
not. But we can know that it was a fateful day. It was the last day that Jesus
of Nazareth, the Son of God, would offer Himself to God's chosen people,
Lord and His disciples entered again into
ended that line of questioning, but it did not end the encounter. The Lord then
related the parable of the hedged vineyard and the wicked husbandmen, in which
the chief priests and scribes clearly saw themselves portrayed in the roles of
the wicked husbandmen. They were humiliated in front of the people, and they
were put into confusion. "And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared
the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they
left him, and went their way." Mark 12:12.
it was the Pharisees' turn, and they joined forces with their old enemies, the
Herodians--which was a strange combination indeed. They concocted a brilliant
scheme to place the Lord Jesus Christ at odds with the Roman authorities and
thus remove Him from the scene. But the little coin with Caesar's image on it
sent them crashing down in defeat. Then the Sadducees came and tried their hand.
The result was the same. The day finally drew on toward sunset after all had
their turn to try to entrap Christ. All comers had been silenced. But their
hatred had now crystallized. The Lord's hour was approaching. Things were moving
rapidly toward that rendezvous with the cross.
the closing of that fateful Monday and the dawning of Tuesday, was rapidly
drawing near. It was probably with reluctance that the Lord, with the twelve,
left the temple courts and passed beyond the walls of the city to the slopes of
let's turn our attention to a passage of Scripture that allows us to check our
chronology. The passage is found in the opening verse of Mark 14. Here Mark
wrote, "After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened
bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by
craft, and put him to death."
verse not only gives us a time mark to check our chronology, but it also
verifies the records that have come down through secular channels concerning the
terminology used by the Jews in our Lord's time. Although God's Word designates
the fourteenth of Nisan as the Passover and the fifteenth of Nisan as the first
day of Unleavened Bread, the Jews used these terms interchangeably. The
fifteenth of Nisan, the high Sabbath of Passover, had become the focal point of
the entire celebration; and it was the day commonly called "the
Passover." Mark identified the day of Nisan fifteenth when he used the
combination expression "the passover, and of unleavened bread" to
refer to a single day.
the Thirteenth of Nisan
Lord Jesus Christ and the twelve had climbed the slopes of the
the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and
put him to death. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar
of the people." Mark 14:1-2. Notice that the word "feast" is not
used in Mark 14:1. The verse literally says, "After two days was the
passover, and of unleavened bread." The King James Version inserts the
words "the feast of" in italics, but there is nothing in the Greek
text corresponding to these words. The expression in Mark 14:1 refers to Nisan
fifteenth. And the expression "on the feast day" in Mark 14:2
apparently refers to the same day, that is, the high day of the Passover
celebration, Nisan fifteenth.
the plot began to take form. The Lord Jesus Christ was to be apprehended and
slain before Nisan fifteenth. God used the modifications of the Jews to take the
Lord Jesus Christ to the cross on Nisan fourteenth, God's Passover.
was on the evening of the thirteenth of Nisan, a Tuesday, after our Lord had
delivered the Olivet Discourse, that the Lord and His disciples came down off
the mountain and once again headed toward
Bible teachers have tried to establish that the evening meal in the house of
Simon the leper was the same meal as that with Martha, Mary and Lazarus,
reported by John in the opening verses of chapter 12. The reason for this is
that the incident of the anointing of the Lord by the woman, described both in
Mark 14:3-9 and in Matthew 26:6-13, does have many similarities to the incident
of the anointing by Mary described in John 12:3-8. But careful reading also
shows a great many differences. Mary anointed the Lord's feet (John
12:3), but the woman in the house of Simon the leper anointed His head.
Mark 14:3; Matthew 26:7. The Scripture seems clear that the incident mentioned
by Matthew and Mark occurred on a different day and in a different house and
that the anointing was performed by a different woman from that in the incident
mentioned by John. This second anointing of our Lord occurred on Tuesday
evening, after the setting of the sun and the closing of Nisan twelfth.
the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples
said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the
passover?" Mark 14:12. This brings
us to the day of Tuesday, Nisan thirteenth. This was our Lord's last day of
freedom before His arrest and crucifixion. It is confusing because Mark prefixed
this record with "And the first day of unleavened bread." But we
should keep in mind that the Gospel writers used terms according to the
contemporary usage in their day, not strictly according to the definition of
Mosaic law. Josephus recorded that in those days the Jews celebrated "eight
days of Unleavened Bread." They included the fourteenth of Nisan, the day
that Moses designated as the "Passover," in the feast of Unleavened
Bread (which was only seven days long).
also said that it was customary to kill the lambs between three o'clock and five
o'clock in the afternoon before the Passover Supper, which then were roasted and
eaten in the evening. The Jews of Mark's day still ate the Passover on the
evening of Nisan fourteenth, but they often referred to this meal as the
"first Chagigah." Alfred Edersheim in his book, The Temple--Its
Ministry and Services, tells us that "the Chagigah which was strictly a
peace offering might be twofold. The first Chagigah was offered on the
fourteenth of Nisan, the day of the Paschal sacrifice, and formed afterwards
part of the Paschal Supper. The second Chagigah was offered on the fifteenth of
Nisan, or the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread." It is this
second Chagigah which the Jews were afraid they might be unable to eat, if they
contracted defilement in the judgment hall of Pilate. John 18:28.
Lord ate the "first Chagigah," which was the true Passover Supper,
with His disciples. Since the Jews included the fourteenth of Nisan in their
designation "the Feast of Unleavened Bread," and since they allowed
the hours after three o'clock in the afternoon on Nisan thirteenth to be
considered as a part of Nisan fourteenth for the purpose of the slaying of the
lamb, then it seems that Mark was designating the late afternoon of Nisan
thirteenth in his prefix to this exchange between our Lord and His disciples.
it was on Tuesday, Nisan thirteenth, that the disciples asked the Lord where He
wished to eat the Passover. Evidently Judas was present when this question was
put to the Lord; and since the Lord knew of Judas' plot to betray Him, He
replied in a guarded way. Instead of naming the place, the Lord Jesus Christ
sent Peter and John to find and follow the man bearing a pitcher of water. (By
the way, this instruction was not so ambiguous as it might seem to us because
men normally did not carry water in those days.) This was evidently a clever
method of delaying the betrayal by Judas until after the Paschal Supper. Judas
would not know until the time of the supper itself where it was to take place.
This arrangement assured an uninterrupted evening following Tuesday, Nisan
thirteenth. This brings us to the evening of Nisan fourteenth, the Wednesday on
which our Lord would die.
Chronology: Wednesday and Thursday
the Fourteenth of Nisan
after sundown on Tuesday afternoon, the fourteenth of Nisan began. The lamb had
been slain and roasted and was now ready in the upper room. The Lord Jesus
Christ and His disciples arrived early after sunset and partook together of the
Passover Feast. "And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve
apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this
passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat
thereof, until it be fulfilled in the
Lord Jesus Christ knew that Judas was anxious to bring the soldiers to arrest
Him. So when the supper had progressed to a certain point, the Lord said to him,
"That thou doest, do quickly." John 13:27. This gave the betrayer an
opportunity to get away and carry out his unholy purpose.
is not the intent of this study to go into the details of those events of the
crucifixion day. The point that is important to our study of the chronology of
the crucifixion week is that the crucifixion took place on Wednesday, Nisan
fourteenth. The Lord's body was placed in the tomb just as the sun was setting
on that sad day. And with the placing of His body in the tomb, the fulfillment
of the Lord's own prophecy that He would be "three days and three nights in
the heart of the earth" was begun. Three days later, again at sunset, He
would come forth in resurrection life.
Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not
remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high
day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be
taken away." John 19:31. This verse
establishes that the day following our Lord's crucifixion was a "high
day." That in turn established that it was Nisan fifteenth, the great
Passover Sabbath, the day that God had designated as "the first day of
unleavened bread." The Passover Sabbath was the greatest Jewish Sabbath of
the year. It was not only a day of rest and worship like Saturday, the
seventh-day Sabbath; but, unlike that day, this Thursday Passover Sabbath was a
"high day." The fifteenth of Nisan fell on a different day each year,
and that particular year it fell on Thursday as the Scriptural
"time-points" clearly affirm.
the Fifteenth of Nisan
happened on this particular day? Scripture provides us with a record of only one
specific event. And this record is found in Matthew 27:62-66. "Now the
next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and
Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver
said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command
therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his
disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is
risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate
said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they
went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch."
thing of significance should be noted here. The chief priests and Pharisees
said, "After three days." They were perhaps the very ones who were
present when the Lord had spoken of the sign of the Prophet Jonah. And they
remembered well what He had said.
is quite likely that these events (which transpired on the day of Thursday,
Nisan fifteenth) were in the minds of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus
when they said, "And beside all this, today is the third day since these
things were done." Luke 24:21. To those looking on, the sealing of the tomb
and the placing of the Roman guard were very much events that were to be
included in the burial of the Lord Jesus Christ. Since these words were spoken
on Sunday, and since the final steps of the putting away of the Lord took place
on Thursday, the two disciples were absolutely correct in their statement of
Chronology: Friday Through Sunday
conclude this study of the chronology of the crucifixion week, let's direct our
attention to a passage from the Gospel of Mark. In his description of these
events, Mark provides final verification of the chronology that we have
he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid
him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the
door of the sepulchre. And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld
where he was laid. And 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. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came
unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who
shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they
looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great." Mark 15:46-16:4.
Lord Jesus Christ was placed in the sepulchre, but it was necessary that those
looking on hasten home because the High Passover Sabbath had arrived. Mark 15:47
tells us; "And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where
he was laid." This verse refers to the events that took place late in
the afternoon of Wednesday, Nisan fourteenth. The wording of this verse seems to
infer that the women observed the Lord's body being placed on the shelf in
Joseph's new tomb, but that they did not remain on the scene as the heavy stone
was rolled in place.
the very next verse in Mark's Gospel, Mark 16:1, says, "And 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." The word
"Sabbath" as used in this verse is singular. The reference is to the
High Passover Sabbath, which occurred on Thursday, Nisan fifteenth. The bringing
of the sweet spices, described in Mark 16:1, was a separate visit from the
coming of the women to the tomb--that visit which took place early on the first
day of the week, as described in Mark 16:2. Mark 16:1 describes an event that
took place on Friday, Nisan sixteenth.
the Sixteenth of Nisan
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid."
Mark 15:47. Again, the inference of this statement is that the women saw the
Lord's body placed in the sepulchre but that they left before the stone was
rolled in place to seal the door. Therefore, it is possible that they did not
realize the impossibility of gaining access to the Lord's body without outside
help. The Roman seal and the Roman guard were established on Thursday morning.
The seal and the guard were to insure that the tomb was not opened until the
three days were definitely past. It is entirely possible that the women were not
aware of the Thursday development.
the High Sabbath, the women (on Friday, Nisan sixteenth) "bought sweet
spices, that they might come and anoint him." But on arriving at the tomb
they found the heavy stone in place, the official Roman seal on it, and the
Roman guard posted to make sure that no one touched that seal until after the
third day had passed. So the women found it necessary to return to their homes
to await the passing of three full days (which included the seventh-day Sabbath)
before they could again attempt to anoint the Lord's body.
Gospel of Luke also confirms that there were two visits to the tomb by those
faithful women. The two visits are seen in the passage contained in Luke
23:55-56. "And the women also, which came with him from
statement of verse 55 indicates that the women did observe the body of our Lord
Jesus Christ placed in the tomb at sundown on the day of His crucifixion. Then
verse 56 says, "And they returned and prepared spices and
ointments..." This speaks of that first visit to the tomb on Friday, Nisan
sixteenth. The women were unable to anoint the Lord's body because of the stone
with its affixed seal and the Roman guard that had been set by Pilate. Unable to
complete the task that they had attempted on that Friday, Luke says that they
"rested the sabbath day according to the commandment."
the Seventeenth of Nisan
that the statement of Luke 23:56, that they "prepared spices and
ointments," comes before the statement of the same verse that they
"rested the sabbath day according to the commandment." The spices and
ointments were prepared on Friday, Nisan sixteenth, but they were not used that
day. The statement about the Sabbath day refers to the seventh-day Sabbath,
which occurred on Saturday, Nisan seventeenth. The second visit, as recorded in
Luke 23:1, occurred on Sunday, Nisan eighteenth, the first day of the week.
that Matthew 28:1-2 tells us that "in the end of the sabbaths, as it
was dawning toward the first day of the week," came the angel and the
earthquake. The word "sabbaths" here is plural, and by using this
plural form Matthew indicated that both the High Sabbath of Nisan fifteenth and
the seventh-day Sabbath of Nisan seventeenth had passed. The Lord broke the
bonds of death and came forth from the tomb. All prophecy concerning His death,
burial and resurrection was literally and precisely fulfilled!
the Eighteenth of Nisan
16:2-3 tells us of that second visit of the women to the tomb, which Mark
asserted was early in the morning on the first day of the week. "And
very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the
sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall
roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?" This passage
definitely indicates that the women had knowledge of the presence of the stone
before they arrived at the tomb early on Sunday morning. And it also infers that
the time limit set by Pilate as to how long the tomb must be sealed and guarded
by Roman soldiers (three full days) had passed. The women felt sure of access to
the tomb if only they could find someone with adequate physical strength to roll
away the stone.
record of the second visit to the tomb by the women is confirmed by the opening
verses of Luke 24. The evangelist wrote, "Now upon the first day of the
week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the
spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the
stone rolled away from the sepulchre, And they entered in, and found not the
body of the Lord Jesus."
the absence of His body was not loss. The answer of the angelic beings has been
the victorious cry of Christians ever since:
is not here, but is risen!"
Chronology of Crucifixion Week Illustrated
12:1--"Then Jesus six days before the passover came to
12:12,13--"On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when
they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and
went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna..."
11:11--"And Jesus entered into
11:12,13--"And on the morrow, when they were come from
11:15--"And they come to
11:19--"And when even was come, he went out of the city."
of the Fig Tree
11:20--"And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried
up from the roots."
11:27--"And they come again to Jerusalem
24:1--"And Jesus went out..."
24:3--"...He sat upon the mount of Olives..."
26:2--"Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover..."
with His Enemies
26:6,7--"Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious
26:17--"Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples
came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat
26:19--"And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made
ready the passover."
26:20--"Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve."
15:42,43--"And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation,
that is, the day before the sabbath..."
of Arimathea went unto Pilate and requested the body of Jesus which he buried in
his own tomb.
15:47--"And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was
27:62--"Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation the
chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate." And secured a watch
for the tomb.
19:31--"...For that sabbath day was an high day..."
23:6--"And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of
unleavened bread unto the LORD..."
23:7--"...Ye shall do no servile work therein."
16:1--"And 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
23:56--"And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments..."
Day of Seventh-Day Sabbath
23:56--"And rested the sabbath day according to the commandment."
28:2--"And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord
descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat
24:1--"Now upon the first day of the week, very early on the morning, they
came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and
certain others with them."
24:2--"And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre."
24:3--"And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus."
23:10,11--"...Then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your
harvest unto the priest...On the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave
of the Resurrection
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726