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Saturday, 26 March 2016


Good Friday came and went, that's it for another year. At the time of writing, Easter Sunday is yet to come. Our worship celebration at our church was excellent. Contrary to wider culture, our worship of Jesus Crucified was not shrouded with glum faces and mournful dirge, weeping over the unjustifiable demise of an innocent, righteous man. Rather, it was a celebration of what the Lord accomplished while he hung there - an atonement made for the sins of the whole world, and a victory over the Adversary who held the whole of Adam's descendants captive. Little wonder, that on his very last breath, he shouted out, It is finished! Not the kind of reaction made by anyone else with his dying breath. But Jesus did it because his was a cry of victory, and not of defeat.

Mosaic at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem.
No other human endeavour in history has ever eclipsed this event. Yes, for an example, we may think that putting a couple of men on the moon in 1969 was a great achievement in the quest to conquer the Final Frontier. It might well have been a "giant leap for mankind" - which reminds me in a way of the post-deluge descendants of Noah attempting to "Reach to the heavens" by constructing a giant ziggurat in the plains of Shinar, later to be the site of the ancient city of Babylon. This was an attempt to reach the stars by their own pride-driven efforts. Their efforts with the ziggurat took them no closer to the stars in a literal sense than if their self efforts would have brought to God! But no matter how great mankind's achievements might have been, the intervention of God himself into human affairs at such a manner will always remain unique, unattainable by any other human who ever lived.

I greatly thank and praise God for such a wonderful demonstration of his love and mercy for us all who is without strength. Here is the Divine Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - having a council in eternity past, most certainly before anything was created:-
"Whom shall I send? Who shall go for us?"
"Here am I. Send me."
Isaiah 6:8.
And such was the response of the Second Person in the Godhead. And all three partied in great joy, before commencing with creation. Such as I like to imagine the unity within the Holy Trinity, with their love for each other so strong, it was, and will always be, unbreakable.

Except for one brief moment.

That was when Jesus, the incarnated Second Person of the Godhead, while hanging in agony on the cross, cried out, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  Just imagine it! For the Son to be separated from the Father and from the Holy Spirit for the very first time in all eternity. This must have had a soul-crushing effect to a much greater intensity than the physical pain he was suffering. Yet he still cried out with a powerful tone of voice, It is finished! Father, to you I commit my spirit.

Since this is the Easter weekend, I felt that it was a good idea to look into some of the seemingly apparent contradictions found in the four presentations of the narration, as our very souls depend on the veracity of the story, which holds the only true hope for salvation. It's basically set on just one verse in the entire New Testament.

After his death, since this was the Preparation for the Passover, the lambs slain all over Israel had to be roasted and eaten later that night, the body of Jesus (along with the two others crucified with him) had to be taken down, and buried in an unused tomb which has only been hewn out recently. There the body was laid to rest for three days and three nights. Three days and three nights? Yes, according to his own words recorded in Matthew 12:40. Here Jesus was quoting from the prophet Jonah. When the prophet ran away from a commission God had assigned to him, he boarded a ship which was caught in a storm, and was threatening the lives of the crew. The only life-saving solution was Jonah to be thrown overboard. In the sea, Jonah was swallowed up by a large fish or whale, and in its stomach the prophet spent three days and three nights before being spewed out alive onto the beach. This was the same duration the body of Jesus remained in the tomb.

The awkwardness of this lies in the fact that this statement made by the Lord does not appear in any of the following three Gospels, or for that matter, anywhere else in the New Testament. It is just one, single, solitary verse, yet has a powerful effect in the way such things should be thought through. If Jesus was crucified on a Friday, as all church traditions demand, then the duration of three days and three nights cannot be taken literally. Even the acceptance of the last three hours of Friday daylight after his death, all day Saturday, and just a few moments of Sunday morning, would give only two nights rather than three, that is, what we today would refer as Friday and Saturday nights. Checking through various commentaries on this verse, I have not come across any explanation which is satisfying to my soul. Coming to think of it, the idea of a Friday crucifixion had always seemed at odds with what I perceive as common sense, even going back to pre-converted adolescence.

That's why, as an independent free-thinker, I prefer to believe in a Thursday crucifixion.* That is, the last three hours of Thursday daytime, all day Friday, and all day Saturday, along with Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night (i.e. the small hours of Sunday morning, as the new Hebrew 24-hour day always begins at sunset). Jesus was already resurrected before daybreak on that Sunday. I am fully aware about going against the grain of all church tradition, which places the crucifixion on the eve of a typical Saturday Sabbath. It was John who gave us a hint that the Sabbath which followed the crucifixion was "a high day" (John 19:31) - meaning the first day of Unleavened Bread, which fell on a Friday. Therefore it would have followed that the two days after the Crucifixion were both Sabbaths - the first day of Unleavened Bread, followed by the normal Saturday Sabbath.

This means then, that at the moment Jesus gave up the ghost, Passover lambs were being slain right across Israel. John backs this idea up in his narration of the Jews not wanting to defile themselves by entering a Gentile palace, "for they wanted to be able to eat the Passover" (John 18:28-29). So at this point in time, when Jesus was brought before Pilate, not only was the Passover not yet eaten, but the lambs themselves were not yet slain. This could explain Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 5:7 that Christ is our Passover Lamb, who was slain at the same time all other lambs were killed. Therefore, during the Last Supper, which took place after dark, and as such, at the commencement of the day of Preparation, the Passover lambs across Israel were still alive.

But why not assume that the first day of Unleavened Bread fell on the Saturday, the normal Sabbath? After all, doesn't it all make sense? What better day of the week to have the first day of Unleavened Bread to fall on the normal Jewish Sabbath? What is the one obstacle to this idea? The one solitary verse of Matthew 12:40. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

However, it does leave one very apparent contradiction. Such an example is found in Matthew 26:17-19, where Jesus instructs his disciples to prepare a place to eat the Passover. Mark 14:12-15 tells the same story, as does Luke 22:7-20. Each of the three tells us that it was on the first day of Unleavened bread that the Last Supper took place, and they ate the Passover there. This seems to contradict John's version, which insists that the Passover was not yet eaten when Jesus was brought before Pilate.

Yet in Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, and a hint from Matthew 27:62, it was the Day of Preparation when Jesus was crucified, died and was buried. Preparing for what? For the Passover, which included the slaughtering of the lambs and the roasting of the meat. When did Jesus instruct his disciples to prepare the upper room? Apparently, it was soon after sunset, and the start of the Day of Preparation, also called the first day of Unleavened Bread, because that was the day all leavened bread had to be cleared out of every house in Israel before the Passover Lamb is killed. The Last Supper was on the same day as the Crucifixion. But did they eat the Passover Lamb? No, they couldn't have done, for the lambs weren't yet slain. So what was the "passover" they ate during the Last Supper?

Matthew gives us a clue here, (26:26-29) so does Luke (22:7-20). They write that the disciples "prepared the Passover". Then we read about all of them sitting at table when Jesus took the cup of wine and had it passed around to all who sat there. He then said that how he was eager with desire to eat the Passover with them before he suffered, and he will not eat it again before finding fulfilment in the Kingdom of God. He then initiated what we call the Holy Communion - to remember his body broken and his blood shed in order to be "passed over" from judgement and eternal death. His announcement that the bread and the wine will not be eaten until finding fulfilment in his Father's Kingdom is narrated in Revelation 19:1-10, known as the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, which takes place shortly before his return to Earth.

Just as the original Passover was for Israel to remember how, by slaying a lamb and dubbing the door lintels of their homes with its blood, delivered them from the Angel of Death which struck Egypt, so this "New Passover" is for us to remember the body broken and the blood spilt to deliver us from eternal judgement. The bread will be broken and the cup drank in Heaven, I think, as a reminder that every saint present there, would not be there if the Lord had not atone for them on the cross (Revelation 19:1-10). Just imagine! Every single redeemed human in Heaven, both from Old and New Testament times, together with us as well, would be reminded that they are only there because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Heaven, every saint will be compelled to partake in the Supper, which will, apparently, be carried out with exuberant joy and worship. The entire angelic host will also be there, but they will only be allowed to watch, while offering their praise to God as well.

Most, if not all in my church, and in other churches as well, will disagree with me on the issue of a Thursday crucifixion. But that won't stop me from worshipping God with them and celebrating his redemption for us. My fellowship is my spiritual home. I belong there, and I'm willing to submit to my Elders, as God would want me to do, and I would be the first to say that God's presence was felt during the Good Friday meeting. Yet if I'm branded as one of "the lunatic fringe" so be it. My final authority is the Holy Scriptures, and it's my passion to uphold its truthfulness and historical veracity. Even if some may scoff at me for believing, in addition to a Thursday crucifixion, a six literal-day Creation over Darwinism, as well as my passion for Eternal Security of the Believer. But in our land and its culture, it's very unlikely that I would ever be scoffed. This is because I'm from a low background in education, occupation, and social status. Not only would I be ignored, but to be seen as irrelevant and totally disregarded.

Fine, as long as they don't disregard the Bible and the Gospel of salvation either.

I wish you all a happy Easter. God bless.


An excellent, scholastic reference source for a Thursday crucifixion is in the book:
How Close Are We? by Dave Hunt, Copyright 1993, Harvest House Publishers.


  1. Dear Frank,
    Thank you for this enlightening post on this fascinating topic. We were discussing this very thing this morning in the ladies' Bible study I teach, and again at Easter lunch with our son and his fiancee, who has a divinity degree. One thing is certain -- the women came to the tomb, and Christ had already risen, very early in the morning on the first day of the week -- Sunday (Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1).
    Hope you and Alex had a blessed Resurrection Sunday!

  2. Hi Frank,
    It does not matter whether we are from a rich or poor background in this world. In fact God chose the foolish things to confound the wise (1 Corinthians ch. 1 v. 27). I love it when people bring up discussions on their blogs because not one of us has all the truth and that is why we are all different parts of the body.
    I have enjoyed reading your post and if ever you with to, go over to a blog on my blog list under the name of The Book of Matthew. Keith knows so much about the Hebrew language and the correct dates and times of certain things. It is a case of all of us sharing, and I love that. Although I was born a Jew through both my mother's parents being Jewish, I know nothing of the Jewish language or the codes hidden within it.
    God bless you and Alex.

  3. Great post, Frank and I agree with you that the crucifixion had to happen Thursday. Part of the confusion is the result of translation from Hebrew to Greek. The Hebrew word for Passover refers only to the Passover meal itself. while the Greek word refers to both the Passover and the entire Feast of Unleavened Bread. John is referring to the Feast of Unleavened Bread rather than the Passover meal.

  4. Thank you for tackling this controversial topic Frank. I've seen atheists mock the Bible because of perceived contradictions, but I understand that there are many things that seem to be contradictory but in fact are not, and the Lord will reveal it all in His perfect time. We tend to think in one or at most two dimensional terms. God sees the entire picture from His perfect vantage point. I've seen other "contradictions" tackled by very knowledgeable Christians, and it helped to see some of what they brought to understand about how two differing verses could offer a better picture of how it all fits together, from their understanding of Greek and Hebrew words and tenses and grammar etc. However the bottom line for me is that God is perfect and we are not, and when we trust Him all things will work out perfectly in His time. God bless you Frank, and thank God for "once saved always saved", for He will lose none of His sheep. :)