Oh, how complicated Christian “scholars” can make the scriptures. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “It is amazing how much light the Bible can shed upon the commentaries.”
That is one thing that really angers me these days. When authors, teachers and preachers will not believe what the Bible clearly says. When they tell us how the straight-forward, face-value, plain understanding of scripture is not correct.
You would think that God has suffered from a serious communication problem throughout history. That He has been unable to clearly express the words He has meant to say. So that now, all the know-it-all’s must step out of their ivory, scholarly towers to reveal the great mysteries to us poor, ignorant slobs.
Looking Deeper Than Tradition
At the heart of this attitude toward the Bible, is a basic tendency of unbelief. And, of course, a desire to make the Bible fit religious traditions. And to avoid ridicule from those who refuse to accept the Bible at face value.
Well, the popular, incorrect teaching about the events of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and His resurrection is an example of this kind of “catering to tradition”.
For example, was Christ really crucified on Friday? Or was it Thursday or even Wednesday?
Maybe you say, “It doesn’t really matter. Why make a big deal about it? After all, we just observe His crucifixion on a day that we choose.”
Take Christmas as an example. Actually, it is very possible Christ was born in the Fall when the weather was warmer; this would make more sense why the shepherds were out in the fields at night. The scriptures have little to say of that day. We just choose December 25th to celebrate His birth.
OK. That seems reasonable.
But, with the crucifixion, there is something deeper going on. And the Bible has something to say about it.
Because the day of the Lord’s death in relation to His resurrection has a great deal of Biblical significance.
The Importance of a Prophetic Sign
NOTE: Here are a few of the verses I consulted for this topic. I recommend the old KJV for this. If you are using something else, you may be confused by the vagueness and inconsistency of the wording.
- Mark 15:42, Matthew 27:57 — “When the even was come“
- John 19:31, Luke 23:54 — “it was the preparation“
- Matthew 27:46 — “time of the evening oblation“
- Matthew 16:2 — “very early in the morning, the first day of the week“
- John 20:1 — “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early“
- Luke 24:1 — “very early“
- I Corinthians 15:4 — “And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:“
Jesus said, “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.” (Matthew 12: 39-40)
Notice that Jesus refers to this as a “sign“. A prophetic sign. Something to be remembered and fulfilled with specific detail. Something that would have profound meaning. And which would give credibility to His deity and authority to the Jew and Gentile alike.
So, the details of that prophecy are important.
So then, what do we know for sure from the various gospel accounts?
That Jesus rose “before sunrise” on “the third day“. He rose on the third day. Meaning that two days and three nights must precede that third day.
Therefore, we need to count backward 2 days and 3 nights from that point to get the day of the crucifixion.
When that is done, we arrive at either Wednesday or Thursday as the day of crucifixion. Neither day works perfectly. We have a bit more “day” or a bit more “night” either way.
But Thursday works best of all.
We have to understand that Jesus was in the tomb before sunset on the day of His crucifixion. Because the special “sabbath” of Passover week was going to start at sunset. And the Jews were required to get Jesus’ body in the tomb before that.
Note: This “sabbath” was not the normal Saturday Sabbath that the Jews would always observe. This was a special day within Passover week.
At this point we are dealing with some questions. But there are no major problems if we accept either Wednesday or Thursday as His day of crucifixion.
But Friday makes no sense at all.
Is it Really Such a Big Deal?
Again, you may say this is no big deal. But it is a big deal. Every word that Jesus said is a big deal. Because, Jesus made a big deal of it.
This sequence of events would become a prophetic fulfillment revealing the Messiah and His deity.
We have the additional problem of dealing with the false traditions we have been taught to observe. We are surrounded by them. And the Easter week is no exception.
We also must deal with leaders that want to “trim down” the necessary truths that we are commanded to stand upon. It seems we are always told there is another old truth we must “back off” of. Another biblical truth we must not get upset about or take too seriously. That we can join in any tradition and it makes no difference.
And, by the way, I am not trying to get in your face if you want to go to a Good Friday service. As long as we understand what the Bible says really happened. We are not under a legalistic bondage as believers. We are free from the Law.
(Additional Note: For more information about traditions, I would recommend the book, The Two Babylons, by Rev. Alexander Hislop. This is a very valuable reference I have consulted for decades. He sheds great light on the pagan, ancient origins of many of our “Christian” traditions. And while we may not believe or accept any of those pagan beliefs today, we must still understand how they might influence us away from scripture.)
The New Minimalism
This tendency to minimize scripture and elevate traditions is what I call, the New Minimalism. How to believe in as little as possible. How to stand upon as little as possible. How to “offend” as few people as possible with the Bible and the gospel.
God wrote His Word for all of us. He wrote it for both the simple man and for the intelligent man. So that each could understand and stand upon the truth. Psalm 119: 130 says, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.”
Notice that the simple are also able to understand it. Not just to sort of get it. But to fully get it.
Why would God have written His Word any other way?
God is not impressed by the unbelief of the New Priesthood class that has arisen to tell us that science or tradition must be used to interpret scripture. That only the scholars can understand what the first chapters in Genesis really mean. Or what the promise of His Second Coming really means.
Joy and Confidence from His Words
It is a great joy and privilege to go to the Word of God and know that every word and every phrase of my Bible is accurate. Not just the words that leaders tell me are important. Not just those limited words that a consensus of leaders have agreed are important in order to preserve “unity”.
The point is, every Word of God is critical.
We must be sure that the Bible is followed first. Above all the traditions of the world. Above all the popular, cultural and “scientific” opinions of the world.
In understanding this fulfillment of “the sign of the prophet Jonas“, we are dealing with a specific sign given to the Gentile world as well as to the Jewish world. It was a clear sign of His three days and three nights fulfilled in the tomb. And of His physical, bodily resurrection on the third day.
This is a sign meant to strengthen the faith of Christians forever.
So, on whatever day you choose to observe the crucifixion of Christ, remember to go back to His Word.
To move far beyond Tradition toward the Truth.