Easter and Good Friday

Easter and Good Friday

Steve Flinchum

According to Jewish reckoning, each day began at sundown the day before. “The evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5), and it is logical that all other days following would come in the same order.  (Note also the command of God, Lev. 23:32, Ed.) The day began at 6:00 PM, was measured in “watches” until 6:00 AM, and then was measured in “hours” until 6:00 PM. Passover began on the fourteenth day, with the preparation day when the lamb was slain, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the fifteenth of the first month of the religious calendar (Exodus 12; Leviticus 23) and continued for seven days. The Feast of the Firstfruits was on the day after the first weekly sabbathduring the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Passover and Feast of the Firstfruits were both connected with the Feast of Unleavened Bread and sometimes, as in Luke 22:1, Passover referred to the entire eight day observance.

Luke 22:7 says, “Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.” Remember that this is in the evening of what we today would think of as the day before (the evening of Wednesday, Nisan 14th, what we would call 6:00 Tuesday evening). This same evening, Jesus said, “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 kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16). The “passover” would not be killed until 3:00 in the afternoon (this same day), Wednesday.

Later on this same day, in the morning, “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgement: and it was early: and they themselves went not into the judgement hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover” (John 18:28). They were more interested in ceremonial purity than justice. There Jesus was questioned by Pilate, scourged, smitten, spat upon, mocked, and dressed in a crown of thorns and a purple robe. “And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!” (John 9:14). Daytime was measured from sunrise at 6:00 AM, the first hour, until sunset at 6:00 PM, the twelfth hour. The time then (“about the sixth hour”) would be about noon. Mark 15:33 tells us that “there was darkness over the whole land” from “the sixth hour” “until the ninth hour.” At the “ninth hour,” 3:00 PM, “Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Mark 15:37-38).

The veil was rent in two by God simultaneously with the death of Jesus.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

(Hebrews 10:19-23)

According to Jewish law, the body had to be buried before night (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). It was of course late in the day and as John tells us, “there laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand” (John 19:42).

Luke says, “And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on” (Luke 23:54). Friday was commonly referred to as “the preparation,” but “the preparation” was also used to refer to the day before a special feast, and in that case the reference to the sabbathwould refer to the feast itself, rather than the seventh day of the week.

John points out, “for that sabbath day was an high day” (John 19:31). Notice how Matthew avoids using the term “sabbath” in Matthew 27:62. He says, “Now the next day, that followed the day of preparation” (and crucifixion), “the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate.” These Jewish leaders would more likely have met with Pilate on a Thursday or Friday than on the seventh day of the week. This is further clarified by John when telling of the events of the day of the crucifixion in John 19:14. This verse says, “And it was the preparation of the passover. . . .”

According to Luke 23:55-56, the women that followed Joseph of Arimathaea, when he placed Jesus’ body in the sepulchre, “and beheld thesepulchre, and how his body was laid,” then “returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.” With the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15) only minutes away, it is not likely that those women prepared the spices and ointments until Friday, Nisan 16, and as Luke 23:56 says, they “rested the sabbath day” [Saturday, the weeklysabbath] “according to the commandment.”

When telling of the resurrection, Matthew says, in Matthew 28:1, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week. . .” (underlining added). The wording there strongly indicates that the resurrection took place in the end of the seventh day of the week (6:00 PM), NOT at the rising of the sun on the first day of the week. William Tyndale translated it, “The sabbath day at even which dawneththe morrow after the sabbath.”

Mark 16 describes the situation “when the sabbath was past” (verse 1), “And very early in the morning the first day of the week . . . at the rising of the sun” (verse 2). At that time, “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome” had already been there. The resurrection had already taken place. It is easy to confuse “they” spoken of in verse 2, who came “at the rising of the sun” with the twoMarys mentioned in verse 1, who had already been there hours before and left. Verses 8, 9, and 10 show clearly that “they” in verse 2 are people other than the two Marys. Verse 8 says that “they [those of verse 2] went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.” Verse 10 informs us that Mary Magdalene “went and told them that had been with him.” Mary told some people about the resurrection, but “they,” of verse 2, didn’t say “any thing to any man.”

With the first day of the week, “the Lord’s day,” being ordained to honor Jesus’ completed work, as the anti-type of the seventh day sabbathcommemorating the completion of creation, it should be no surprise that Jesus rose in the end of the seventh day of the week, toward the first day of the week.

To teach a Friday evening death and Sunday sunrise resurrection is to be deceived and/or deceitful. There is no honest way of fitting “three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40) into thirty-six hours.

“They that passed by” made fun of Jesus for His claim to destroy the temple and build it “in three days” (Matthew 27:40 and Mark 15:29). InMatthew 27:63, the chief priests and Pharisees said, “that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.” In Mark 14:57-58, some that “bare false witness against him” said they heard him say “within three days.”

More important is Jesus’ own words. In John 2:19, Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Verse 21 says, “But he spake of the temple of his body.” In Luke 24:46, Jesus said, “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” In Mark 8:31, Jesus was teaching that he must “be killed, and after three days rise again.” In Matthew 12:40, Jesus says, “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.”

Some may say, “Well, what difference does it make?” First of all, to read that Jesus said “three days and three nights,” but participate in the proclamation that Jesus was only in the grave for thirty-six hours, is to dispute the very words of Jesus.

Any worship activity that infers, suggests, or endorses a Friday crucifixion is NOT worship “in truth,” whether ignorantly or knowingly, and that is a fact that condemns the entire “Good Friday”/”Easter Sunday” celebration.

To aid in the propagation or approval of the thirty-six hour Friday until Sunday myth is to be guilty of the perversion of the gospel. In I Corinthians 15, Paul claims to declare “the gospel” (verse 1), which he defines as “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: And that he was seen . . .” (underlining added). Notice that “the third day” is not optional, but is part of the definition given. Notice also, that “according to the scriptures” is included also, and stated twice. “The scriptures” that the death, burial, and resurrection must be “according to” is what we know as the Old Testament. There is a multitude of prophecies and types of Christ and of the gospel throughout the Old Testament “scriptures.” As already mentioned, Jesus referred to the “three days and three nights” of Jonah. When Jesus was walking with the two on the road to Emmaus,Luke 24:27 says:

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerninghimself.

And later, verses 44-46 of the same chapter say:

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus itbehoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.

Most Bible scholars will agree that Abraham’s son Isaac is a type of Christ. Study Genesis 22. Notice that in verse 2, God spoke of Isaac as “thine only son,” even though Isaac was not the only son Abraham had. Abraham understood, because he knew that it was through Isaac that God was to keep His promise to him. In case we didn’t catch the hint of “thine only son” in verse 2, it is repeated in verse 12, and to be sure, God said it a third time in verse 16. In verse 2, God told Abraham to offer Isaac for a burnt offering. Imagine yourself in Abraham’s place. If God gave such an order and you were totally surrendered to obey God, it would seem as if the child were already dead. Hebrews 11:19 tells us that by faith Abraham offered up Isaac, “Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” Notice in verse 4 of Genesis 22 that it was “on the third day,” after God informed Abraham of the requirement, that Isaac was given back to Abraham from the dead.

Romans 4:21-25 says:

And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able to perform.

And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Jesus, our Passover, died at the same time of day, and on the same day of the year, that the Passover lamb had been slain since the exodus from Egypt.

Read about “Noah’s ark” in Genesis 8:4, which says:

And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.

Looking at the calendar previously exhibited, notice that what was the “seventh month” in Noah’s days became, at God’s command inExodus 12:2, the first month. The ark that saved Noah from the flood rested upon the mountains of Ararat on the same day of the year that Jesus rose from the grave.

All these things happened exactly when God intended. In Matthew 26:2, Jesus said, “. . . after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.” Many wanted Him crucified, but it was not man’s design that it would happen when it did. Matthew 26:3-5 says:

Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,

And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.

But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

Who was in control? Is God sovereign? Remember, as was shown in the previous chapter, from Romans 1:21, that the idolatry and false doctrine of the holidays developed “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God.” When God is not glorified as the totally sovereign God that He is (the condition necessary to believe that God would plan on “three days and three nights,” but have to settle for thirty-six hours), occasion is given for vain imaginations and the darkening of foolish hearts.

Someone may ask, “Are we not to celebrate the resurrection?” Yes, we most definitely are, every “Lord’s day,” every “first day” of the week. No other day should ever compete with, or detract from it! And, it should be celebrated by worshipping “in spirit and in truth!”

The Waldenses recognized these truths, as is evident in their treatise called “Antichrist,” which is dated 1220 A.D. That treatise may be found in History of the Ancient Christians by Jean Paul Perrin, on pages 242-259, and says:

. . . The first work of antichrist is, to take away the truth, and change it into falsehood, error, and heresy. The second work of antichrist is, to cover falsehood over with a semblance of truth, and to assert and maintain lies by the name of faith and graces, and to dispense falsehood intermingled with spiritual things. . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The errors and impurities of antichrist, forbidden by the Lord, are these, viz. a various and endless idolatry, against the express command of God and Christ. Divine worship offered not to the Creator, but to the creature, visible and invisible, corporal and spiritual, rational and sensible, natural and artificial, under the name of Christ, or saints, male and female, and to relics and authorities. Unto which creatures they offer the service or worship of faith, and hope, works, prayers, pilgrimages, and alms, oblations, and sacrifices of great price. And those creatures, they serve,honour, and adore several ways, by songs and hymns, speeches, and solemnities, and celebrations of masses, vespers fitted unto the same, by certain hours, vigils, feast-days, thereby to obtain grace, which is essentially in God alone, and meritoriously in Christ, and is to be obtained by faith alone through the Holy Spirit.

And indeed there is nothing else that causeth idolatry, but the false opinions of grace, truth, authority, invocation, intercession, which this antichrist hath deprived God of, to attribute the same to these ceremonies, authorities, the works of a man’s own hands, to saints, and to purgatory. And this iniquity of antichrist is directly against the first article of faith, and against the first commandment of the law.

The inquisitor, AEneas Sylvius, who wrote a history of Bohemia said of the Waldenses, that:

Their third class of errors is as follows. They contemn all ecclesiastical customs which they do not read of in the gospel, such as the observation of Candlemas, Palm-Sunday, the reconciliation of penitents, and the adoration of the cross on Good-Friday. They despise the feast of Easter, and all other festivals of Christ and the saints, and say that one day is as good as another, working upon holy-days, where they can do it without being taken notice of.

(The History of the Christian Church by William Jones, volume II, pages 34-35)

On page 500 of volume I, Jones says, of the Paterines in the eleventh century, that, “They called [the adoration of] the cross the mark of the beast.” The inquisitor AEneas Sylvius, quoted above, who came to be Pope Pius II, and in his words, “had an exact knowledge of theWaldenses,” and attended many of their trials and executions, wrote in his History of Bohemia, in the fourteenth century, that:

They abhor the holy cross, because of Christ’s suffering thereon. Their aversion seems to have been taken from the sermons of those who maintained, that the cross being taken away from Christ, returned of itself. They say, that the wood of the cross is no more than other wood: they do not arm themselves with the sign of the cross. They set no value upon the sepulchre of our Lord, nor of the saints; Matth. “Woe to you, Pharisees, for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets.”

(The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont by Peter Allix, page 255.)

Those sincere Christians recognized the fact that the use of a cross as furniture or decoration is idolatry, relic worship, making a graven image. The Waldenses believed, as Jonas Aurelianensis wrote in the year 820, that, “they ought not to worship Images, nor so much as have them in their Churches” (The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont by Samuel Morland, bookI, chapter III).

Let us consider the origin and history of the cross as a symbol. The Encyclopedia Britannica (1957) says:

The cross has been used both as a religious symbol and as an ornament from the dawn of man’s civilization. Various objects, dating from periods long anterior to the Christian era, have been found, marked with crosses of different designs, in almost every part of the old world. India, Syria, Persia, and Egypt have all yielded numberless examples, while numerous instances, dating from the later Stone age to Christian times, have been found in nearly every part ofEurope. The use of the cross as a religious symbol in pre-Christian times and among non-Christian peoples may probably be regarded as almost universal, and in very many cases it was connected with some form of nature worship. Two of the most frequent forms of pre-Christian cross are the tau cross, so named from its resemblance to the Greek capital letter T, and the swastika or fylfot also called “Gammodion” or crux gammata, owing to its form being that of four Greek capital letters gamma placed together. The tau cross with a handle ( crux ansata) often occurs in Egyptian and Assyrian sculptures as a symbol of divinity. The swastika has a very wide range of distribution and is found on all kinds of objects. It was used as a religious emblem in India and China many centuries before the Christian era, and is met with on prehistoric monuments from various parts of Europe, Asia and America. It is, in fact, a device of such common occurrence on objects of pre-Christian origin that it is hardly necessary to specify individual instances. The cross, as a device in different forms and often enclosed in a circle, is of frequent occurrence on coins and medals of pre-Christian date in France and elsewhere. Indeed, objects marked with pre-Christian crosses are to be seen in every important museum.

Early Christian Crosses.-The death of Christ on a cross necessarily conferred a new significance on the figure, which had hitherto been associated with a conception of religion not merely non-Christian, but in essence often directly opposed to it. It was not, however, till the time of Constantine that the cross was publicly used as the symbol of the Christian religion.

On pages 197 and 198 of The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop wrote:

The same sign of the cross that Rome now worships was used in the Babylonian Mysteries, was applied by Paganism to the same magic purposes, was honoured with the same honours. That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians–the true original form of the letter T–the initial of the name of Tammuz–which, in Hebrew, radically the same as ancientChaldee, as found on coins, was formed as in No. 1 of the accompanying woodcut (Fig. 43); and in Etrurian and Coptic, as in Nos. 2 and 3. That mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated in the Mysteries, [Tertullian, De Proescript. Hoeret. cap.40, vol.ii. p.54, and Note. The language of Tertullian implies that those who were initiated by baptism in the Mysteries were marked on the forehead in the same way, as his Christian country-men in Africa, who had begun by this time to be marked in baptism with the sign of the cross.] and was used in every variety of way as a most sacred symbol. To identify Tammuz with the sun it was joined sometimes to the circle of the sun, as in No. 4; sometimes it was inserted in the circle, as in No. 5. [Stephen’s Central America, vol.ii. p.344, Plate 2.] Whether the Maltese cross, which the Romish bishops append to their names as a symbol of theirepiscopal dignity, is the letter T, may be doubtful; but there seems no reason to doubt that that Maltese cross is an express symbol of the sun; for Layard found it as a sacred symbol in Nineveh in such a connection as led him to identify it with the sun. [Layard’s Nineveh and Babylon, p.211; Nineveh and its Remains, vol.ii, p.446.] The mysticTau, as the symbol of the great divinity, was called “the sign of life;” it was used as an amulet over the heart; [Wilkinson, vol.i. p.365, Plate.] it was marked on the official garments of the priests, as on the official garments of the priests of Rome; it was borne by kings in their hand, as a token of their dignity or divinely-conferred authority. The Vestal virgins of Pagan Rome wore it suspended from their necklaces, as the nuns do now. [Pere Lafitan, Moeursdes Sauvages Ameriquains, vol.i. p.442.]

On page 199, Hislop says:

There is hardly a Pagan tribe where the cross has not been found. The cross was worshipped by the Pagan Celts long before the incarnation and death of Christ. [Crabb’s Mythology, p.163.] “It is a fact,” says Maurice, “not less remarkable than well-attested, that the Druids in their groves were accustomed to select the most stately and beautiful tree as an emblem of the Deity they adored, and having cut the side branches, they affixed two of the largest of them to the highest part of the trunk, in such a manner that those branches extended on each side like the arms of a man, and, together with the body, presented the appearance of a HUGE CROSS, and on the bark, in several places, was also inscribed the letter Thau.” [Maurice’s Indian Antiquities, vol.vi.p.49.] It was worshipped inMexico for ages before the Roman Catholic missionaries set foot there, large stone crosses being erected, probably to the “god of rain.” [Prescott’s Conquest of Mexico, vol.i.p.242.] The cross thus widely worshipped, or regarded as a sacred emblem, was the un-equivocal symbol of Bacchus, the Babylonian Messiah, for he was represented with a head-band covered with crosses. . .

The chapter quoted from, above, by Hislop, closes with this footnote:

If the above remarks be well founded, surely it cannot be right that this sign of the Cross, or emblem of Tammuz, should be used in Christian baptism. At the period of the Revolution, a Royal Commission, appointed to inquire into the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England, numbering among its members eight or ten bishops, strongly recommended that the use of the cross, as tending to superstition, should be laid aside. If such a recommendation was given then, and that by such authority as members of the Church of England must respect, how much ought that recommendation to be enforced by the new light which Providence has cast on the subject!

In consideration of these facts, we must conclude that such a symbol or image has NO place in a Christian life, and definitely does not belong in our “meeting-houses.” There is not a hint in the entire Bible that can honestly be considered as teaching, endorsing, or giving permission to use, make, or have a cross as an image or symbol. If all the above evidence could be discredited, there would still be no wrong done in avoiding the displaying of a cross. But, if these things be true, the use of the symbol is dishonoring our Lord and Saviour, who died on a cross, and is to express an alliance with religious systems that are totally opposite to true Christianity! And, what about bringing in a crowd of children and leading them to pledge their allegiance to a flag with a big red cross on it, and “to the Saviour for whose kingdom it stands”?

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

(Matthew 18:6)

It is to be noticed that people will disobey and disregard the clear and plain teachings of the Bible, but eagerly accept a practice that is not taught in the Bible. Many excuse themselves from doing the “little things that the Bible only mentions once,” but go “whole hog” after pagan practices.

Remember what the Waldenses taught about antichrist. Remember that about the year 1040, the Paterines “called [the adoration of] the cross the mark of the beast.” What if it turns out that the symbol of a cross is literally used in “the mark of the beast”? What effect might our teachings and practice have on those who will be left to face that day?