There has been much discussion and much controversy surrounding what many Christians celebrate as Good Friday. This has traditionally been the Friday before Easter Sunday that is traditionally used to commemorate the day Jesus was crucified and died at a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull (Matthew 27:33).
According to what was written in the Gospels, the next evening, which was after the Sabbath had ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, went out and purchased some sweet spices that they might anoint the body of Jesus. It is important to remember that the Sabbath during this time went from Friday evening at sunset to Saturday evening at sunset. By keeping this fact in mind, we know that when the scriptures uses the phrase the next evening, which was after the Sabbath, the scriptures are actually referring to Sunday evening, just after sunset. Now we know that this may become a little confusing, especially trying to keep the days straight in one’s mind using this method of counting, but this was how the days were counted when Jesus rose from the grave.
After examining the first chapter of the first book of Genesis you can see from the very beginning, from the very first day until the sixth day, God determined that each day would begin in the evening, continue through the next morning, and end at the beginning of the next evening. This is slightly different from how we presently refer to and count a day. We start at midnight, calling that the morning, and consider that to be the start of the day. We continue through the evening, considering that to be the end of the day until we get to midnight again, which begins the next day. You can also see from those passages that God did not name the actually day, just the method by which a day was referred to and counted.
Even though the scriptures do not refer to the seventh day the same as the previous ones, it would be safe to assume that the seventh day started in the evening, just after the conclusion of the sixth day and continued through the morning until the next evening, which would start the next day. And this was the day that God blessed and sanctified because on this day, he rested from all the work in which he had created the heavens, the earth, and all the host of them.
Now according to the scriptures, the next evening following the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, went out and purchased some sweet spices that they might anoint the body of Jesus. The next evening following the Sabbath would have been Sunday evening, just after sunset. Now this is where things get just a little confusing, especially trying to keep the days straight in one’s mind, but we will do our best not to confuse the issue. The reason there is some confusion, it comes from trying to explain something that was counted and tracked way back then, using today’s terminology.
As we have said before, for the most part, we consider a day starting at midnight and going until the next midnight. So, we could actually have a day, like Saturday, being one that would go from midnight to midnight and still be just one day. It was the same for them back then, with just a slight difference. They would consider their day starting at sunset and going to the next sunset. So, they could actually have a day, like Saturday, that would go from one sunset to the next sunset and it still be counted as one day. All this sounds simple and it is quite simple until we try to explain the past using today’s terminology.
We are not saying that we cannot follow the basic premise of being able to count and track a day, but when it comes to counting and tracking more than one using today’s terminology, things can become just a bit confusing. For us to count and track the same Saturday that was mentioned earlier, which by the way started at sunset and went to the next sunset, we would have to know that Saturday actually started on what we currently refer to as Friday evening, after sunset. It would continue through the morning until we got back to the sunset again. Please keep in mind that the evening and the morning were considered to be one day and not the morning and the evening, as we presently count and track them. The sunset would mark the end of Saturday and the beginning of the next day. The next day would be the beginning of Sunday, which would start on what we currently refer to as Saturday evening, after sunset. Are you truly confused now?
Here are the basics of what we are saying, in today’s terminology. To count and track any one day the way that it was counted and tracked in Jesus’ day, we would start tracking the evening before the day that we were counting and continue through the day that we were are tracking. So for a Saturday, we would start tracking the evening before the day that we were counting, which would be Friday and continue counting through the day that we were tracking, which would be Saturday. Simply put, Saturday would begin Friday evening and continue through the day on Saturday. Sunday would begin Saturday evening and continue through the day on Sunday. We hope this clears things up just a little, but if you are still confused, then you will just have to work on this on your own.
Now, so far we have determined that Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, went out and purchased some sweet spices that they might anoint the body of Jesus the next evening following the Sabbath. We have established that the next evening following the Sabbath would have been the beginning of Sunday, which we refer to in today’s terminology as Saturday evening. The scriptures go on to say that very early the next morning, which would be Sunday morning, while it was still dark just as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome carried the sweet spice that they had purchased to anoint the body to the tomb.
On their way to the tomb, they were discussing how they could ever roll aside the huge heavy stone that blocked the entrance. But when they arrived, they looked up and saw that the huge stone had already been moved away and that the entrance was open. There had been a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord had descended down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and then sat on it. His countenance or his face shone like lightening and his clothing, a long white robe, was a brilliant white, white as snow. For fear of him, the guards trembled violently and became like dead men, falling into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke and said to the women, Fear not because I know that you seek Jesus, the Nazarene who was crucified, but he is not here, for he has come back to life and has risen just as he said he would. Come in and see the place where his body was lying.
So, the women enter the tomb only to find that the body of Jesus was not there, for it was gone. They stood puzzled, trying to think what could have happened to it. And as they stood in great perplexity, there suddenly stood in their midst, two men clothed in shining robes so bright their eyes were dazzled. The women were astonished and terrified, but they stood with their faces bowed to the ground. The men said to them, Why do you search among the dead for him who is living? He is not here. Look, that is where his body was lying. He has come back to life. Don’t you remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee? Remember, he said that the son of man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and on the third day rise again. Now go and give this message to his disciples, including Peter, that he has risen from the dead, and that he is going to Galilee to meet them there. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died. Then the women remembered what he had said and ran from the tomb trembling, bewildered, and badly frightened, too frightened to talk but fill with joy as they rushed back to Jerusalem to tell his eleven disciples and everyone else, the message they were given and what had happened.
Enjoy your blessings - KW