Intercontinental Church of God - Chicago Church
Affiliated with the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association

 
 

Mark and Luke Prove Jesus Christ was in the Tomb

During Two Sabbaths

 

By Jim Josephsen

 
 
 

 

 

            Prevalent throughout the world, as sanctioned by both Catholic and Protestant Christian doctrine, is the teaching that Jesus Christ died and was buried on a Friday (called Good Friday) and was resurrected on a Sunday, specifically in the morning, at sunrise (called Easter Sunday). This is what the average Christian believes and accepts today without question; this is what the world in general understands.

                                                                                                                                                  

The Friday to Sunday doctrine is taught because a cursory reading of the four gospels seems to indicate that Jesus died and was placed in the tomb on the day before the weekly Sabbath (which we today call Saturday) and was resurrected on the day after the weekly Sabbath.

                                                 

Additionally, history reveals that the newly forming Catholic Church saw no other choice but to endorse long established heathen and pagan practices, merging them with Christological dogma. Doing so, the Catholic Church espoused doctrines which are clearly in opposition to the truth of God, the very Bible itself. (Easter, Resurrection Sunday, the Lord’s Day, Sun(day) worship, Good Friday, Sol Invictus are subjects for another time; yet information on all these topics is readily available for you to research.)

 

            As professed by Mainstream Christianity, Jesus Christ was in the tomb from Friday, late afternoon until Sunday morning, a total of some 36 to 39 hours. Yet, a time frame of this duration is radically opposed to the length of time Jesus Christ stated He would be in the tomb (in the heart of the earth).

 

Believing that Christ died on a Friday and was resurrected on a Sunday, Mainstream Christianity naturally professes that Jesus was in the tomb only during one Sabbath day. This doctrine too, is radically opposed to the very Word of God and does not measure up to the truth of the Bible.

 

            What does the Bible teach regarding the length of time Christ was in the tomb?

 

Was He in the tomb only some 36 hours?

 

Was Jesus Christ in the tomb during only one Sabbath day or was Jesus Christ in the tomb during two Sabbaths?

 

Let us search the scriptures and allow the very Word of God to reveal the truth of the matter. Let us allow the Bible to show us whether Christ was in the tomb during only one Sabbath or during two Sabbaths.

 

Let us defer to the scriptures and clearly see the truth – according to the scriptures.

 

Let us begin with the words Jesus Christ spoke concerning the length of time He would be in the grave.

 

            “But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign: and there shall be no sign given to it but the sign of Jonas the prophet: 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).

 

When Christ explained He would be in the heart of the earth, the tomb for three days and three nights, He was clearly speaking of three 24-hour cycles of time; in total some 72 hours.

 

Christ was very clear in His explanation. He stated, as Jonas was three days (three 12-hour periods of light) and three nights (three 12-hour periods of darkness) in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days (three 12-hour periods of light) and three nights (three 12-hour periods of darkness) in the heart of the earth.

 

             Three - twelve hour periods of day/light (total 36 hours) plus three - twelve hour periods of night/dark (total 36 hours) equals 72 total hours. (For a complete understanding of the significance of three days and three nights, some 72 hours and a thorough understanding of three complete 24-hour days; see the Bible Study: Neither Did His Flesh See Corruption.)

 

            The scriptures clearly explain, Jesus Christ was in the sepulchre (the heart of the earth) for three complete days – three days and three nights.

 

The scriptures provide clear and absolute evidence that Christ was not placed in the tomb on (what we today call) a Friday; late afternoon. Nor was He resurrected on (what we today call) a Sunday; morning at sunrise.

 

What Christians typically believe, as inspired by the Catholic Church has no sound bases of truth, when measured up to the very Word of God. To accept the span of time from Friday 3:00 pm to Sunday 6:00 am as Christianity believes, would only provide for Christ to have been dead some 39 hours. Being placed in the tomb a few hours later would only provide that Christ was in the tomb some 36 hours. Thirty-six hours is still woefully short of the required 72 hours (three days and three nights) which Jesus Himself stated the Son of Man was to be in the tomb, in the heart of the earth.

 

When reviewing the scriptures relevant to the time Christ died and was placed in the tomb until the time of His resurrection, we are not talking about three parts of a day and three parts of a night, as most theologians entertain in their attempt to justify the Catholic doctrine of a Friday interment to a Sunday resurrection.

 

Jesus Christ died on (what we today would call) a Wednesday, afternoon at approximately 3:00 pm. He was subsequently placed in the tomb on that late afternoon/evening of Wednesday. He was resurrected three days later, on the Sabbath, late in the afternoon/evening. He was in the tomb three days and three nights, being resurrected on the third day; all this done, according to the scriptures.

 

The gospel narratives pertaining to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as found in Mark and Luke, when read together in chronological order along with the information provided by Matthew and John, attest to the historical fact that Jesus Christ was in the tomb during two Sabbaths. Clearly one Sabbath day cannot be justified.

 

To clearly grasp the time element specific to the length of time Christ was in the tomb and the number of Sabbaths during which He was dead, let us begin at the time of Christ’s crucifixion.

 

Christ was placed on the stake (crucified) at the 3rd hour [9:00 am], Mark 15:25. And it was the third hour and they crucified him.

 

From the 6th hour [12:00 noon] until the 9th hour [3:00 pm], there was darkness over the land, Mark 15:33. And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. See also Matthew 27:45 and Luke 23:44-45.

 

Next, as the New Testament clearly reveals, Jesus Christ died at the 9th hour (corresponding to 3:00 in the afternoon) on the preparation day.

 

With regard to the preparation day; the preparation day is the 14th day of the first month (by Jewish/Hebrew calendar reckoning) and the preparation day served a dual purpose.

 

In that it is the 14th day of the first month, the preparation day is the day before a Holy Day called the First Day of Unleavened Bread (which is the 15th day of the first month – Leviticus 23:6, Numbers 28:17).

 

On the preparation day, final preparations (such as cleaning out or removing leavening from family houses) were made for the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was called the [feast of] Passover (Luke 22:1).

 

General history regarding the preparation day explains that at the time of Christ, in Galilee, no work was to be performed on the 14th and in Judaea no new work was to commence that day; rather only “work at hand” could be carried on until mid-day. The only exception to the no work rule in either region was that for tailors, barbers and laundry. Individuals strict to the law, forbid the eating of leavening after mid-day on the 14th. It was also known that the last of leavening taken out of one’s home was to be burnt no later than mid-day. All this activity performed in preparation for the Passover/Unleavened Bread Holy Day.

 

Likewise, the 14th day of the first month, was the day on which the Passover lamb was sacrificed, in the evening (Hebrew beyn ha arbayim – between the evenings), toward the end of that day; see Leviticus 23:5. The preparation day allowed for the lamb sacrifice in preparation for the Passover meal which was consumed with unleavened bread on the night of the First Day of Unleavened Bread.

 

The 9th hour of the 14th day of the first month was the time of day when the Passover Lamb(s) were sacrificed in the Temple at Jerusalem.

 

The perfect timing of Christ’s death (about the 9th hour) coinciding with the slaying of the lamb in the Temple justifies the doctrine, Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). The killing of the Passover Lamb at 3:00 in the afternoon satisfied the law’s command to kill it between the evenings (Exodus 12:6).

 

            In the year of Christ’s death, the 14th day of the first month fell on the fourth day of the week, a Wednesday, the middle day of the week. The fact that He died mid-week fulfills the prophecy … in the midst (middle) of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease … (Daniel 9:27).

 

            As we continue through the time events, the number of days from Christ’s death to His resurrection, we will understand why it could only be that He died on a Wednesday (the fourth day of the week) and then three days later, on a Saturday (the seventh day of the week), He was resurrected.

 

Starting with the fourth day of the week (Wednesday), then counting three days, brings us to the seventh day of the week, the Sabbath (Saturday). Wednesday to Saturday is three complete days (three days and three nights) and as such fulfills the scriptures that reveal Christ was resurrected on the third day.

 

Further more, having already been resurrected on the third day, Saturday/Sabbath, we next get to the first day of the week, Sunday. That Sunday was significant, not because of the erroneous belief that Jesus was resurrected that morning; rather on that Sunday, Jesus Christ fulfilled another prophecy. He was the wave sheaf offering offered before the Father on that Sunday. (For a more thorough understanding, see the study, Christ, the Wave Sheaf Offering.)

 

            Christ died at the 9th hour of the preparation day. Let us review the scriptures which inform us of this fact.

 

            Matthew 27:45-51, 62: Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And behold the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake and the rocks rent …  Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate.

Mark 15:33-39, 42: And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. And 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. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. … And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath,

           

Luke 23:44-46, 50-54 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them); he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.

 

John 19:14, 31, 42 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! … The 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. … There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

 

            The 9th hour is equivalent to 3:00 in the afternoon. As the gospels relate, at the 9th hour, after He cried out to the Father, Christ died. Yet, His body remained on the stake until the evening, before it was taken down to be placed in the sepulchre.  

 

Consequently, Christ, being on the stake was dead awhile. Notice Mark 15:44-45: And Pilate marveled if he were already dead: and calling unto him a centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.

 

Ever sensitive to the political and religious turmoil brewing among the Jewish leadership, the Sanhedrin, over the man, Jesus Christ, Pilate did not want to take any chances that Jesus may have only been in an unconscious or semi-comatose state up on the crucifixion stake, only to be revived by his disciples once taken down. Realizing that possibility existed, Pilate made sure Christ was dead. The centurion checking out the situation no doubt told Pilate, “Christ certainly was dead,” as a spear was even thrust through His side, accomplishing the task (John 19:34).

 

Christ was certifiably dead, having died about/around the 9th hour. Now when evening was come, Christ’s body was taken off the stake. Notice the following scriptures.

 

Mathew 27:57–60 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

 

Mark 15:42-46 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honorable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And 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.

 

Luke 23:50-54 And behold there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor and he was a good man and a just (that same had not consented to the counsel and the deed of them;) he was of Arimathea, a city of the Jews; who himself waited for the kingdom of God. This man went unto Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down and wrapped it in linen and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone wherein never man before was laid. And that day was preparation and the Sabbath drew on.

                                                                                                                              

John 19:30-42 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. The 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. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced. And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

 

The evening of a day, in Hebrew reckoning, is equivalent to the 12th hour of the day(light). There are (generally speaking – depending on seasonal vicissitudes) twelve hours of light in a day (John 11:9) and there are twelve hours of dark/night; together which constitutes a 24 hour day.

 

The evening of a day is the last hour of the 12 hours of daylight and is also the last hour of the 24 hour daily cycle. (The 12th hour, like all hours, has a duration of some 60 minutes. After the 12th hour is complete, the 1st hour commences.) The evening of a day is the last hour of daylight (the 12th hour of daylight), just before the commencement of the 1st hour of the night/dark.

 

The commencement of the night/dark of the day is the commencement of the 1st hour of the new day. The 1st hour of the new day commences after the evening sunset (of the old day – the 12th hour) is completed; after the sun’s fading twilight has extinguished.

 

The evening is always at the end of the day, whether you think of the 12 hour portion of the day(light) or the 24 hour cycle of the day.

 

Consider Matthew 20:1-12.  In summary we read in verse 6 of the 11th hour. Then verse 8 we read even was come. The even(ing) would be the 12th hour. Why?

 

Once again, let us review the scriptures. Christ said “are there not 12 hours in the day” (John 11:9). The 12th hour is the last hour of the day and is called the evening.  Verse 12 of Matthew 20 shows how that those who worked from the 11th hour of the day worked for one hour, until the evening, which was quitting time; the ending of the work day.

 

Eleven plus one equals twelve and the evening was the 12th hour of the day. (For further detail explaining when the evening of each day occurs, see the Bible Study on the Old Testament Passover or the Bible Study entitled, “Sunset to Sunset – What does that mean?”) The evening, the 12th hour of a day would last for some 60 minutes, until the 1st hour of the night, which is the commencement of a new day.

 

When the evening of the preparation day came, Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Christ, to put Him into the tomb. He had about one hour to get the body of Jesus Christ into the sepulchre, before the Sabbath Day commenced.

 

All the gospel narratives express the urgency placed upon Joseph’s shoulders in his need to get the body of Christ in the tomb before the night commenced, before the Sabbath day commenced. Refer once again to Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:42-46, Luke 23:50-54, John 19:38-42.

 

Christ died at the 9th hour. His body remained on the stake for approximately 3 hours, as the evening was closing in. Joseph asked of Pilate for the body (to be taken down and buried), as the Sabbath day was soon approaching. The body of Christ had to be in the tomb before the sun had set, before the night commenced; otherwise the Law (actually two) would have been broken.

 

1) The law pertaining to the Holy Days and Sabbath Leviticus 23 – no work is to be done on these days and 2) Deuteronomy 21:23; dead bodies needed to be buried the same day on which they died; they are not to remain out all night.

 

Christ was placed securely in the tomb before the night, before the start of the first day of the required 3 day and 3 nights. After the evening (the completion of the 12th hour) of the preparation day concluded, the night (also known as the 1st hour of the night) of the next (new) day commenced.

 

That next or new day was called the Sabbath as Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:31 all clearly show.

 

            And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath (Mark 15:42).

 

            And that day was preparation and the Sabbath drew on (Luke 23:54).

 

            The 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).

 

If we only had the gospel narratives of Mark and Luke as pertaining to the word Sabbath, simply reading them as they are, verbatim, we could easily conclude these writers were referring to the weekly Sabbath day.

 

However, Mark and Luke are not all we have. John also provides information pertinent to the term Sabbath day, this particular Sabbath day and in so writing, John clearly reveals information that both Mark and Luke did not provide.

 

Regarding the phrase John wrote; for that sabbath day was an high day, John has provided additional information. If that Sabbath were a regular seventh day Sabbath, a normal weekly, according to the 4th commandment, Sabbath, then John’s audience would have understood that fact and there would have been no reason for John to say anything more. There would have been no reason for John to provide expanded commentary about that particular Sabbath.

 

Back in that day and age, even as understood today, the day called the Sabbath was naturally known as the seventh day of the week. Today the seventh day of the week is still called the Sabbath, is still a Saturday. Sabbath in the common sense is the Sabbath, the day of rest, the day to keep holy. Sabbath means cessation.

 

Yet, with that said, it is clearly understood, as the Bible reveals, that all of God’s seven annual Holy Days are also considered Sabbath days. Each one of the seven annual Holy Days is considered a high or sacred (holy) day, a special Sabbath. Each one of God’s seven annual Holy Days is on a par with the Sabbath Day. Each Holy Day has the right to be called a Sabbath.

 

The seven annual Holy Days, as defined by Leviticus the 23rd chapter and Numbers, chapters 28 and 29, are as follows, in order: 1) First Day of Unleavened Bread (15th day of the 1st month); 2) Seventh or Last Day of Unleavened Bread (21st day of the 1st month); 3) Feast of Firstfruits (aka Pentecost), the 50th day as counted from the morrow after the weekly sabbath during unleavened bread; 4) Day of Trumpets (1st day of the 7th month); 5) Day of Atonement (10th day of the 7th month); 6) Feast of Tabernacles (15th day of the 7th month) and 7) Last Great Day (aka the Eighth Day) (the 22nd day of the 7th month).

 

Each Holy Day is considered a sabbath day or a cessation day, a day of rest, a day of no work. Each Holy Day is called a day of Holy convocation. Notice Leviticus 23:24, 32, and 39. The Holy Days mentioned in these three verses are Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles and the Eighth day. These four days are not only called Feast days, as explained in Leviticus 23:4 but they are called sabbath(s).

 

Let’s notice. … In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation (Leviticus 23:24).

 

Next, speaking of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27), notice Leviticus 23:32; It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day at even, from even unto even, shall you celebrate your sabbath.

 

Now notice Leviticus 23:39; Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord seven days: the first day shall be a sabbath and the eighth day shall be a sabbath.

 

A Holy Day is called a Sabbath and this rule applies for all of God’s seven annual Holy Days.

 

The First Day of Unleavened Bread, the 15th day of the first month, being a Holy Day is a Sabbath; is a High day, is a day of holy convocation, is a day of rest.

 

When John wrote for that sabbath was an high day, he specifically meant, that sabbath was a Holy Day, a special sabbath, a high, sacred day – not just a normal, weekly, seventh day Sabbath. John, by his commentary set forth the fact, he was not talking just about a weekly, seventh day of the week Sabbath.

 

That preparation day, before the Sabbath was without any doubt, the 14th day of the first month.

                                                              

That preparation day, before the Sabbath was the day on which the Passover lamb was sacrificed.

 

That Sabbath day (as also mentioned in the gospels of Mark and Luke) which was the day after the preparation day was the 15th day of the first month and was a Holy Day.

 

The point is obvious and clear. Jesus Christ died on the day before the First Day of Unleavened Bread, the 15th day of the first month, which is a Holy Day, a sabbath day, an high day.

 

It is clear, as John wrote; that sabbath day was a Holy Day, the First Day of Unleavened Bread.

 

It is clear, Jesus Christ died on the day before a Holy Day.

 

It is clear; we are not talking about the weekly, seventh day, Sabbath day, when we read the word Sabbath in the gospel accounts as pertaining to the day after Jesus Christ was crucified and then put in the tomb.

 

Consequently, we can not conclude that Christ died on a Friday.

 

Now, can we conclude that Christ was in the tomb for more than one Sabbath day?

 

Was Christ in the tomb during two Sabbath days? Let us continue.

 

Now with regard to the scriptures which address the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the scriptures are clear in explaining that the seventh-day Sabbath (aka, the weekly Sabbath), was over and the first day of the week (what we call Sunday) was evident.

 

What can we learn about the things that happened on that first day of the week, the day we call Sunday and what can we learn as to what did not happen on that Sunday?

 

As the Jewish calendar reveals, as was and is of common understanding, even during the years of Christ’s walk on earth, regarding the reckoning of each day, it is understood that each day ends with the evening.

 

The last event to occur each day is the evening sunset. Once the sun(light) of the day is extinguish, as it only does occur in the evening of the day; once the light of the day is gone, then that day is over.

 

Once the darkness of the night commences, then a new day begins. Each day starts with the commencement of night.

 

Consequently, the first day of the week commences with the night.

 

After the evening/sunset of the Sabbath day is completely extinguished and the Sabbath sun is gone, the first day of the week then begins (with the night).

 

Now when we read of the first day of the week in Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1 and John 20:1, we are reading of the day we today call, Sunday. That fact is clear, as we will come to understand from the Scriptures and ironically, as the Catholic Church actually gets this one right.

 

The Sabbath evening was over; had passed; the Sabbath sunset was complete; the Sabbath day was over. Matthew 28:1 as translated directly from the Greek language reads as follows: After the close of the Sabbath, as it began to grow light into the first ….

 

Logically, we can understand the following sequence of events which by natural observation had occurred in the narrative of Matthew 28:1.

 

The Sabbath day was over. The Sabbath’s evening sunset was complete. The Sabbath sun was well below the horizon and the darkness of night had commenced.  It was after the close of the Sabbath. Next, the night of the first day of the week was now evident. The night (the 12 hours of darkness) of the first day of the week was proceeding and was coming to an end as it was only beginning to get light outside as the morning sun was moving closer (upward) to meet the eastern horizon. The morning, the dawn of the first day of the week, Sunday, was soon to be breaking, as it began to grow light.

 

Mark 16:2 reads: And very early on the first of the week, they came upon the tomb at the rising of the sun.

 

Luke 24:1 reads: Now on the first of the week, very early in the morning ….          

 

Finally, John 20:1 reads: Early on the first day of the week, when it was yet dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the sepulchre.

 

Once again, we logically understand; the weekly Sabbath day was over. The first day of the week had commenced with the night. The night was progressing toward its 12th hour. The sun had not risen, for it was still dark. Clearly, we are reading of the very early morning hours, before the dawn.

 

After some 11 hours of darkness transpired, it was getting closer to the time of sunrise, as the night of that first day of the week was coming to a close. The women then came early on what we call Sunday morning, while it was yet dark (John 20:1) only to find the tomb empty, for he had risen, already (Mathew 28:6, Mark 16:6, Luke 24:6).

 

As the scriptures give full proof; the sun had not yet arisen over the eastern horizon, yet Christ was already gone. The tomb was already empty; he was not there, for he had already risen; he had already been resurrected before sunrise of Sunday morning.

 

Christ died at the 9th hour of the preparation day. He was placed in the newly hewn, never used sepulchre in the evening of the preparation day (John 19:41-42). He died on a Wednesday, midweek; at the same time the Passover Lamb was sacrificed in the Temple. He was then placed in the tomb in the evening of that day; all according to the scriptures.

 

For three day and three nights, some 72 hours he laid in the tomb. From Wednesday evening, counting some 72 hours (three days and three nights), brings us to Saturday, late afternoon/evening. It was on that third day, Christ was resurrected, just as He said; the son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and the third day rise again (Luke 24:7 cf. Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:23, Mark 9:30-31). Wednesday evening to Saturday evening is three full days, some 72 hours. Saturday was the third day.

 

For Christ to have been in the tomb beyond Saturday/Sabbath evening (into Sunday, the first day of the week) would have logically demanded that Christ would have been in the tomb into the fourth day. And clearly that absolutely could not be. For Christ to be in the tomb any time past Saturday evening, any time past the third day, would have made Christ’s words and the Bible unreliable; and clearly that is not true.

 

Christ’s words and the Bible are truth and are absolutely verifiable and trustworthy. Christ was resurrected on the third day, Saturday; not the fourth day, not on Sunday.

 

Jesus Christ clearly stated, 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. Jesus Christ clearly revealed how long he would be in the tomb. Jesus Christ clearly prophesied of Himself that He would be raised on the third day.

 

And three (complete) days it was. On the Sabbath day (Saturday) He was resurrected.

 

Within these three days were two Sabbaths, as the scriptures clearly reveal this fact. The first Sabbath was the First Day of Unleavened Bread and the second Sabbath was the weekly, seventh day Sabbath. The gospel accounts of Mark and Luke prove this fact.

 

Having read all we have to this point, let us focus on the gospel accounts of Mark and Luke and read their narratives and the chronological sequence of the events that transpired between Christ’s Wednesday entombment and the early Sunday morning shock that Christ had already risen before the light of the day commenced.

 

Mark 15:44-16:2 narrates:  And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead; and calling unto him the centurion, he asked whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And 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.

 

Let us review and analyze these verses.

 

Mark explains that Joseph bought fine linen and wrapped Christ in the linen. By reading John 19:39-40, we further understand that Nicodemus bought a mixture of myrrh and aloe, about an hundred pounds and he and Joseph (no doubt others) took the body of Jesus and wound it in linen with the spices, as the manner of Jewish burial required. They then laid Christ in a tomb that was brand new, where no man was ever before placed.

 

Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses took notice of where Joseph and Nicodemus buried Christ. All this done in the evening of the preparation day, before the Sabbath (which John called an high day) had commenced (at the 1st hour of the night).

 

Remember the body had to be in the tomb and the tomb sealed before the commencement of the Sabbath, that high day.

 

The body of Jesus was entombed; all was taken care of, in the haste which the situation demanded on that evening of the 14th day of the first month. Then the Sabbath, the high day commenced with the night and on that Sabbath/High day no work could be performed. The nation of Judaea was now keeping a Holy Day, the First Day of Unleavened Bread.

 

Beginning at the night, on the First Day of Unleavened Bread, which is also called the Passover (Luke 22:1) the Jews, including the disciples and Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses and the women, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, (including the Pharisees (cf. John 18:28)); all, ate their Passover meal (the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs cf. Exodus 12:8) that night. No doubt under great sorrow at the events which had just transpired.

 

After that night concluded, the morning then commenced; the day then proceeded (some 12 hours of light). Then the evening sunset commenced and after the sun was below the western horizon and the dark of night commenced, the First Day of Unleavened Bread (a Sabbath, high day) was completed, it came to an end. That Sabbath, the First Day of Unleavened Bread, was over and the night of a new, normal day commenced. The Sabbath was past.

 

Now notice Mark 16:1 which states, 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.

 

This verse makes perfect sense in light of the reality of Jewish life. The Sabbath had to be over, it had to be past, before the sweet spices could be purchased.

 

Why?

 

Because on the Sabbath day, nothing could be bought or sold. Purchases could not be made on the Sabbath day. The law strictly forbade buying and selling on the Sabbath. Confer Nehemiah 10:31 and the long standing requirement of no commerce on the Sabbath or the Holy Days.

 

So whether we understand the sabbath spoken of here in Mark 16:1 as the First Day of Unleavened Bread, an high day or as the weekly, seventh day (according to the 4th commandment) Sabbath, the fact of the matter stands; the women had to wait for the next day (the day after the Sabbath was past) in order to buy their sweet spices, for the purpose of anointing Christ’s body.

 

They had to wait for the Sabbath to be past, to be over, before they could purchase the spices.

 

Now let us ask a logical question. When did the women expect to anoint the body of Christ?

 

The scriptures answer that question for us. Notice Luke 24:1. 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 ….

 

The women expected, they planned to anoint the body of Jesus (it was their own little way of honoring this great man and very close friend, their Rabbi – for clearly they knew that Joseph and Nicodemus had already anointed the body, according to Jewish burial requirements), on the first day of the week, called Sunday.

 

Now let us understand the chronology and the logic of their thinking.

 

The women had to wait until the Sabbath was past, before they could purchase the spices. They then had to prepare the spices once they had purchased them.

 

Obviously, they did not have spices and ointments with them during the Feast celebration in Jerusalem; for they had no idea Christ would actually be killed on the Passover day. They were not expecting a burial to have taken place. They did not bring any spices with them to Jerusalem.

 

Being in Jerusalem for the Passover/Days of Unleavened Bread Feast celebration; having nothing with them, they had to buy the spices; and they did so after the Sabbath was past. And having purchased the spices, they then had to prepare them, before they could apply them. And their expectation was to apply them, to anoint the body of Christ early Sunday morning.

 

Now, let us ask another logical question.

 

If the Sabbath day which is spoken of here in Mark 16:1 was the weekly, seventh day (according to the 4th commandment) Sabbath, then the next day (when the Sabbath was past) had to be a Sunday, the first day of the week.

 

If the women were to buy their sweet spices on Sunday, the first day of the week (after the Sabbath had past), then it would have been too late for them and the whole exercise would have been futile.

 

Why?

 

As we understand by reading both gospel accounts of Luke and Mark, the purpose of their going to the tomb early Sunday morning with prepared spices, was to anoint the body. That is why they brought the spices with them. That is why the bought and prepared the spices.

 

How could they come to the tomb very early Sunday morning, bringing with them prepared spices, if they did not even buy or prepare them yet?

 

This does not make any sense if we force the belief that that Sabbath which Mark is talking about was a weekly, seventh day, according to the 4th commandment, Sabbath. Logic tells us it was not! Mark was not referring to the weekly, seventh day Sabbath.

 

Then what Sabbath day was Mark referring to in his gospel account?

 

To thoroughly understand, let us next read Luke’s account. Luke 23:54-24:1; and that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment. 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.

 

            Here again we read how that the women took note of where Jesus was entombed. Luke then writes, they returned and prepared spices and ointments and rested on the Sabbath day according to the commandment. That phrase, according to the commandment clarifies the fact that Luke was not speaking about a Holy Day, as Mark was.

 

According to the commandment strictly meant according to the 4th commandment – Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8). If Luke were speaking of a Holy Day Sabbath he would have expressed the term, according to the law of the Holy Day.

 

            Notice again the logical chronology. After the evening of the preparation day was complete, the women could not return right away or on the next day to prepare spices.

 

Why?

 

Because naturally, that next day, which commenced at night, just shortly after Christ was laid in the sepulchre, was a Sabbath, an high day called the First Day of Unleavened Bread.  It was a Holy Day.

 

Of course, to reiterate, we know no work was to be performed on a Holy Day, Sabbath, high day. So naturally the women had to wait until after that sabbath/Holy Day was past, after the Sabbath was over, before they could prepare the spices, before they could even go and buy the sweet spices.

 

            Just exactly as Mark indicated, the women had to wait until the Sabbath was past before they could purchase their sweet spices. It was only after they purchased the spices (on the day after the Sabbath (the Holy Day called the First Day of Unleavened Bread)), they could then prepare their spices.

 

            The women purchased and prepared the spices and ointments on the day after the Sabbath was past. On that day after the Sabbath was past, they then did their work. After they did work, they then did rest according to the commandment. They rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment, the 4th commandment (Luke 23:56).

 

            The women worked (bought and prepared spices and ointments) between two Sabbath Days.

 

            Mark and Luke reveal two Sabbath days; each discussing a different and distinct Sabbath day.

                                                                  

            The women waited for the (first) Sabbath to have past (as Mark reveals). They then bought and purchased sweet spices and then prepared them. After they were done preparing, they then rested on the (second) Sabbath day, according to the commandment (as Luke reveals).

 

            Clearly two Sabbaths are mention.

 

            Let us put the narratives of Mark and Luke together and let us read the chronological flow of events that took place after Christ was placed in the tomb. Reading this narrative flow clearly reveals that Jesus Christ was in the tomb during two separate and distinct Sabbaths.

 

            The scripture flow is as follows: Luke 23:54 (cf. John 19:31), then Mark 15:47 (with Luke 23:55), then Mark 16:1, then Luke 23:56, then Luke 24:1.

 

            Put together it reads as follows (quoted from the NIV): It was preparation day and the Sabbath was about to begin (Luke 23:54). Now it was the day of Preparation and the next day was to be a special Sabbath (John 19:31). Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jose saw where he was laid (Mark 15:47). The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it (Luke 23:55). When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices so that they might anoint Jesus’ body. (Mark 16:1). Then they went home and prepared spices and perfume. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment (Luke 23:56). On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb (Luke 24:1).

 

            To summarize these scriptures along with those found in Matthew and John, the narrative reads as follows: That day, on which Jesus died and was entombed, was the preparation day, and the Sabbath day to follow was the First Day of Unleavened Bread, an high day. Now that Sabbath was getting close and Joseph had to get the body into the tomb quickly. The women took notice of where the sepulchre was and how he was buried. The Holy Day (the first Sabbath) came and the women had to wait until after the Holy Day was over. Once the Holy Day (the Sabbath, an high day – the First Day of Unleavened Bread) was past, the women bought spices. After purchasing the spices, they prepared the spices and ointments. After preparing the spices that day, they then rested on the Sabbath day (the second Sabbath day), according to the 4th commandment. After that commanded weekly, seventh day Sabbath was over and the night of the first day of the week was coming to an end, the women got up early in the morning, before the sunrise, in order to go to the tomb to somehow gain access to the body in order to anoint it.

 

            Two sabbath days are acknowledged in the gospel accounts. Jesus Christ was in the tomb during two sabbaths. The first sabbath being the First Day of Unleavened Bread, an high day and the second sabbath being the weekly, seventh day Sabbath.

 

            Jesus Christ was placed in the tomb on Wednesday evening, just before the evening sunset. The first day of his interment was on the first sabbath, the high day called the First Day of Unleavened Bread, a Thursday. His second day of interment was on Friday, a normal work day and a normal day on which one could buy and sell and work (to prepare spices and ointments). His third day of interment was the seventh day Sabbath, when again rest was commanded. Christ was resurrected on the third day, in the late afternoon/evening of that Sabbath day.

 

            It is evident, Christ was not in the tomb for only one Sabbath; nor was He placed in the tomb on a Friday and resurrected on a Sunday.

 

Jesus Christ was clearly in the grave, in the tomb during two separate Sabbath days and for a total of three days and three nights; all this done according to the scriptures; all this explained according to the scriptures.

 

 
 

 

 
 
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