LCG: Was Jesus Resurrected on a Sunday?

Dr. Meredith and COGwriter


Was Jesus resurrected on a Sunday?  Here is what LCG’s Roderick C. Meredith reported:

Was Jesus Resurrected on Sunday?

If you visit a mainstream Christian church and ask members why the day on which they and other people attend worship services is Sunday, a typical response might be that Jesus was resurrected on that day. But how well does this idea bear up under close scrutiny?

Notice what Christ told the Pharisees, who were looking for a sign of the Messiah: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and NO SIGN will be given to it EXCEPT the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:39-40).

The only sign Jesus gave to prove He was the Messiah was that the grave would only hold Him for a limited amount of time-exactly “three days and three nights” (or 72 hours). But the Easter Sunday tradition maintains that Christ was buried just before sunset on “Good Friday” afternoon and resurrected early Sunday morning-only two nights and one day (or 36 hours)!

Some will argue the definition of “day.” But Christ clearly stated that there are 12 hours in a day, not including the night (John 11:9-10). Therefore, when Easter Sunday proponents take His remark and conclude that Christ was in the grave three days x 12 hours = 36 hours, we can see that they are leaving out the “three nights.” There are approximately 12 hours of daytime and 12 hours of nighttime in one 24-hour day! So three days and three nights is definitely 72 hours. But was it exactly 72 hours? Jesus said He would rise “AFTER three days” (Mark 8:31)-i.e. no less than 72 hours. But He also said He would rise “IN three days” (John 2:19, 21)-i.e. no more than 72 hours. This is absolutely clear-72 hours exactly! And God is always right on schedule.

Also consider that, when the women came to His tomb Sunday morning, “it was still dark” (John 20:1) and He had already risen. How could this be? The Sunday-resurrection proponents contend that He had risen just moments before. If they are correct, then “three days and three nights” earlier would be just before sunrise on Thursday morning. Yet no one believes Christ was buried on Thursday morning-or any morning for that matter-and with good reason. When Joseph of Arimathea laid Christ’s body in the tomb, “the Sabbath drew near” (Luke 23:50-54). Biblical days, including Sabbaths, begin at sunset and end the following sunset (cf. Genesis 1:5-31; Leviticus 23:32)-a nighttime period followed by a daytime period.

Christ, then, was buried in late afternoon-before a particular Sabbath began at sunset. Three days and three nights later would be the same time of day-late afternoon! Now we have another problem. If we assume that Christ was buried on Friday afternoon, as the Good Friday tradition asserts, then His resurrection-72 hours later-would be Monday afternoon. Yet no one believes this either-again, with good reason. For remember that Christ had already risen before the women came to His tomb prior to daybreak Sunday morning! What, then, is the answer?

Why have so many thought that Christ was put in the grave on Friday afternoon? Mark 15:42 states that “it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath.” Since the weekly Sabbath always occurred on the seventh day of the week (now called Saturday), the “Preparation Day” was normally on Friday. However, we have already seen the problem with this. The answer to the apparent dilemma is that the weekly Sabbath is not the only Sabbath mentioned in the Bible. Leviticus 23 lists seven annual Holy Days that occur in God’s Festivals. Each of these days was considered a Sabbath (or a “rest” from normal labor). All annual Sabbaths or “High Days” (except Pentecost) fell on particular calendar dates rather than set days of the week.

Now the mystery can be solved by reading John 19:31. The Jews wanted to remove the crucifixion victims “because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a HIGH DAY).” Christ kept the Passover with His disciples the night before His death (Luke 22:15). He died on the cross the next afternoon, which was still Passover (the 14th of Abib or Nisan according to the Hebrew Calendar-Leviticus 23:5). Leviticus 23:6-7 reports that the next day, beginning the evening after His crucifixion, was not a weekly Sabbath, but an annual Sabbath-the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Now put together the facts. It is clear from the Bible that Christ died and was buried on Passover afternoon-and that the following day was an annual Sabbath. It is also clear that he was resurrected at the same time of day-late afternoon. But which afternoon? Since the women found Him already gone Sunday morning, it would be sensible to conclude that He had been resurrected the previous afternoon on Saturday! This would mean He had been buried three days and three nights earlier-Wednesday afternoon. It would also mean that Passover, Nisan 14, fell on a Wednesday that year. And, indeed, that is what happened in A.D. 31, a year that fits the time frame the Bible demands.

Scripture also provides further proof that there were TWO Sabbaths that week-an annual and a weekly one. In Mark 15:47, Mary Magdalene and her companion watched Joseph of Arimathea lay Jesus in the tomb near the end of the Passover. The next verse, Mark 16:1, tells us that after the “Sabbath,” Mary Magdalene and her companions bought spices with which to anoint Christ’s dead body. However, Luke 23:56 shows that they prepared the spices before the Sabbath. Naturally, they couldn’t have prepared spices before they were even bought! The only explanation that makes sense is that they bought the spices on Friday and prepared them the same day-after the annual Sabbath on Thursday and before the weekly Sabbath on Saturday! Then they rested on the weekly Sabbath-at the end of which Jesus was resurrected. The next morning, Sunday, they came to the tomb before sunrise and found him already gone.

But some will point out Mark 16:9, which says, “Now when He rose early on the first day of the week….” Yet how can this be? To understand, we should read the verse in the original King James Version and continue further in the sentence: “Now when Jesus was risen [the perfect tense is correct here-He was already risen] early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene.” He was not “rising” on Sunday morning. As we’ve seen, He rose Saturday afternoon. So early Sunday morning, He was already “risen.” Also realize that in the original Greek there was no punctuation. Had the King James translators simply put a comma after the word “risen” and not after “week,” this would make complete sense. The Centenary Translation renders it this way: “Now after his resurrection, early on the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene.”

To conclude, a Sunday morning resurrection could not be the reason for changing the weekly day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. But even if Christ were resurrected on Sunday, why would His disciples-who had kept the seventh-day Sabbath with Him-have abandoned His example of keeping the Ten Commandments and switched to Sunday-keeping? And why would they have picked Sunday, a day already associated with pagan sun worship? But the Bible is very clear that Christ was NOT resurrected on Sunday morning. So this pitiful attempt to CHANGE God’s Law does not hold water! (Meredith R.C. Which Day is the Christian Sabbath? © 2006 Living Church of God).

Three days prior to Saturday afternoon is Wednesday afternoon. Hence, since Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday and resurrected on a Saturday, there is no biblical reason for “Easter” to be on a Sunday. The resurrection was not on Sunday.

In 1952, the old Radio Church of God put out a booklet titled The RESURRECTION was NOT on Sunday By Herbert W. Armstrong explaining this.

But even some Protestant scholars have long realized that there is biblical support that Jesus’ resurrection may have been on Saturday. Notice what one wrote in 1907:

…the Bible nowhere says or implies that Jesus was crucified and died on Friday. It is said that Jesus was crucified on “the day before the Sabbath“…Now, the Bible does not leave us to speculate which Sabbath is meant in this instance; for John tells us, in so many words, in John 19:14, that the day on which Jesus was tried and crucified was “the preparation of the Passover” (emphasis added). In other words, it was not the day before the weekly Sabbath (that is, Friday), but it was the day before the Passover Sabbath, which came that year on Thursday–that is to say, the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified was Wednesday. John makes this as clear as day…

To sum it all up, Jesus died just about sunset on Wednesday. Seventy two hours later, exactly three days and three nights, at…Saturday at sunset, He arose again from the grave. (Torrey R.A. Difficulties in the Bible. Originally published 1907; Whitaker House; Updated edition, October 2003, pp. 168-169, 173).

Furthermore, see what the late Jerry Falwell, a Sunday-keeper, and others have admitted:

The Bible is actually silent on the precise moment of resurrection. Jesus’ followers came to His tomb before dawn on the first day of the week (Sunday), but they did not witness Him coming back to life. They merely found an empty tomb.

Even the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, a Sunday-keeper and chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., agreed with that timetable, telling WND in 2001, “I personally believe He was crucified on Wednesday evening … and rose after 6 p.m. Saturday evening.”

Most Christians today think Jesus died on a Friday and rose on Sunday. They point to Scriptures indicating a Sabbath day followed Jesus’ execution. But Sabbath-keepers claim it was not the weekly Sabbath of Saturday approaching. Rather, they say it was an annual Sabbath, a “high” holy day in the Hebrew calendar known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which supposedly occurred on a Thursday the week Jesus was killed. The Gospel of John mentions that Sabbath was the annual type.

“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,) … .” (John 19:31)

In other words, Sabbatarians say there was more than one day of rest that week. Their timeline has Jesus slain on Wednesday – the day before the “high day” annual Sabbath on Thursday. They believe Jesus was in the grave for a full three days and three nights, finally arising Saturday evening, the second Sabbath of the week.

The mention of “three days and three nights” is important for many, as Jesus used that phrase to prove His divine identity:

“For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so I, the Son of Man, will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.” (Matthew 12:40, New Living Translation) (Kovac, Joe. ‘Deception’: Christians war over worship day. Posted: March 16, 2008 5:24 pm Eastern. WorldNetDaily).

Hence, some do know the truth. And it is not just some Protestants.

It is interesting to note that even into the 19th century, there was a ceremony in Rome that indicated a Saturday resurrection. Notice:

This ceremony is thus graphically described by the authoress of Rome in the 19th Century:”…the Pope himself, who walked beneath a crimson canopy, with his head uncovered, bearing the Host in a box; and this being, as you know, the real flesh and blood of Christ, was carried from the Sistine chapel through the intermediate hall to the Paulina chapel, where it was deposited in the sepulchre prepared to receive it beneath the altar…I never could learn why Christ was to be buried before He was dead, for, as the crucifixion did not take place till Good Friday, it seems odd to inter Him on Thursday. His body, however, is laid in the sepulchre, in all the churches of Rome, where this rite is practised, on Thursday forenoon, and it remains there till Saturday at mid-day, when, for some reason best known to themselves, He is supposed to rise from the grave amidst the firing of cannon, and blowing of trumpets, and jingling of bells…*”

* The above account referred to the ceremonies as witnessed by the authoress in 1817 and 1818. It would seem that some change has taken place since then, caused probably by the very attention called by her to the gross anomaly mentioned above; for Count Vlodaisky, formerly a Roman Catholic priest, who visited Rome in 1845, has informed me that in that year the resurrection took place, not at mid-day, but at nine o’clock on the evening of Saturday. This may have been intended to make the inconsistency between Roman practice and Scriptural fact appear somewhat less glaring. Still the fact remains, that the resurrection of Christ, as celebrated at Rome, takes place, …on the day of Saturn…(Hislop, Alexander. Two Babylons. Loizeaux, Neptune (NJ), Second American Edition, 1959–originally expanded in 1858).

Whether the above ceremony still exists, this writer does not know. But it is interesting that at least one Roman ceremony involving the pope acknowledged a Saturday resurrection that late. Perhaps, this ceremony was originally adopted by Rome partially because the early Romans knew that Jesus was actually resurrected on Saturday.

Irrespective of that celebration, it is clear that there is evidence outside the Bible that among those that professed Christ, there were some who understood that the crucifixion was on a Wednesday and the resurrection was on a Saturday.

Some articles of related interest may be include:

What Happened in the Crucifixion Week? How long are three days and three nights? Did Jesus die on “Good Friday”? Was the resurrection on Sunday? Do you really know? Who determined the date of Easter?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Hebrew Calendar This John Ogywn writing explains why we in the Living Church of God use the calendar that we do and answers such questions as “Did Jesus Observe the Postponements?”
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
The Night to Be Observed What is the night to be much observed? When is it? Why do Jews keep Passover twice and emphasize the wrong date?
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers.
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? What do scholars and the Bible reveal?

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