LCG & UCG on “Good Friday”

Site of Calvary?


Today, many call “Good Friday”.  Supposedly, this is the anniversary of the date that Jesus died.  But, of course, since:

…indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7).

This creates a problem as many Catholic scholars and even some Protestant ones realize that Jesus kept Passover on a Tuesday night in His final human week, and that He was arrested on Wednesday.

Notice this second/third century account:

For when we had eaten the passover on the third day of the week at even, we went forth to the Mount of Olives; and in the night they seized our Lord Jesus…the next day…was the fourth of the week… (Didascalia Apostolorum, Chapter 21, verse 14. R. Hugh Connolly, version Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929).

Here is some of what LCG’s Roderick C. Meredith has written about “Good Friday”:

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).

Here is some of what UCG has published about “Good Friday”:

Something is obviously wrong with the traditional Good Friday–Easter Sunday timing. It simply doesn’t work, no matter how you try.

A key to counting this time correctly is found in a proper translation of Matthew 28:1. The Ferrar Fenton translation correctly renders this verse: “After the Sabbaths [plural], towards the dawn of the day following the Sabbaths [plural], Mary, the Magdalene, and the other Mary, came to examine the tomb.”

There were, in fact, two Sabbaths that particular week. Putting all the information together, Jesus died in the middle of the week, on a Wednesday afternoon, and was laid in the tomb close to sunset (John 19:31-42). He had to be laid in the tomb by sunset because the night and day that followed were holy (verse 31), the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:4-7), a Holy Day Sabbath that could fall on any day of the week.

Then came Friday, a regular work day, followed by Friday night and Saturday daytime as God’s weekly seventh-day Sabbath. Ferrar Fenton gets it right, translating the plural Greek word sabbaton in Matthew 28:1 as sabbaths.

Once we understand that two different Sabbaths were involved, it becomes clear that Jesus was indeed three days and three nights in the tomb, fulfilling the only sign He gave that He was the Messiah. From sunset Wednesday to sunset Thursday was the first night and day; from sunset Thursday to sunset Friday was the second night and day; and from sunset Friday to sunset on the weekly Sabbath was the third night and day—three days and three nights, just as He said (The Length of Jesus’ Time in the Tomb Proves He Was the Messiah. Good News, Mar-Apr 2007).

The fact is that Jesus was crucified and died on a Wednesday.

In 2001, the late Protestant minister Jerry Falwell showed that he understood this as he declared:

I personally believe He was crucified on Wednesday evening … and rose after 6 p.m. Saturday evening.”

But most today do not seem to understand this.

Some articles of related interest may 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?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? What do scholars and the Bible reveal?
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.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
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.
UCG and Its Unleavened Bread Study Paper What does the Bible say about eating unleavened bread for seven days? What has UCG officially said about it?

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