Friday, July 20, 2012

Was Christ crucified on a Friday?


     That the Roman Catholic Church is wrong in very many of its doctrines is not at all surprising.  That the Protestants (those who protested against the Roman Catholic Church doctrines) have, seemingly, without thinking, accepted so many of the Roman Catholic’s false doctrines is surprising.  The belief that Christ suffered crucifixion on a Friday is a case in point.  Here we investigate that teaching.
   Chronology of the Passion week
Mr. Roy M. Allen in his book, Three Days in the Grave, has written a treatise that completely answers the question; on which day of the week did Christ’s crucifixion take place.  He knocks holes into the theory that Christ died on Friday, and also into the theory that (as some allege), Christ died on Wednesday.
If one follows the chronology of the last week of Christ’s pre-crucifixion life, as given in the Gospels, the only way the Christ could have died on Wednesday is if Christ made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the Sabbath.  Mr. Allen infers that Christ would not have done that because in every other respect, Christ always obeyed all the laws of Moses and He would not carelessly disregard the law of the Sabbath during the last week before His death. 
One fact that he points out is that the Jews chose the Passover lamb on the 10th day of the month of Nisan and then sacrificed it four days later, on the 14th.  At length, Mr. Allen shows that the typology of the Old Testament is exactly accurate in the New Testament.  Why then would this one case not follow true to form?  He also shows that Christ, the Passover lamb, rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on the first day of the week.  We call that day Palm Sunday.  The Jews rejected the Passover Lamb and four days later, they killed Him.  It is interesting to note that Wednesday is only the third day after the tenth and Friday is the fifth day.  Therefore, the only allowable day for the crucifixion is Thursday.  He also has other indications, drawn from the Bible, which dispel the theory of a Wednesday crucifixion.
However, a more pressing theory to dispel is that Christ died on a Friday.
It is true that every Gospel has words to the following effect; Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Mark 15:42-43.  Based on these words, we have learned that Joseph asked for the body of Jesus on the day that we call Friday, because, that is the day before their Sabbath, our Saturday.  However, what Bible teachers have failed to notice, or have not been willing to tell us, is that during the week of the Jewish Passover there are two Sabbaths.  In this case, the word Sabbath, means “a day of rest” but not necessarily Saturday.  In the Passover week (in some years) those two days fall on (what we call) Friday and Saturday.  Mr. Allen writes: Let it once be admitted that the special Passover Sabbath and not the seventh-day Sabbath is the one which caused a cessation in the embalming process, and the effect on Friday as the day of the crucifixion is obvious. …the Passover could occur on any day of the week.  It just so happened that in that year the Passover occurred immediately before the Sabbath.
Therefore, it is easy to see that Joseph could have asked Pilate for the already crucified body of Jesus on Thursday evening.  In accepting this, we allow the Bible to mean what it says about Christ being entombed for three days and three nights.
Bible students tend to date the year of Christ’s death in accordance with His birth.  That, however, makes it very arbitrary.  Christ’s birth year is given as early as 7 BC in The Jerusalem Bible and as late as 4 BC by some Protestant scholars.  The Jerusalem Bible in its chronological chart, presumably in order to defend a Friday crucifixion, writes, on the eve of the Passover, i.e. 14th Nisan, a Friday death of Jesus.  (The Passover fell on the Saturday, April 8, in 30 (AD) and April 4, in 33 (AD): the second date is too late).. This argument, however, does not make it conclusive that Christ died on Friday.  There is no proof that Christ died in 30 AD.  In the chronological chart of The System Bible Study, the year of Christ’s death is given as either 30 (or 29) AD.  With this option open, and all other evidence, pointing towards a Thursday crucifixion, it seems logical to accept that, in the year Christ was crucified, the 14th of Nissan, the Passover, fell on a Friday.  Hence, the crucifixion happened on a Thursday.
The Bible argues against it
Another convincing argument for a Thursday crucifixion is the Gospel’s presentation of the Passion Week.  The writers spell out every day of the week, at places almost hour by hour.  If one accepts a Friday crucifixion, there is one day of that week, Thursday, which is not even mentioned.  Considering the exact schedule recorded by the writers, it is unbelievable that they would completely fail to mention one complete day.  (Of all four Gospels combined about 33 percent is spent recording the events of the Passion Week.  Since, the writers, were so intent on giving such detail of that week, could all four of them inadvertently fail to mention one complete day?)  However, if we allow that the crucifixion happened on Thursday that one unmentioned day is accounted for.
As Mr. Allen says: There is not one passage of Scripture in any of the four Gospels which does not fit properly into this chronology, centering around Thursday, the day of the crucifixion.               
  Throughout Christendom, the crucifixion of Christ is commemorated on Friday and His resurrection is celebrated on Sunday, only two days later.  Christ distinctly said, 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.  Matthew 12:40.  It just does not work to expand the two days allotted into the three days needed till Christ’s resurrection.  There must be a different, and a right, answer, in spite of what the church has taught us.
In Mark 14:1, we read, After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.  About this verse Dr. McGee in Thru the Bible Commentary says, The Passover was observed on the fourteenth day of the first month, which is the Jewish month Nisan and corresponds to our April. “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s Passover” (Lev. 23:5). Then the Feast of Unleavened Bread was on the fifteenth day of the same month and it continued for seven days thereafter. “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. Lev. 23:6  Following this reasoning, we see that the feast of unleavened bread was on the Sabbath (our Saturday) and the Passover was always the day before, on Friday.  Mark 14:2 continues, But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.  So the Jewish leaders decided that they would not crucify Christ on the Feast day, (Friday) so they had to crucify Him on Thursday.  Why, than, does the Church still keep Friday as the day of the crucifixion?
But, having said all that, I will agree with most of you, that the actual day is not as important as the fact that Christ died to save sinners.