There is an inherent problem with "Good Friday", the day that commemorates Christ's death. (Aside from the fact that a certain date, Nisan 14, can't perpetually be on a Friday every single year, and the fact that Scripture doesn't mention "Friday".)
First and foremost:
Matthew 12:40 For just 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.Christ directly said that he would be "in the heart of the earth" (i.e., buried in his tomb) for "three days and three nights". The tradition of "Good Friday", the tradition that most Christians celebrate, is that Christ was crucified on a Friday, buried that evening, and rose to life early Sunday morning. This is just plain not "three days and three nights". It is only two nights (Friday night and Saturday night) and one day (Saturday day). It is literally only half of the time Christ said he would be buried in the earth.
Some argue that Christ was simply saying he would be buried over the course of three days, and that merely part of Friday and part of Sunday counted as entire days. Yet, again, this is not in line with what Christ said would happen. He appealed to the example of Jonah: Jonah was in the belly of the sea creature for three days and three nights. Both the book of Jonah and Christ directly state this. There is no indication that "part" of a day counted as an entire day in this case. Also, the very nature of the language Christ used indicates that he would be buried for a full three-days: he specifically said that he would be in the earth for "three days and three nights". The only way for the "Good Friday" crucifixion and burial to work is if we outright ignore Christ's statement that he would be buried for three days and three nights. Again, Friday night, Saturday day, and Saturday night, a period of one day and two nights, is not equal to three days and three nights.
Mark 16:1-2 And the sabbath having passed, Mary the Magdalene, and Mary of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might go and anoint him, and early in the morning of the first of the week, they came to the tomb, at the rising of the sun.After the sabbath, the women bought spices.
Luke 23:54-56 And it was the day of preparation, and sabbath was approaching, and the women also who had come with him out of Galilee having followed after, beheld the tomb, and how his body was placed, and having turned back, they made ready spices and ointments, and on the sabbath, indeed, they rested, according to the command.On the day of preparation (Nisan 14), before the sabbath, the women prepared the spices.
Understand the dilemma with the "Good Friday" tradition? The problem here is that the "Good Friday" tradition says Christ was crucified and buried on a Friday, was in his tomb on Saturday (the sabbath), and rose to life early Sunday. Yet, according to Scripture, this would mean the women prepared the spices and ointments on Friday evening, but they bought them on Sunday morning... even before "the rising of the sun" (and likely before any stores would have been open yet).
How is this scenario physically possible? How can the women prepare spices and ointments that they didn't even have until two days later?
John 19:31 Since it was the day of preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.John specifically mentions that following the day of preparation (Nisan 14) was a "high day" sabbath (Nisan 15). A "high day" sabbath was an annual sabbath, and not the same thing as the weekly sabbath. There is, of course, a chance that the annual sabbath would land on the weekly sabbath, but the odds are against that.
But something unnoticed in most English translations is this important verse:
Matthew 28:1 Now at the end of the sabbaths, at dawn, toward the first of the week, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the tomb.In the Greek, Matthew's gospel specifically uses the plural of the word sabbath: "at the end of the sabbaths, at dawn, toward the first day of the week". John mentions a "high day" sabbath, Mark says the women bought their spices after the sabbath, Luke says they prepared their spices before the sabbath, and here Matthew specifically says that the women went to the tomb after the sabbaths, plural.
There was more than one sabbath during the time that Christ was dead: the "Good Friday" tradition is impossible.
Now, we have this information:
- Christ was crucified on the day of preparation (Nisan 14)
- Christ was buried that evening (Matthew 27:57-60)
- Christ said he would be in the earth for "three days and three nights"
- The following day (Nisan 15) was a "high day" sabbath
- The women bought their spices and ointments following the sabbath
- The women prepared the spices and ointments before the sabbath
- The tomb was empty by dawn on the first day of the week
So what would the chronology of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection be? Before I go into that point-by-point, I should bring something else to attention. The ancient Jews (and modern ones, depending on who you go to) reckoned their days as from sunset-to-sunset or sunrise-to-sunrise (again, depending on who you go to), not midnight-to-midnight. The majority, it appears, went with sunset-to-sunset. This means that Nisan 14 (the day of preparation, the 24-hour period in which Christ was crucified) began Tuesday at sunset and ended Wednesday at sunset. The chronology, then, is probably as this:
- The day of preparation (Nisan 14) was from Tuesday-sunset to Wednesday-sunset. Christ was crucified during the daytime of Wednesday.
- Christ was buried Wednesday evening, as the date (Nisan 14) was changing (to Nisan 15). Thus, the new date was the "high day" sabbath.
- (Nisan 15) Wednesday-sunset to Thursday-sunset: Christ is in the earth for one day and one night.
- The "high day" sabbath ends, and following this sabbath the women buy the spices and ointments, and they prepare them during the daytime of what we call Friday. Hence, the women prepare their spices and ointments after the annual sabbath.
- (Nisan 16) Thursday-sunset to Friday-sunset: Christ is in the earth for two days and two nights.
- The date changes again, and the women rest on the weekly sabbath "according to the command" (on what we correspond to Saturday).
- (Nisan 17) Friday-sunset to Saturday-sunset: Christ is in the earth for three days and three nights.
- The sabbaths are over, and the new week is approaching. Sometime following Saturday-sunset (whether in the evening, during the night, or sometime before Sunday-sunrise, I do not know) Christ is raised to life. The women go to the tomb early in the morning, at dawn, and find it empty.
A "Good Wednesday" scenario is far more Scripturally sound than the "Good Friday" tradition. I do not post this to upset anyone, nor to step on the heels of those who desire to commemorate the specific day of Christ's sacrifice. Some may say, "Who cares?" or "Why is it such a big deal?", or something similar.
If you commemorate Christ's sacrifice daily, great. But if you choose to commemorate Christ's sacrifice on the anniversary, on the annual date of its occurance, I would encourage you to do so on the equivalent day (Wednesday), or, if you want to go all the way, commemorate his sacrifice on the proper date (Nisan 14; it lands on April 8 this year, which also just so happens to be a Wednesday) and not some arbitrarily chosen "Good Friday".
I post this in the interest of truth over tradition. The "Reformation" took place because Christians were upset with the Roman Catholic Church getting too comfortable with tradition rather than faithfully searching for the truth found in the Word. Hopefully, you desire to faithfully follow the truth found in the Scriptures (in this case, the truth that Christ could not have been crucified on a Friday), rather than clinging to a comfortable, but error-based, tradition.
Final note: No, this is not a condemnation of those who celebrate "Good Friday". Neither is it me being a "legalist". It is, plain and simple, a Biblical study in the pursuit of Truth.