When should Christians celebrate the Crucifixion and Resurrection

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©2018 by George Yazigi

Most Christians stick to the Friday-Sunday cycle to be representative of our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection. While the full three days and three nights our Lord had prophesied about do not accurately tally with a Friday-Sunday timeline. However, some theologians, pastors, and priests argue that any part of the day or night could count as full day and night, without paying close attention to Biblical and historical evidence. But does this align with what Jesus our Lord Himself has prophesied about His death and Resurrection as the most indicative sign for that generation of Him being the Messiah?

Jesus in Matthew 12:40 said: that He will die and resurrect, within a period equivalent to that of which the prophet Jonas spent in the belly of the whale, for three days and three nights. Does a Friday-Sunday timeline count as three days and three nights? Obviously not.

So, who is right? Jesus our Saviour God through the Holy Bible or our inaccurate Calendar system?

To give some historical background to present the correct Biblical account, I would like to submit that in those days the Hebrew Luni-Solar Calendar was used to date events. That means the Moon was used to count days: a day starts when the Moon is sighted in the Western sky of Jerusalem, around the late afternoon of our Solar Calendar day. And the apparent movement of the Sun was used to count the hours: for example, the first hour was the first hour the Sun was sighted in the Eastern sky of Jerusalem around 06:00 am (06:30 am) in those days.

Without this understanding, our calculation will be flawed.

Also, we need to pay special attention to a piece of Jewish Law as delivered to us in the Holy Bible in Leviticus 23 we need to recognise that in the Moon’s Metonic cycle of 19 years there are seven annual Sabbath days (the first and seventh days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah in Hebrew), Atonement (Yom Kippur), the first day of Tabernacles (Succoth), and the Last Great Day , which each come once a year as a mandatory Law-abiding factor and can fall on any day of the week (based on special calculation). We call these extra days “High Sabbaths”

In John 19:31 we observe that he used the terminology of “High Sabbath”, “High Day” or special Sabbath as follows:

“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.”  We can read that it was a High Sabbath not the regular weekly Sabbath so how this affects our calculation?

Jesus celebrated the Jewish Passover with His disciples (the Last Supper), at the start of 14th of Nissan Luni-Solar Calendar (around 6:00 pm in the afternoon according to the Sun apparent movement). We also need to understand the following:

· That the first day of the week (mapped to our Calendar Sunday) comes always after the weekly Sabbath.

· The High Sabbath comes before the weekly Sabbath on certain years and when projected it coincided on Thursday (first day of Unleavened Bread) of our Calendar that year.

· Jesus was resurrected before the daybreak of the first day of the week. (Our Calendar Sunday).

· On that year there was an extra Sabbath before the weekly Sabbath. Owing to the Metonic cycle calculation and the annual seventh Sabbath adjustment as ordered in Leviticus 23.

To project that ancient Luni-Solar Calendar on our current Calendar we may want to map the days as follows:

But before that, we need to recognise that a day is not counted as a day without first seeing the Sun in the Eastern sky of Jerusalem (i.e. without having a daylight element). And a night is not counted as a night without first seeing the Moon in the Western sky of Jerusalem (i.e. without having a night element).

·     The first day of the week (maps to Sunday) when the tomb was seen empty, but we don’t know when the resurrection event exactly took place, but we know for sure that Jesus must have spent three days and three nights in the tomb after he died on the Cross on 14th Nissan Luni-Solar Calendar towards the end of the day and was entombed just before the start of a new day i.e. 15th of Nissan.

·     Jesus was already resurrected well before daybreak. Therefore, He wasn’t in the tomb for any of the daylight portions of Sunday, so none of that can be counted as a day.

That year:

·     The weekly Sabbath maps to our weekly Saturday

·     The High Sabbath maps to our weekly Thursday or fifth day of the week

·     The sixth day of the week maps to our weekly Friday or preparation day for the weekly Sabbath; and

·     The fourth day of the week maps to our weekly Wednesday or preparation day for the High Sabbath, in that case it was also the passover day of Nissan 14 Luni-Solar calendar.

Based on the above let’s try to match Jesus words about His death and resurrection based on the Biblical verses:

·     Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset is one day and one night.

·     Adding Thursday sunset to Friday sunset makes two days and two nights.

·     Then adding Friday sunset to Saturday sunset makes three days and three nights.

Therefore, Jesus died around the end of 14th Nissan Luni-Solar Calendar coinciding on Wednesday late afternoon after 03:00 pm (9th hour following the sun) according to Matthew 27:46 and before the sunset in Jerusalem (which was expected to be around 6:00 pm). He was entombed just around sunset on that same day to start His journey to the underworld of three days and three nights.

Jesus stayed in the tomb from Wednesday sunset till Saturday sunset. Three full days and three full nights.

The tomb was found empty on Sunday before daybreak.

Therefore, the resurrection of our Lord must have occurred any time after Saturday sunset (the completion of a full three days and three nights) and before Mary Magdalene found the tomb empty. Because the sun did not rise yet when Mary found the tomb empty we cannot count the first day of the week (Sunday) as an additional day.

If we dig further in the Biblical text, we can read that during the crucifixion the Earth was put in darkness for 3 hours between the 6th and the 9th hour i.e. 12:00-03:00 pm according to our calendar as shown in [Matthew 27:45]. This would have made 14th Nissan lose three hours of daylight. Although not clearly mentioned in the Bible, this suggests that the celestial bodies were somehow delayed, and therefore would postpone the closure of the day till 09:00 pm instead of 06:00 pm thus giving ample time to entomb Jesus. This also implies that His entombment should have occurred before the start of the new day 15th Nissan, before 09:00 pm.

This would suggest that a buffer time should also be added to compensate for the three hours of darkness. Making the Resurrection take place after 09:00pm of the first day of the week (i.e. the start of Sunday after the sunset on Saturday).

Both ways, and based on the above analysis and calculation, whether we compensate for the three hours of darkness or not, Jesus must have completed three full days and three full nights in the tomb as He prophesied before He resurrected on the first hours of the first day of the week (Sunday in our Calendar) between sunset of Sabbath (our Saturday) and the daybreak of the first day of the week (our Sunday).

Now, is it important for our salvation to know exactly the dates of the crucifixion and resurrection? The short answer would be no, however, as practicing Christians it is only encouraging to learn when exactly did our Lord die and resurrect.

For this, I would suggest to always consult the ancient Luni-Solar Calendar and make the right projections on our current Calendar. Because in the Luni-Solar Calendar the first day of the week (start of Sunday) is always fixed without making any Calendar adjustments.

For guidance, I would point the reader to two important events:

an event which occurred in AD321; and another

occurred in AD325.

The two events were connected by the person who facilitated their implementation to take place. Emperor Constantine I.

Even though Constantine was behind the Edict of Milan in AD 313 declaring tolerance for Christianity in the Roman Empire, Constantine was still not converted into Christianity, and he organized the Edict of Milan as a political arrangement to empower his rule much more than a decision based on faith. Still in that period, unlike his mother, Constantine I was practicing paganism, and he was in a way trying to present his Emperor image to his followers as a worshipful King somehow similar to how Christians were looking at Jesus the Savior God. Besides, Constantine I and his son were, unlike Constantine’s I mother, initially more inclined to the Arianism heresy and were seeking to reconcile between Arius and the Church Fathers. However, realising that the majority of Christian believers were opposing Arius view about Christology and because Constantine I wanted to preserve the unity of the Church as a catalyst to make his dynasty rule the longest possible, he organised the Nicaean council based on which he rebuked Arius and confiscated his writings.

In AD321 Constantine I ordered to change the traditional Roman Market week which was based on eight days to a seven days week with day names following the names of the Roman pagan false gods:

He named the first day of the week as Solis for the Sol Invictus, the second day Lunea for the god Moon, the third day Martis for the god Mars, Mercurii for the fourth day after the god Mercury, the fifth day Jovis after the god Jupiter, the sixth day Veneris after the god Venus, and the seventh day Saturni after the god Saturn.

Days of the week introduced by Constantine I

But Constantine I had a real problem facing his new Calendar change, the Christians who were increasing in huge numbers, were resisting to accept his calendar based on pagan gods and replace their current Jewish calendar!
Therefore, Constantine I, to make sure his Calendar was respected by the Christians who refused to honor Saturn the false Roman god, had to change their reference day. To do that he had to first abolish the Jewish “Sabbath” and move its cadence to another day to dilute its importance in major calculations especially those related to Jesus Birth, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.
In AD325, the Synod of Nicaea was convened by orders of Constantine I to put an end to certain heresies which were threatening the Empire and affecting the Christendom alike.
Although the Nicaean Synod rightly resolved very important faith-related issues about the Divine nature of our Lord and Saviour God Jesus Christ and His relationship with the Godhead and introduced the basis of the Christian faith in the Nicaean Creed or “Credo”. However, one of the main items on its agenda was to resolve the question as to when Christians should celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. After long deliberations the council did not promulgate that the Christian Pesach should be celebrated on a Sunday, nor did the Council decree that the Christian Pesach must never coincide with Nisan 14 or must not occur in the same week of the Jewish passover. All it did was to recommend the separation of the Christian calendar system from the Jewish calendar system. By that time Constantine I had already established his new calendar in AD321, and the Nicaean Council had finished all its resolutions, the bishops and leaders of the Christian church were faced with the fact that they did not have a calendar system ready to accurately separate the Christian Calendar from the Jewish one and thus compute accurately when the Christian Pesach should be celebrated.
Under pressure from Constantine I to promulgate his new Calendar, and because there was a controversy as to whether Christians should celebrate the Last Supper of our Lord on the day of the Jewish Passover or not. And because some Christians were complaining that some Jewish factions were gaining back into Judaism some converted Christians because Christians were celebrating the Last Supper on the Jewish Passover or even imposing circumcision law on Christian descendants when their parents converted back to Judaism. Also under pressure from some Christians criticizing the Jewish Calendar as corrupt because of the changes introduced in the AD321 by Constantine I to abolish the Sabbath cadence, the Bishops who were close to the Emperor were under pressure to adopt Constantine I new Calendar. This has led to a whole new problem of not accurately calculating many Christian dates including the Crucifixion and Resurrection dates of our Lord and Saviour God Jesus Christ.
This has also led to a perpetual out-of-sync in the dates which was later exacerbated by more modifications in the Gregorian Calendar, which on one hand fixed some major errors, while on the other has introduced new ones.
Historical evidence proves that John the disciple and his disciples (especially Polycarp who died in the 2nd century) up until late the fourth century have all kept the Luni-Solar Calendar and celebrated the Last Supper of our Lord on 14th Nissan the Jewish Passover date and the Resurrection date after three full days and three full nights from the end of the 14th of Nissan when our Lord died on the Cross and then was entombed just before the start of 15th of Nissan Luni-Solar.
So, the question is when should we celebrate the Last Supper of our Lord, Crucifixion, and His glorious Resurrection?
It is really hard to make all the necessary adjustments without referring back to NASA’s Lunar data to make some extrapolations and projections and try to compute how the Luni-Solar “Sabbath” or seventh day of the Jewish week can be mapped to our Calendar week. It is also worth noting that the corrections introduced by the Gregorian Calendar did in fact improve the dating system of Resurrection but not that of the Crucifixion, because the Calendar did not take into consideration the initial alterations made by Constantine I team to abolish the Jewish “Sabbath”, and dilute its importance as a reference day for Christians, in the new Calendar he wanted to promulgate.
Therefore, based on the above and on NASA’s Lunar data (not detailed because it is outside the scope of this article), one can assume that the Jewish “Sabbath” or the seventh day of the Luni-Solar week would somehow coincide with minimal error with Wednesday of our Calendar week.
In other words, we need to project a three days lag and position the Jewish Sabbath on Wednesday instead of Saturday, to compensate for the changes Constantine I introduced in AD 321.
This will also have to be reflected in the current Jewish Calendar as follows:

Resurrection date for 2018 comparing Luni-Solar, Gregorian calendars with NASA Moon data

The current Jewish Calendar places the Jewish Passover at 14th of Nissan Luni-Solar coinciding on the sixth day Friday 30/03/ 2018, therefore we must shift that by three days backward till 27/03/2018 to mark the correct Passover date when projected on our Gregorian Calendar so that the correct Jewish Sabbath coincides with Wednesday as deduced from NASA’s Lunar data. That would be our Lord’s Last Supper date for 2018, Jesus was arrested that night, and Crucified the same  day (during daylight, because a new day starts in the evening), and died also on that same day before sunset, He was entombed just before the start of 15th of Nissan or in our current Calendar before the sunset of 29/03/2018.

From sunset 28/03 – sunset of 29/03 is one day and one night

Add to it from sunset of 29/03 – sunset of 30/03 is two days and two nights

Then compensate for the High Sabbath, and;

Add to it from sunset of 30/03 – sunset of the week Sabbath 31/03 is three days and three nights. Then resurrection must have taken place on the First day of the week after the Sunset of the weekly Sabbath and the start of a new day and before Mary Magdalene went to the tomb before daybreak on the First day of the week (in our Calendar Thursday). To double-check our calculation we then add three days to repeat the mishap in the Constantine I Calendar we arrive at Sunday our Calendar coinciding on 01/04/2018.

In other words, the Gregorian Calendar is estimating with more accuracy the Resurrection date in terms of the date itself, but not in terms of the name of the day.

Also, the span Good Friday-Resurrection Sunday is not accurate because it doesn’t tally for three days and three nights as prophesied by our Lord, while the Resurrection date is accurate if we take into consideration all the above, however the Crucifixion date is not and should not be on a Friday rather a Wednesday as shown above.

Having investigated the above, does it really matter to know which days Jesus was crucified and resurrected in? Does it change any of our implications in the current life, salvation, or eternal future? Regarding salvation, it doesn’t really matter if we believe that the resurrection took place after three full days and three full nights from Jesus death or less, nor this has any effect on our eternal life. However, if resurrection took place not following what Jesus prophesied and to what the Holy Bible teaches, then we make Jesus prophesy about His resurrection inaccurate, to say the least.

It is our choice to either believe what Jesus said or what our earthly Calendar is saying!

I chose what Jesus and the Holy Bible said, so that let Jesus be true and every human being who claims otherwise a liar.

PS: It is worth noting that early Christians used to meet for prayer on the First day of the Jewish week, to worship our Lord. The change of the day of rest from sabbath to the first day of the week was planned by God since the beginning. Because the Sabbath was not an end by itself but a mean to arrive at the real resting day after sin was expunged on the Cross and the victorious resurrection of our Lord “the true rest” (this will be a topic for another article to discuss). But that First day was not the Sunday we now know, rather coinciding on Thursday of our Calendar after making the adequate adjustment.

May the blessings be multiplied to you all in the name of Jesus our Saviour God.