A Chronology of Easter Week, 32 AD
Some years back, now, I spent my Easter Sunday doing some research. The dates never quite jibed, you see: Good Friday to Easter Sunday morning – Crucifixion to Resurrection – never added up to the three days and three nights that Jesus talked about. I’d heard apologists say that rabbis count the smallest part of a day as a whole day, so the few hours of Friday, all of Saturday, and some pre-dawn hours on Sunday just sort of counted as three days and three nights. My. How rabbinical.
But there were other problems. If Passover was Saturday, then Sunday was the Feast of Unleavened Bread (always the day after Passover). No work was allowed on either of these, um, holidays, yet the women rested on Saturday, but went to tend the body on Sunday, like traifniks. And worse, inconsistent. One day they race around trying not to break the law, another, they’re acting just like the goyim. A problem. I won’t however belabor the issue.
A Sabbath is any holy day. A preparation day is any day before a holy day. Confusion arises from the fact that there is a weekly Preparation Day and Sabbath Day – our Friday and Saturday. So you see there can be more than one Sabbath in a week – which to our ears sounds like there can be more than one Saturday in a week. Same with Preparation Day – Friday. There are a number of ancient texts that provide evidence about custom and chronology in this matter - the Didascalia, the Bab Talmud Sanhedrin, the Qumran texts – but I’m not presenting this as a scholarly work.
Cut to the chase: Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, April 9, 32 AD. This was the Preparation Day for Thursday’s Passover, a Sabbath. Friday was the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a Sabbath, and Saturday was … well, it was a Sabbath. There were three Sabbaths, three days of rest, in a row. These three days of rest perfectly match the three days that Jesus’ body rested in the tomb. Kind of works out pretty well, don’t you think? Really sort of symbolic, eh? One might almost say, elegant. Easter Sunday, Resurrecting day, was Firstfruits. Firstfruits. Hm … or should I say, Him.
I should point out that Jesus most likely rose not on Sunday morning, but Saturday evening - perhaps even Saturday at 3 pm. Do the math. 72 hours. Not necessary, but Sunday starts, for the Jews, Saturday night. Pretty embarrassing for Jesus, if they came into the tomb at a lawful time, first opportunity after the Sabbath, to find him still dead. I guess pretty embarrassing for the ladies, too, busy with their spices and he comes back to life. In any case, it really doesn't matter, a lot, that Good Friday is observed as Crucifixion Day. It isn't about days of observances, after all. But there are those who delight in what appear to them to be inconsistencies. For their correction and for their sake, accuracy matters.
So here’s one of my incomprehensible tables, which always look so good in my own computer but end up all distorted when I post them. Lo siento. It is a complete chronology of Easter Week, with relevant correlations to other biblical events. I do a bit of Greek, but only in passing. Enjoy!
Nisan, 32 ad, Jesus age 35
[To clarify differences in timekeeping, shaded areas indicate night, clear areas indicate daylight]
Day of Preparation
Jesus comes from Ephraim, arrives at Bethany "six days before Passover" (Jn 12:1).
Anointing (Jn 12:1-; Mt 26:6; Mk 14).
Judas conspires (Mt 26:14; Mk 14:10; Lk 22:1).
"on the next day" (Jn 12:12)
Fig tree cursed (Mk 11:12-; Mt 21:18),
temple cleaned; Sermon (Jn 12:20-50)
Figs withered (Mk 11:20-25, Mt 21:20); Parables (Mk 11:27-; Mt 21:23‑; Lk 20:1‑19); Taxes (Mt 22; Mk 12:1; Lk 20:20); Ressurection questions (Mk 12, Mt 22, Lk 20:27); Greatest command (Mt 22:34; Mk 12:28, ‘no more questions’); about messiah (Mt 22, ‘no more questions’; Mk 12; Lk 20:41); denounce (Mt 23; Mk 12; Lk 20); Widow's mite (Mk 12; Lk 21); end times (Mt 24‑25; Mk 13; Lk 21);
finish — Passover is "two days away" (Mt 26:2; Mk 14:1).
Before ‘First day of Feast of Unleavened Bread, when lamb is sacrificed’ (Lk 22:7)
[not ‘arrived’ but ‘approached’, re ‘came’, Vines, p. 108, #1, 2064; see Lk 15:20,25; in Mt 26:17; Mk 14:12, no ‘on’, dative article = ‘regarding, with respect to’ Greek to Me, p. 185; Greenlee, p. 28; see Rom 4:20)];
"arrest Him but not during Feast" (Mt 26:5; Mk 14:2); "Go prepare" (Mt 26:18)
Mount of Olives
"after dark" (Mt 26:20), "Before the Passover Feast" (Jn 13:1);
Feet washed, Last Supper (Judas, Farewell) garden, arrest.
Priest's house, Annas (Lk 22:54; Jn 18:12);
Sanhedrin, Caiaphas, mocked (Mt 26:57; Mk 14:53; Jn 18:24);
Sanhedrin, "very early" (Mk 15:1); "daybreak" (Lk 22:66);
Preparation Day of Passover
Pilate's Palace, "early morning, Passover meal not yet eaten" (Jn 18:28);
Herod (Lk 23:7-11);
Pilate (-16), Barabbas, beating (Jn 19:1-16), public.
"Preparation Day of Passover Week [not of weekly sabbath], 6th hour, 6 a.m." (Jn 19:14); Simon in from field;
Crucifixion "at 3rd hour, " (Mk 15:25); "noon to three, dark" (Lk 23:44);
Death (Mk ).
Evening approached, Preparation before [Passover] Sabbath (Mk 15:42);
to Pilate; linen bought (Mk 15:46); women prepared spices (Lk 23:56);
"Preparation day, [Passover] Sabbath about to begin" (Lk ; Jn ), tomb…
Day the Passover Lamb is sacrifice
"next day, after Preparation" (Mt 27:62);
Guards; Women rest (Lk 23:56)
Feast of Unleavened Bread (15th, Lev 23:39, Ex 12:18) — no work (Lev 23:7; Ex 12:16), end of 14th / start of 15th
(Hebrews left Egypt)
[Weekly] Preparation Day
"just as Jonah was 3 days and 3 nights" (Mt ; Jonah ); "after (μετα) 3 days" (Mk ); see Mt 27:40 "in 3 days", Jn — ‘εv’ = "in the course of", see Arndt, p. 260, II.a.
"when the Sabbaths were over" 3 women buy spices (Mt 28:1, Mk 16:1) — more than one “sabbath” that week;
(Ark rests -
came to tomb, dawn of first of the week (Mk 16:2);
"this is the third day since all this happened" (Lk 24:21 - "since all" includes Passover and placing guards on Thursday – so Sunday is the “third day”; indeed, nothing happened Friday or Saturday – days of rest).