Over the years, I’ve seen many various lists of propheices that Jesus fulfilled in scripture. These are highly worthy reads. The story of Passover in the Old Testament, the single most important figura umbrae 1 in scripture, is the portense of the events of Passover week when Jesus died and was raised again.
God is nothing if not very precise. That’s one of the reasons, that my favorite question for him is ‘Why’ as I read scripture or ponder something he’s teaching me. I know how it feels when my grandsons toss out their own stream of ‘why’s’ in my direction. Children do that whether they are posing them to their parents, grandparents, or to their Almighty God.
We call it Good Friday because we say that Jesus died and was buried then before the start of the Saturday Sabbath. There is just one problem. There are only one and a half days from 6PM on Good Friday to sunrise on Sunday, the traditional day of Jesus’ resurrection.
Jesus was very specific when he quoted the sign of Jonah. Signs and miracles are not the same thing. Since God never fudges, I believe Jesus was God the Son, I think he meant what he said.
Matthew 12 (KJV)
40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
While the precise day of Jesus’ death is not a point that draws people to come to faith in God, it is nevertheless quite important. God was very precise is moving me to write Forever And A Day For Laura Michelle 2 exactly twenty years to the day she died, I know that a timeless God never fudges with time. He never needs to. When it comes to time, God has unequaled perspective, because he is outside of time.
The Command of God Concerning Passover Observance
Exodus 12 (KJV)
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:
4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening 3.
7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.
11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover.
On the tenth day of Nisan 4 , a spotless lamb was to be brought into the house by the father. It remained there for four days being cared for, and no doubt, integrating into the family. Hebrew days start six hours earlier than Gregorian days, so that these four days start at 6PM on 10 Nisan and end at 6PM on Nisan 14.
Precisely at sunset, just before twilight, this lamb was sacrificed and its blood sprinkled on the door posts and lintel. Its flesh was roasted whole over a fire without breaking or separating the bones. It was eaten with bread containing no leaven and seasoned with bitter herbs. The remaining uneaten carcase was burned entirely without breaking or separating bone..
Two days before Sabbath, Jesus’ arrives near the evening at Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’ house. 5
Yes, this is the same Lazarus that Jesus raised from the dead! 6
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus live in Bethany, about two miles or less from Jerusalem. 7
Jesus stays there the next day and again the night which is the Sabbath evening of 10 Nisan. The following Sabbath morning of 10 Nisan, Jesus rides those two miles on a donkey. Because it is two miles or less, this journey from Bethany to Jerusalem is not consider work. Jesus is keeping every detail of Sabbath law.
From 10 Nisan, Jesus is with his disciples, until the evening of 14 Nisan he is taken by the Sanhedrin. He has just given his disciples a new covenant in his blood to replace the Passover lamb forever. By 9AM he is nailed and hanging on the cross. Just before he dies at 3PM, he forgives all mankind, cries out ‘It is finished,’ and our creator surrenders his life. Before twilight at 6PM 14 Nisan, Jesus is entombed behind a great stone. 11
Three days and nights (or nights and days), from evening of 15 Nisan to evening of 18 Nisan, Jesus was dead in Sheol. No one came to check the grave after twilight end of Sabbath 17 Nisan, because it would have been the evening of 18 Nisan, and it would have been dark.
But Jesus is alive no doubt, and the sign of Jonah has been completed.
The stone was rolled away the next morning not to let Jesus out, but let his disciples in to see he was no longer dead. That day of 18 Nisan is the Feast of the Firstfruits which continues for a total of fifty days. On that fiftieth day, Pentecost happened and the Holy Spirit came to dwell within all who were willing. 12
I want to retierate, that the event sequence of Passoever week, is not critical to anyone’s faith. As I read scripture and repeatedly find God using types and shadows, their importance in our faith stands out. The Passover is the greatest of all the figura umbrae.
Note: You can read in much more detail about my impression of when Jesus actually died here.
- This is Latin for ‘shape of the shadow.’ It is also called a type in the Bible. ↩
- http://www.amerechristian.com/laura-michelle/ ↩
- GK H6847 | S H6153 עֶרֶב ʿereḇ 134x n.[m.] . evening, twilight, dusk, the fading of the day; twilight can extend into the dark of the night. → evening; twilight. ↩
- Ex. 12:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. ↩
- John 12:1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. ↩
- John 11:17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. ↩
- John 11: 18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: 15 furlongs=1.875 miles. ↩
- Strong’s Number 3389. יְרוּשָׁלַםִ Yruwshalaim, yer-oo-shaw-lah´-im; rarely יְרוּשָׁלַיִם Yruwshalayim, yer-oo-shaw-lah´-yim; a dual (in allusion to its two main hills (the true pointing, at least of the former reading, seems to be that of 3390) ); probably from (the passive participle of) 3384 and 7999; founded peaceful; Jerushalaim or Jerushalem, the capital city of Palestine:—Jerusalem. ↩
- Strong’s Number 7999. שָׁלַם shalam, shaw-lam´; a primitive root; to be safe (in mind, body or estate); figuratively, to be (causatively, make) completed; by implication, to be friendly; by extension, to reciprocate (in various applications):—make amends, (make an) end, finish, full, give again, make good, (re-)pay (again), (make) (to) (be at) peace(-able), that is perfect, perform, (make) prosper(-ous), recompense, render, requite, make restitution, restore, reward, x surely. ↩
- http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/jerusalem/ ↩
- Ex. 12: 6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. ↩
- John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. ↩