That God Guy is quite a writer. Best I've ever read. His ability to use foreshadowing, plot twists, dangling clues, and extremely foibled characters is unmatched. The fact that He does it with non-fiction is, honestly, amazing. Keep that in mind for the following:
There was no Palm Sunday.
There was no Maundy Thursday.
There was no Good Friday.
Jesus didn't rise from the dead at sunrise on Sunday morning.
The only time the word Easter is in the Bible, in Acts 12: 4, it is a mistranslation. The Greek word is PASXA, which means Passover.
There was a Palm Saturday.
There was a Maundy Tuesday(kind of)
There was a Good Wednesday.
Jesus rose from the dead just after sunset on Saturday night(which, to a Jew, is Sunday)
The early Church never celebrated Easter...only Passover. (yes, even the Gentile believers)
I would encourage anyone reading this to read the following passages of Scripture when they have the time.
Exodus chapter 12
Leviticus chapter 23
Numbers chapter 9
Deuteronomy chapter 16
All of the Gospel accounts of the Savior's final week.
The answers are all there. He left them for us. They're important to know. Now, before we get to some explanations of the dates, let me explain something else.
I grew up in a Christian home. We went to Church more often than my fifteen year old son plays his XBox. (Well, OK, not that much, but it seemed like it) We spent every summer vacation at the Navajo Mission, and my parents eventually became missionaries there.
We celebrated Easter at Church, with all of those dates I listed above. It was what we were taught. We also hunted for eggs from the Easter Bunny. It was a lot of fun. I have had Easter egg hunts for all of my children as they grew up. Easter baskets, Easter presents, candy, you name it. So, I hope you don't think I'm a stick in the mud. Easter is fun...it just has nothing to do with what happened to our Savior.
The term Easter comes from the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. The Easter celebration: eggs, chicks, bunnies, fertility rites of all kinds, were part of a pagan festival honoring the rebirth of the year. That's why our celebration rarely coincides with Passover, although it does this year. It's centered around the vernal equinox( the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox) . Most of our Christian festivals, and their dates, have nothing to do with what actually happened in the Bible, or when. Jesus wasn't born on December 25th(it was late September, early October), and the things we associate with that celebration are also mostly borrowed from other Babylonian and Roman festivals that were held in December.(Winter solstice festivals)
It's OK to celebrate when we do. The Scriptures teach us in Colossians 3:16 not to judge anyone on when they celebrate; new moons, feast days or Sabbaths. Kind of like Communion: it doesn't matter if you have unleavened bread and wine, or a Snickers bar and a Monster energy drink...it's what's in your heart that counts.
We should, however, know when things actually happened, and why the Church changed them. Part of the reasoning is shameful, and it not only haunts the Church to this day, it weakens us as believers.
Minor things can mean a lot. To the Jews the day officially started at sunset. Goes back to Genesis chapter one;"...and it was dark, and it was light, day one..." They figured, if God started with dark then light, must be the way to go. Pretty smart choice, I'd say. So...if you're reading this after sunset on Saturday, but before midnight, it's Sunday according to the Jews. And, please remember, Jesus, our Savior, was, and is a Jew...and damn proud of it.
How did they come up with the days for good Friday, Maundy Tuesday, and Palm Sunday? Counting backwards. Unfortunately, they chose to count backward from the wrong day. They assumed, when the Scriptures said that it was, "...the preparation day for the Sabbath...", that it was Friday; Saturday being the Sabbath. EHHHHHHH, I'm sorry, that's the wrong answer...what do we have for our departing contestant today, Johnny? You see, if you read the Scriptures I gave you, you'll find that the first and seventh days of the feast of unleavened bread, were both Sabbath days, irregardless of what day of the week they fell on. So, you would always have at least 2 Sabbaths during the week, and usually 3...but not three Saturdays, three Sabbaths.
So, how do we know when the days actually were? Again, count backward...but from Saturday night, after sunset! The Scriptures prophesied, and Jesus Himself clearly stated, that He would be in the Tomb; THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS. Count backward, and see where it takes you.
Friday night =1 night
Friday =2 days
Thursday night=2 nights
Thursday= 3 days
Wednesday night=3 nights
Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, and died around 3:00pm that afternoon. Count back again, according to the Scriptures, and you'll see when he entered Jerusalem. Saturday. The Sabbath. That's why they threw their clothes on the young donkey's back: according to the Sabbath laws, you couldn't saddle an animal on the Sabbath; that was prohibited work.
The reason Jesus had a Passover Seder meal with His disciples on Tuesday night(Wednesday to a Jew) is explained in Numbers chapter 9. If you were unclean from being around a dead body, you couldn't wait until the actual Passover meal...you had to eat it a day early. Jesus knew that his disciples were going to be unclean, because of His dead body later that day. He planned ahead...for them.
Why did He enter Jerusalem on Saturday? The Passover Lamb was supposed to be taken into the house, and kept there for five days; then killed on the fifth day. Jerusalem, the temple, God's home. Everything that Jesus did was a fulfillment of the Scriptures.
Why did the Church turn away from what the Scriptures teach? Because of their hatred for the Jews. Our history over the last 1700 years or so with the Jews is a disgrace. It is the Church, more than anyone, that has persecuted our Savior's people. That, however, is a topic for another blog. Suffice it to say, we will be held accountable for our dealings with them.
You're probably thinking right now...OK, so what? What difference does it make when He did those things? Wednesday, Friday...who really cares?
First and foremost, God does. All of those things that happened in the Old Testament were foreshadows of what was to come with Jesus. People missed Him at the time because they didn't know. They are also foreshadows of things yet to come: His return for His Bride, and His return for His people. I don't want to be one of the people who misses out because I wasn't paying attention to the signs...do you?
Secondly: we, the Church, both Protestant and Catholic, are held at ridicule for what we believe. That's OK, when we're stating our beliefs correctly. It's not OK when we say Jesus was in the tomb three days and three nights...and then say He was crucified on Friday afternoon and rose on Sunday morning. I've heard it a million times: What's the matter...your God can't count? I have an answer. I'm supposed to. We all are.
Two final things. First, we live in a world where it is becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain a Christian testimony. Now, I'm about to step on some toes, so be forewarned. The number one reason for our troubles, as Christians, is the Church itself. We live in a day where the average person's idea of what a Christian is comes from: the clowns on TBN, pimping Jesus for money; the supposed 'Christian Right and their hatred for Gays, abortion, and just about everything else ...Creationists who don't even know what the Scriptures actually teach, and the rest of us: hiding in the shadows, not wanting to be noticed...or rock the boat. It's our job to stand for the things of Christ, and against those who use Him for the wrong reasons. It is up to us to,"...rightly divide the Word of Truth...", and be, "...workman worthy of the hire..."
If that means stepping on the toes of those who treat my Savior like a whore, so be it. If it means rocking the boat...I'd rather tip it over and sink it, than ride in it with those who use the Lord for only their own gain.
Secondly, and on a lighter note: Have a good Easter. Buy candy and gifts for your kids. Hide eggs. I personally have hidden more Easter eggs than there are ticks on a passel of good hunting dogs. Dress up in your Easter best. Go to Church. Have a big family gathering. Of course, try and remember our Savior's sacrifice for us. But look to the Scriptures: do it in your heart, and know why.
God had the children of Israel sell themselves into slavery. He hardened Pharaoh's heart to not let them go. He performed miracles. Finally, He shed blood to set them free. All of that was done as a lesson for us. We sold ourselves into slavery. It took the shedding of blood to set us free. That blood was the blood of our Savior. Just before He died, He said one, last word: tetelestai. It's translated as: It is finished. Close, but not quite. Tetelestai is the Greek word that was written on the bottom of a bill of sale when the transaction was complete. It meant: The Debt is Paid in Full.
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