Was Jesus three days and three nights in the grave, as He said in Matthew 12:40? Can you figure three days and three nights between Good Friday and sunrise Easter Sunday?
It is commonly supposed, today, Jesus was crucified on FRIDAY, and that the resurrection occurred about sunrise on Easter Sunday morning.
It would seem that no one, until recently, ever thought to question or to prove this Good-Friday-Easter tradition. Yet the Bible tells us to PROVE all things. And you will be literally astounded by this proof.
For proof there is but one dependable authority; a sole historical record -- the Bible.
Tradition No Evidence
There were no eye-witnesses to the resurrection. Even so-called apostolic fathers had no source of information save that record which is today available to us. Tradition, then, must be dismissed.
What are the recorded facts?
The doubting Pharisees were asking Jesus for a SIGN -- a supernatural evidence -- in proof of His Messiahship.
Jesus answered: An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas; 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, Matthew 12:38-40.
Now consider, please, the tremendous import -- the overwhelming significance -- of Jesus' statement!
He expressly declared that the ONLY SIGN He would give to prove He was the Messiah was that He should be just THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS in the rock-hewn sepulchre in the heart of the earth.
The Significance of the Sign
These Christ-rejecting Pharisees demanded PROOF. Jesus offered but one evidence. That evidence was not the fact of the resurrection itself -- it was the LENGTH OF TIME He would repose in His grave, before being resurrected.
Think what this means! Jesus staked His claim to being your Savior and mine upon remaining exactly THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS in the tomb. If He remained just three days and three nights inside the earth, He would prove Himself the Savior -- if He failed in this sign, He must be rejected as an imposter! No wonder Satan has caused unbelievers to scoff at the story of Jonah and the whale!
No wonder the Devil has set up a tradition that DENIES Jesus is the Messiah!
The Dilemma of the Higher Critics
This one and only supernatural PROOF ever given by Jesus for His Messiahship has greatly bothered the commentators and the higher critics. Their attempts to explain away this sole proof for Christ's divinity are ludicrous in the extreme. For explain them away they must, or their Good-Friday-Easter tradition collapses!
One commentator says, of course we know that Jesus was actually in the tomb only half as long as He thought He would be! Some expositors impose upon our credulity to the extent of asking us to believe that in the GREEK language, in which the New Testament was written, the expression three days and three nights' means three PERIODS, either of day or of night!
Jesus, they say, was placed in the tomb shortly before sunset FRIDAY, and rose at sunrise Sunday morning -- two nights and one day.
The BIBLE Definition
But the BIBLE definition of the duration of nights and days is simple.
Even these same higher critics admit that in the HEBREW language, in which the book of Jonah was written, the expression three days and three nights means a period of 72 hours -- three twelve-hour days and three twelve-hour nights.
Notice Jonah 1:17, And Jonah was in the belly of the fish THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS. This, they admit was a period of 72 hours. And Jesus distinctly said that as Jonah was three days and three nights in the great fish's belly, SO He would be the same length of time in His grave!
As Jonah was in the GRAVE (see marginal reference, Jonah 2:2) 72 hours, after which he was supernaturally resurrected by God, by being vomited up, to become a savior to the people of Nineveh upon proclaiming the warning to them, so should Jesus be 72 hours in His grave, thereupon being resurrected by God to become the savior of the world!
Did Jesus know how much time was in a day and in a night? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in a day . . . but if a man walk in the NIGHT, he stumbleth, John 11:9-10.
Notice the BIBLE DEFINITION of the expression, THE THIRD DAY. Text after text tells us that Jesus rose THE THIRD DAY. See how the BIBLE defines the time required to fulfill THE THIRD DAY.
In Genesis 1:4 God divided the LIGHT from the DARKNESS, and God called the LIGHT Day, and the DARKNESS He called Night. And the evening (darkness) and the morning (light) were THE FIRST DAY . . . and the evening [darkness] and the morning [light] were THE SECOND DAY, . . . and the evening [now three periods of darkness called NIGHT -- three nights] and the morning [now three periods of light called DAY -- three days] were THE THIRD DAY, Genesis 1:4-13.
Here we have the ONLY BIBLE DEFINITION which explains and COUNTS UP the amount of time involved in the expression THE THIRD DAY. It includes thee dark periods called NIGHT, and three light periods called DAY -- three days and three nights, and Jesus said they contained TWELVE HOURS for each period -- a total of 72 hours!
That ought to be conclusive! Any seven-year old, near the end of the second grade, could figure it easily. We praise God that His plain truths are revealed UNTO BABES, and hidden from the wise and prudent!
What Is Wrong?
What is wrong with these plain, simple words of Jesus? How do these wise and prudent theologians KNOW Jesus was crucified Good Friday and rose Easter Sunday?
The simple answer is, THEY DO NOT KNOW IT -- for IT IS NOT TRUE! It is merely TRADITION -- a tradition we have been taught from childhood, and carelessly ASSUMED! Jesus warned us against making the Word of God of none effect through your TRADITION, Mark 7:13.
We have examined two scriptural witnesses, in Matthew and in Jonah, both setting the duration of the body of Jesus in the tomb as three days and three nights, which the Scriptures plainly define as 72 hours of time. Now let us examine four other Scripture witnesses that PROVE THE SAME THING.
Notice Mark 8:31, And He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and AFTER three days rise again.
Our young second grader can figure this. If Jesus had been killed on Friday, and then AFTER one day He had risen, the resurrection would have occurred on Saturday evening. IF AFTER TWO DAYS, it wold have occurred Sunday evening, and if AFTER THREE DAYS, it would have occurred MONDAY EVENING!
Examine this text carefully. You cannot, by any process of arithmetic, figure any less than a full 72 hours -- three days and three nights -- in a resurrection which occurred three days AFTER the crucifixion! If Jesus was in the grave only from Friday sunset to Sunday sunrise, then this text too, must be torn out of your Bible or else you must reject Jesus Christ as your Savior! If He rose AFTER THREE DAYS, it might have been more than 72 hours, but it could not have been a second less!
Notice now Mark 9:31, . . . they shall kill Him; and AFTER that he is killed, He shall rise THE THIRD DAY. The duration expressed here must be between 48 and 72 hours. It could not be one second past 72 hours, and Jesus still rise THE THIRD DAY. And it could not be Friday sunset to Sunday sunrise, because that is only 36 hours, carrying us into the middle of the second day, AFTER He was killed.
In Matthew 27:63 Jesus is quoted as saying, AFTER THREE DAYS I will rise again. This cannot possibly be figured as less than 72 full hours.
And in John 2:18-22, Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up . . . but He spake of the temple of His body. To be raised up in three days after being destroyed, or crucified, could not possibly be in a day and a half -- it could not be less than 72 hours.
If we are to accept all the testimony of THE BIBLE, we must conclude that Jesus was exactly three days and three nights -- three full 24-hour days -- 72 hours in the grave or the only supernatural proof He gave must fail.
The TIME OF DAY of Resurrection
Now notice carefully this fact: In order to be three days and three nights -- 72 hours -- in the tomb, our Lord had to be resurrected at exactly THE SAME TIME OF DAY that His body was buried in the tomb!
Let us realize that very vital fact.
If we can find the TIME OF DAY of the burial, then we have found the TIME OF DAY of the resurrection! If the burial, for instance, was at sunrise, then in order to be left an even three days and three nights in the tomb, the resurrection likewise had to occur at sunrise, three days later. If the burial was at noon, the resurrection was at noon. If the burial was at sunset, the resurrection was at sunset, three days later.
Jesus died on the cross soon after the ninth hour or three o'clock in the afternoon, Matthew 27:46-50; Mark 15:34-37; Luke 23:44-46.
The crucifixion day was called the preparation, or day before the Sabbath, Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:31. This day ended at sunset, according to Bible reckoning, Leviticus 23:32.
Yet, Jesus was buried before this same day ended -- before sunset, Matthew 27:57, Luke 23:52-54. John adds, There laid they Jesus, therefore, because of the Jews' preparation day. According to the laws observed by the Jews all dead bodies must be buried before the beginning of a Sabbath or feast day. Hence Jesus was buried BEFORE SUNSET on the same day He died. He died shortly after 3 P.M.
Therefore -- notice carefully! -- the BURIAL OF CHRIST'S BODY WAS IN THE LATE AFTERNOON! It was between 3 P.M. and sunset as these Scriptures prove.
And since the RESURRECTION had to occur at the SAME TIME OF DAY, three days later, THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST OCCURRED, not at sunrise, but IN THE LATE AFTERNOON, near sunset! Startling as this fact may be, it is the PLAIN BIBLE TRUTH!
If Jesus rose at any other time of day, He could not have been three days and three nights in His grave. If He rose at any other time of day, He failed to prove, by the only sign He gave that He was the true Messiah, the Son of the living Creator! Either He rose near the END of a day near sunset, or else He is not the Christ!!! He staked His claim on that one and only sign!
So a time-honored tradition must be shattered! Let us praise God for His TRUTH which has been preserved through the dark ages, so that the true light may now shine forth, if our hearts and minds are still willing to receive it! Praise His name! Do you LOVE the TRUTH as it is revealed, or despise it and love the traditions you have heard? Whosoever despiseth the Word shall be destroyed, Proverbs 13:13. Let us say with David, How precious also are THY thoughts unto me, O God, Psalm 139:17.
What Day Was the Resurrection?
Now which DAY OF THE WEEK was the resurrection day?
The first investigators, Mary Magdalene and her companions, came to the sepulchre on the first day of the week (Sunday) very early, while it was yet dark, as the sun was beginning to rise, at dawn, Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1.
Now here are the texts most people have SUPPOSED stated the resurrection was at sunrise Sunday morning. But they do not say that!
When the women arrived, the tomb was already OPEN! At that time Sunday morning -- while it was yet dark -- JESUS WAS NOT THERE! Notice how the angel says, HE IS NOT HERE, BUT IS RISEN! See Mark 16:6; Luke 24:3; John 20:2; Matthew 28:5-6.
Jesus was ALREADY RISEN at sunrise Sunday morning! Of course He was. He rose from the grave IN THE LATE AFTERNOON, near SUNSET!
And since we know the resurrection was just shortly prior to that Sunday morning, and that it occurred in the late afternoon of the day, we now may know THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST OCCURRED LATE SATURDAY AFTERNOON -- NEAR THE END OF THE SABBATH!
The Sabbath day ended at sunset. It was late on that day, before the beginning of the first day of the week. It was not, then, a Sunday resurrection at all -- it was a Sabbath resurrection!
Did Christ Fulfil His Sign?
Now all this is based on the supposition that Jesus did fulfil His only SIGN of being three days and three nights in the grave. All our evidence is based on the claims of Jesus BEFORE His crucifixion. But some of the higher critics and doctors of divinity tell us that Jesus made a mistake -- that He was only in the tomb HALF AS LONG as He expected to be. Let us have PROOF as to whether He did spend the exact amount of time in the grave He said He would.
Notice that in Matthew 28:6, THE ANGEL OF THE LORD gives this testimony, which we now present as EVIDENCE: He is not here; for He is risen, AS HE SAID. And He certainly did not rise AS HE SAID unless He rose at the precise TIME that He had said! So we have the proof of the ANGEL OF THE LORD, recorded in the sacred WORD OF GOD that Jesus did fulfill His sign -- He was three days and three nights in the earth -- He did rise Sabbath afternoon, and not Sunday morning!
Now notice carefully one more text. Matthew 28:1-6, IN the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn TOWARD the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the Sepulchre . . . . And at that time the angel told them, He is not here: for He is risen as He said. If we accept this as a correct translation it places the time of resurrection directly IN THE END OF THE SABBATH, or LATE ON THE SABBATH as it is worded in the American Revised translation. In the end of anything is still IN it. Some modern translations render this text as AFTER the Sabbath -- or at dawn the first day of the week. However, even if we accept that rendering, this text becomes a fourth witness to prove that at sunrise Sunday morning He was NOT THERE -- he had risen prior to that time. But if you accept this translation, as it is in your Bible, you have a direct statement that Jesus' resurrection was before the ending of the Sabbath.
Which Day Was the Crucifixion?
It is not difficult now to determine the day on which Jesus was crucified. Counting back three days from the Sabbath, when He rose, we come to Wednesday, the fourth, or very middle, day of the week.
Jesus was crucified on WEDNESDAY, the middle day of the week, He died on the cross shortly after 3 P.M. that afternoon, was buried before sunset Wednesday evening. Now COUNT THE THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS. His body was Wednesday, Thursday and Friday NIGHTS in the grave -- THREE NIGHTS. It also was there through the daylight parts of Thursday, Friday and Saturday -- THREE DAYS. He rose Saturday -- the Sabbath -- late afternoon, shortly before sunset, at the same TIME OF DAY that He was buried! And Sunday morning at sunrise He was NOT THERE -- HE WAS ALREADY RISEN!
It is significant that in Daniel's prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, Daniel 9:24-27, Jesus was to be cut off in the midst of the week. While this prophecy has the application of a day for a year, so that this 70th week became a literal seven years, Christ being cut off after three and a half years' ministry, as He was, yet He was also cut off by DAY OF THE LITERAL WEEK!
What Sabbath Followed the Crucifixion?
Now we come to an objection some may raise, yet the very point which PROVES this truth! Perhaps you have noticed that the Scriptures say the day AFTER the crucifixion was a SABBATH! Hence, for centuries, people have blindly assumed the crucifixion was on Friday!
Now we have shown by all four Gospels that the crucifixion day -- Wednesday -- was called the preparation. The preparation day for THE SABBATH. But for WHAT Sabbath?
John's Gospel gives the definite answer: It was the preparation of the PASSOVER . . . .
for that Sabbath day was an HIGH DAY, John 19:14, 31.
Just what is a HIGH DAY? Ask any Jew! He will tell you it is one of the annual holidays, or feast days. The Israelites observed seven of these every year -- every one called SABBATHS! Annual Sabbaths, falling on certain annual calendar dates, and on different days of the week in different years, just like the Roman holidays now observed. These Sabbaths might fall on Monday, on Thursday, or on Sunday.
If you will notice the following texts, you will see these annual holidays were all called Sabbath days: Leviticus 16:31; 23:15, 24, 26-32, 39.
Notice Matthew 26:2: Ye know that after two days is Feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. And if you will follow through this chapter you will see that Jesus was crucified ON THE PASSOVER!
And what was THE PASSOVER? It was the ancient day of Israel commemorating their deliverance from Egypt, and picturing to them the crucifixion of Christ and their deliverance from sin. In the twelfth chapter of Exodus you will find the story of the original Passover. The children of Israel killed the lambs, and struck the blood over the door-posts and on the side-posts of their houses, and wherever the blood had thus been applied the death-angel passed over that house, sparing it from death. Following Passover, was a holy convocation or annual Sabbath.
Observe the dates: And in the fourteenth day of the first month is THE PASSOVER of the Lord. And in the fifteenth day of this month is the FEAST, Numbers 28:16-17.
The Passover lamb, killed every year on the 14th of the first month called Abib, was a type of Christ, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Christ is OUR PASSOVER, sacrificed for us, I Corinthians 5:7.
JESUS WAS SLAIN ON THE VERY SAME DAY THE PASSOVER HAD BEEN SLAIN EVERY YEAR! He was crucified on the 14th Abib, the first Hebrew month of the year! And this day, the PASSOVER, was the day before, and the preparation for, THE FEAST day, or annual high day Sabbath, which occurred on the 15th Abib. THIS Sabbath might occur on ANY day of the week. Frequently it occurs, even today, and is celebrated by the Jews, on THURSDAY. [Editor's Note: The Hebrew calendar has the high day Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread only on a Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday or Sabbath.]
And the Hebrew calendar shows that in the year Jesus was crucified, the 14th Abib, Passover day, the day Jesus was crucified, was WEDNESDAY. And the annual Sabbath was THURSDAY. This was the Sabbath that drew on as Joseph of Arimathea hastened to bury the body of Jesus late that Wednesday afternoon.
Honest Objections Examined
Someone is sure to notice Mark 16:9, thinking this text says the resurrection was upon Sunday. But if you read the whole sentence, it does not say that at all. The expression was risen is in the perfect tense. What was Jesus' condition early the first day of the week? Does it say He was rising or that He did rise from the grave? No, early the first day of the week, at the time when He appeared to Mary Magdalene, He WAS RISEN. Of course He was! He had risen the late afternoon before, so naturally He WAS RISEN Sunday morning. The text does not in any way refute the scores of other texts we have given.
Another passage that might confuse, is Luke 24:21, . . . and besides all this, today is the third day SINCE THESE THINGS WERE DONE. These things included all the events pertaining to the resurrection -- the seizing of Jesus, delivering Him to be tried, the actual crucifixion, and, finally the setting of the seal and the watch over the tomb the following day, or Thursday. Study verses 18-20, telling of these things and also Matthew 27:62-66. These things were not completed until the watch was set, Thursday. And the text says Sunday was the third day SINCE THESE THINGS WERE DONE. These things were not done until Thursday, and Sunday truly was the third day since Thursday. But it was not the third day since Friday, so this text could not prove a Friday crucifixion.
The Final Proof
There is yet one final clinching PROOF of this amazing truth.
According to Mark 16:1, Mary Magdalene and her companions did not buy their spices to anoint the body of Jesus until AFTER THE SABBATH WAS PAST. They could not prepare them until AFTER this -- yet after preparing the spices THEY RESTED THE SABBATH DAY ACCORDING TO THE COMMANDMENT! (Luke 23:56).
Study these two texts carefully.
There is only one possible explanation: After the annual high-day Sabbath, the feast day of the days of unleavened bread -- which was Thursday -- these women purchased and prepared their spices on FRIDAY, and then they rested on the weekly Sabbath, Saturday, according to the Commandment, Exodus 20:8-11.
A comparison of these two texts PROVES there were TWO Sabbaths that week, with a DAY IN BETWEEN. Otherwise, these texts contradict themselves.
The PLAIN TRUTH concerning the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ is fast sweeping the world. Thous ands are coming to see it. This truth has been published in the Sunday School Times. The Oxford University Press, in their Companion Bible, publish a table proving this newly-revealed truth of the Bible.
We praise God that though the truths of His Word became trampled upon and LOST through the dark ages of superstition, apostasy, and counterfeit doctrines, that the ORIGINAL TRUTH has been carefully preserved in THE BIBLE ITSELF. We can STUDY to show ourselves approved unto God, and seek out and FIND these long-hidden truths IN THE BIBLE.
What a wonderful study it is! How precious is HIS WORD! All the Truth has not YET been brought to light. Let us press on, and seek and find more and more! Let us feed upon the pure WORD OF GOD! Let us not reject the true light, or God will certainly reject us! Let us rejoice in it, with praises and thanksgiving!
Christ did not rise on Easter Sunday! This article explains what Christ did command His Church to observe!
Have you ever stopped to consider why you believe the things you believe? Where did you learn the custom of observing Easter? You have supposed it was part of the true Christian religion to observe Easter, Good Friday, Lent and Holy Week; to have colored Easter eggs; to dress up and go to church Easter Sunday. Yes, you have supposed the Bible taught these customs. But where did God ever command you to keep any of them?
The Meaning of Easter
From a child you have been led to believe that Easter signified the resurrection of Christ. For 1600 years the Western world was taught that Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday morning.
These are merely some of the fables that the apostle Paul never taught. Christ did not rise Easter Sunday. He said He would be in the grave three days and three nights (Matt: 12:40).
How can you figure 72 hours between so-called Good Friday at sunset and Easter morning?
You will want to know when Jesus did rise from the dead, so write immediately for the astonishing proof in our free booklet The Resurrection Was Not On Sunday.
The name Easter is merely a slightly changed English spelling of the name of the ancient Assyrian goddess Ishtar. As Alexander Hislop says in the The Two Babylons, Easter bears its Chaldean origin on its very forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the Queen of heaven, whose name, as pronounced by the people of Nineveh, was evidently identical with that now in common use in this country.
Easter, according to Webster's dictionary, comes from the name of the old Teuton goddess of spring. You probably never were taught that, were you?
But if Easter came from a pagan origin, where did we get Lent?
Not from the true Church! For Cassianus, who wrote in the fifth century, says: It ought to be known that the observance of the forty days (Lent) had no existence, so long as the perfection of that primitive Church remained inviolated.
Jesus never observed Lent, nor did the apostles. The forty days' abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonish goddess. Such a Lent of forty days, in the spring of the year, is still observed by the Yezidis of pagan Devil-worshippers of Korrdistan, who have inherited it from their early masters, the Babylonians (Alexander Hislop. The Two Babylons, pp.104, 105)
Lent came from the ancient heathen sun worship, not from Jesus Christ. The same is true of the use of hot-cross buns, of dyed eggs and the Easter sunrise services. You will want to learn many more facts about these pagan customs that can't be included in the short article. Write for the free booklet The Plain Truth About Easter, Which explains these and many more facts you surely need to know.
Apostles Observed Passover
Instead of observing the customs of the churches of our day, the original, inspired Church of God, under the guidance of the apostles, observed the Passover as Jesus commanded on the eve before His death. Even the writers of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition, realized the fact when writing their article Easter: There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament or in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers.
Yes, the true, original Church kept the Passover annually when God commanded.
It was years later, after the death of the apostles, after many Gentiles had made a profession of faith, that we find the observance of Easter beginning. The Gentiles began observing the day on Sunday, rather than on the eve of the 14th day of God's first month, when Jesus always kept the Passover, setting us an example. A controversy then arose between these Gentiles, who were bringing pagan customs into the Western churches, beginning at Rome, and those who still remained faithful to the instructions of Jesus and the apostles.
Here is a brief sketch showing how the Easter that you have been taught from childhood crept into the churches:
Polycarp, the disciple of John the Evangelist, and bishop of Smyrna, visited Rome in 159 to confer with Anicetus, the bishop of that see, on the subject, and urged the tradition which he had received from the apostle of observing the 14th day.... A final settlement of the dispute was one among the other reasons which led Constantine to summon the council of Nicaea in 325.... The decision of the council was unanimous that Easter was to be kept on Sunday, and on the same Sunday throughout the world, and that 'none hereafter should follow the blindness of the Jews' (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition, article Easter).
That, in plain language, is how the apostate church decreed that none should follow the ways of Christ the ways of the TRUE Christian Church! That's where the universal custom of observing Easter in the churches began.
It Was Prophesied
This astonishing account of the injection of Easter into the church, which will be much more thoroughly documented in our free booklet The Plain Truth About Easter, was prophesied by Jesus and the apostles. They did not tell of a widespread, popular growth of the true New Testament Church, but of A FALLING AWAY FROM THE TRUTH on the part of the great majority.
Prophesying of this universal FALLING AWAY from the faith which Jesus delivered for you and me to keep, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: The mystery of iniquity doth already work (II Thess. 2:7)only some 30 years after the Church began! He referred to the very Chaldean Mysteries, of which Easter and Christmas were the two chief festivals!
In another place, Paul wrote Timothy: Many shall follow their pernicious ways. So today it's the many, not the few, who are going the wrong way. It is the many who are keeping Easter, which God never once commanded, but it is only the few who are observing the ordinance which God, through Christ, commanded.
Remember, the broad way leads to destruction. Let's quit these pagan customs and return to the faith once delivered.
What God Did Command
The communion, often misnamed the Lord's Supper, is actually the Passoveras the ordinance should properly be called. On observing the Passover, as on every practice, Jude exhorts that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Now that we know the pagan origin of the Easter celebration, let's clear away the web of error that covers the truth about keeping the Passover, the memorial of Christ's death.
Let's examine the way Jesus observed this ordinance, because we can't be wrong if we follow His example. In Luke 22:14-20, we read: And when the hour was come, he [Jesus] sat down.... And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
Notice, it was when the hour was come that Jesus introduced the unleavened bread and the wine. There was a DEFINITE TIMEa definite hourwhen He held this ordinance as an example for us.
Notice, too, He commanded them to observe itTHIS DO! And why? In remembrance of me, said Jesus. He instituted this New Testament way of keeping the Passover on that tragic night, the very eve of His death.
In Matthew's account, the Bible shows that this ordinance was at the very time of the Passover, as they were eating (Matt. 26:2, 26). Jesus knew that His time had come. He was our passover, sacrificed for us (I Cor. 5:7).
The Passover had always been held on the eve of the 14th of God's first month, according to the sacred or Jewish calendar. It was the night of the final and last Passover supper that Jesus introduced these NEW TESTAMENT emblemsthe unleavened bread and the winein place of the lamb that was always slain annually.
For a full explanation of the original Passover as God instituted it, write immediately for the two booklets Pagan Holidaysor God's Holy DaysWhich? and How Often Should We Partake of the Lord's Supper?
Remember, Jesus commanded: This do in remembrance of me. Why? Because the Passover was commanded FOREVER.
The Passover was to be observed annually, along with the Days of Unleavened Bread. Thou shall therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year (Ex. 13:10). Jesus set us an example (I Peter 2:21), observing this ordinance at the same time once a year (Luke 2:42). Suppose the Israelites in Egypt had observed this ordinance at some other time than that set by God? They would not have been saved when the death angel passed by that night! God does things ON TIME. He has given us an exact time for this ordinance. Jesus instituted the New Testament symbols when the hour was come.
The Ordinance of Humility
In giving us their accounts, Matthew, Mark and Luke describe the taking of unleavened bread and wine. But John relates another part of this ordinance.
In the 13th chapter of John we notice that after the Passover supper was ended (verse 2), Jesus took a towel (verse 4) and began to wash His disciples' feet (verse 5).
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, THAT YE SHOULD DO AS I HAVE DONE TO YOU (verses 12-15).
If any of you are wondering if this ordinance of humility is a command to you, then turn to Matthew 28:19, 20. Here Jesus said to these same disciples: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them ... teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded YOU. So they were to teach us to observe ALL things WHATSOEVER Jesus commanded them!
Kept Once a Year in the Apostolic Church
In I Corinthians 5:7-8, Paul tells the Corinthians: Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven... but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. And in the llth chapter he gives the directions regarding this ordinance. Some misunderstand verse 26 (as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup) by interpreting it take it as often as you wish. But it does not say that!
It says as often as you observe it ye do show the LORD'S DEATH till he come. Even Jesus commanded: This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me (verse 25). We do it in remembrance of THE LORD'S DEATHa memorial of His death. As you know, memorials are celebrated annually, once a year, on the ANNIVERSARY of the events commemorated. The United States sets aside every May 30 as a special day of commemoration. So we observe the memorial of Christ's death annually, And just as often as each year comes around we are to show the Lord's death till he come by keeping this memorial.
Christ instituted this ordinance on the EVE OF His DEATH. It was the 14th of Abib, by God's sacred calendar, in the very beginning of the day. God starts days at sunset, not midnight. So later that same day, after Jesus had gone out to Gethsemane, Judas Iscariot led the crowd to seize Jesus. Then He was crucified later that same day, in the daylight part of this same 14th of the month Abib.
By following the example of Jesus in observing this sacred ordinance at the same time He didthe very same time the Passover was forever commanded to be observedwe continue to remember His death, annually, on the eve of the crucifixion.
Instead of observing the customs of the churches of our day, the inspired Church of God, under the guidance of the apostles, observed the Passover as Jesus commanded on the eve before His death.
Some always question the meaning of Paul in verses 27-29, in I Corinthians 11, The apostle is not speaking about a Christian being worthy or unworthy to take it. It is speaking of the manner in which it is done. We take it unworthily if we take it wrongly, in the wrong manner.
Once we learn the truth about its observance, and yet take it at any other time than what God says, then we take it unworthily. We take it unworthily if we do not accept the body and blood of Christ. So let's not take this most sacred ordinance to our condemnation, but take it worthily instead!
Easter a Mistranslation
Following the example of Jesus and the apostles, the early Church observed the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Notice Acts 12:3. The Holy Spirit of God inspired these words: Then were the days of unleavened bread. But in the next verse we read of Easter.
We have just seen that Easter was injected into the church years after the time of Christ. This word Easter is a MISTRANSLATION. The original Greek word is pasha, meaning PASSOVER. In every other place, exactly the same word is used in the original and always rendered PASSOVER. Many other translations faithfully render this verse in Acts as intending after the Passover to bring him forth to the people.
So this verse, instead of mentioning Easter, really proves that the Church, ten years after the death of Christ, was still observing Passover.
What Does Break Bread Mean?
There are some denominations that read Acts 20:7 as a proof that the Lord's Supper should be taken each Sunday morning. First notice that this was after the Days of Unleavened Bread (verse 6). Paul was preaching a farewell meeting not on Sunday morning, but on Saturday night. It was after midnight (verse 7) that they broke bread because they were hungry. When they had broken bread, and EATEN, and talked a long while, even till break of day, Paul departed.
So this was just an ordinary meal!
The same expression break bread is found in Acts 27:34, 35: Wherefore I pray you to take some MEAT. . . . he took bread . . . and when he had broken it, HE BEGAN TO EAT. Again in Acts 2:46: And breaking bread from house to house, did EAT THEIR MEAT with gladness. This could not possibly have been the Lord's Supper or, more properly, Passover, because Paul says that if we take it to satisfy our hunger we take it to our condemnation (I Cor. 11:34). In that day, everyone broke bread at ordinary meals, because they did not have the kind of bread that we slice. Jesus broke bread because it was at the Passover supper, while at meat, eating a meal.
We need to return to the faith Jesus delivered to us. Let us humbly and obediently observe this sacred ordinance as we are commanded, at the scriptural time, after sunset the 14th of Abib, according to the sacred calendar. If you haven't as yet studied about the observance of this ordinance as a memorial of Christ's death, write us immediately for the booklet How Often Should We Partake of the Lord's Supper?