According to some reading I have been doing, I have learned that in Jesus’ time the start of one day comes/came at the evening of the previous day. It would make discerning the time of Jesus’ death tricky. We read and accept as “gospel” that Jesus was in the tomb 3 days. But if Jesus was laid in the tomb Friday evening, and arose Sunday morning, where are the three days time? I am not the only one who has wondered this, if Google searches with various answers is any proof.
We “conveniently” make Holy Week a whole week, noting that his crucifixion took place on a Friday – mid afternoon according to the time table scripture provides. And he arose (Hallelujah!) on Sunday changing for many faith traditions Sabbath being on Saturday to being on Sunday.
I am not, beloved reader, a biblical commentator or scholar. Often I research what others have said online. I try to draw my own conclusions without consulting or depending on others. But I am curious about what others have said. After considering what I think/feel, and what I have read that others wrote, my take-away is this. The disciples and Jesus’ followers had not doubts he was dead.
Between the time of his death, and his resurrection enough time passed that it was iron-clad that he died and was entombed such that no one could get in, and there was no one in the tomb who was expected to emerge. Scholarship on the three days in question centers on how the accounting of the three days was made, and whether Jewish practices of that time were observed to ensure that death had happened. Jesus died and stayed dead. But, that was not the end of the story.
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” (John 20:1 – 2)
Note that she did not say he had arisen, but that he had been moved.
“Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed. . . . “ (Verses 3 – 9a)
Believed – that Jesus was gone.
“. . . ;for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” (Verse 9b)
Then, as now, Sunday was the first day of the week. This is when this happened. Jesus’ body had disappeared. The gospel of John likes to place its emphasis on the mystical nature of Jesus. His body disappeared; logical conclusion to the disciples is that someone took it. Grief upon grief!
“Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.” (Verses 10 – 14)
We equate the “Lord” with Jesus or the Divine who sent Jesus. As of that moment, for the disciples “Lord” meant one who had greater power and understanding then they. That was about to change.
“Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.” (Verses 15 – 18)
Not, “I have found the Lord’s body” but “I have seen the Lord Jesus and he is alive!” And that changed the way all of humanity has understood and been in relationship with Jesus the Christ.
“Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” (I Corinthians 15:1 – 7)
Some have said that Paul was the last of the apostles; that is, that he was the last person who became an apostle. Another way of looking at that is that Paul was the first person to become an apostle – one who preaches and teaches with authority – and started a long line of “modern” apostles. I prefer the latter because that means we can all preach and teach with authority. That is kind of a great change too.
“Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them–though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.” (Verses 8 – 11)
When I was growing up, we had off from school (and from work) both Good Friday and Easter Monday. Since I was just a child, I do not know the legal or civic reasons. I like to think of it as a confirmation to celebrate that Jesus died but not in vain. And that we should celebrate to that we, all of humanity, have been commissioned to spread the gospels and preach to all that have ears to hear and eyes to see. Easter changed everything. We were changed, but we can continue to change and grow in faith. That is the wonder and beauty of the changing nature of Easter! Shalom & Selah!