When did Jesus die?
There is overwhelming evidence in all four gospels that Jesus died at the time of Passover. The last meal Jesus shared with His disciples was the Passover meal which is celebrated on the 14th day of the 1st month of the Jewish year. Passover, which is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened bread starts at 6.00pm in the evening with the Passover meal and ends at 6,00pm on the 15th. This day is called “The Day of Preparation”
John 19 v 31 says, “Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for the Sabbath was a high day) the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away” and in v 42 “So there they laid Jesus because of the Jews’ Preparation Day for the tomb was nearby,”
Jesus died on the Preparation Day, the day after He had shared the Passover meal with His disciples and He had to be buried before the 16th because that was the first Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread as it says in verse 31 quoted above (for the Sabbath was a high day). This was not the weekly Sabbath fixed on the Saturday. There are three Sabbaths in one week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, one on the 16th day of the month, one on the normal Saturday Sabbath and one on the 21st of the month.
Jesus was the Passover Lamb who died once, for all for the sins of mankind. In 1 Corinthians 5 v 7, it even says, “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”
It is also easy to work out the day of the week on which Jesus died. No one disputes that He was risen when Mary came to the tomb before it was light on the first day of the week (Sunday) nor that Jesus Himself said that He would give them no other sign than the sign of the prophet Jonah. Matthew 12: 38 – 40 continues, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”.
Jesus died on the Wednesday at the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights and Thursday, Friday and Saturday days in the tomb. He rose during darkness on Saturday night/Sunday morning because the tomb was empty when Mary arrived. Jesus did exactly as He foretold.
But the church has ignored all of the above.
The early Christians worshipped on a Sunday because that was the day of Jesus’ resurrection. Over the years the church became world wide and the different churches in different places celebrated the anniversary of Jesus’ death and resurrection on different days of the week. In 325 AD, Constantine, the Roman Emporer called together the Church Council at Nicea. He instructed them to fix the date of the celebration but that it should never coincide with Passover. He wanted to make a large a gap as possible between Christianity and Judaism. The celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus was named Easter at this meeting and the date of Easter was to be fixed for all the church at the time of the Festival of Eostre, from which the name of Easter was taken. The church leaders and Constantine wanted to lure the pagans into Christianity and so they chose the Festival of Eostre as the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Eostre, from an ancient word for Spring – ‘eastre’ was the pagan goddess of Spring, representing fertility and the dawn, birth after winter. Eggs in ancient cultures were placed at graves as a sign of rebirth. Eggs were the primary symbol of Eostre. The goddess was said to have a pet, magical, white rabbit that travelled with her to bring life back to the earth. Celts believed that Eostre’s animal and attendant spirit was a hare (representing fertility, love and growth) She was said to change into a hare at the full moon. There are still superstitions that hares carry the souls of the dead.
The date of Easter was fixed by the Council of Nicea at the same time as the festival of Eostre. The Festival of Eostre was always celebrated on the first Sunday after the next full moon after the Spring Equinox (the Spring Equinox occurs March 20,21 or 22). This means that Easter Sunday always falls between March 22nd to April 25th.
Jesus came to die for the sins of the whole world but He came first to the Jews. The greatest event, the greatest triumph in all the history of mankind and we cannot even celebrate it at the correct time. Much of the church does not recognise Passover and does not celebrate Jesus’ triumph on the cross at that time.
No wonder the Jews find it difficult to come to faith in their Messiah when the gentile dominated church has done its best to cut all ties with Jesus, The Jew. We are told in Romans 11:11 to provoke the Jews to jealousy. God has no one else to ask to do this. He still wants to save His chosen people and we are the instruments He has asked to do this. WE can only hope to fulfil His desire if we start to show the Jewishness of Jesus, Yeshua, and all the prophecies in Jewish scriptures fulfilled by their Messiah