2019 Study Summary 15: Easter: “O Grave, Where Is Thy Victory?”
“O Grave, Where Is Thy Victory?”
What misunderstanding is there of “three-days and three-nights?”
Many Christians struggle with the symbolism due to a mainstream Christian tradition of Good Friday as the crucifixion day and Easter Sunday as the resurrection day. That, according to the scriptural way of calculating twenty-four hour days, still is only two nights and two days.
What did the Savior say about his death and resurrection?
“The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” (Luke 24:7, 46) “. . . and be raised again the third day.” (Matthew 16:21; 17:23, Mark 9:31)
What other prophecies are there about three-days and three nights?
“And the people began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet Samuel, the Lamanite, yea, for the time that there should be darkness for the space of three days over the face of the land.” (3 Nephi 8:3-4)
How does night time in Israel coincide with daylight in the Book of Mormon lands?
“And when the sixth hour (12-noon in today’s time) was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour (3:00 pm in today’s time).” (Mark 15:33-34) 3:00 pm in Israel is still 6:00 am even in the eastern part of the Book of Mormon lands. That may be understood as, the three days in the Book of Mormon lands – that were actually blackened – concur with three nights in Israel.
What chronology did early Apostles give?
It will help to remember that since creation, 24-hour periods (days) begin with nightfall. Six days before the Passover that year, Jesus spent the Sabbath eve and day (what we call a Friday nightfall/Saturday) with Martha, Mary and Lazarus, “Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.” (John 12:1)
What is the sequence of Palm Sunday to the three-nights and three-days and the resurrection?
The following day was the Triumphal Entry, (John 12:12) Five days before Passover, Palm Sunday was the first day of the week (Saturday nightfall/Sunday). . . . . when the chief priests . . . saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple . . . Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased . . . Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? And he . . . went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there. (Matthew 21:17)
How can the parable of the fig tree help us understand the Savior’s mission?
Four days before the Passover, the following day, (Sunday nightfall/Monday), “Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.” (Matthew 21:18) Jesus cursed a fig tree, it did not have the first-fruit. In Israel, the fig trees produce in the spring and in the fall. If the first fruit failed, how could there be a second fruit (a second coming)? (Mark 11:12-13)
How may expelling money changers connect to the ancient cleansing of the temple?
Three days before Passover, according to some tradition, was the annual cleansing of the temple prior to Passover in “Purifying of all holy things” as stated in (1 Chronicles 23:28) This may have been typified as Jesus whipped out the money changers, Jesus went into the temple, and . . . cast out them that sold and bought in the temple . . . (Mark 11:14-16) That was likely three days before Passover, (Monday nightfall/Tuesday)
What plans were unfolding?
Two days before the Passover, (Tuesday nightfall/Wednesday) The plan unfolds to eliminate Jesus. “Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.” (Matthew 26:1-5)
How did the Savior prepare for our salvation?
One day before the Passover (Wednesday nightfall/Thursday) is the preparation day before Passover. The night and day that the Savior prepared the way for us to return to Heavenly Father’s presence. That is the only night and day there are no sacrifices at the temple. Jesus was the sacrifice, alone that night at Gethsemane.
What was Judas’ role at the Last Supper?
Let us return to the “Last Supper” of Jesus with his disciples. Sometime that evening(Wednesday nightfall/Thursday), Judas had excused himself and left. The other disciples may have thought he was going out to purchase the lamb for the Passover meal. Instead he was leaving to sell the Lamb of God. Looking at the event in another way, one can see that his departure was to make a sale—for thirty pieces of silver he was selling the “Bread of Life” to the corrupt priests.
For what reason did Jesus preempt the Passover Meal with his own?
It seems that Jesus’ supper preceded the normal time for the Passover meal that year by a day. That is the first item that was different that night than any other Passover night. The second thing different about this day was the meaning He gave to the Afikommen, the “lost or fourth piece” of bread. The following evening really began the seven-day Passover period, and by that time Jesus was already crucified and in the tomb. This high, holy week always began on the first full moon after the first day of spring. Every year that day becomes an extra Sabbath that week; it is called a High Day. That High Day may occur on any day of the week, including the regular Sabbath. It is also important to remember that the beginning and ending day of the Passover is always treated as an extra High Sabbath day.
Bread and Wine Explained:
The second item that makes the “Last Supper” different from any other night is the explanation of the bread taken before the wine. Jesus used this meal to teach his Apostles that he was the Deliverer. He likely showed that the Passover practice of partaking of wine followed by bread (three times) was very likely a symbolic anticipation of a future atonement. It was henceforth changed to bread followed by wine—symbolic of the deliverance he was to carry out within the next four days. “For this is in remembrance of my blood of the new testament, which is shed for as many as shall believe on my name, for the remission of their sins.” (Matthew 26:24 JST)
A New Commandment:
There was another instruction given during this evening that was different from instruction given any other time. This is the third item that makes this night different than any other night. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you . . .” (John 13:34) From Sinai where the children of Israel compromised themselves to the “lesser law of performance,” the old concept was different, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)
How can I better visualize Gethsemane?
After their Passover meal, Jesus and eleven Apostles went to the Mount of Olives. “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.” (Matthew 26:30-36)
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Agony at Gethsemane:
The agony that Jesus went through became so difficult that he pleaded with the Father for relief, yet submissively said, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. . . . and prayed the third time, saying the same words.” (Matthew 26:42, 44) He perspired great drops of blood. “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
The Suffering of Jesus:
The suffering of Jesus cannot be explained. Even he was astonished at the overwhelming suffering he had to bear. “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. . . . He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. . . . and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.” (Matthew 26:39-45)
An additional messianic symbol of that suffering is Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah’s arrival in red clothing on the Mount of Olives. “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?” (Isaiah 63:1-2) “And it shall be said: Who is this that cometh down from God in heaven with dyed garments; yea, from the regions which are not known, clothed in his glorious apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength? And he shall say: I am he who spake in righteousness, mighty to save. And the Lord shall be red in his apparel, and his garments like him that treadeth in the wine-vat.” (Doctrine & Covenants133:46-48)
A Mock Trial:
Late that night, Jesus was betrayed, arrested, and taken to Caiaphas the High Priest by his soldiers. The incarceration and interrogation were not part of an official trial. Both were illegal under the circumstances. That evening was the beginning of the Preparation Day, a holiday by itself; it was night time and there was no formal charge against Jesus. These and other items precluded any trial to be performed legally.
Execution for Temple Violations:
Under the Roman political system, the Jewish priests were not to carry out executions except for temple violations. (Their executions would have been by stoning–throwing the victim over a high cliff and then covering him with stones they threw.) The priests bound him and led him away to Pontius Pilate, the governor.
What is the real story behind Pontius Pilate at the Antonia Fortress?
Today, a site is maintained by a Catholic Order, The Sisters of Zion. The archaeological ruins recently discovered may have been well preserved from Byzantine times. Floor stones and cisterns reveal ancient Roman markings and usage as a fortress. Pilate, probably egging them on and hoping to accomplish something for himself, said, “Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15) Ah, the political gain was achieved (since the priests publicly acclaimed Caesar to be their king). “Then delivered he him . . . to be crucified” (John 19:16) This may have been the achievement that endeared Pilate to Herod, since he motivated the Jewish priests to acclaim Caesar. “And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.” (Luke 23:12)
On what day did the crucifixion and burial really occur?
It was still the preparation day, the day before Passover, (Wednesday nightfall/Thursday). “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” (John 19:31)
What were “Feast-days” also “High days” and how are they observed?
As commanded in the Old Testament, Passover is a high day, an annual Sabbath, (Leviticus 23:4-6). There are seven annual Sabbaths. They are the first and seventh days of Passover, the first full moon after the spring equinox, Pentecost, the day Moses gave the commandments, Rosh Hashanah, the Hebrew New Year, Yom Kippur, the day of atonement), and the first and last day of Succoth, the first full moon after the fall equinox. These are extra Sabbaths, times of ancient sacrifices (fasting) and are observed as a regular Sabbath would be. These seven festivals do not necessarily occur on a weekly Sabbath, (seventh-day Sabbath).
The Place of a Skull:
Jesus, bearing His cross (probably just the cross beam, as the upright post was most likely already at the crucifixion place), “. . . went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha.” (John 19:17)
Jesus Speaks from the Cross:
The Bible records seven things that Jesus said while on the cross. To those who nailed him: “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” (Luke 23:34) To those who crucified with him: “. . . for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise [world of spirits].” (Luke 23:41-43) To His Mother: “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!” (John 19:26) To John the Beloved: “Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” (John 19:27) To the Guards: “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” (John 19:28) To His Father: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” (Luke 23:46) To the World: “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30)
How does prohibition of mourning or burial on Sabbaths help me better understand the Savior’s atonement?
“Overt mourning on Shabbat and Jewish holidays is generally forbidden.” “. . . According to traditions, burials are not be permitted on Shabbat. In fact, strong mourning is not permitted during the Sabbath.” (https://www.shiva.com/learning-center/commemorate/jewish-holidays/shabbat) The Savior arranged to be buried before two Sabbaths, the Passover High day (Thursday nightfall/Friday) and the regular weekly Sabbath, (Friday nightfall Saturday) so that even His closest friends and family would not mourn. The first day of the week He arose, (Saturday nightfall/Sunday).
Two Sabbaths in a Row:
The scurrilous events of that day preceded the Passover which was due to begin at any moment. The Passover (a special Sabbath, an extra Sabbath, a high day) that week preceded the regular Friday-nightfall/Saturday Sabbath. “The Jews [Priests] therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,)” (John 19:31)
The Sign to the Pharisees fulfilled:
There were two Sabbaths in a row that year (the Passover Sabbath and the regular seventh day of the week Sabbath). In that sense, Jesus was crucified on what we call a Thursday. This fits in the time reckoning of Palm Sunday being five days before the Passover (John 12:12). Then in fulfillment of prophecy, He really was in the tomb three nights; and on the third day He arose: This was also the only “sign” Jesus gave the Pharisees. (Matthew 12:38-40)
How will you bear witness?
The scriptures bear witness, the spirit bears witness of an empty tomb: “He is not here.” They teach us that color, calendar, clock, people, places and experiences were used to foreshadow the atonement. With open hearts we may have experiences, meet worthy people, visit holy places, understand God’s timing of calendar events, and see eternal purposes of Him who died and came alive again! So will we.