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The Midnight Cry:
A Prophetic Witness to the Church Today

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Jesus' Resurrection Was NOT On Sunday!

Millions of Christians believe that Jesus was crucified on a Friday and rose on a Sunday. Yet that tradition totally contradicts Jesus' own words that He would be in the grave three days and three nights (Matt 12:39,40).

Moreover, that 72-hour sign was the only sign He gave an unbelieving generation of His Messiahship! Read on to find out just when Jesus was crucified, and when He rose from the dead.

There is a saying that truth is stranger than fiction. I wonder if that statement was inspired by the Holy Spirit! Certainly in the area of understanding God's Word it carries much weight! Many Christian traditions are heavily laced with fiction!

The conventional belief about when Jesus died and rose from the dead is – believe it or not – one such fable. It is a colossal misunderstanding.

I hope you seek absolute truth and are prepared to take the time to study carefully and meditate on the evidence that follows. May you be willing to open your mind to all truth and be released from erroneous preconceptions and prejudices.

Millions of Christians have come to believe that Jesus was crucified on 'Good' Friday and rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. That is a three-pronged lie, just like the devil's proverbial pitch fork!

1. Jesus was not crucified on Friday.

2. He was not resurrected on Sunday.

3. His death and resurrection have nothing to do with Easter. (See footnote1.)

When our Lord inspired John to record in the book of Revelation that the devil has deceived the whole world (Rev 12:9), He meant what He said – the whole world. Far too many Christians complacently think they are exempt from Satan's clever bombardment, that they are not part of the world and are therefore free of deception. But they do live in the world, just like everyone else. None of us can afford to assume we have not been negatively influenced by the devil's subtle and devious deceptions. It is highly pertinent to remember that all the virgins, portrayed in Jesus' parable in Matthew 25, fell asleep.

Are you asleep to the truth about the timing of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection? Read on and see.

3 Days And 3 Nights

It is strange that so few have questioned the prevalent theory of the Good Friday, Easter Sunday tradition. Matthew's gospel makes it quite plain that Jesus said He would be in the grave three complete days (72 hours). The traditional view allows only some 36 or 40 hours – nowhere near three days and nights!

The unbelieving Pharisees and Sadducees were badgering Christ for a sign of His Messiahship, and in response Jesus gave them only one sign. Here it is:

A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah (Matt 16:4, NIV).

In the story of Jonah, he had departed from doing what God had commanded. He tried to run from his divinely appointed duty by boarding a ship for Tarshish. But none of us can hide from God or from our responsibilities. God 'caught up' with him at sea.

A furious storm ensued, and the ship and the sea-farers' lives were threatened. They cast lots to determine who was the cause of this calamity; the lot fell to Jonah. As a last resort, Jonah was thrown into the turbulent sea. Miraculously, it suddenly became calm (Jonah 1:15,16). That miraculous change instilled great awe in those mariners.

As a result of that drastic action, all lives were saved. The seamen thought Jonah had drowned. Instead, Jonah was engulfed by a huge fish, miraculously prepared to preserve him and carry him to his destination. For three days and three nights he lay in the darkness of the fish's 'belly'.

Likewise, this was the only sign God gave to the world that Jesus was indeed the promised Deliverer: the fact that He would be inside the 'belly' of the earth for three days and three nights. From that time on, Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life (Matt 16:21, NIV).

By saying "the third day", did Matthew mean that Jesus would not be in the grave for three 24-hour periods? No! Mark explained that after three days, Jesus would rise again (Mark 8:31). Plainly, one cannot explain, by any stretch of the imagination, that from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning fulfils the meaning of this text. "After three days" means what it says: at the end of three whole days!

If Jesus had been crucified on a Friday (afternoon), "after three days" would not expire until the same time on Monday (afternoon). Even if one were to count only the daylight portion of the days, the traditional concept still does not fulfil this text. If Jesus had risen early on Sunday morning, then He would have risen before the daylight portion of Sunday, not after. He would have risen after only one day (the daylight part of Saturday).

It is clear also from an earlier passage in Matthew's account that Jesus did not mean part of three days, but three whole days. He said:

... as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt 12:40, NIV).

This is not a trivial matter! This sign is the only one given upon which Jesus staked His Messiahship! Just as Jonah's rejection and 'death' secured the physical deliverance and salvation of those on that sea of death, so Jesus bought deliverance and life for the 'ocean' of humanity through His own death. The parallel is inescapable and essential.

Satan wants to destroy our confidence in the immense power of that sacrificial purchase. He attacks truth in every way he can. One such attack is through the false notion that Jesus was not in the grave for the allotted time span. Through the Good-Friday, Easter Sunday tradition, sceptics could reject the authenticity of Christ. Yet, the scripture cannot be broken (Jn 10:35). Jesus said His body would be in the "heart of the earth" for three days and three nights, so we must believe that without compromise!

About AD 66 or 67, Peter predicted the inroads of heresy into the Church:

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly [most don't notice] introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them... (2 Pet 2:1, NIV).

The Good-Friday, Easter Sunday myth effectively denies the Lord who bought us! It denies the only sign He gave that He was the Christ. Notice, Peter says these heresies are secretly introduced. Of course! A deceived person does not know he is deceived, just as a sleeping person does not know he is asleep – that is, until he wakes up!

It is now time to awake! We must not continue to believe cunningly devised fables (2 Pet 1:16, KJV), doctrines of demons (1 Tim 4:1), which are intended to create confusion, and distrust and suspicion of God's Word and of His immutable promises.

Jesus Died On The Passover

Let us start our investigation of this matter by examining the scriptural texts God has given us as benchmarks from which we can work.

In Matthew 27:62, we discover that the day of the crucifixion was a "Preparation Day". Specifically what this meant, was that it was a day of preparation prior to a Sabbath day of rest. All menial work in preparation was done this day, before the onset of the Sabbath at sunset. (Biblically, all days begin at sun-down, not at midnight – Lev 23:32; Gen 1:5,14.) On the Sabbath, no work was done which could have been done previously, leaving the day free of needless chores to allow the rest to be kept for uplifting, enjoyable spiritual purposes.

Other texts corroborate the fact that the day on which Jesus died was in fact a preparation day before a Sabbath (See Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14,31, 42). John's gospel points out an added fact: it was not merely a preparation for a weekly Sabbath (Saturday), but a preparation for the 'Passover' week – otherwise known as the seven Days of Unleavened Bread.

In early Old Testament times, the Passover lamb was sacrificed during twilight on the evening beginning the 14th Abib (also known as Nisan, the first month of the biblical year). That day from evening at the end of the 13th until evening at the end of Abib 14 was the Passover day. The Passover meal was eaten by Hebrew families at the beginning of the 14th, during the hours following sun-down. The family would share time together over this meal of a one-year old lamb, eaten with bitter herbs, depicting the bitterness of the night the firstborn died in Egypt (Ex 12). The proceedings might continue until midnight, as they commemorated the Israelites' deliverance from Egyptian slavery, symbolic of the bondage of sin.

It was on this evening that Jesus kept His last appointment with His disciples, eating with them the Passover meal and instituting the New Covenant symbols of His death. The sacrificial lamb is replaced by the symbols of the New Testament Passover: Jesus' body is represented by broken unleavened bread, and His blood by red wine. Luke records what happened on that memorable night:

...they prepared the Passover. When the hour came, Jesus and His apostles reclined at the table. And He said to them, 'I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer... After taking the cup [there was one large cup of wine from which they all drank], He gave thanks and said, 'Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.'

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same way, after the supper [showing that the Lord's supper was merely a dinner, not a ceremonial partaking of bread and wine] He took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you' (Lk 22:13-20).

The following day, the 15th of Abib, is the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This day is a 'High Day', an annual Sabbath, on which God commanded no regular work to be done (Lev 23:6,7). It was this day the Jews were preparing for when Jesus was killed (John 19:31,42). Thus, Jesus died the day before the 15th Abib – on Abib 14, the Passover day (Lev 23:5, Num 9:5) perfectly fulfilling Old Testament symbolism of the Passover lamb (1 Cor 5:7; 1 Pet 1:19).

The Crucifixion Was Not On Friday!

Abib 15, although it was a (yearly) Sabbath, could occur on almost any day of the week, depending upon when God's new year began. The start of the new year is determined by the appearance of the first new moon in spring, closest to the spring equinox (see our booklet, God's Calendar Revealed To Man).

In the year Jesus died, Abib 15 was not a weekly Sabbath day (Saturday) because, according to a correct translation of scripture, He was already risen before dawn on that Sabbath morning! (See opposite.) We know He was dead for three days and three nights, so the crucifixion must have occurred at least three days prior to the weekly Sabbath. Even if one assumed the wrong traditional view that He rose on Sunday morning, counting three days before would mean the Passover (Abib 14) was on a Thursday, and the high Sabbath day (Abib 15) on a Friday. But the Sunday morning resurrection hypothesis is preposterous because Jesus did not rise from the dead in the morning. He had to fulfil the complete time lapse of three days and three nights (Matt 12:40). He died in the afternoon (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34,37,42; Luke 23:44-46), so He must have risen in the afternoon!

That annual Sabbath day, 15th Abib, in that particular year, could not have been a Saturday! It was much earlier in the week.

Jesus was definitely not crucified on a Friday! That is simply untenable according to all the scriptures.

Matthew records what was common knowledge, at that time, of Jesus' prediction about His own death. Even the chief priests and the Pharisees knew what Jesus had said about Him being in the grave for three days and three nights (Matt 27:63). Although they refused to act positively on this knowledge, they were terrified that they might be proven wrong. They wanted to foil any possible attempt by the disciples to steal away Jesus' body and fake His resurrection. So they went to Pilate, the Roman governor, and asked for the tomb to be sealed and sentries posted at the entrance until the end of the third day. Even they knew He meant three full days, not just for the next two days! They were granted their request (Matt 27:63-66).

Continuing the story in Matthew's account, we come to the reason so many have misunderstood about what really happened.

Misunderstanding Due To Mistranslation

In most contemporary English translations of the N. T., Matthew 28:1 and parallel texts are mistranslated. For example, in the NIV, it reads: "After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb." This rendering, though sounding very plausible and quite straightforward, is highly erroneous.

Compare with a literal translation of the Greek texts, and one sees why. The Concordant Literal New Testament shows the essential link with the context of the previous verse, which most translators have failed to convey in the English. (Paragraph breaks, verses, chapters, and even most punctuation, are missing in Greek texts, unlike in English. All these things have to be decided upon by the translators, depending on what they think the context ought to mean.)

Taking into account the meaning of Matthew 28:1 in conjunction with the last verse of chapter 27, the Concordant Literal New Testament (CLNT) says this:

Matt 27:66 Now they [the chief priests and Pharisees], being gone, secure the sepulchre, sealing the stone, with the detail [sentries].

Matt 28:1 Now it is the evening of the Sabbaths.

[Notice the paragraph break here.]

Matt 28:1b At the lighting up into one of the Sabbaths came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to behold the sepulchre. [Underlined type indicates the presence of corresponding Greek words; those in normal type have been added to make the text more readable in English.]

This translation shows clearly that there were two Sabbaths that week, and that THE DAY MATTHEW 28:1 REFERS TO IS NOT SUNDAY BUT A SABBATH!!

One of the Concordant scholars explains more about the mistranslation of this and other texts where "first day of the week" occurs:

"The references in the New Testament to the 'first day of the week' in the King James version are spurious. The word 'day' does not occur in the original text, and the expression translated as 'first of the week' is a distorted, fallacious translation, founded upon human precept and tradition, gullibly swallowed by many students and scholars alike! The phrase occurs eight times: Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1,19; Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:2; and Mark 16:9 with a slight variation. The original of this phrase in each of the three oldest manuscripts reads; 'mia ton sabbaton', which literally means in English, 'one of the Sabbaths'.

"The translators altered 'one' to read 'first', then inserted the word 'day' (note that it is printed in italics in your Bible which denotes that the word is not in the original manuscripts), and then changed the plural 'Sabbaths' to the singular word 'week'! No more perfidious and deceptive work of translation can be imagined, and multitudes have been deceived by it to believe that Christ arose on Sunday, and that it is the day ordained by God as the 'Christian Sabbath'! But in the language taught by the Holy Spirit, the first seven occurrences of the phrase, as given above, should consistently read 'one of the Sabbaths'.

"The expression denotes one of the series of Sabbaths [from Passover week]... until Pentecost (Lev 23:15), while Mark 16:9 should read 'the first Sabbath', and denotes the first one of the series..." (from 'How to Scripturally Study the Scriptures' by Adlai Loudy).

Jesus First Appears On The Sabbath!

What this accurate translation of the Greek texts makes plain is that there was one Sabbath which they observed immediately following the sealing of the tomb (28:1a), and another Sabbath three days later (28:1b). It was early in the morning on this second Sabbath that Jesus made Himself apparent to Mary. Notice John's account: Now, on one of the Sabbaths, Miriam Magdalene is coming to the tomb in the morning, there being still darkness, and is observing the stone taken away from the door of the tomb (John 20:1, CLNT).

Luke's gospel corroborates this: Now in the early depths on one of the Sabbaths, they, and certain others together with them, came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they [had made] ready (Luke 24:1, CLNT).

Some have wondered why the women would wait three days before coming to the tomb to embalm the body with the spices. It ought to be obvious to any thoughtful mind that it was an impossibility to get into the tomb before this time. The opening into the tomb had been blocked with a huge rock and the entrance completely sealed off under the surveillance of Roman guards, who had strict orders not to let anyone in. The women must have tried every day from after that first Sabbath (the annual Sabbath) to come and 'anoint' Jesus' body, but had simply been prevented.

On the second Sabbath (the weekly Sabbath), presumably getting desperate now not to waste the expensive perfumes (the body would decompose after three days), the women came to the tomb early to try once more. On this occasion an angel appeared and rolled away the huge rock from the entrance with a terrific display of power. The earthquake and the brilliance of his appearance terrified the guards, and they collapsed! (Matt 28:2-4.) After being reassured by the angel's words, the women were told that Jesus HAD risen from the dead (Matt 28:6; Mark 16:6). They could see inside the tomb that it was empty! (Luke 24:3.) John and Peter later confirmed this (John 20:3-7). Jesus had already risen previously and had left the tomb without needing to roll away the stone. He was now totally transformed into Spirit. Since He died in the afternoon, He had been raised from the dead the previous afternoon, three days after His death.

So, rather than rising from the dead on Sunday, Jesus' first appearance following His resurrection, occurred on the weekly Sabbath day! The correct account further highlights the fact that the true Lord's day is, in fact, not Sunday but the Sabbath! (Mark 2:28.) That was the day made holy at creation (Gen 2:3). It is the day which God commands us to remember and which God desires Christians to keep holy (Ex 20:8; Heb 4:9,10; Heb 13:8).

Also, since Jesus had already risen by the time the women first came to the tomb early that Saturday morning, we can deduce that He must have been vivified on the Friday afternoon at about the sixth hour (3 pm), the same time when He died.

We learn in Romans 5:14 that Adam was a pattern or type of Christ who was to come later. And:

As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (1 Cor 15:22, NIV). It is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being'; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit (1 Cor 15:45, NIV).

Adam was made a physical being on the sixth day of the week. So, too, was Jesus made a Spirit Being on the same day of the week. God's spiritual plan is always in perfect parallel with His physical creation.

The Amazing True Story

Therefore, piecing together this jig-saw puzzle, we can see now what did happen that historic week.

The Passover was observed by Jesus and His disciples after sunset on Monday evening, the beginning of the 14th Abib. At that final evening meal together, they partook of the new emblems of that memorial of deliverance through death (Luke 22:13-20), sang a hymn and then followed Jesus out to the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:30,36).

He was arrested that night. Tried by kangaroo court before dawn that Tuesday and taken before Pilate and Herod (Luke 23:1-6). He refused to defend Himself (Luke 23:9; John 19:9). He was sentenced to death by crucifixion by a mob stirred up by satanic forces, and by the religious leaders (John 19:6). He was cruelly scourged and mocked by Roman soldiers and led away to be crucified (John 19:1-16).

He was nailed through the wrists and ankles to a stake at about 9 am and left to die. From noon until about 3 p.m. the sun ceased to shine as the life of the Light of the world went out (Luke 23:44). Finally, at about 3 p.m., He gave up His spirit to the Father and died (Luke 23:46). That Passover day was a Tuesday the third day of the week. Three, in the Bible, depicts finality or completion. Jesus' last words on the cross were, "It is finished" (John 19:30).

The curtain around the Holy of holies in the temple was supernaturally ripped apart (Luke 23:45). The earth shook (Matt 27:51) and the Roman centurion assigned to watch Him die was convinced that this man, was indeed righteous (Luke 23:47).

Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:50-53) and a huge rock used to block off the entrance. The next day, the High day, the entrance rock was sealed so the rock could not be moved humanly, and guards were assigned to keep the tomb secure, round the clock (Matt 27:62-66).

The disciples observed that annual Sabbath (Luke 23:56), which was a Wednesday, and waited, not understanding what really had happened. They were down-hearted, bewildered and decimated by what had occurred. Over the subsequent days they feared that they would be next! They feared for their own lives, now that their Leader had died (John 20:19).

Precisely three days after His death, on Friday afternoon Jesus rose from the dead. His body was changed into spirit, leaving the strips of cloth which bound him precisely in place. They just fell away as His body was transmuted into spirit (Jn 20:5-7).

Early the next morning, on the weekly Sabbath (Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1) the women made a last ditch effort to see if they could make use of the spices and perfumes they had prepared for Jesus' body. They arrived at the tomb to find an awesome sight awaiting them. Angels frightened them but reassured them not to fear. Jesus had already risen, exactly as He had said (Matt 28:6). In order to prove it to them, the stone was rolled away from the entrance (Matt 28:2).

Later that day Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene (John 20:16), but He told her not to touch Him because He had not yet fulfilled the symbolism of the wavesheaf offering (Lev 23:10,11) and gone before His Father in heaven (Jn 20:17). Later that day, after the sun had gone down, Jesus appeared to His disciples in the upper room, and they did touch Him and worship Him then (John 20:19,20), so by that time He had completely fulfilled the symbolism in the scriptures.

Don't Reject The Truth

The truth about the exact time of Jesus' death and resurrection has been kept a mystery until this last time. It is one aspect of 'lost' truth which is being restored to the Church through the work of the end-time 'Elijah'. This is a work of the Holy Spirit (see our booklet, Who Is The End-Time Elijah?) It is the Holy Spirit which reveals all truth (John 16:13).

God gives understanding to those whom He chooses. But with everything there is a price. Understanding comes to those who are willing to obey all God's precepts (Ps 111:10), to those who search it out (Prov 2:1-6) and to those who are prepared to lay down their own lives for their brothers and sisters (John 15:12-16).

The Good-Friday, Easter Sunday tradition is a lie which has been subtly, insidiously introduced into the Church by heretics (some of whom were misnamed 'church fathers' or 'apostolic fathers') during the early centuries of the Christian era. Believing such a myth through ignorance will not cause you to forfeit your salvation, but wilfully continuing to believe it when you know the truth, could! We must allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth (Jn 16:13), accepting what is true and rejecting what is false, because it is only those who are led by the Spirit of God who are God's sons.

If you – for whatever reason – refuse to come out of error and accept all truth, God will disown you as His child. Refusal to come out (Rev 18:4; 2 Cor 6:17-18) is rebellion and severs our relationship through Christ with God. Through such stubborn rebellion, we could forfeit the eternal inheritance God wants to give us.

Let us not step back, but move forward in the light of His stunning truth.

Malcolm B Heap, April 1994
(This article first appeared in Awake! Awake! of May 1994.)

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Copyright: Midnight Ministries, PO Box 29, Aylesbury, HP17 8TL, UK