Thursday, March 20, 2008

Blessings for Holy Week

We have come to the holiest few days of the Christian year.

The 40 days of Lent are nearly behind us and we are hunkering down for the intensity of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Services of a variety of denominations and styles abound, and are listed here (all that typing is apparently my final Lenten penance).

For those of you who are not Christian or don't come from a liturgical tradition that holds special services for these days, here's my abbreviated Holy Week glossary:

Holy (or Maundy) Thursday: Services this evening officially end Lent. The scripture attached to the day centers around Jesus's last supper. He gathers for the Passover seder with his disciples and does two astonishing things. First, he washes their feet - a gesture usually performed by a lowly servant - and says go and do likewise. In other words, our job is to serve others. Many services will incorporate foot washing. Later in the meal, he takes the bread, blesses it and said "Take, eat; this is my body." This is seen as the institution of communion or the Lord's Supper.

Good Friday: The day Jesus died. Many somber services will reflect on the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. For Catholics, it is a day of fasting.

Holy Saturday: Saturday tends to get a little overlooked. In terms of remembering as a way to kind of relive the events of Jesus' death, it should be another somber day. Jesus is still in the tomb, so to speak. After sundown, the mood changes. In the Catholic church, this is the time we begin to celebrate Easter and we baptize and confirm those adults who are joining the church.

Easter: The holiest day of the year. Christians believe Jesus has risen from the dead. Sermons will usually reflect on the glorious occasion and how Jesus's resurrection gives us hope for the same joy after death. We are through fasting and can rejoice.


Tom said...

One more Catholic tidbit about Holy Thursday: Jesus instituted the priesthood and performed the first sacrament of Holy Orders.

John said...

I sure don't want to be a bummer, but if the truth of the timing of the Lord's death, burial and resurrection were to be fully known throughout the Christian world a lot of these traditions would be blown out of the water.

Many are coming to see just how off this celebration is. Does it matter? It seems it does. Ask the ones who are coming to realize the truth behind the timing of not only the death and resurrection but of the events even 3 days prior to the death.

No, traditions are not bad, but the schedule of events in no way corresponds to nor indicates how the events of that week nearly 2000 years ago had to be perfectly precise and were not just haphazard.

I fear the Church, in particular the American Church, is getting even more caught up in ritual than ever. More and more children are growing up according to the traditions of men and not those of God's word. And that is partly why the Easter bunny and Saint Nick are more revered by way too many than the One Who the events point to. :(

BrianC said...

John, don't just be a bummer. Please explain what you mean! What is "the truth" about the timing of those events that you possess???

John said...

Hi brainc:

The "truth" is that the Lord was crucified on a Wednesday afternoon, buried just prior to sunset on that day, in the tomb a FULL 72 hours and resurrected at sunset on Saturday. To fulfill the role of Passover Lamb, these times were absolutely essential to proof of what and Who He claimed to be.

Many will say "So what? That doesn't affect things." Well, I can only imagine what would happen to Easter should we take away sunrise services, good Friday, etc. Are they bad traditions? I guess it depends on who you ask and how it has possibly distorted the beliefs of some.

I know that's not very detailed, but I'll be happy to explain more if need be. :)

Diane Haag said...

Thanks for the clarification John, except I'm not sure where Wednesday is coming from.

The bible is pretty clear that Jesus died on Friday afternoon(Matt. 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54). That means Friday was day one, Saturday was day two and on the third day, Sunday, Jesus rose.

John said...

Hi Diane:

I'm guessing that by "the Sabbath" you take that to mean the regular weekly (Saturday) Sabbath?

If not, I'm about to waste a bunch of time. lol! But, if that is what you are thinking, then here's my take:

Matthew 12:40
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.

When I first began studying this topic I was convinced (as best I can narrow down "because of tradition") that the 3 days and nights was fulfilled because Jews reckoned a part of one day to mean a full day. I have yet to validate that belief, though. So, I had to dig a bit deeper.

However, the simplicity of what the Lord said was "3 days AND 3 nights". The "and" is the clincher. Fortunately, we find He was exact and exactly right.

When we go back to Jonah (Jonah 1:17), do we believe he was in the whale's belly only parts of those 3 days and nights? I'd guess that if we were to read that, having never heard Jesus' prophecy, we'd reckon a full 3 days and nights....72 hours. And, that is exactly how we should view the Lord's prophecy.

This is only part of the reason why there could be no Friday afternoon burial and Sunday morning resurrection, seeing as this could not have accomplished the prophecy. The deeper meaning comes from the claim that Jesus Christ IS our Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7).

I've learned from some incredibly studied men that God not only GAVE laws, but that He obeyed His very own laws. He not only instituted feasts that were commanded to be maintained, but He also kept them AND, even more significant, He FULFILLED them. The one in question that He fulfilled at what we celebrate as Easter is that of the Passover Lamb. To BE the Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ had to fulfill the exact requirements He had given to the children of the exodus, just days after their redemption. He gave exacting requirements that, if not kept, resulted in a Jew being "separated" from the nation. I fully believe that meant they were to be killed.

It would take me pages and pages to go through the requirements given by God for the Passover to be kept "right" in God's eyes. But, the major points are:

1) the Jewish day started at sundown (let's say 6pm);
2) the day of the Passover was the 14th day of the month of Abib (Lev 23:5; Num 28:16) and it was a Sabbath day, on which no work was to be done; the Jews weren't even supposed to leave their homes during that night (which, remember, was the beginning of their day);
3)the lamb that was to be slain was to be kept and nurtured starting on the 10th day, the first month for the Jews (Ex. 12:1-6);
4) the lamb was to then be killed on the 13th day close to the beginning of the 14th (which began at sundown). This had to be done prior to the 14th, because the 14th was the Passover and was a holy day (a sabbath).

When you piece the last week of the Lord's life together from all of the gospels, you find that starting on the 10th day of the month He was "kept" safe in Bethany. He made two trips into Jerusalem during those 2 days and then the final one on the Preparation day spoken of in the passages you mentioned. This "preparation" was for the annual Passover, not for the weekly Saturday Sabbath. It would have been the 13th day of the month when the lamb was to be killed, thus the meaning of "preparation". This is the day that the "Lord's Supper" took place. It began at evening on the 13th, the beginning of that day for them. It is after this that the Lord goes to Gethsemane in the middle of the night. He is betrayed by Judas, undergoes his "trials" in the morning (still the 13th day) and is crucified starting at noon that day. By 3pm of the 13th He is dead. Because the Jews were about the observe the Passover, a Sabbath day, they had to get Jesus buried quickly. John 19:42 describes this: "So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby."

If they (two Jewish leaders, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea) had handled the body after sunset (the beginning of the 14th - Passover), they would not have been allowed to partake of the meal that was to be eaten later that evening.

Without having time and space to verify it, the 14th, 15th and 16th were ALL Sabbath days (the 16th being the regular weekly Sabbath). The 13th was a Wednesday (the day the sacrifice must be killed), the 14th was a Thursday (Passover Sabbath), the 15th was Friday (the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a Sabbath) and the 16th was Saturday (the weekly Sabbath). So, because of these sabbaths, no Jew was allowed to do anything with or for the Body of Jesus. That is why we see so few visits during the 3 days and why the spices could only be brought late on the day Saturday (at sundown) which would have begun their Sunday (post-Sabbath).

Doesn't it make sense that all 3 days that the Lord was in the tomb would be Sabbaths (resting days)? I think that's pretty neat!! :)

Diane, I know that's a very brief and quick overview, but the events orchestrated and demanded by God are so perfect in their timing that a Fri-Sun schedule just doesn't cut it.

Jesus Christ was in the tomb a full 72 hours. He was buried very near sundown on a Wednesday and resurrected at precisely the same time of the day on Saturday. I've got a study that a man did that even gives the exact date of the month and the exact year these things had to have happened. He's verified it with many historical sources, like when certain kings reigned, when a group of kings were all alive together, etc). It's quite an amazing feat of work he did.

I hope that helps. I don't criticize anyone for holding to a Fri-Sun schedule. I just know what the understanding of this more perfect time frame has done for me and how God's timings are not coincidental or frivolous. The events of that last week are so overlooked as to how they fulfilled OT prophecy and requirements by God. I just pray that everyone has the privilege of seeing these things as God has allowed me to.

If you are ever interested in seeing the study, I will see if I can get it to you. :)

Diane Haag said...

Thanks John. that's some impressive study you've done. And I think you're right -- we do need to better understand how these events fit with the OT.

John said...

Thanks, Diane. I pray it edifies you and anyone else who reads it. But as I said, there is WAY MORE, and I can't take credit. I learned most of what I wrote from one man who has incredible revelation about Jesus Christ. He has been given great understanding of how this man who was God in flesh fulfilled, obeyed and typified any and ever event, law and precept found in the OT.

I hate that I put off the OT for so long, thinking it just a "history". Oh, how RICH it is, though! But, one must come to realize Who and what this Man was and is before these things become so beautifully evident!! :)

Diane Haag said...

The following is brom BrianC (I accidentally rejected it - sorry!)

John, I found this commentary by a someone who counters the Tony Lee conviction of a full 72 hr period for Jesus entombment. Just an FYI that this belief has been addressed by an apologist.

John said...

Hey diane/brianc:

I plugged the web address

in and it took me right back to this page. :)

Diane Haag said...

blame me for the technical problems -- I bet the link was embedded in the text and when I deleted it, it was lost...

BrianC said...

Sorry Diane! Here's the link again!

John said...

brianc said: Just an FYI that this belief has been addressed by an apologist.

Hi brian:

I'm not sure what an apologist is referring to?

Anyway, I got about 1/3 of the way into the article from your link. The author keeps stating that he has proven that the burial was on a Friday, so he could then move on. Well, he hasn't proven it to me, because it's obvious from scripture that the "preparation" talked about in all the gospel accounts is referring to the annual Passover. How he misses this I don't know. Of course, I missed it for quite a long time, too.

So, not having settled that fact, I saw no sense in reading the rest.

Like I said, I don't criticize people for believing in a Fri-Sun time frame. I've just come to realize how much deeper this is than that. This is about the fulfillment of a typology, the passover lamb, from the OT and the exacting nature of God.

I'll be glad to go more indepth about the preparation day being for the passover and not the weekly sabbath (Saturday) if anyone is interested. Of course, reading the accounts in the gospels also brings it out. John really pinpoints it well.

God bless!