Lay it to Heart

The Resurrection

Many churches worship on Sunday because they believe that Jesus rose from the grave on that day. The real reason churches meet on Sunday is to uphold tradition, not scripture. While the resurrection happened in the past it greatly affects us in the present and should change our lives today.

Almost everybody I meet seems to think that Jesus was crucified on Friday and raised on Sunday. I believe that it was on Wednesday and Saturday, respectively. Normally I would not make a strong point for details, but in this case, it is important because there is nothing more important than the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Because he died on the cross, he washed away our sins. Because he rose, we know it.

I was led to believe that the day of his death was Friday because of an incorrect reference to John 19:31; "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." This was not the regular sabbath as in Saturday; this was a special sabbath. Leviticus Chapter 23 tells us of the special days that God gave us.

4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.
5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s passover.
6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

Jesus held his last supper on the Passover. The next day was a time of preparation for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Look at verse 32 where God refers to the Day of Atonement. "It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath." These days were called sabbaths no matter what day of the week they fell on. Because Jesus died on the day of preparation, the next day was a sabbath no matter what day of the week it was. The Scriptures do not say that Jesus died on any certain day of the week.

We are told that Jesus' followers found the empty tomb on Sunday, but not that Jesus was raised on Sunday. At the end each of the Gospels, the accounts tell only of an empty tomb except for Mark 16:9. I believe that the Bible has God for its author, Salvation for its end, and truth, without mixture of error, for its matter, but in this case, it is not God’s word, it is man’s punctuation. Was there punctuation in the original scriptures? Mark 16:9 adds a comma that leaves the reader with the impression that Jesus rose from the grave on Sunday. Without the commas, the verse can be read two different ways; Either "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils." Or "Now when Jesus was risen, early the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils."

Did he rise early the first day of the week or did appear first to Mary Magdalene early the first day of the week? We know that he did appear early from the other accounts but we do not know that he rose early from the other accounts. The Bible says that it was Sunday when the women found the empty tomb, but not when he rose. Matthew 28:2 tells us there was a great earthquake. The earthquake was not the resurrection. Jesus did not need the stone rolled away from the tomb in order to get out. It was what occurred when an angel of the Lord descended and came and rolled away the stone and set upon it, not when Jesus Christ arose. Do you think the Lord and Creator who made the heavens, the earth and the rock the grave was made of needed help getting out of a grave?

Jesus, and others, used the following phrases to describe how long Jesus would stay in the grave, when he would rise and/or how long it had been:

References to the Days in the Tomb

Description Matthew Mark Luke John Acts 1 Cor.
in three days (comparing himself to the temple) 26:61


within three days (comparing himself to the temple)

the third day






the third day since these things were done


three days and
three nights

three days and three nights
(by reference to Jonah)


after three days

after three days (as reported by others) 27:63

until the third day (as reported by others) 27:64

What Do All These Things Mean?

Jesus could not rise in three days and after the third day if he died on Friday and rose on Sunday. The only way for all of the phrases to be true is if he rose at the intersection of all these times, 72 hours later. If Jesus took a fraction of a second to rise, he could start rising on the third day, finish rising after the third day and spend three days and three nights in the tomb, just as he said. Since he died around 3:00 p.m., he must have risen the same time, three days later.

If Jesus were crucified on Friday, Jesus would have been dead one day on Saturday. On Sunday, he would have been dead two days. Monday would be the third day. If you counted Friday as the first day, there is still a problem, because Sunday is not three days after Friday. Sunday would constitute one day; one or two parts of days, depending on the actual time of resurrection; and only two nights. The prophecy in Matthew 12:38-40 would be wrong. In Luke 24:21, one of the followers on the road to Emmaus said that it was the third day since these things were done. If Jesus were crucified on Friday, Saturday would be one day later, Sunday would be two days after, and Monday would be the third day since these things were done.

The Onah

Some scholars teach that the Jews of the day believed that any part of a day or night could be considered a day and a night. They call this the onah. This differs from Jewish teaching. There is an onah per Jewish teaching and an onah per corrupted Christian tradition. Please bear in mind, however, that Jonah came before the so-called Christian onah. Jonah lived in the reign of Jeroboam II which, according to traditional history, was from 790-749 BC. Following this period, we have the rise of Babylon, the 70 years of Jewish captivity, and then a period of several hundred years during which the Hebrew nation once again strayed from God's word. They developed teachings that the Pharisees and Sadducees embraced contrary to the word of God. This line of thought or philosophy developed long after Jonah served as a prophet. Onah really refers to a period of time. The Jewish Virtual Library indicates the onah is 1/24th of an hour. Other sources refer to the day as being divided into two periods; a day time onah and a night time onah. In Deuteronomy 4:2 God said, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." Oral tradition was developed which added to and or subtracted from God's word. This was wrong and Jesus would not follow this sin. After the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Babylonian Talmud put oral tradition into writing. What does it teach? The Babylonian Talmud as translated by as Michael L. Rodksinson in the Tract Abuda Zare section, chapter V, pages 163 and 164 (page 2638 of 3225) teaches, "How long is an Onah? R. Hyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: An Onah is the length of either a day or a night. R. Hana b. Sheina, according to others, R. Hana b. Sheina, said in the name of Rabba b. b. 'Hana that R. Johanan makes an Onah equal to the length of a half a day and night. However, according to each version, the Onah equals twelve hours, since the one refers to the equinox and the other to the solstice season." Another source, come-and-hear says in the The Babylonian Talmud: Tractate 'Abodah Zarah, Folio 75a asks, "How long is an 'onah?" Its answer is "Either a day or a night." The teachings found in the Talmud appear to teach the onah as a period of 12 hours and that there are two onahs in a day. The Jews did not believe any part of a day was a day and a night as AT Robertson claims in the "Harmony of the Gospels".

Now Jesus, when referring to Jonah, used the term "For as Jonas was" when comparing his time in the grave to Jonah’s time in the belly of the whale. Is this anything different than a direct comparison? Had the onah as referenced by Biblical apologists been brought about, invented, dreamed up, or fabricated by the time of Jonah? Are there any references to it before the Talmud? Certainly at the time of the writing of the book of Jonah, the reference meant that Jonah was in the huge sea creature an actual three days and three nights and not just 40 hours. Jesus had to be in the tomb more than forty hours. "Crucified on Friday and raised on Sunday" does not agree with the Scriptures.

The Christian teaching about the onah as applied to the resurrection is not a truthful teaching. It was, and is, a lie. Instead of ascribing to the teaching of the onah Jesus said , "Are there not twelve hours in the day?" (John 11:9). This shows that Jesus and the Jews listening to him believed any part of a day was not a day and a night. God does not have a double standards. In addition, if the length of a day was unclear the prophecy concerning the resurrection would be unclear as well. Deuteronomy 25:13-14 says, "Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small." Proverbs 20:10 tells us, "Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD." Proverbs 20:23 is similar; "Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good." The shekel, omer, ephah etc. were to always be the same amount. Today the pound, mile, kilogram, meter, etc. should always be exactly the same. Why would God have different standards for the day? In Genesis 1 God said the sun and moon would be for "for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years" God's standard for a day comes the sun not a random period of time.

Jesus greatly opposed the false religion of the day disagreeing publicly with the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus did not follow their traditions. Jesus said things, which insulted them and put them down. Even if the Jewish people held to an incorrect tradition a many Christians suggest, Jesus would not lie or go along with it. Jesus told it as it was. Matthew 23 relates how little Jesus thought of their tradition. Jesus never went along with the lies as taught by the religious leaders of the day. Consider the vast differences in the way Jesus spoke and acted from that of the Pharisees.

The Pharisees took exception to things that Jesus did:

Reference Exception
Matthew 9:11 Jesus ate with tax gathers and sinners.
Matthew 12:1-2 Jesus and his disciples "harvested" on the sabbath.
Matthew 12:10-13 Jesus healed on the sabbath.
Matthew 15:1-2 Jesus’ disciples did not wash their hands according to tradition.
Matthew 23:3 Jesus told those present not to do according the deeds of the Pharisees.
Matthew 23:8-10 Contrary to Pharisaic teachings, Jesus taught people not to be called "Rabbi", "Father", or "Leader".

Jesus did not honor the Pharisees and in some cases insulted them:

Reference Insult
Matthew 5:20 Jesus said, "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven".
Matthew 12:34 Jesus called the Pharisees a "brood of vipers".
Matthew 15:3 Jesus said that the Pharisees transgressed the commandment of God for the sake of their tradition.
Matthew 15:6 Jesus said that the Pharisees invalidated the word of God.
Matthew 15:7-8 Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, says that they did not honor God, and that they worship God in vain.
Matthew 23:4 Jesus indicated that the Pharisees tie heavy loads on men’s backs but they are unwilling to do any work themselves.
Matthew 23:5 Jesus said that they do all of their deeds to be noticed by men.
Matthew 23:13-15, 23, 25, 27, and 29 Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites.
Matthew 23:16 and 24 Jesus called the Pharisees "blind guides".
Matthew 23:17 and 19 Jesus called the Pharisees "blind men".
Matthew 23:25 Jesus said that the Pharisees were full of robbery and self-indulgence.
Matthew 23:26 Jesus addressed them as "you blind Pharisee".
Matthew 23:27 Jesus said to the Pharisees "you are like white washed tombs".
Matthew 23:28 Jesus said that outwardly the Pharisees appeared righteous but inwardly were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Matthew 23:33 Jesus called the Pharisees "serpents and a brood of vipers".

Jesus spoke against the types of things the Pharisees were thought to do; he did not directly mention them but it is likely that he was speaking of them:

Reference Saying
Matthew 6:1 "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men"
Matthew 6:5 "and when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites..."
Matthew 6:16 "and whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites..."

Jesus Didn't Follow The Pharisees' Law

The Pharisees and religious teachers in Jesus' time did not abide by the word of God. They did not follow God. Consequently, Jesus' teachings were not consistent with the teaching of the Pharisees. Jesus did not follow the bogus traditions of the scribes, Pharisees or Sadducees. Jesus did what was right. There was so much conflict and disagreement between Jesus and the Pharisees, that they thought that they killed him for it. We understand the real reason that he died on the cross was for our salvation, but the Pharisees killed him because he not honor their teachings and traditions and could take away their power.

Deuteronomy 4:2 tells us not to add or nor subtract from God's word. Deuteronomy 12:32 is also similar. The Pharisees did not follow the law of Moses. They were fakes. That is why they changed the law. In John 5:45 and 46 Jesus expressed that even Moses would accuse them.

The Lord's Day

What about the Lord's day? The term "the Lord's day" is used by some to suggest that Jesus rose on Sunday. Actually, Jesus did not rise on Sunday morning. He was already gone when people came to the tomb. In reality, the term is used only once in the Bible in Revelation 1:10 which was written long after the resurrection. There is no cause and effect shown in the Bible between the resurrection and the term "the Lord's day". This appears to be more the result of persecution. What came about is that Christians first went to the synagogues on the sabbath but they were not accepted. It was later on that Christians started worshipping on another day of the week other than Saturday. In addition to the persecution in the synagogue, persecution also came from Rome. It was persecution that brought about the term, not the resurrection.

What does Bible say? Look at the verses that refer to worship on the sabbath after the resurrection.

  1. Acts 13:5 says, "And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister." The Jews were not in the synagogues on Sunday but instead on Saturday.
  2. In Acts 13:14 Paul went into the synagogue. He was beat up and thrown out.
  3. In Acts 13:27 Paul made a reference to the prophets being read every sabbath day.
  4. Acts 13:42 and 44 also mention Paul and Barnabas preaching on the sabbath.
  5. In Acts 15:21 James referred to Moses, meaning the Law of Moses, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
  6. Acts 16:13-14 says, "And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul."
  7. In Acts 17:2 Paul went into the synagogue in Thessalonica and for three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures. The result was that the city set in an uproar.
  8. Acts 18:4 tells us Paul was in Corinth at one time and reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath until he ran into opposition and blasphemy. He then departed from the synagogue.
  9. Acts 22:19 says, "And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:". After the resurrection Christians did not abandon the synagogues but stayed the course until the were beaten, run out or killed for their faith.

The one time that any kind of worship on Sunday is found is in Acts 20:7. "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." This does not establish a cause and effect relationship between the resurrection and any day of worship.

1 Corinthians 16:2 says, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." Because it speaks of the first day of the week people try to say Jesus rose from the grave on Sunday. This is not talking about worship but instead saving up money until the believers come together. Laying aside refers to saving or storing an offering similar to keeping, preparing, making ready or doing something that occurs when one is not going to church. It does not say to give, sacrifice, yield, donate, offer, present or bring an offering. It actually suggests they were not going to church on Sunday at that time.

1 Corinthians 2:16 says, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:" It does not say to worship on Sunday or that Jesus rose on Sunday.

What will God do in the future? When there are the new heavens and the new earth, Isaiah 66:23 tells us, "And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD." The sabbath will still be remembered in the future. The one time use of the phrase "the Lord's day" does not mean Jesus rose from the grave on Sunday or that we should worship on that day.

Jesus Did Not Need an Earthquake to Get Out of the Grave

Matthew 28:2 says, "And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it." Some people think that this shows that the Jesus rose on Sunday morning. The Bible does not say the Jesus rose when the earthquake occurred. Jesus did not need an earthquake or the stone rolled back to get out of the grave. Jesus made the earth. He just conquered sin, death and hell. A stone, rock or boulder, however big it was, could not stop him. The stone was rolled away for our benefit.

Easter Services Mean Nothing

Many Christians attend a sunrise service early Easter morning and after the wonderful experience feel even more convinced Jesus rose from the grave on Sunday morning. It's just an experience and it means nothing. Calm streets, better weather, a beautiful sky and a casual atmosphere in some places might be enjoyable but it is normal for that time of year for those who do not sleep in. The subtle deception plays on the emotion to suggest that the morning experience proves Jesus Christ rose from the grave at the time. Then comes the music and the special church services and people feel even more blessed. Social events, feelings and the overall experience have come to out weigh Biblical truth. 1 Corinthians 11:24 recalls Jesus celebrating the passover saying "...this do in remembrance of me." Concerning his sacrifice for us we celebrate the passover in the Lord's Supper not in Easter. God gave us many commandments in his word but none to celebrate Easter.

The Sign

We must minister to people's needs. Christianity is continually denying one of these needs today. People often ask, "How could this be three days?" or "How could this be three days and three nights?" It can't. Teaching a Friday crucifixion and a Sunday resurrection has become a stumbling block to children today. It affects adults as well. In Matthew 18:6 Jesus warned, "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Our teaching has left a hole that must be filled. Is this an insignificant detail? No, it is not. There is nothing more important in the entire world than the salvation of each person. We are saved when we believe and trust in the fact that Jesus died for us to wash away our sins and we know it because he rose from the grave. It is important for us to "rightly divide the word of truth". Pastors today are afraid to discuss the issue or truly examine it for themselves. If they did they would have to apologize to their churches and change what they teach. Don't let someone else decide what you believe. Decide for yourself based on God's word, not tradition.

While Jesus Christ performed many miracles, the only sign he said he would give would be his resurrection. Matthew 12:38-40 says, "Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." By worshipping on Sunday, people fail to make the most of the greatest sign ever given to the world, sear their conscience and become a stumbling block to the lost.

Worship on Saturday.

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