The Resurrection Was Not on Sunday! | Telecasts | Tomorrow's World

The Resurrection Was Not on Sunday!

The Resurrection Was Not on Sunday!

Can you prove what day Jesus was crucified or when He rose from the dead? See the Bible’s answers as Gerald Weston contrasts Passover events with Easter traditions—and its fertility symbols, sun worship and pagan origin.

[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]

Why Easter and Not Passover?

Easter Sunday was a fun day when I was a child. Who doesn’t like a treasure hunt? We decorated eggs, wrote names on them, and hid them from one another. Then we set out to find those with our names on them. Sometimes we would go to larger treasure hunts where dozens of children ran about looking for any egg to add to their basket. It all seemed like harmless fun. Who could possibly be against it?

But, we never stopped to ask,

Why are we doing this?
What does it have to do with the resurrection of Christ?
How do eggs and rabbits fit into the picture?
Where does the name Easter come from?
And, are any of these questions even relevant?
What difference does any of this make?

Sadly, too many adults never ask these questions. It almost seems sacrilegious to question such longstanding traditions. But is it?

On today’s Tomorrow’s World program, I’ll answer these questions. I’ll also show you from the Bible what was the only sign Jesus said He would give, that He was the One He claimed to be—the Son of God—and how Easter traditions contradict that sign.

Easter’s Pagan Roots and False Traditions

A warm welcome to all of you from all of us here at Tomorrow’s World. On today’s program, I’m asking and answering questions about the holiday known as Easter. I’ll also show you from the pages of your own Bible that Jesus was not crucified on Friday, nor was He resurrected on Sunday morning. Now I know that is a shock to many, but you can prove it for yourself, and you need to, because that tradition contradicts Jesus’ own words about the one sign He said He would give that would show that He is the Messiah.

But before we get to that, let’s notice some other traditions that ought to make any thinking person sit up and ask some serious questions. Why, for example, is the holiday that supposedly celebrates the resurrection of Christ, named after a pagan goddess? Think about that. Why? Here is some documented history that you can read in our free resource Easter: The Untold Story:

The New World Encyclopedia suggests a connection between Eostre and Easter with the very popular and ancient goddess Ishtar: “Scholars likewise speculate that Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring whose name later gave rise to the modern English ‘Easter,’ may be etymologically connected to Ishtar” (“Ishtar”).

Interestingly, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church admits this about the origin of the name Easter, but gives a slightly different spelling from that of Ishtar: “The word ‘Easter’ comes from Old English and refers to the Norse Goddess of Fertility, ‘Istra’—who was symbolized by a rabbit” (“Great Lent and Holy Week,”, August 14, 2010).

Thus the connection between Easter and rabbits, but why was Istra symbolized by a rabbit? Historians confirm that this goddess, spelled variously as Ishtar and Istra, was known as the goddess of fertility, and the rabbit is a well-known fertility symbol.

The rabbit is not the only fertility symbol passed down from antiquity. The Oxford Companion to World Mythology explains this about Easter:

“The holiday comes in the early Spring and is clearly related to ancient fertility myths of reborn heroes.… For many, Easter is synonymous with fertility symbols such as the Easter Rabbit, Easter eggs, and the Easter lily” (“Easter,” p. 111). (pp. 2–3).

Now that’s from our resource Easter: the Untold Story, which can be yours free for the asking. In addition to blending pagan customs and traditions into the worship of the true God, contrary to God’s command, we find that even the part of Easter that supposedly comes from the Bible is terribly flawed.

Most people believe that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, put in the tomb in the late afternoon of that day, and then He rose early Sunday morning. But is this what the Bible tells us? After all, it is the Bible that is the only source that can properly answer this question; so what does it actually say?

Let’s begin in Matthew 12:38:

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 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” (Matthew 12:38–40).

Consider: Jesus said that no sign will be given to that generation except for the sign of Jonah. Jesus would be in the grave the exact same length of time as Jonah was in the belly of a great fish. And what was that time? Three days and three nights!

Now, try as you might, you cannot come up with three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. Even if you count parts of days you still come up short, but let’s try. Scripture tells us Jesus was put in the tomb right at sunset, but some count a few minutes on Friday before sunset as day one. Friday night would be one night; the daylight portion of Saturday would be the second day; and Saturday night would make the second night. Now IF Jesus rose Sunday morning after sunrise we might count that as day three, but where is the third night? It just isn’t there!

So, we must conclude one of three possibilities regarding the Good Friday/Easter Sunday tradition:

  1. Jesus was wrong and He is not our Savior
  1. The Good Friday/Easter Sunday tradition is wrong


  1. We have not properly understood the sign Jesus gave

Understanding the Sign of Jonah: Exactly Three Days

The Good Friday crucifixion and Easter Sunday resurrection does not fit the scriptural record. Jesus said He would be in the tomb three days and three nights, and try as you might, you cannot come up with the three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. So, we must conclude one of three possibilities regarding the Good Friday/Easter Sunday tradition:

  1. Jesus was wrong and He is not our Savior
  1. The Good Friday/Easter Sunday tradition is wrong


  1. We have not properly understood the sign Jesus gave

So, which of these three is correct? If Jesus was wrong, we have a serious problem. But that is exactly what one source claims. Have we properly understood the sign? So let’s read from Matthew 12 and see what it says once again:

“An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 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” (Matthew 12:38–40).

Did Jesus literally mean three days AND three nights? As shocking as this may be, The Abingdon Bible Commentary bluntly tells us Jesus was mistaken:

The statement made is inaccurate, for Jesus was in the grave only from Friday evening to Sunday dawn (The Abingdon Bible Commentary, Matthew 12:40).

However, most commentators do not accept the statement to be literal. Why? It’s primarily because they do not want to give up tradition and they need to find a way to make the scriptures fit their tradition. Instead, they allege that a day and night combined simply means a single 24 hour day and any part of a day is sufficient. However, we must remember that Jesus’ words were recorded in the Greek language, and it MAY be true that the Greek expression used in this verse means parts of three days, although as I just read, The Abingdon Bible Commentary rejects that idea. But, there is a greater problem here. Matthew 12:40 is not dependent on one language alone. More importantly, we must remember what Jesus said in 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 (Matthew 12:40).

So how long was Jonah in the belly of the fish? We learn from Jonah 1:17 the following:

And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17).

The book of Jonah was written in the Hebrew language, and we must look to that language and its common usage to understand this expression. Appendix 144 in The Companion Bible explores the meaning of three days and three nights in Hebrew usage. After giving a technical explanation, it sums it up this way:

Hence, when it says that “Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1.17) it means exactly what it says, and that this can be the only meaning of the expression in Matt. 12:40… (The Companion Bible, Appendix 144. Zondervan, 1932, p. 170).

This is the first reason we know that Jesus’ claim means a full three days and three nights.

Proof #1: The meaning of Matthew 12:40 is not dependent on one language alone.

But there is a second proof.

Proof #2: 72 hours is the only time that can satisfy all of Jesus’ statements on how long He would be in the grave.

Jesus spoke of His body figuratively as “this temple.” Notice it beginning in John 2:19:

Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body (John 2:19–21).

In three days means that it has to be within three days, but on other occasions it is recorded that he would be resurrected to life “after three days.” Mark 8:31:

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again (Mark 8:31).

Now following His resurrection, He explained to His disciples what had happened and why. We read of this in Luke 24:46:

Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day” (Luke 24:46–47).

So here we have three different expressions that help us understand how long He was in the tomb:

In three days

After three days

The third day

When we put these expressions together with The Companion Bible’s explanation about the meaning of three days and three nights, there can be only one time that fits all four expressions—exactly 72 hours; not a minute before or a minute after. The time is exact.

But there is a third proof that He would be in the tomb a full three days and three nights, and that is:

Proof #3: The biblical chronology of events.

The Friday Crucifixion Doesn’t Fit

Why is it that most assume that Jesus was crucified on Friday? The truth is that many have no idea, other than that is what they have been taught, but for those who know a little more about the Bible, they are familiar with the fact that He was crucified on the day leading up to a Sabbath. For example, we have Luke’s statement in chapter 23, beginning verse 52 where it describes how Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus:

This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near (Luke 23:52–54).

As all students of the Bible know, the biblical Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday. And so, it would therefore appear that Jesus was crucified Friday morning and put in the grave very late Friday afternoon—but are we missing something?

Many errors that we make are the result of a carelessly assumed false assumption, and this is the case on this subject. There is no doubt that Jesus was crucified on the Preparation day for a Sabbath, but the carelessly assumed assumption is that it was the weekly Sabbath. But was it?

What many call the Lord’s supper, or the last supper, was in fact the Passover. There can be no doubt about this, although some scholars try to say otherwise. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all call Jesus’ final supper with the disciples the Passover. Let’s look at Luke’s account, beginning in chapter 22 and verse 7:

Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.” So they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?” And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’

So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover. When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:7–11, 13–15).

Can there be any doubt that the last supper was indeed the Passover? The Passover was a very special day, but it was not a Sabbath day. However, the day that follows the Passover IS a Sabbath day. Notice this from Leviticus 23:

On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD…. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it (Leviticus 23:5–7).

We know from this that the day following the Passover was a high day, an annual Sabbath day where customary work was not to be done. Remember that God counts time from sunset to sunset. Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples at the beginning of the Passover day (shortly after sunset). He was then put in the grave at the end of Passover day, just before sunset. When the sun set that evening, it was the first day of Unleavened Bread, an annual High Day Sabbath; and this is exactly what the Apostle John reveals in John 19:31:

Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away (John 19:31).

By Sunday Morning, Jesus Had Already Risen…

And as explained, the high day was an annual Sabbath, not the weekly Sabbath. Now let’s notice Mark 16:1:

Now when the Sabbath was past, [notice that it was after the Sabbath] Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him (Mark 16:1).

But Luke 23:54–56 tells us they prepared the spices and then rested on the Sabbath.

That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment (Luke 23:54–56).

Now think about it, friends. You cannot prepare the spices before you possess them! Mark tells us that the Sabbath (in this case the annual Sabbath) was almost there. Therefore, they had to wait until after that Sabbath to buy the spices. Then Luke tells us they prepared them and rested on the Sabbath (in this case, the weekly Sabbath). These two passages give infallible proof that there were two Sabbaths that week with an ordinary day in between. This is the only way to understand these verses. Either there were two Sabbaths, with an ordinary day in between, or the Bible contradicts itself.

Now let me diagram this for you. Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples after sunset on Tuesday evening. He was taken into custody later that night and crucified on Wednesday. He was put in the tomb right before sunset, late Wednesday afternoon. Now let’s count three days and three nights.

Wednesday at sunset began the annual high day Sabbath and Wednesday night was the first night. The daylight portion of Thursday was still the annual High Day Sabbath and was the first day. The Sabbath ended at sunset, and it was on this day between two Sabbaths that the women bought and prepared the spices. Thursday night is our second night and the daylight portion of Friday is our second day—an ordinary day. When the sun set Friday afternoon the weekly Sabbath began. Friday night is our third night and Saturday is our third day, and Jesus was raised from the grave late Saturday afternoon (right before sunset), but the women did not come until very early the next morning (what is commonly called Sunday) and when they arrived, He was already gone!

I hope you found this video profitable.

If you found it helpful and want to learn more, be sure to get your free copy of our study guide Easter: The Untold Story. Just click the link in the description or go to TWTV.ORG/Easter.

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Thanks for watching! See you next time.

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Easter: The Untold Story

Every year, billions of people observe a joyous Easter Sunday celebration. For some, it may be one of the few times each year they come to church. For others, it may be the culmination of observances going back to Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Good Friday in preparation for the festive day.

Many of these people have no idea that their Easter celebration owes far, far more to pre-Christian myth than to anything Jesus Christ or His Apostles believed, practiced, or taught.  A few think they can “sanctify the pagan” by turning old worship of Astarte or Ishtar into a “Christian” rite; others just assume that this is what Christians have always done. 

The truth is that Jesus Christ did command His followers to keep annual observance in memory of His death. And He gave His followers one sign that would prove or disprove His Messiahship. Shockingly, very few people alive today realize that the Good Friday to Easter Sunday tradition is actually in utter opposition to the truth of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as foretold in Scripture.  If you want to learn that truth, read on!

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