Easter is a time when many choose to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ – the Messiah. But, one Easter tradition actually denies that Jesus is the Messiah! Let’s examine some of the customs associated with Easter and let’s examine one very important element of Easter that many claim to believe in, but which actually denies that Jesus is the Messiah!
[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]
Easter is a time when many choose to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There will be Easter Egg hunts and sunrise services, though few understand the origin of these popular and well-loved traditions. However, as many who consider themselves Christian gather to observe the various parts of what is often called Passion Week, including Good Friday and Easter Sunday, little do they know that they will be engaging in one specific tradition that actually CONTRADICTS the one sign Jesus said would prove He was the Messiah!
Was Jesus the Messiah, or wasn’t He? One Easter tradition denies that He is! What do you say? Join us now on Tomorrow’s World, as we examine Three Days, Three Nights, and One Messiah. Stay tuned!
Greetings, and welcome to Tomorrow’s World!
When it comes to the calendar of sacred days that is observed by most professing Christians in the world, Christmas tends to get most of the attention, but Easter is often considered by many to be the holiest day of the year and the day when they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
On today’s program, we’re going to examine one aspect of Easter more closely than you’ve probably ever done before—an element of the Easter celebration that everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ MUST understand… though, in fact, it’s understood by very few.
We’ll also give you an opportunity to request this free, informative booklet, Easter: The Untold Story. Be ready to take down the information that will appear periodically on your screen so that can request your own free copy.
But here at the beginning of our program, let me absolutely clear about two facts:
First, Jesus Christ DID rise from the dead. While proving that would be a great topic for another program, for any neutral-minded observer willing to look at the testimony of history, the lives of the Apostles, and what was recorded of the events of Jesus’ life and ministry, the conclusion is clear: Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead exactly as He foretold He would be. He IS the Son of God—our Savior, and our soon-to-return King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We proclaim that truth routinely here on Tomorrow’s World.
But let me just as clear about the second fact: the observance of Easter is not what many suppose it to be.
We need to be willing to ask ourselves where many of the traditions and customs associated with Easter come from. There’s no harm in asking, is there?
For instance, where does the association with an Easter Bunny that lays Easter Eggs come from? It certainly isn’t the Bible. But if not the Bible, where? In many languages around the world, the name of Easter celebrations is taken from the biblical Passover, even though they are completely different observances. In English, though, the word “Easter” is used—a word not seen anywhere in the Bible, save for a single verse in the King James Version that is almost universally recognized as a mistranslation of the Greek word for “Passover.” So, if the English word “Easter” did not come from the Bible, where did it come from?
What of other customs associated with Easter—hot cross buns, for instance? Or the fertility customs of some European countries?
For anyone willing to research the topic, the facts on these customs are clear. Most of these customs do not originate in Christianity, but from paganism.
As Evangelist Gerald Weston says so plainly in today’s free booklet [p. 17],
“The pagan origin and celebration of Easter is a major problem for professing Christianity, but it is only part of the problem. In addition to blending pagan customs and traditions into the worship of the true God, contrary to His command, we find that even the part of Easter that supposedly comes from the Bible is terribly flawed…”
Today we want to focus on that part of Easter that many claim IS found in the pages of the Bible: Good Friday and Easter Sunday. And we will find that if Jesus truly is the Messiah who was resurrected almost 2,000 years ago, He could not have died on a Friday and been resurrected on a Sunday! We will examine this in detail later, but first…
…let me give you a brief opportunity to request this, free booklet, Easter: The Untold Story. Consider the chapter headings of this eye-opening book.
What’s in a Name? The Queen of Heaven Worshiping Christ in Vain Three Days and Three Nights The Significance of the Passover “For that Sabbath was a High Day” What Happened on Sunday?
Just contact us using the information on your screen and get your free copy of Easter: The Untold Story.
If the resurrection of Jesus means anything to you at all, then this is information you need to have. Request your copy right now—just ask for the booklet on Easter.
Before the break, I mentioned one specific Easter custom that actually denies the very sign Jesus Christ agreed to give to prove He was who He claimed to be: the Messiah of the world.
We read of that sign in the book of Matthew, chapter 12, beginning in verse 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.”
Notice, Jesus is being very specific. He said He would only give them one sign, the sign of the prophet Jonah. In the same way that Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, Jesus would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, or the grave.
Three nights, three days. Very clear, specific words!
But they present an insurmountable problem for those who observe Good Friday and Easter Sunday as a celebration of the resurrection.
Tradition says that Jesus was crucified on Friday—called “Good Friday”—was buried right before the weekly Sabbath rest that began at sundown. Then He was in the tomb that night and all day Saturday, Saturday night, and then rose on Sunday morning, or “Easter Sunday.”
But is that three days and three nights? Let’s count: Jesus is buried right before sundown on Friday, so there is all of Friday night, and then Saturday day, and then Saturday night. The Bible says the tomb was empty before the daylight hours of Sunday (according to John 20:1), so that’s all we have—one day and two nights.
If you choose to ignore scriptures like John chapter 20 and verse 1 and other passages and then generously throw in part of Friday and part of Sunday as two more days, you STLL only have three days and TWO NIGHTS. There is simply NOW WAY to include all three of the three days and three nights into the Good Friday / Easter Sunday tradition.
And yet Jesus said that being in the grave three days and three nights was the only sign He would give to prove He was the Messiah!
Either the tradition is wrong and Jesus is right, or Jesus was wrong and the tradition is right! We can’t have it both ways.
Some go further and claim that Jesus was speaking using a Jewish idiom and that when He said “three days and three nights,” He didn’t mean three literal days and nights and that any part of a day would do, whether day or night. However, there is no support for this excuse. As the time-honored Companion Bible states in Appendix 156,
“Now, while it is quite correct to speak according to Hebrew idiom of ‘three days’ or ‘three years’, while they are only parts of three days or three years, yet that idiom does not apply in a case like this, where ‘three nights’ are mentioned in addition to ‘three days’. It will be noted that the Lord not only definitely states this, but repeats the full phraseology, so that we may not mistake it.”
This is all the more brought home with the fact that Jesus did not simply say that He would be in the tomb three days and three nights, but He said that He would be there like JONAH WAS IN THE BELLY OF THE GREAT FISH three days and three nights. That is a reference to the Old Testament book of Jonah, where the Hebrew construction does not allow for an idiom, but means three literal days and three literal nights: a full 72 hours.
Again, The Companion Bible helpfully summarizes in Appendix 144:
“But, when the number of ‘nights’ is stated as well as the number of ‘days’, then the expression ceases to be an idiom, and becomes a literal statement of fact.
“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…”
But you don’t have to be an expert in ancient languages to know what Jesus means. We can simply look at what other verses say and put them all together. There is a reason God inspired four different gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—and the details are important! Let’s take a look:
In John 2:19, Jesus says that when He is killed, He will be resurrected
“in three days”
In Mark 8:31, Jesus says that He will be rejected and killed, and
“after three days”
He will rise again.
Finally, in Luke 24, verse 46, Jesus explains that He had to suffer and rise from the dead
“the third day”
The only way all three of these can be satisfied is if Jesus is in the tomb EXACTLY 72 hours: not a moment more and not a moment less! God is a God of precise timing! And the resurrection of Jesus Christ is no exception.
If Good Friday and Easter Sunday are impossible, then when what is the solution?
Well, where traditions fail, God’s word has the answers. We’ll lay out for you the biblical PROOF that Jesus’ prophecy of three days and three nights is exactly true in the next segment of our program.
But first, let’s take a very brief break to give you an opportunity to request our free resource, Easter: The Untold Story.
The origins of Easter customs and traditions is understood by few, but they have a definite impact on your walk with God and your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Just request the material on Easter, and I’ll be right back in a few seconds to solve the mystery of Jesus’ 3 days and 3 nights that prove He is the one and only Messiah.
If Good Friday and Easter Sunday do not fit Jesus’ prophecy, then why do so many claim that Jesus died on a Friday? The answer lies in a lack of careful study of the Bible. Let’s read in Luke chapter 23, beginning in verse 52. Speaking of Joseph of Arimathea, Luke writes,
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.
Now many understand that the weekly seventh-day Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday. When they read this passage, they then assume that Jesus was buried in a tomb right before sundown on Friday. However, the Bible speaks of multiple kinds of Sabbaths, not just the weekly Sabbath on the seventh day! Yes, the day Jesus died was a preparation day for a Sabbath—but for the weekly Sabbath or another one?
When you examine the biblical Festivals and Holy Days, which are also explained in our booklet, Easter: The Untold Story, you see that Jesus died on a Preparation Day for an ANNUAL SABBATH, not a weekly one.
Consider: What did Jesus do the night before He was crucified? While it is commonly called the “Last Supper,” the Bible records that what Jesus observed with His disciples was the biblical Passover. We see this in all of the gospels, but let’s just look at Jesus’ own statement in Luke 22 and verse 15:
Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer…”
You don’t need to trust me—you can look it up in your own Bible. And in your Bible, you will find that the Passover was a preparation day for an Annual High Day Sabbath that followed the very next day—a day like the weekly Sabbath, when no work was allowed. We read about these days in Leviticus 23 [vv. 5–7]:
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.
So, remembering that Sabbaths begin and end at sundown, we see that Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples that evening, was crucified during the daylight portion of the Passover, and was placed in a tomb in the late afternoon, right before sundown. Then, at sundown, began the first evening of an Annual High Day Sabbath, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when no one was allowed to work.
The Apostle John confirms that this Sabbath was an Annual High Day in his own gospel account, in chapter 19 and verse 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)
So how many Sabbaths were there the week Christ died and was resurrected? The Bible says that there were two: the Annual High Day Sabbath and the weekly Sabbath. Look for yourself in your own Bible. Read Mark chapter 16 and verse 1:
“Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.”
Nothing unusual here. The women could not buy or work on a Sabbath, so after the Sabbath they bought spices to anoint Jesus’ dead body in the tomb. But compare this to Luke 23 and verses 54 through 56. Speaking of the same women, verse 56 says,
“Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.”
So, Mark 16 says that the women bought the spices AFTER the Sabbath, but Luke 23 says the women then prepared the spices BEFORE the Sabbath. You can’t prepare spices you haven’t bought yet! The only possible solution is that the women bought the spices after the ANNUAL HIGH DAY Sabbath and then, once it was over, prepared the spices until they had to rest again before the WEEKLY Sabbath!
This really is the only solution, and yet it is a solution that makes everything fit perfectly, including Jesus’ prophecy of three days and three nights!
This explanation works perfectly and matches the Bible and Jesus’ own prophecy about the sign of Jonah in every detail! And it is the only explanation that does.
Jesus died on a Wednesday afternoon and was buried right before sundown that day. He was resurrected exactly three days and three nights later, to the very hour, at sundown on Saturday. And the women, coming to the tomb in the dark on Sunday morning find it already empty.
This is not the Good Friday / Easter Sunday of tradition, but it is the truth! And it is the testimony of the Word of God. He truly was in the grave three days and three nights, just as He said. And He truly is the Messiah!
If all of this is new to you, you need our eye-opening booklet, Easter: The Untold Story.
It includes a diagram, explaining the timing of Jesus’ death and resurrection, as well as a chart explaining the meaning of the biblical Holy Days, such as Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Tabernacles.
Consider the chapter headings of this eye-opening book:
What’s in a Name?
The Queen of Heaven
Worshiping Christ in Vain
For that Sabbath was a High Day
What Happened on Sunday?
Just contact us using the information on your screen and get your free copy of Easter the Untold Story. If you believe in Jesus as your Savior, then this is information you need to know. Easter the Untold Story: just ask for the booklet on Easter.
What you’ve seen today presents us with a stark choice.
Not only are Easter traditions full of pagan influences and elements, as we detail in our free booklet, but even the very days themselves—Good Friday and Easter Sunday—could not have been the days on which Jesus died and was resurrected.
Jesus Christ was absolutely plain when He told His accusers, and us reading His words today:
[…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 12:39–40).
The excuses made by academics and apologists who try to cram three days and three nights into Good Friday and Easter Sunday fail every test of language, culture, comparison against other scriptures, and the biblical chronology. Yet ignoring the Friday-Sunday tradition and using the biblical Holy Days as a guide while simply believing the Bible for what it says, everything fits perfectly. In fact, that is the only way they fit.
Jesus was plain, and your eyes aren’t fooling you. Those who tell you to ignore what you read should be ashamed of themselves, repent, and simply accept the Bible’s testimony—the testimony of Jesus Christ, Himself:
Three days and three nights prove one Messiah.
Jesus Christ IS that Messiah—the Christ, who paid the penalty of our sins with His own life, was resurrected three days and three nights later, and ascended to His Father’s right hand, from where He will one day return in the days just ahead of us to rule the world as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
But to see the truth of these things, we have to begin looking past the comfortable but wrong traditions of Easter and begin trusting the words of Jesus, Himself.
Christ tells us in John 4 [vv. 23–24],
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
God is looking for people who will do more than worship Him in spirit—He wants those who will also worship Him in truth.
If you want to begin exploring how to do just that, then today’s free booklet is one of the best first steps you could take. Don’t forget to request your own free copy of Easter: The Untold Story today.
And don’t forget to come back next week. Gerald Weston, Richard Ames and I, and our guest presenter Rod McNair, will be right here waiting to share more of the teachings of Jesus Christ, the good news of His coming Kingdom, and the exciting end-time prophecies and their meaning. Until then, take care, and we’ll see you next time.
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!