As you might expect from the very same curmudgeon who brought you “Daylight Savings Time Burns My Buns” comes the latest diatribe, “Thank God It’s Good Friday!” Yes, another pointless missive from my collection of Pet Peeves.
Let’s begin, shall we?
In college I had a highly respected professor talk once about how Jesus wasn’t crucified on a Friday. I was only half paying attention, which was typical of my entire schooling as I learn best by reading, and so the details of his position floated from my brain. Years later I read a chapter on the subject by excellent expositor James Montgomery Boice and gol-dang if’n it didn’t all make sense! Plus it appeals to my love of being contrary to general public opinion.
Matthew 12:40. Yep, my first and most powerful punch comes from Jesus himself where he said “"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.” I don’t think He was mistaken or misquoted.
The Jewish day began at sunset and concluded on the following sunset. Christ was entombed at the end of some day before the sunset starting of Sabbath and in any case, this day counts as a day… it’s a Jewish thing but the modern world also uses it in saying things like “I spent the day with an axe murderer” when, although you didn’t spend 24 hours or even every daylight hour with said axe wielder, you spent a number of hours with such a person. Thus for Christ to have died and been buried on a Friday would be: Friday day, Friday night, Saturday day, Saturday night… two nights and two days! This is assuming He returned to life during the night, which is the most plausible since Mary & co. came to his tomb first thing Sunday morning (break –o- dawn, as it were) to add their own zesty blend of spices. No matter how you try to twist the math, it can’t come up to three days and three nights.
Now let’s plug a Thursday into our equation, shall we? Thursday day, Thursday night, Friday day, Friday night, Saturday day, Saturday night… three days and three nights. WHAMO!
How about another Biblical text? How about John 19:31: “Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath.” A special Sabbath? Throughout the Jewish year there were special, or high, Sabbaths. The Greek makes this clear that the day in discussion is not your weekly Saturday Sabbath. This time around there were two, two, two Sabbaths in a row, the high/special Sabbath (most likely the Feast of Unleavened Bread) and the regular ol’ Sabbath. Matthew 28:1 also states that Mary came to the tomb at "the end of the Sabbaths.” The day before the Feast of Unleaved Bread is Passover. WHAT?! Christ, the sacrificial Lamb for our sins sacrificed on the actual day of Passover?!?!? Coincidence? I think not. So if there were two Sabbaths in a row and Saturday was the regular Sabbath that would make (punching in numbers on a calculator) Thurday be Passover (followed by Sabbath #1- Feast of Unleavened Bread and Sabbath #2- your standard weekly Saturday Sabbath).
With what we know about the Jewish calendar (thanks to our archeologist pals) and through cross referencing the gospels it becomes clear that Friday just doesn’t fit in with the data. It don’t jive, turkey! Such a lengthy discussion is beyond this blog entry but a very detailed examination on the final week of Jesus can be found here. Be sure not to miss the handy-dandy chart on the last page which lays it all out.
So what does all this mean? Ummm…. Nuthin’. Good Friday is a celebration created by the Roman Catholic church some time after 325 A.D., possibly based on the Jewish festival of Pascha. While there’s nothing in the Bible that prescribes such a celebration there isn’t anything that condemns it either. Thursday, Friday… in the end it doesn’t matter unless you’re an A-retentive dork like me. What matters is the death and resurrection of Jesus celebrated at Easter… and no, I’m not going to go into which day of the week Easter should fall on. That, as Alton Brown says, is another show.