From Yahshua’s first foretelling of His Resurrection to Jewry in John 2:19-21 and subsequent references to This Notable Event over the space of His public ministry, to the several post-Resurrection apparitions to His disciple-friends, His speaking to them was met with skepticism and incredulity. But We Trusted That It Had Been He (Luke 24:21) is purposed to “set forth in order, a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us” (Luke 1:1).
In anticipation of observing the Passover (Pesach) memorial and the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Chag Matzot), we were considering the events that led to the Messiah’s (ha Maschiach’s) 3-day entombment … and afterward, the incredulity of those who first observed His empty tomb, and they to whom His resurrection had been reported.
All four Evangels record these accounts, but do not agree on sequence and chronology, so that one needs to consider all four to get a sense of the order of occurrence. One might wonder that seeing the Set Apart Spirit (Ruach ha Qodesh) had inspired the evangelists who, in the words of Luke (Luqas), “having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first … to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed” (Luke 1:1, 3), how it should be that these writers did not agree in declaring in order those things which are most surely believed.
Indeed, might one wonder, how it is that Luke who was not among that Apostolic Fraternity which had continued with the Master from the beginning ― neither Mark (Marqos) ― should be thought to have had more “perfect understanding of things from the very first” than they whose ears had heard, whose eyes had seen, and whose hands had handled, of the Word of Life, 1 John (Yochanon) 1:1.
Our Understanding Is Incomplete
Well, the answer is best discerned from the Scripture Itself.
• First, He (Yahweh) giveth not account of any of His matters, Job (Iyob) 33:13.
• Second, we read from Paul’s (Sha’ul’s) letter to the Romans (Romiyim), O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of Elohim! How unsearchable [are] His judgments, and His ways past finding out, Romans 11:33.
• Third, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians (Qorin’tiym 1) 13:8, 9: “For we know in part … But when that which is Perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”
• Fourth, Yahweh delights in them who, in the words of Paul to Timothy (Timotiyos), wrote, Study to shew thyself approved unto Yahweh, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth, 2 Timothy 2:15.
• Fifth, in Proverbs (Mishley) 25:2, we read: [It is] the glory of Yahweh to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings [is] to search out a matter.
The Format and Purpose of This Inquiry
Having given many, many hours to this inquiry, we conclude that study has generated far more questions than answers, as the discourse on the subsequent activities attending Yahshua’s Resurrection will reveal. And so, it becomes our honor, as kings, to search out this matter.
We have chosen a narrative format, and have positioned Scripture citations within the content rather than as a “footnote,” in order to make it convenient for the reader’s reference. Mindful to avoid redundancy, we have incorporated as much as possible of the Evangels’ text in order to embellish the account, particularly in the events attending Yahshua’s execution. The Authorized Version is used in this inquiry, and because we want this study to be instructional as well, with the first mention of many of the principal of the Proper Names in the Scripture text, we have (parenthetically) included the Hebrew/Greco/Latin transliterations.
This has been an exhaustive study, and yet there are details we know, are remiss in addressing. On fewer occasions, have we concluded we knew nothing yet as we desired to know (1 Cor. 8:2) but for sure, the one good outcome our effort has produced, is a dispelling of previously held thoughts about events attending the final hours of Yahshua’s life and His 3-day and 3-night interment.
One final word before we launch our inquiry. We can very well see ourselves in the personages in our narrative, and come away with a very great appreciation for Yahweh’s grace to people, like Mary Magdalene (Miryam of Magdala) whose name appears singularly and on every expedition to the tomb; and of His mercy, upon Simon Peter (Shim’on Kepha) who, true to character, presents ever the impulsive one, taking the lead in investigating for himself tidings of his Master’s Resurrection, but chief among those who received the women’s report of the Occurrence as but “idle tales” (Luke 24:11).
And so, we begin with a passage taken from Luke 24:13-24, entitling this inquiry, But We Trusted That It Had Been He, knowing full well, if, indeed, importance attaches to such attempts to exactly harmonize details and arrange minute particulars, considerable are the difficulties, Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book 5, Chapter 17, p. 1.
What follows, therefore, may demonstrate itself as indefinite and inconclusive but nevertheless evoking your inquiry into these matters, but should not to that extent distract you from giving attendance to working out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12); from earnestly contending for the faith delivered you (Jude 1:3), and from giving diligence to making your calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:10) that you might, moreover, experience the satisfaction from having yourself, studied to show yourselves approved (2 Tim. 2:15).
Luke 24:13-24, the Narrative
And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus (Amma’us), which was from Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Yahshua Himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know Him. And He said unto them, “What manner of communication are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?” And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas (Qleophas), answering said unto Him, “Art Thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?” And He said unto them, “What things?” And they said unto Him, “Concerning Yahshua of Nazareth (Natsareth), Which was a Prophet (Nabi) mighty in deed and word before Elohim and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and have crucified Him. But we trusted that it had been He Which should have redeemed Israel (Yisra’el): and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; and when they found not His body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that He was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but Him they saw not.”
These women, Mary Magdalene; another whom Scripture identifies as the other Mary (Miryam), the wife of Cleopas and mother of Joses (Yoseph) and James the less (Ya’aqob) an Apostle (John 19:25; Matt. 27:56, 10:3); and Salome (Shelomah) (Mark 16:1); Joanna (Yohanah) (Luke 8:3, 24:10), the wife of Chuza (Kuzas), Herod’s chief steward; and others, had ministered to Yahshua of their substance while He lived and now, with His death, sought still, to do what they could (Mark 14:8).
We continue our narrative, as Yahshua makes His way to Golgotha (Golgoleth).
To Golgotha, and Death
“And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian (Kurenaion), who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander (Alexandros) and Rufus …” (Mark 15:21) … “and on him they laid the torture stake, that he might bear it after Yahshua” (Luke 23:26).
And there followed Him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented Him. But Yahshua turning unto them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck’ (see Isa. 54:1; Gal. 4:27). Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us;’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us’ (see Rev. 6:16). For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” Luke 23:26, 27-30.
As a green tree is full of juice, so is Yahshua of grace and goodness, as that which is not proper to be cut down, neither deserving of death. This is a metaphor expressing the righteousness and innocence of Yahshua, pure in His nature, harmless in His conversation, and doing no hurt to any man’s person or property. His enemies could find nothing, nor prove anything against Him; nor even the adversary (ha Satan) himself, but recognized Him to be the Holy One of Yahweh (Luke 4:34). He was also declared innocent by his judges, the Roman governor (Pontius Pilate) and Herod, king of Judea.
He was persecuted in His infancy, His life sought for. He was despised and reproached by men, apprehended as a thief, bound as a malefactor, arraigned as the greatest criminal on earth. He was mocked, buffeted, and spit upon, scourged and crucified, forsaken by His Father as He bore the sins of His people.
And now, if all these things were done to such an holy, harmless, and innocent Person, what should be done to dry trees without juice, destitute of grace and righteousness ... dead and withered trees, men dead in trespasses and sins and deserving to be cut down, fit fuel for His wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish? (Eph. 2:1; Rom. 2:8, 9) They which rejected Him, saying, “We will not have This Man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14) are the dry trees, worthy of devouring flames!
“And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is, to say, a place of a skull, they gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall … wine mingled with myrrh … and when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink” (Matt. 27:33, 34; Mark 15:23; Matt. 27:34).
We will read later in the narrative (John 19:29-30), that Yahshua was provided “a sponge with vinegar” upon His cry, “I thirst” and that He received it, before bowing His head and yielding up His spirit. The account in Matthew (Mattithyahu) 27:33-34, suggests that an offering of the sour drink was tendered Him upon arriving at Golgotha, which He tasted but would not receive. Perhaps, there were two offerings of the drink made, as the Matthew account omits any mention that Yahshua “thirsted.”
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Yahshua, took His garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also His coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be:” that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, “They parted My raiment among them, and for My vesture they did cast lots, John 19:23-24; Psa. 22:18.
“And it was the third hour … and sitting down they watched Him there: and set up over His head His accusation … written in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew … Yahshua of Nazareth, King of the Jews (Yahshua ha Natsaret, vey Melek ha Yahudim) (Mark 15:25; Matt. 27:36, 37; Luke 23:38; John 19:19).
“And they that passed by railed on Him, wagging their heads, and saying, ‘Ah, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save Thyself. If Thou be the Son (Ben) of Eloah, (Mighty One) come down from the stake’ …Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel … the Chosen of El … let Him now come down from the stake, and we will believe Him. He trusted in El; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, ‘I am the Son of Eloah’. Let Messiah the King of Israel (ha Maschiach Melek Yisra’el) descend now from the stake, that we may see and believe’ …Then said Yahshua, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do …’ ” (Matt. 27:39-40; Mark 15:29-30; Matt. 27:41-42; Luke 23:35; Matt. 27:42-43; Mark 15:32; Luke 23:34).
“And with Him they crucified two thieves; the one on His right hand, and the other on His left. And the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors’ …And one of the malefactors which were … crucified with Him, cast the same in his teeth … saying, ‘If Thou be Messiah, save Thyself and us’ …But the other answering rebuked Him, saying, ‘Dost not thou fear El, seeing thou are in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but This Man hath done nothing amiss’. And he said unto Yahshua, ‘Master, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom’. And Yahshua said unto him, ‘Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise’” (Mark 15:27-28; Isa. 53:12; Luke 23:39; Matt. 27:44; Luke 23:40-43).
Tradition says, that it was he which was impaled on Yahshua’s right hand who made this appeal. Indeed, in Hebraic thought, the right hand represents the spiritual and the left, the carnal, so that we can appreciate the one reviling the Master, was positioned to His left (see Matt. 25:33).
Paradise is declared by some to mean “heaven.” Exegetically (G.3857, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) the word is of Oriental origin and means a park, i. e., specifically, an Eden (place of future happiness), “paradise.” Properly understood, it is the place of the unseen dead awaiting resurrection. There is controversy, too, about the position of the comma following, “unto thee,” with some translations positioning the punctuation after the word, “To day,” which of course, would affect the meaning of Yahshua’s reply.
“And when the sixth hour was come … the sun was darkened … there was a darkness over all the earth unto the ninth hour …Now there stood by the torture stake of Yahshua His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Yahshua therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, ‘Woman, behold thy son’! Then saith He to the disciple, ‘Behold thy mother’! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own house” (Mark 15:33; Luke 23:45, 44; John 19:25-27).
Some purport that Yahshua was directing His mother’s attention, “Woman, behold thy son” to Himself, but the context suggests rather, that He was speaking of John. One may wonder, the reason Yahshua should commend the care of His mother to a disciple rather than to one of His brothers – James (Ya’aqob), Joses (Yoseph), Simon (Shim’on), or Judas (Yahuda), or one of His sisters (Matt. 13:55, 56). The answer may lie in John 7:5: For neither did His brethren believe in Him.
Nevertheless, their Brother’s death might afterward, have evoked a righteous sorrow ― His goodness leads men to repentance (Rom. 2:4) ― as we read them included in Acts 1:14, tarrying for the Promise, come on Pentecost (Shavu’ot).
“And at the ninth hour Yahshua cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani’? which is, being interpreted, ‘My Eloah, My Eloah, why hast Thou forsaken Me’? …And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, ‘Behold, He calleth Elias (Eliyah) …Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save Him to take Him down’ ” (Mark 15:34; Psa. 22:1; Mark 15:35; Matt. 27:49; Mark 15:36).
“After this, Yahshua knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, ‘I thirst’ … And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed and gave Him to drink … When Yahshua therefore had received the vinegar …Yahshua cried with a loud voice … ‘It is finished …Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit’, and having said thus, he gave up the spirit” (John 19:28; Mark 15:36; John 19:30; Luke 23:46; Luke 23:46).
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent, Matthew 27:51.
“Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified Elohim, saying, ‘Certainly This was a Righteous Man’ ” … and they that were with him, watching Yahshua, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly This was the Son of Elohim’ … And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. And all His acquaintance, and the women that followed Him from Galilee (Galil), stood afar off, beholding these things” (Luke 23:47; Matt. 27:54; Luke 23:48-49).
The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the stakes on the Sabbath (Shabbath) (for that Sabbath was an high day, Shabbathon), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away, John 19:31.
In Deuteronomy (Devarim) 21:22, 23, we read,
“And if a man … be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of Yahweh;) that thy land be not defiled, which Yahweh thy Elohim giveth thee for an inheritance.”
The Roman executioners had nothing of regard for the TORAH, (the Law) and neither, apparently, Jewry responsible for delivering “This Just Person” (Matt. 27:24) to His death. Pilate had found nothing worthy of death in Him, and neither had Herod (Luke 23:15). Moreover, note well the order in the Deuteronomy prescription for execution: a man was put to death BEFORE, being suspended upon a tree. The death-tree represented a curse to Israel, a place of belonging neither to the earth nor to the heavens (shamayim), truly a position of being utterly forsaken by the Creator of heaven and earth!
In Galatians (Galatiym) 3:13, Paul reiterates Deuteronomy:
Messiah hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, “Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree.”
The Romans customarily disposed of bodies crucified, by immolation, thus we can appreciate the zeal of Joseph of Arimathea (Ramathayim) and Nicodemus (Nakdimon) to assume the charge of removing and interring the Master’s broken body.
Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with Him. But when they came to Yahshua, and saw that He was dead already, they break not His legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water, John 19:32-34.
Tradition says, that it was the centurion from Luke 23:47 who pierced Yahshua’s side. “Blood and water” are significant, suggesting it was the pericardium (accounting for the large quantity of blood and water or, perhaps, the spleen, extremely vascularized), that was affected, and indicating that there should be a large outpouring of blood. In this connection, we read in 1 John 5:6: This is He that came by water and blood, [even] Yahshua the Messiah; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is Truth.
For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “A bone of Him shall not be broken,” John 19:36; Psalm 34:20. And again another Scripture, saith, “They shall look on Him Whom they pierced,” John 19:37; Zechariah 12:10.
“And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the Kingdom of Elohim … a good man, and a just … the same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them … being a disciple of Yahshua, but secretly for fear of the Jews … came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Yahshua. And Pilate marveled if He were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether He had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph” (Mark 15:42, 43; Luke 23:50, 51; John 19:38; Mark 15:43-45).
Joseph, like Nicodemus a Pharisee, was a member of the Sanhedrin, the body of elders that had passed judgment on Yahshua, though neither of the two gave assent to the Sanhedrin’s resolution. Nicodemus, incidentally, distinguished himself in John 7:51 when in council, he rose to the defense of Yahshua, questioning, “Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?”
“And he (Joseph) bought fine linen, and took Him down, and wrapped him in the linen … And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Yahshua by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Yahshua, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury … and laid Him … in the garden in a new sepulchre … that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid … and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre … and that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on … And the women also, which came with Him from Galilee, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses … followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, how His body was laid” (Mark 15:46; John 19:39-40; Mark 15:46; John 19:41; Luke 23:53; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:54, 55; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55).
We can appreciate the haste with which Joseph made, (1) to buy fine linen; (2) retrieve Yahshua’s broken body from off the stake; (3) transport it to his own sepulchre which was nearby; and, (4) prepare it for interment, and all accomplished within but the few hours between Yahshua’s death at the ninth hour (3:00 PM) and before the preparation day ended at sunset.
That he might have thought this process out is apparent, owing to the fact that customarily, Jewish shops of commerce closed their business activity by the ninth hour on days of preparation, and on this day particularly, perhaps even earlier, as darkness prevailed from the sixth hour (12 noon) through the ninth hour (3 PM), which also gave witness to other cataclysmic events like an earthquake, rocks rent and the temple veil between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place becoming rent from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51).
It was not unusual for the wealthy (Joseph) to have a place apart from their residence, outside the city proper, a place where contemplation and meditation could be had without the encumbrance of the distractions of life. Neither was it uncommon that, there, would a burying place be prepared for their repose. Tombs were customarily carved into solid rock, providing for one or more compartments where bodies were laid out after being anointed with spices and ointments applied to linen strips.
Customarily, the Jews left these bodies alone for a few years until they decomposed to bones, which were then placed in a small stone box called, an ossuary. The ossuary remained in the tomb with the remains of other family members.
Moreover, one may also commend Nicodemus whose contribution of “a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight” is remarkable, being suitable for the interment of a King, with whatever was not required for the linen shroud, to be burnt to emit a sweet savor.
Perhaps, he, too, like his companion Joseph, knew what he would do, and had procured these materials in advance of the close of business that day of preparation. For the quantity which he brought might not be thought as being in the store of one man’s possession.
Such was the manner of the Jews to bury (John 19:40), a lengthy process ― convention calling for placing the corporal remains on clean linen anointed with spices and ointments, and then binding the body with linen and probably not concluded in but the short time on the evening of that preparation day ― thus compelling them which had followed Yahshua from Galilee (Matt. 27:55) to consider the need for more application of the apothecary.
Therefore, “the women also, which came with Him from Galilee …Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses … followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, how His body was laid … and they returned and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment” (Luke 23:55; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55, 56; Exod. 20:10).
“Returned?” Yes, likely to their own place as they made ready their own observance of the High Sabbath that would probably have precluded the preparation of spices and ointments (Luke 23:56) on the waning daylight hours of the day of preparation, and necessarily deferring until the intervening day (our Friday) between the High Sabbath and the weekly Sabbath, after which they might complete Yahshua’s burial rites. Because they came with Him from Galilee and could not know the things which should come to pass there in these days (Luke 24:18), it is not likely they would have brought such things with them as they required for His burying!
“When the (high) Sabbath day was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had BOUGHT sweet spices … which they had prepared, and certain others with them … that they might come and anoint Him” (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1; Mark 16:1).
The day of that preparation was the Passover day, anticipating the High Sabbath of the first day of Unleavened Bread which should follow. In the Evangels, every reference to the preparation day is in respect to the 1st day of Unleavened Bread, also the first of seven annual High Sabbaths (Shabbathoth). Note John 19:31: “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the stake on the Sabbath day, (for that day was an High Day) …”
In order to better appreciate the chronology of events preceding this particular Passover, let’s look briefly to Its TORAH prescription.
On the 10th of Abib (the first month of the Biblical year), according to the TORAH, Exodus (Shemoth) 12:3, 5, 6, the Passover lamb was selected, kept in ward four days during which it was inspected to assure its acceptability, as it is written:
“In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb …Your lamb shall be without blemish …And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month ...” In Matthew 21:1-9, we read of Yahshua’s presentation as the Lamb of Elohim:
And when they drew nigh to Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage (Beyth Phagi), unto the mount of Olives, then sent Yahshua two disciples, saying unto them, “Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find a donkey tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring [them] unto Me. And if any [man] say ought unto you, ye shall say, “The Master hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.” All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Tell ye the daughter of Sion (Tsion), ‘Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon a donkey, and a colt the foal of a donkey’,” Isaiah 62:11; Zechariah 9:9. And the disciples went, and did as Yahshua commanded them, and brought the donkey, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set [Him] thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strewed [them] in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Blessed [be] he that cometh in the Name of the Soverign.” (Baruch haba beshem Yahweh.) Psalm 118:26
This was the presentation of the Lamb of Yahweh which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). This was He, the Lamb of Yahweh without blemish, kept until the 14th day when He should become Israel’s Passover, and ours!
And now, we come to particularly challenging and more difficult events to chronologize, perhaps as much because an accounting of events attending the Master’s Resurrection, was at that time, as it is now, among the unbelieving, shrouded with the doubt and disbelief of the principals involved ― doubt and disbelief, phenomena that always incline to accentuate Secret and Mystery as in our own anticipation, we await deliverance from the bondage of corruption (Psa. 25:14; Eph. 3:9; Rom. 8:21).
The Resurrection of the Dead, both Secret and Mystery:
• Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption;
• Sown in dishonour, raised in honour;
• Sown in weakness, raised in power;
• Sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body (1Cor. 15:42-44).
They which have borne the image of the earthy are saved through having believed on the preaching of the Resurrection, and according to His abundant mercy, been begotten unto a lively hope of receiving an exceeding great and precious promise ― an inheritance reserved in heaven, incorruptible and undefiled ― the image of the heavenly, translated into the Kingdom of Yahweh that fadeth not away (1 Cor. 15:49; 1 Pet. 1:3; 2 Pet. 1:4; Col. 1:13).
Yahshua fulfilled the Sign of Jonas (Yonah) – sacrificed the ninth hour (3:00 PM) of the Passover day (Wednesday), interred that evening before the beginning of the High Day Sabbath (Thursday, the 15th of Abib) and reckoned in the heart of the earth as follows: Wednesday night and Thursday day, the 1st day; Thursday night and Friday day, the 2nd day; Friday night and Saturday day, the 3rd day.
And so, the question is posed to 1st day attendees: How is it possible that 3 days and 3 nights of 72 hours could be compressed into a period from Good Friday evening to Easter sunrise? Someone’s not telling the Truth, and we conclude, therefore, Yea, let Yah be true, and every man a liar (Rom. 3:4).
The Hazards of Relying on Constantinian Commentaries
Without taking the tact of commentaries, there are questions and issues the serious student of Scripture is compelled to ponder in an effort to understand what presented as both Secret and Mystery to our fathers, and the details of some of which are yet obscure.
And speaking of commentaries ― what should come as caution to the student of Scripture, is a certain wariness of those things which are written as commentary by them whose senses are scarcely exercised to discern Truth from error (1 John 4:6).
Always, therefore, the student of Scripture must keep in mind, that “Spiritual Things …Are Spiritually Discerned” (1 Cor. 2:13, 14).
Nevertheless, when difficulty arises comprehend-ing and apprehending the meaning of a Sacred Text, one might take recourse to a commentary, beware whom you permit to guide your understanding; beware of Constantinian Commentaries, e.g., “… and rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment,” [they] “not knowing as yet the abolition of it (the Sabbath), with the rest of the ceremonial law.”
It is from corrupt, deceitfully-handled, and privately-interpreted observations as this, that some ignorant of the Scripture, make conclusion that the Body of the Torah is, “the handwriting of ordinances against us, contrary to us, and has been blotted out, taken out of the way, and nailed to the tree” (Col. 2:14).
Students of Scripture need to appreciate that many commentators hold to the Constantinian tradition that stands opposed to the Sign of the Covenant, and briefly comprehended, REMEMBER THE SABBATH, TO KEEP IT HOLY, Exodus 20:8.
Always, therefore, com-mentaries should be regarded more as “the spare tire,” than “the steering wheel” with which to guide understanding of Scripture.
Let’s look at the conclusion of Scripture as pertaining to this matter: “There are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers … whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not for filthy lucre’s sake … But the ANOINTING which ye have received of Him abideth in you … teacheth you of all things, and is Truth, and is no lie ...” (Tit. 1:10, 11; 1 John 2:27).
And lest any should think that “the ANOINTING” precludes giving audience to the pulpit, let him understand “the ANOINTING” has as much to do with hearing as reading, as the Scriptures enjoin believers to “give attendance to reading, to EXHORTATION, to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13). For “Yah hath in due times manifested His Word through preaching” (Tit. 1:3). And so, therefore, “How shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Rom. 10:14, 15).
Intrigue Attends Interment
Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,, saying, “Sir, we remember that that Deceiver said, while He was yet alive, ‘After three days I will rise again’. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night, and steal Him away, and say unto the people, ‘He is risen from the dead’: so the last error shall be worse than the first.” Pilate said unto them, “Ye have a watch: go your way, make [it] as sure as ye can.” So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch, Matthew 27:62-66.
Though the Master was dead and entombed, these could not rest, not even on this day, a High Sabbath. On that holy day, they came to the Roman governor, shrinking to asking his help, for they had remembered His prophecy … speaking of His resurrection during the occasion of another notable Passover, when in John 2:19, He declared, “Destroy This Temple, and in three days I will raise It up.”
Now, we come to a portion of the narrative that will test one’s resolve in striving to comprehend the sequence of activity attending the Master’s Resurrection and very nearly, make the inquirer who would know these things feel rather, “much perplexed thereabout” (Luke 24:4).
We have already discovered, the Evangelists’ Record in establishing a sequence of events occurring before Yahshua’s burial, presented with difficulty. No wonder, therefore, that a narrative attending the activities at the tomb should likewise be thought achronological, because all four Evangels variably record an account of perhaps as many as six different principals representing several expeditions visiting the tomb:
• Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (the mother of the Apostle James the less, and wife of Cleopas) came “in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week” (Matt. 28:1);
• Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome “had bought sweet spices” … came “when the Sabbath was past … very early in the morning the first day of the week” (Mark 16:1, 2);
• Mary Magdalene, and Joanna (Yohanah), “and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them … come upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning” (Luke 24:10, 1);
• Mary Magdalene came “the first day of the week … when it was yet dark” (John 20:1);
• Peter and John “ran both together … the first day of the week… when it was yet dark” (John 20:4, 1);
• Peter “ran unto the sepulchre … upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning” (Luke 24:12, 1).
Each came for diverse purposes: to satisfy curiosity; to sense the mood in the garden; to undertake the completion of the Master’s embalming rites; to confirm the several reports of His “departure;” or simply, to come, hoping that they might receive witness to some sign that what He had said would occur, did. Certainly, the testimony of spirit beings helped confirm His prophecy, as well as seeing firsthand the tidy environment of the tomb, with the face covering and linens neatly folded.
Add to the quandary, the Evangelists’ reckoning of the angel(s) involved:
• “the angel of the Master descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it” (Matt. 28:2);
• “a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment” (Mark 16:5);
• “two men stood by them in shining garments” (Luke 24:4);
• “two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Yahshua had lain” (John 19:12),
And you may be as “much perplexed thereabout” as our subjects of Luke 24:4!
And questions arise and abound. Exegetical studies of certain words and phrases to determine the sequence of events and other investigations which proceed from, as already noted, Constantinian commentaries, may either aid one’s understanding or exacerbate his confusion.
Nevertheless, there are elements to this narrative that we know with certainty.
First of all, though the preparation for His interment was made in haste, these activities were concluded before the sun set on the day of preparation. Joseph and Nicodemus were resolute in seeing to that. And so, it can be established the Savior was entombed exactly, for the length of time He had affirmed He should be, subsequently fulfilling the Sign of Jonas:
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man (Ben Adam) be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, Matthew 12:40. … yes, precisely, raised from the grave at the end of three 24-hour periods which also would have concluded the assignment of the Roman guards’ vigil at the tomb.
Yahshua charged Mary Magdalene and the other Mary in Matthew 28:1; Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome in Mark 16:1; Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them in Luke 24:10; and Mary Magdalene in John 20:18, to inform His disciples of His resurrection and that He would rendezvous with them in Galilee (Matt. 28:10; Mark 16:7) which He did in John 21.
But notice the diverse reaction from the messengers, in executing their commission: from, “departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy,” to “fled from the sepulchre ... trembled and amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid” (Matt. 28:8; Mark 16:8).
And what about the disciples, how did they respond to hearing “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people?” (Luke 2:10). Mark records in 16:11 of the report given by Mary Magdalene, that when they had heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her, they believed not. Similarly, in Luke 24:11, the emissaries’ report was regarded “as idle tales, and they believed them not.”
No matter, He had told them in Matthew 16:21, and at other times, and in other places, the same words, “that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and BE RAISED AGAIN THE THIRD DAY. Still, would Peter after stooping down, behold the linen clothes laid by themselves, wonder in himself at that which was come to pass (Luke 24:12). Only would Peter’s companion John, as they hastened to the sepulchre upon hearing the report of Mary Magdalene, believe (John 20:2-9). And where, incidentally, were the others of their company? Sequestered, behind shut doors, for fear of the Jews (John 20:19).
The principal common to all four narratives is Mary Magdalene. This one, out of whom 7 devils were exorcised (Mark 16:9), was the first to experience a post-resurrection apparition of the Master, perhaps singularly (Mark 16:9; John 20:14-17) but certainly on another occasion, with the other Mary as well (Matt. 28:9).
Matthew says Mary Mag-dalene and the other Mary, as they went to tell His disciples, “He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee …Yahshua met them, saying, “All hail.” And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him (Matt. 28:1, 9, 7).
Forgiveness Commensurate with Love
But why should Mary Magdalene, very likely the first to have beheld the scene: the stone rolled away; the watch, fallen as dead men for fear; the angel sitting upon the stone, his countenance like lightning; his raiment white as snow (Matt. 28:2-4) and perhaps not much different from what Simon Peter, James and John had witnessed in Matthew 17:1-3, when they were in company with Moses (Moshe) and Elias and their Master, transfigured before them, be thought principal among Messiah’s post-Resurrection witnesses?
Thoughts return to Luke 7:37-38, of another “woman in the city, which was a sinner” come into a Pharisee’s home, bringing an alabaster box of ointment; standing at His feet behind Him, weeping; washing His feet with tears, wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing and anointing His feet with oil. You will recall the Pharisee who should have been exercising himself as a gracious host, performing such cultural amenities, was put off with these proffered by “a woman in the city, which was a sinner.” (Luke 7:37)
In contrast, is Yahshua’s regard for her. For He, unlike His host, received her... sins and all, reproving the Pharisee with these Words:
There was a certain creditor which had two had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose that [he], to whom he forgave most.” And He said unto him, “Thou hast rightly judged. …Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest Me no water for My feet: but she hath washed My feet with tears, and wiped [them] with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest Me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss My feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed My feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, [the same] loveth little,” Luke 7:41-47.
“… out of whom He cast seven devils, her sins which were many, were forgiven; for she loved much,” sufficient reason He should first appear to Mary Magdalene!
A Sabbath Resurrection
However, though Mary Magdalene was the first to have seen the Risen Savior, it cannot be established from Scripture that she was singularly, the first at the tomb. The reasons are clear.
Enroute to the garden, the two Marys had mused with one another, saying, “Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?” (Mark 16:3) fully expecting to find it an obstacle. However, in John 20:1, The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, WHEN IT WAS YET DARK, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
If, on their way to the tomb, the two Marys had considered who should roll away the stone in the first instance, then Mary Magdalene’s singular coming the second time, to the tomb to find the stone removed ought not to have been a surprise.
Moreover, if by this time she had already seen the Master, why would she declare to Simon Peter, “They have TAKEN AWAY the Master out of the sepulchre, and WE KNOW NOT WHERE THEY HAVE LAID HIM” (John 20:2).
WE? Indeed, the plural pronoun further suggests that she and some other(s) must have been to the sepulchre earlier, most likely they in the Matthew account in Chapter 28.
Let’s continue with Matthew’s reckoning:
In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first [day] of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Master descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead [men], Matthew 28:1-4.
The “great earthquake?” Could it be, perhaps, this was an aftershock of what occurred in Matthew 27:51, when “the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” signaling, (1) Messiah’s Resurrection, precisely 72-hours after His interment on the late afternoon/early evening of the day of the Pharisees’ preparation; and, (2) The term of Pilate’s commitment to the Jewish (Yahudim) elders to appropriate the military resources of Rome as guards over the tomb was concluded. Certainly, it should have been that time (Matt. 28:2-6), of which the Evangelist wrote in verses 52-53: “… and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves AFTER His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”
The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:22-23, For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah shall all be made alive. But EVERY MAN IN HIS OWN ORDER: MESSIAH THE FIRSTFRUITS; AFTERWARD THEY THAT ARE MESSIAH’S.
Indeed, discovery of the Master’s Resurrection, as He said should occur, was the more confirmed by,
• diverse accounts of “vision of angels” (Luke 24:23) ― both positionally at the site of the tomb and numerically, but all declaring the same message, He is not here: For He is risen as He said. Come, see the place where the Master lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him: lo, I have told you, Matthew 28:6-7;
• several post-Resurrection apparitions within but a few hours - to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34); to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (Matthew 28:9); to two disciples, traveling 7 miles on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:15); to the Apostles sequestered together for fear of the Jews (John 20:19) the most of which had to occur, before the Sabbath ended;
• more frequent excursions to the garden to view a deserted, empty tomb by women and apostles alike;
• apparitions debunking the “idle tales” (Luke 24:11)
Questions That Beg Answers
Nevertheless, inquiry into all these elements add to the intrigue of becoming “passed from death unto life” (John 5:24), while producing other incidental matters to ponder, like,
• Why would He forbid Mary Magdalene to whom He first appeared, saying, Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father (John 20:17) and not forbid her and the other Mary in Matthew 28:9 from “holding Him by the feet and worshiping Him?”
• Could it be, that in the Mark 16:9 record,that the other Mary was not in company with Mary Magdalene, and that the Mark account more closely agrees with John 20:17 than with Matthew 28:1-9?
• Might the Master’s forbidding Mary Magdalene on the one hand, saying, Touch Me not, and at another time, permitting her and the other Mary to hold Him by the feet, have anything to do with Him, as the Firstfruits Wave Sheaf not having yet been presented to His Father in the first instance, but having been before the second?
• And when, on the morrow after the weekly Sabbath, was the Firstfruits Sheaf Waved? Before or after the morning sacrifice? Or did the Torah-prescribed twice daily sacrifice figure at all in the timing of the Wave Sheaf?
• In Luke 24:34, one of the brethren (presumably Cleopas) reported the Master had appeared to Simon Peter. When on the Sabbath day did that occur, or was he, perhaps, speaking about the Master commiserating with them on the road to Emmaus?
• And why should Simon Peter be privileged with an apparition, when he “wondered in himself at that which was come to pass” (Luke24:12), seeing his companion John distinguished himself when upon viewing the empty sepulchre, “believed?” (John 20:8)
• Mary Magdalene is recorded as twice having been to the sepulchre, the first time “when it was yet dark (John 20:1) and the second time standing without at the sepulchre weeping (John 20:11), presumably lingering behind after the two Apostles had gone “away again unto their own home” (John 20:10). Query: Was it now indeed, daytime, “the first day of the week,” that she should have mistaken Yahshua for the gardener (John 20:15), and was this same apparition referenced in Mark 16:9?
• If Cleopas and his companion could affirm that Yahshua had appeared to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34), then why should they still, be distracted by, But We Trusted That It Had Been He?
• And why were these two endangering themselves by traveling more than a Sabbath’s Day journey on the Sabbath in clear violation of Talmudic Law, when their brethren were cloistered for fear of being charged with transgressing the tradition of the elders, in having companied with One Whom the guardians of tradition condemned?
Well, let’s bring this to a conclusion by rejoining Cleopas and the other on that road to Emmaus, a town 7 miles distant from Jerusalem, as the 5th day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread was approaching.
In mood, they were far from festive. You can hear it in their speech: But We Trusted That It Had Been He.
Back in Jerusalem, the temper wasn’t any better … until, the Resurrected Master materialized before them, entreating these whom He had loved, saying, “Peace be unto you. …Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? (Luke 24:36, 38). …Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you” (John 20:21).
So, what is your mood?
We began this past Passover observance, eating unleavened bread; drinking of the fruit of the vine; washing one another’s feet; remembering again, that we have been passed from cursing to blessing; from profane to holy; from gross darkness to marvelous light; from death to life, and today, I trust, we can, as the two sojourning to Emmaus so long ago, experience “our hearts burn within us,” as we, too, are entreated of Him, “Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you” (John 20:21).
-Elder John W. Reece
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