Now that we’ve corrected some of the erroneous traditions and reviewed the spring feasts, we’re ready to recreate the timeline based on the scriptures.
Determining Crucifixion and Resurrection Days
We have several facts from the scriptures we can use to pin down these days of the week. We know from Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-2, Luke 24:1, and John 20:1 that by Sunday morning at sunrise Christ had already been resurrected and left the tomb. That marks the very latest that Jesus could have been resurrected.
We know from the Gospels that Jesus died shortly after 3:00PM (the ninth hour). We also know that after Jesus died, Joseph had to visit Pilate, Pilate then summoned the centurion to confirm Jesus was dead, then Pilate released the body to Joseph who then had to take the body from the cross to the garden and perform a quick preparation of the body before sealing up the tomb before sunset.
We know from Matthew 12:40 that Jesus would spend three days and three nights in the tomb. Using those data points we can construct the first part of the timeline. Using the evening entombment, three days and three nights in the tomb, and a Sunday morning resurrection, we get this:
A Sunday morning resurrection breaks Jesus’ own prophecy of three nights in the tomb. The scriptures don’t say Jesus was resurrected in the morning, only that by morning when the disciples showed up Jesus had already risen. In order to fulfill prophecy, he had to have arisen Saturday at sunset. Here’s what a scripturally correct timeline looks like:
In this model, Wednesday afternoon the Passover lambs would have been sacrificed and eaten that night after sunset. Wednesday night and Thursday day would have been a holy day or high sabbath in which no work was done. Friday would have been a regular day to prepare for the weekly sabbath on Saturday.
Now that we have the day of Passover pinned down, let’s back up and follow the scriptures through the last week of Jesus’ life to see how everything fits together.
Six days before Passover
Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? And they said, The Lord hath need of him.
Jesus is traveling towards Jerusalem for the last time. During this last week he will travel into Jerusalem during the days but stay in Bethany at night. Arriving on the day before the weekly sabbath, Jesus sends two disciples to find and bring a colt which had never been ridden. (This will be important soon).
Five days before Passover
On the fourteenth day of the month the Passover lamb is killed shortly before sunset. On the tenth day of the month the Passover lamb is selected. This weekly sabbath day happens to be the tenth day of the month, the day the Passover lamb is selected.
The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”
When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
Now a savvy reader may object to this happening on a Saturday. Jesus was riding an animal on the sabbath. The law of Moses specifically states that animals are to do no work on the sabbath.
Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.
Has Jesus just broken the sabbath? This incident shows not only how well Jesus knows the law of Moses, but also that this event did happen on a sabbath. Remember that when Jesus sent the two disciples to get the colt, he specified that it would be a colt “whereon yet never man sat”. That colt had never worked in its life. The law of the sabbath states that there are six days of work followed by a sabbath. Had that colt ever worked a day it would have been required to obey the sabbath and Jesus would have violated the sabbath by riding it. Because that colt had never worked, it had not yet met the requirement to have a sabbath day. Jesus could ride that colt on the sabbath day to fulfill the prophecy while obeying the sabbath laws. If this didn’t happen on a sabbath, there would have been no need for the colt to have never been ridden before. (That’s the kind of expert lawyer I want as my advocate with the Father!)
At the same time the Passover lambs were being brought into Jerusalem for the people the select, Jesus, The Passover Lamb, was being brought into Jerusalem. Not only was he acclaimed by the people, but also selected by the voice of his Father:
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem was directly linked to the choosing of the Passover lamb.
Four days before Passover
And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. And when even was come, he went out of the city.
Three days before Passover
And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Once Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, he has a busy day. The scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees all try to find fault with him.
And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.
And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed. And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.
This coincides with the inspection of the Passover lamb. While the Jews were inspecting their lambs, looking for any blemish, Jesus was in the temple being inspected by the scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees as they tried to find fault in him. Here are the key tests:
- Pharisees: Rendering unto Caesar (Matthew 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:20-26)
- Sadducees: Marriage and the resurrection (Matthew 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27, Luke 20:27-39)
- Scribes: What is the primary commandment? (Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 20:40)
After this inspection, Jesus delivers prophecies and sermons for his disciples:
Destruction of the Temple: Matthew 24:1-2, Mark 13:1-2, Luke 21:5-6
The Last Days: Matthew 24:3-14, Mark 13:3-13, Luke 21:7-19
The Abomination of Desolation: Matthew 24:14-31, Mark 13:14-27, Luke 21:20-28
Faithful Servants: Matthew 24:45-51, Mark 13:34-37, Luke 21:34-36
Parable of Wise Virgins: Matthew 25:1-13
After this busy day, Jesus then returns to Bethany where he is anointed in preparation for his death and burial.
And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
Two days before Passover
Tuesday night is when the Last supper occurs. We’ve covered that in a previous post, so we won’t rehash it here.
One day before Passover
During the night Jesus is tried and then delivered unto Pilate in the morning. This is the final inspection of the Passover lamb, and He is declared to be without blemish.
Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
By 9:00am, he is hanging on the cross. By 3:00pm, when it is time to sacrifice the Passover lambs, Jesus gives up the ghost. He is hastily buried before sundown and the start of the Passover holy day.
There is no manner of work to be done this holy day. Despite that, having already eaten their Passover dinner, the scribes and Pharisees don’t appear to worry about defiling themselves any more and go unto Pilate:
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.
This is the first night and day in the tomb.
First day after Passover
With the Passover holy day over, Friday is available to do work before the weekly sabbath. Mary Magdalene and Mary use this day to buy the things they will need to anoint the body of Jesus on Sunday morning.
And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
This is the second night and day in the tomb.
Second day after Passover
This is now the weekly sabbath. The scriptures tell us that after preparing the spices, they rested on the weekly sabbath.
And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
(Note how this sequence would have been impossible with the Friday-Sunday tradition. Jesus would have been buried at sunset on Friday, meaning the sabbath would have started right then, yet somehow these women were able to buy spices after the sabbath in Mark and before the sabbath in Luke!)
Third day after Passover
At sunset on Saturday evening, Jesus has completed three days and three nights in the tomb and was resurrected. It is now the beginning of the day after the weekly sabbath after Passover, which means it is the day of the Firstfruits.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
While the priests at the temple were harvesting the firstfuits of the barley harvest from the field and preparing them overnight for the firstfruit offering in the temple in the morning, Jesus THE Firstfruit, had risen from the tomb and was preparing himself to show himself unto the Father:
1 Corinthians 15:20
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
2 Nephi 2:8-9
The Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God.
By Sunday morning, when Christ meets Mary at the tomb, he indicates that he was just about to fulfill the feast of the Firstfruits by presenting himself before his Father:
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
We don’t know what Jesus had been doing for approximately twelve hours between his resurrection and his conversation with Mary, but it all fits in with the symbolic feasts that the Jews were commemorating at the same time.
3 Nephi 15:17-18
Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil; For verily I say unto you, one jot nor one tittle hath not passed away from the law, but in me it hath all been fulfilled.
Jesus not only fulfilled the atonement and sacrifice portions of the law, he also fulfilled all the symbolic portions of the spring feasts including the Firstfruits.
And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me.
All things, even the feasts of the Jews.
With this new timeline, we can see how beautifully the last few days of Jesus’ life fulfilled the Old Testament foreshadowing of the Messiah. The feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits were instituted to witness of Christ. Jonah’s experience in the belly of the fish was fulfilled completely and accurately. Just as the Jews 2,000 years ago missed the connection between Jesus and these feasts, many Christians today miss these same connections.
Having now seen these connections, it should cause us to wonder just how many other aspects of the Old Testament are we ignorant of? If these spring feasts and their rituals were a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice for us, how much are the fall feasts a foreshadowing of his Second Coming? What are we missing? How many false traditions are we carrying that prevent us from seeing just how intricate all these things of God are?
“The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out.” Happy hunting!
In the comments, Nathan brought up the timeline of what was happening in the Americas while Christ was dead. I hadn’t even thought of linking the two. Assuming an 8-hour time difference between Jerusalem and the Americas, the sun would have just been rising in the Americas when Jesus died on the cross.
20 But behold, as I said unto you concerning another sign, a sign of his death, behold, in that day that he shall suffer death the sun shall be darkened and refuse to give his light unto you; and also the moon and the stars; and there shall be no light upon the face of this land, even from the time that he shall suffer death, for the space of three days, to the time that he shall rise again from the dead.
We know there were three days of darkness and in the morning of the fourth day the darkness dispersed.
3 Nephi 10:9
And it came to pass that thus did the three days pass away. And it was in the morning, and the darkness dispersed from off the face of the land, and the earth did cease to tremble, and the rocks did cease to rend, and the dreadful groanings did cease, and all the tumultuous noises did pass away.
Christ’s resurrection at 7:00 PM in Jerusalem would be 11:00 in the morning in the Americas!
The Biblical and Book of Mormon accounts line up perfectly! The Book of Mormon also disproves the Friday-Sunday timeline – there would only be two days of darkness in the Americas. This is an amazing second witness.