Jesus’ Death and Resurrection – Two Sabbaths

Jesus’ Death and Resurrection

Note: The following Post is taken from an upcoming book by Joseph Lenard entitled Mysteries of Jesus’ Life Revealed—His Birth, Death, Resurrection, and Ascensions. For an overview and complete chapter listing of this fascinating study, click here.

Why Two Sabbaths?

It is widely accepted that there were actually two Sabbaths during the week of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.  However, this fact is frequently overlooked, misunderstood, or ignored by those studying the crucifixion of Jesus, adding to the confusion of efforts to properly time the events of Passion Week (Leviticus 23:6–8, John 19:31).

I consider the case of the two Sabbaths as the fifth puzzle piece in our quest to establish the actual date of Jesus’ death.

Leviticus 23:6-8 states the following:

And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.  On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. But you shall present a food offering to the Lord for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. (Leviticus 23:6-8, ESV)

John 19:30 states:

Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would 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, ESV)

The texts from Leviticus and John are evidence that a special High Sabbath was commanded by the Lord during special times, both in the Old Testament and continuing to the time of Jesus and beyond. This special Sabbath is in addition to the weekly Sabbath, and is referred to as a holy convocation or a High Holy Day. It is associated with the celebration of the various Feasts of the Lord to emphasize their solemnity. On that day, no ordinary work was permitted. The first day of the seven-day celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is one such High Holy Day (Sabbath), beginning on Nisan 15.

The day before the Sabbath day (either a weekly Sabbath or a High Holy Day) was called the Day of Preparation. This was so named because it was the day on which all necessary tasks were to be completed so that the following day, the Sabbath, could be a day of rest unto the Lord.

During the week of Jesus’ crucifixion in AD30, there were two Sabbaths – one on the first day of Unleavened Bread, and the weekly Sabbath. Determining the first day of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15) – the day after Passover – was complicated during the time of Jesus because each of the various Jewish sects had its own interpretation of the Passover (for a detailed discussion of the various Passovers, please read my Post Which Jewish Passover?). Notwithstanding the various sects, the chronology of events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion followed exactly the chronology of the historical slaying of the Passover lamb in Egypt.

We will cover this topic related to the two Sabbaths in more detail in subsequent Posts when I begin putting all of the puzzle pieces together to confirm the date of Jesus’ death.

Note: In my next Post I will discuss the sixth of the eleven “puzzle pieces” for the topic of Jesus’ Death, Resurrection and Ascensions.  This “piece” will discuss the sign which Jesus gave to indicate that He was the Messiah.