We have looked at what the Gospels have to say about the time that Jesus died in a post below. In this one, we take the next step and look at what they say about the day of the week.
Mk 15:42 is clear that Jesus died on the day before the Sabbath (PROSABBATON). Mt 27:62 and 28:1 indicate that day after Jesus’ death was the Sabbath. Lk 23:54 says that Jesus was buried on the “preparation,” that is, the day before the Sabbath. Jn 19:31 says that precautions were taken to ensure that Jesus’ corpse did not remain on the cross on the Sabbath.
All of the Gospels, then, are unified, indicating that Jesus spent some time with his disciples on what we would call Thursday evening and was arrested later that night. He was crucified the next day, which was Friday, and died before the beginning of the Sabbath at sunset.
I have used the expression “what we would call Thursday evening” just for clarity. In fact, the Jewish day started at sunset and ran to the next sunset. So provided this meal was celebrated after nightfall, the activities from that event until his death took place on one day – the day before the Sabbath.
What are the theological implications of this timing? The fact that Jesus died on an afternoon, just before the beginning of the Sabbath at sundown, sets the stage for the urgency that characterizes his burial. I think two things are worked out here.
First, the irony developed earlier in each PN (passion narrative) now become excruciating as it spills over and splashes just about everywhere. In each case, Jesus is buried by just about the oddest people you could imagine, with all that implies about the disciples and discipleship.
Second, the burial narratives give the alert reader some major hints that the story is not over, as I alluded to in my third response on the “hour.” And more interestingly, they also give some hints about what the future will hold for the followers of Jesus – not for the old disciples in the Gospels, who are pretty much out of the picture at the moment, but for the new disciples who will shortly rise to join them.
Now, however, I have to prepare my GD lesson for tomorrow. We are reading the Matthean infancy narrative together, and I must organize my thoughts on that matter. Please, please, add your own thoughts. I look forward to reading them late tomorrow afternoon, when I come back and try to finish my own.