Christendom has two important annual occasions – the celebration of Christmas and the remembering of the Holy Week. It is widely acknowledged that the month of December, a winter time in Bethlehem (December to February), cannot be the time of Christ’s incarnate birth, given that Scripture spoke of shepherds in the field at the time of His birth (Luke 2:4-16). Let me be very clear here: The incarnate birth of Jesus Christ is factual and historical but the celebration of Christmas in December is more highly a tradition.
It must have been a little over a month since I last wrote a blog. I came out writing this blog since our calendars once again reminds us of the supposed Holy Week. The idea of the Holy Week was never mentioned in the New Testament Scripture, particularly the Book of Acts, written by Luke narrating the beginning and events of the early church. Here is the reason the Holy Week was never mentioned in Scripture:
Holy Week, in the Christian church, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter, observed with special solemnity as a time of devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ. In the Greek and Roman liturgical books, it is called the Great Week because great deeds were done by God during this week. The name Holy Week was used in the 4th century by St. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, and St. Epiphanius of Constantia. Originally, only Good Friday and Holy Saturday were observed as holy days. Later, Wednesday was added as the day on which Judas plotted to betray Jesus, and by the beginning of the 3rd century the other days of the week had been added. The pre-Nicene church concentrated its attention on the celebration of one great feast, the Christian Passover, on the night between Saturday and Easter Sunday morning. By the later 4th century the practice had begun of separating the various events and commemorating them on the days of the week on which they occurred: Judas’s betrayal and the institution of the Eucharist on Maundy Thursday; the Passion and death of Christ on Good Friday; his burial on Saturday; and his Resurrection on Easter Sunday.Britannica.Com, Holy Week
As you can see, the observance of the Holy Week was a tradition that began in the 4th century, hundreds of years after the inception of Christianity. See Matthew 12:40. Jesus Christ said:
For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
See also John 2:18-22; Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:22-23 and many more. Jesus Christ, the last and great Prophet of God (Matthew 13:57; Acts 3:19-22), proclaimed that He would be three days and three nights buried on the ground. How then can He had died on a Friday, buried on a Saturday and resurrected on a Sunday? Something obviously is wrong or misleading, don’t you think? See also information below.
Fixing the date on which the Resurrection of Jesus was to be observed and celebrated triggered a major controversy in early Christianity in which an Eastern and a Western position can be distinguished. The dispute, known as the Paschal controversies, was not definitively resolved until the 8th century. In Asia Minor, Christians observed the day of the Crucifixion on the same day that Jews celebrated the Passover offering—that is, on the 14th day of the first full moon of spring, 14 Nisan (see Jewish calendar). The Resurrection, then, was observed two days later, on 16 Nisan, regardless of the day of the week. In the West the Resurrection of Jesus was celebrated on the first day of the week, Sunday, when Jesus had risen from the dead. Consequently, Easter was always celebrated on the first Sunday after the 14th day of the month of Nisan. Increasingly, the churches opted for the Sunday celebration, and the Quartodecimans (“14th day” proponents) remained a minority. The Council of Nicaea in 325 decreed that Easter should be observed on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox (March 21). Easter, therefore, can fall on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25.Britannica.Com, Easter
So like the Christmas celebration, the observation of the Holy Week, specifically regarding the day of resurrection, traditionally understood as a Sunday, also was/is more of tradition rather than Scripture.
Sunday, the first day of the week. It is regarded by most Christians as the Lord’s Day, or the weekly memorial of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection from the dead. The practice of Christians gathering together for worship on Sunday dates back to apostolic times, but details of the actual development of the custom are not clear. Verse 10 of the first chapter of the Revelation to John(mid-1st century AD) mentions the “Lord’s Day”; this was subsequently interpreted by most commentators as a reference to Sunday. St. Justin Martyr(c. 100–c. 165), philosopher and defender of the Christian faith, in his writings described the Christians gathered together for worship on the Lord’s Day: the Gospels or the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) was read, the presiding minister preached a sermon, and the group prayed together and celebrated the Lord’s Supper.
The Roman emperor Constantine I (died 337), a convert to Christianity, introduced the first civil legislation concerning Sunday in 321, when he decreed that all work should cease on that day, except that farmers could work if necessary. That law, aimed at providing time for worship, was followed later in the same century and in subsequent centuries by further restrictions on Sunday activities.Britannica.Com, Sunday
Make no mistake that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was/is the centerpiece of our faith. See 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; the apostle Paul explaining the truth concerning resurrection said:
12Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Let me be very clear here. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are factual and historical events clearly authenticated by the Bible and is without error. But the day of resurrection is more of a tradition. You may want to read my blog entitled “Small Details May Say A Lot (The True Sabbath Rest)” for further explanation on the topic of the resurrection day and more. But the point of this blog is to align our understanding of Christ’s Resurrection with that of the Bible. Christ’s Resurrection occurred in fulfillment of the Jewish Feast of Firstfruits, (1 Corinthians 15:20). See Leviticus 23:9-11.
9And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, 11and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.
Christ’s redemptive work, His death and resurrection, should be understood through the pages of the Old Testament Scripture. See Luke 24:13-27.
13That very day [the day of Christ’s resurrection] two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. 17And He said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered Him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23and when they did not find His body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that He was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see.” 25And He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
See also Luke 24:44-48.
44Then He [Jesus] said to them [the apostles], “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things.
Aren’t the apostles witnessed of the New Testament Scripture, which we believe, proclaim and teach? Sadly, it is quite evident that through the centuries, the Christian doctrine have been diluted with tradition, which has been passed down and repeatedly been taught for millennia now. Shouldn’t it be re-examined, corrected and restored to its original narrative – that is, in fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets?
Lord willing, in the next few blogs, we hope to go back to the Bible, to unlearn tradition and relearn Scripture. Let us learn from the Bereans: “they received the Word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if what they have been told is true”.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25)
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