Sabbath Message by Wade Cox

Sabbath Message 26/2/30/120

Dear Friends,

There are two questions that arise in relation to Christ that are related and yet quite distinct in their ramifications.

The first question is: When was Christ set aside as the Lamb of God for the Passover of 30 CE?
The answer to this is simple. He was set aside on 10 Abib, in accordance with the Law. The much more confusing matter is the question of how we actually identify this process of setting aside. It has been argued that the process of the setting aside was the fact of his triumphant entry to Jerusalem when the palms were waved and placed before him. The traditional view of this was that it occurred on what is now referred to as Palm Sunday by the Trinitarians. Some of the Churches of God, from the view of Herbert Armstrong, say this event occurred on the Sabbath, which in 30 CE was the Tenth of Abib. They, however, placed the Crucifixion in 31 CE and thus it was a complete impossibility on that scenario for the Tenth of Abib to have fallen on a Sabbath or indeed on a Sunday either. They thus held the Passover to have occurred in what was in fact the Second month of 31 CE. However, a reconstruction of the events of the Bible text indicates that this was the second entry to Jerusalem and the previous entry was to cleanse the Temple on the Ninth of Abib. After this event Christ left.

The sequence of events is reconstructed in the paper Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No 159).
The table of events is shown there as follows:

The Sixth Day Before the Passover 9 Nisan (sunset Thursday to sunset Friday)

Event Matthew Mark Luke John
Christ approaches Jerusalem from Jericho.     19:1-10  
Christ passes Thursday night at the house of Zacchaeus     19:6  
and delivers the parable of the pounds.     19:11-27  
He proceeds towards Jerusalem.     19:28  
He sends two disciples for an “ass” and a “colt”. Note that there are two animals. 21:1-7      
He makes his first entry from Bethphage (not Bethany) and fulfils Zech. 9:9. 21: 8-9      
He is unexpected, and they ask, “Who is this?” 21:10-11      
He cleanses the Temple in accordance with the Law. 21:12-16      
He departed to Bethany to the house of Lazarus. 21:17     12:1

We see that the purpose of the first journey to Jerusalem was to cleanse the Temple, which had to be done for the Passover ceremony where Christ was to be the Passover Lamb. He fulfilled that which was written of him by the prophet Zechariah (Zech. 9:9), and Matthew records that on this occasion the people also spread their garments before him (Mat. 21:1-17). The Chief Priests were then aware they had to do something about him (Mat. 21:15). He then departed for Bethany to the House of Lazarus where Mary anointed his feet with the pound of spikenard. Judas Iscariot challenged this anointing and Christ specifically reveals that it was for the purpose of his death and burial that the ointment had been kept, and it was being used for that specific purpose. This anointing denoted the sacrifice of Christ as the Lamb of God. It effectively set him aside for that purpose. These activities took place on the evening of the Tenth of Nisan, which is the setting aside of the lamb for the Passover sacrifice in accordance with Exodus 12:3. This occurred on Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Christ dedicated himself and was anointed on this Sabbath.

The Fifth Day Before the Passover 10 Nisan (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday)
Event Matthew Mark Luke John

Event Matthew Mark Luke John
The Lord passed the Sabbath at Bethany.        
From sunset on Sabbath (Saturday) the first of three suppers are held (probably at Lazarus’ house).        12:2
At this supper the first of two anointings takes place.        12:3-11

Lazarus is recorded as sitting with him at supper (Jn. 12:2). John tells us that many of the Jews knew he was there and they came to see him on that Sabbath and also to see Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead (Jn. 12:9). It was because of this that the chief priests (including High Priests of divisions) consulted that they might also put Lazarus to death because many believed in Christ because of Lazarus (Jn. 12:10-11). The word used is apokteino (to kill) which implies violent death rather than death by judicial process.

The text in John continues on in 12:12 to say: “The next day many people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet him and fulfilled that which was written by the Psalm 118:25-26 and cried Hosanna! ‘Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord’”. Luke 19:38 is different in cry but the intent is the same and the text in John leaves out the Son of David that is present in Matthew 21:9.

The error made is that it is assumed that the term on the next day refers to the Sabbath on the morrow after the evening meal rather than the Eleventh Day of Abib. However, the term does refer to the following day rather than the morning or morrow of the Sabbath. Bullinger also holds that the term referred to the Eleventh of Abib, which was the Sunday. This view is also backed up by the fact that many people had come on the Sabbath to see Christ and they could hardly have met in the house at night. Also, the consultation of the High Priests would have taken place on that Sabbath. Thus Christ was set aside as the sacrifice by the anointing and by the consultation of the Chief or High Priests on the Sabbath, the Tenth Day of Abib, they being there in one place because of the Feast. Christ then was ready to enter Jerusalem in triumph.

The Fourth Day Before the Passover 11 Nisan (sunset Saturday to sunset Sunday)

Event Matthew Mark Luke John
The second or triumphal entry to Jerusalem occurs.        
Christ sends two disciples for one animal, an unbroken colt.    11:1-7 19:29-35  12:12
The Lord then starts from Bethany (not Bethphage) and is met by multitudes from Jerusalem.    11:8-10 19:36-40  12:12-19
He weeps over the city.     19:41-44  
He enters the Temple and looks around.    11:11    
He then returns to Bethany.    11:11    

The Third Day Before the Passover 12 Nisan (sunset Sunday to sunset Monday)

Event Matthew Mark Luke John
Christ returns to Jerusalem in the morning.  21:18  11:12    
The fig tree is cursed.  21:19-22  11:13-14    
He reappears at the Temple and re-cleanses.    11:15-17  19:45-46  
Teaches in the Temple.      19:47  12:20-50
He faces the opposition of the rulers.    11:18  19:47-48  
He leaves the city (probably for Bethany; see Lk. 21:37-38).    11:19    


The Second Day Before the Passover 13 Nisan (sunset Monday to sunset Tuesday)

Event Matthew Mark Luke John
The question of the disciples about the fig tree arises on the way to Jerusalem.    11:20-26    
Christ is again in Jerusalem and the Temple.  21:23-27  11:27-33  20:1-8  
Christ teaches in questions and parables.  21:28-23:39  12:1-44  20:9-21:4  
The first great prophecy in the Temple is given.  21:5-36      
Statement re the Lord’s custom in this last week.  21:37-38      
The second great prophecy on the Mount of Olives.  24:1-51  13:1-37    
The second prophecy continued. 25:1-46      

We can thus see that the idea that the entry occurred on the Sabbath came from two views. One was that the term the next day referred to the Morrow of the Sabbath rather than the actual next day, being the day after the Sabbath.

The second view was formed from the mistrust of Trinitarian Sunday worshippers who were perceived as advancing propaganda. It was thought that that Palm Sunday was a device used by Sunday worshippers to promote Sunday rather than the logical progression of the texts of the Bible. The real problem is that when viewed in logical progression those advancing Palm Sunday cannot then argue for a Friday crucifixion, as the texts do not allow it – if we assume the Gospels are a coherent account.

The next question we will examine is the contention that Christ nailed the Law of God to the Stake on his death.

Wade Cox

Coordinator General


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