Today, the Christian world celebrates the resurrection of the Messiah. This event is steeped in Christian traditions and gentile understanding, and in recent history has become mostly secular. I think it’s important to consider the actual events of the resurrection in the context in which they happened, and without the gentile baggage we overlay upon these events. In this post, we’ll use the Stick of Joseph to shed light on the events surrounding the resurrection of Yeshua.
Christian tradition holds that Yeshua was crucified on a Friday, now called “Good Friday” in commemoration. This tradition is born of a misunderstanding regarding the sabbath. The New testament informs us he was crucified on the day of preparation before the sabbath, and that his body was removed from the cross and hastily placed in the sepulcher before sundown when the sabbath began (see Mark 7:29, Luke 13:25-26, John 10:15-16 NC edition). Because the sabbath begins at sundown on Friday, the Christian tradition selected Friday as the crucifixion day.
This is problematic, of course, because scripture also makes it clear he arose on the first day of the week, which is Sunday on the Hebrew calendar (Luke 14:1 NC) and that it was the “third day” since the crucifixion (Luke 14:2 NC). Attempting to make the period from Friday to Sunday into three days has resulted in some rather strained interpretations and odd explanations. Common sense tells us if the crucifixion happened on Friday, then Saturday was the first day since the crucifixion and Sunday was the second day, not the third.
The key to solving this mystery lies in the various sabbaths (plural) recognized by the Jews. The weekly sabbath is always Saturday, which begins at sundown on Friday. But there are also sabbaths that happen only once per year. These are annual holy days, also called sabbaths, but are tied to the Hebrew lunar calendar, and therefore may fall on any day of the week. One such day is the 15th of Nisan, which is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, also known as Passover. The 15th can fall on any day of the week, but it is a sabbath because it is a holy day.
It so happened in the year of Yeshua’s crucifixion that the 15th of Nisan fell on the 6th day of the week, Friday, and the regular weekly sabbath followed the next day, Saturday. Therefore, there were two sabbaths, back-to-back, that week. Thus, we see that Yeshua was crucified on the 14th day of Nisan, a Thursday, and laid in the tomb before sundown. Friday—the first day of Passover—was the first day since the crucifixion, and Saturday—the weekly sabbath—was the second day since the crucifixion. Sunday then followed as the third day, and the day of the resurrection. If Easter Sunday is to recognize the resurrection, then it should be “Good Thursday,” rather than Good Friday, when the crucifixion is commemorated.
Indeed, when properly aligned with the events of those days, we find breathtaking correlation and perfect fulfillment of every type, shadow, and prophecy concerning the Messiah’s role. His death during the preparation and killing of lambs was exquisitely timed, as was his resurrection.
The Stick of Joseph also teaches concerning this three-day period:
And it came to pass that when the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the storm, and the tempest, and the quakings of the earth did cease — for behold, they did last for about the space of three hours; and it was said by some that the time was greater, nevertheless, all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours — and then, behold, there was darkness upon the face of the land…. And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen; and there was great mourning, and howling, and weeping among all the people continually,… (3 Nefi 4:3, 5)Then at the end of that time:
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 split, and the dreadful groanings did cease,… (3 Nefi 4:10)
The Stick of Joseph agrees with the New Testament scriptural record in recording that Messiah arose the third day.
And he shall be called Yeshua HaMashiach, the Son of Elohim the Father of Heaven and of earth, the creator of all things from the beginning; and his Mother shall be called Miryam. And lo, he comes unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men, even through faith on his name. And even after all this, they shall consider him as a man and say that he has a demon, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him. And he shall rise the third day from the dead. (Moshiyah 1:14)First Fruits
At the time of Yeshua, the first offering of the first fruits occurred after the sabbath of the Passover. On this occasion, the priests took the first barley from the field and offered it before the Lord as an offering of the first harvest of spring:
And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them, When you have come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you 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 next day after the Sabbath, the priest shall wave it. (Lev. 11:4 OC edition)
This offering took place on Sunday in the year of Yeshua’s crucifixion, after the back-to-back sabbaths had passed. This was necessary because the act of harvesting barley constituted work, which was forbidden on the sabbath (Ex. 18:10 OC). Therefore, the priests harvested and offered the first fruits on Sunday that year, on the day of the resurrection. Yeshua was the first fruits, or the first resurrected soul, presented before God as an acceptable offering.
This is amply attested to in the Stick of Joseph, where we read the following:
Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of Elohim, except it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Mashiach, who lays down his life according to the flesh and takes 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 Elohim, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men, and they that believe in him shall be saved. And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto Elohim. Wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. (2 Nefi 1:6)
The above table lays out the days, the count, and the events associated with the timing of the resurrection.
In Zenos’s allegory of the Olive Trees, the Lord of the vineyard seeks to preserve his tame olive tree specifically so that he “may preserve the fruit thereof unto myself” and “lay up fruit thereof against the season unto myself” that he “may yet have glory in the fruit of my vineyard.” The fruit in this allegory represents redeemed souls, rescued from sin and from death by the power of the resurrection of Messiah. Thus we see that he—Yeshua—was the first fruits unto God, and that he presents to his Father all those whom he redeems.
Thus, First Fruits Sunday, or Easter Sunday as Christianity calls it, is not merely a celebration of Messiah’s resurrection. It is an expansive invitation for all to come unto him through his doctrine, become cleansed and redeemed, and become his first fruits, worthy to be presented to the Father. His victory over death would be hollow indeed if it did not bear any fruit other than his own resurrection and return. His work and his glory are to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of all who are willing to receive. (Gen. 1:7 OC)
As we ponder the life-altering meaning of Messiah’s victory over death and hell, may we remember that victory was always meant to be expressed in us. WE are to be the fruit in which he can rejoice.
And the firstfruits of repentance is washing by immersion. And immersion comes by faith unto the fulfilling the mitzvot, and the fulfilling the mitzvot brings remission of sins, and the remission of sins brings meekness and humility of heart. And because of meekness and humility of heart comes the visitation of the Ruach HaKodesh, which Comforter fills with hope and perfect love, which love endures by diligence unto prayer until the end shall come, when all the k’doshim shall dwell with Elohim.