Thanksgiving on Good Friday

Thanksgivings on Special Occasions - Sixth in a series

How wonderful to think of Jesus riding on the colt of a donkey into Jerusalem on his way to celebrate Passover, knowing that HE would be the Paschal (Easter) (Acts 12:4 KJV) Lamb. Hosannah in the highest to the King of Kings!

This had been prophesied by Zechariah, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Zec 9:9)

The Lord told Moses to command the men to travel to Jerusalem three times annually, first to celebrate Passover (Pesach) that marked the nation's exodus from Egypt and slavery; second, to commemorate the Weeks (Shavuíoth) that are counted from the second day of Passover to the date when God gave the Torah to the nation of Israel at Mt. Sinai, also known as Pentecost in the New Testament when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers; and third, for the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth) on the 15th day of the seventh month, to mark the end of harvest time. Perhaps the Christian's counterpart to this Feast is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven (Rev 19:7), where in contrast we shall have a permanent home rather than temporary shelters.

As a Jew, Jesus obediently went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, which God commanded in Exodus (Ex 12:1-27). He and his disciples ate the meal in the upper room that was specially prepared by a man whose identity is not made known in Scripture. (Mark 14:13)

For the Jew, the day began in the evening, to wit, And the evening and the morning were the first day… And the evening and the morning were the second day… (Gen 1:5, 8 et al). But we start the day in the morning, so Christians who desire to commemorate the Last Supper must do so on the day before Good Friday. However, from an historic standpoint, the sacrament of communion that was initiated then was enjoyed on the same day as Christ was crucified. He was commanding a new rite that would take the place of Passover, Do this in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19)

And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. (Mark 14:22-25)

The first day of Passover is the start of eating unleavened bread, and preparing the lamb, and on the second day, the meal is eaten. Then there are six days more of the Passover celebration. Thus, Christ was crucified on the second day of Passover, for it is not a matter of us killing the Lamb of God (as was done on the first day of the feast) but of eating him in the manner which we are taught in this passage: (Please leave a comment and reference if you differ with this view. There are other views and I am a layperson.)

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world… Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him… (John 6:51-56)

This is metaphorical for it is hard to envision and hard to accept— this horrifying yet enlivening knowledge that by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isa 53:6)

The substitutionary atonement was offered on Day One, Day Two was the Sabbath (Luke 23:55-56), and Christ rose from the dead on Day Three (Luke 18:33).

Thus on the fourth day of Passover which we count as Sunday– the Christian Sabbath for most Christians– the empty tomb was observed well into the day even though very early in the morning, for the women who went to the tomb would have slept at night (and the Jewish day began in the evening.)

The Resurrection injured the Passover festival forever. The eight-day feast was torn in half as surely as the veil in the Temple was. (Mat 27:51)

It is possible for Christians to observe the day of Christ’s crucifixion very nearly to its original time by celebrating Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox which was approximated to be March 21 by the Council of Nicea (see previous post). The Jewish year begins in the Spring and Jewish months are begun at the appearance of the new moon. Passover week can overlay Easter week.

But after all these facts and viewpoints, the thing is, let’s observe Maundy Thursday and/or Good Friday as very special occasions for Thanksgiving. If you must work, remind yourself that you work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Col 3:24-25)

Whose dating system?

Thanksgivings on Special Occasions - Fifth in a series

Many feel Christ will return soon. So many signs point to that.

The realization that time is short lessens the importance of theological debate. The time is ended for quibbling over small differences that do not affect salvation. We turn now to the central concern: Are you saved? Do you know Christ as your personal Savior? Has he claimed you as his own? Are you walking with him?

But as we wait on the Lord, we will briefly look at a question that is not critical to the celebration of Easter, but holds interest for those who enjoy knowing about church history.

The early Christians disputed over when to celebrate Easter. A Bible verse caused the commotion: And you shall observe this event (the Passover) as an ordinance for you and your children forever. (Ex 12:24) Forever is forever, so the Quartodeciman faction sought to honor this command by keeping the celebration of the Lord’s resurrection on the same date as the Jewish Passover. Others associated it with the newly established day of worship, Sunday. You can read more about this schism here, and here, that an early church father Irenaeus entreated Pope Victor in about 190 not to excommunicate the Quartodeciman churches of Asia Minor. The controversy was finally adjudicated at the Council of Nicea (though some churches today continue to honor the Jewish dating system in their commemorations).

In 325 AD, only a year after the Eastern and Western Roman Empires had been united under Constantine, bishops from east and west met in Nicea for the first universal council of the church, primarily to settle the Arian controversy that had arisen.

Constantine was the first Roman emperor to permit and to profess Christianity. Throughout his life he attributed his success to his conversion to the Christian faith. Some ancient documents that share the Nicean Council’s proceedings still exist, helping us to gain an acquaintance with Constantine. In the following excerpt, we see his enthusiasm over the successful Council:

Greetings, my beloved brothers! We have received a complete blessing from Divine Providence, namely, we have been relieved from all error and been united in a common confession of one and the same faith. The devil will no longer have any power against us, since all the schemes he in his hatred had devised for our destruction, have been entirely overthrown from their foundations. At the command of God, the splendor of truth has dissolved all the poisons so deadly to unity: dissensions, schisms, commotions, and the like. We all now worship the One by name, and continue to believe that he is the One God. In order to accomplish all of this, at God’s summoning I assembled a large number of bishops at the city of Nicaea, and I joined them in investigating the truth, though I am only one of you, who rejoices exceedingly in being your fellow-servant. All points which seemed ambiguous or could possibly lead to dissension have been discussed and accurately examined. May the Divine Majesty forgive the unfortunately huge number of the blasphemies which some were shamelessly uttering against the mighty Savior, our life and hope, as they declared and confessed things contrary to the divinely inspired Scriptures. (ref)

The Council of Nicea in 325 also established when Easter would be celebrated. Constantine wrote to the churches:

At the council we also considered the issue of our holiest day, Easter, and it was determined by common consent that everyone, everywhere should celebrate it on one and the same day. For what can be more appropriate, or what more solemn, than that this feast from which we have received the hope of immortality, should be kept by all without variation, using the same order and a clear arrangement? (ref)

Unity among the faithful was important to Constantine because he had witnessed the divisions caused by the Donatist controversy and he wanted his empire to be secure from divisions. Also, of course, Scripture encourages Christians to be as one (Ps 133:1; Eph 4:3-6).

Thus, Easter came to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox which was approximated to be March 21 by the Council. (It was several decades before the Alexandrine computations stabilized into their final form, and several centuries beyond that before they became normative.)

It’s somewhat astounding to think of an entire empire and all Christendom joining as one to celebrate Easter. I look for less allowance for this holiday in days to come, just as we have seen the erasure of Good Friday from the American calendar.

This blog series is about the special days in the Christian calendar celebrated by many protestants, however, Anglicans and other denominations today have more than the ones covered in these posts. The calendar dates of holy days leading to Easter are calculated, of course, by the Council of Nicea, and these are the ones we will look at next. Easter itself is not a Thanksgiving on a Special Occasion since those holy days are not observed on Sunday, as Easter always is.

The holiday that helps

Thanksgivings on Special Occasions - Fourth in a series

Continuing now in an exploration of Thanksgivings on Special Occasions, a “protestant permission” (see related post), we come to the days leading to Easter.

Any Christian holiday should magnify Jesus Christ. If it turns the spotlight from the Lord to any other thing, it is not a holy day. A minister has the work of helping the flock to renew their inner selves to love Christ more. How might that be done?

Here is a list that amplifies the ways that Jesus humbled himself, as Paul writes in Philippians, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil 2:8) Reading this list helped me to renew my mind and heart to worship God. It is taken from Pastor David Guzik’s commentary on the Philippians verse.

  • He was humble in that he took the form of a man, and not a more glorious creature like an angel.
  • He was humble in that He was born into an obscure, oppressed place.
  • He was humble in that He was born into poverty among a despised people.
  • He was humble in that He was born as a child instead of appearing as a man.
  • He was humble in submitting to the obedience appropriate to a child in a household.
  • He was humble in learning and practicing a trade – and a humble trade of a builder.
  • He was humble in the long wait until He launched out into public ministry.
  • He was humble in the companions and disciples He chose.
  • He was humble in the audience He appealed to and the way He taught.
  • He was humble in the temptations He allowed and endured.
  • He was humble in the weakness, hunger, thirst, and tiredness He endured.
  • He was humble in His total obedience to His Heavenly Father.
  • He was humble in His submission to the Holy Spirit.
  • He was humble in choosing and submitting to the death of the cross.
  • He was humble in the agony of His death.
  • He was humble in the shame, mocking, and public humiliation of His death.
  • He was humble in enduring the spiritual agony of His sacrifice on the cross.

Jesus Christ is worthy of our highest praise. If you are one who celebrates Lent or Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, did—or would— this list assist you to renew your adoration of Him? It was helpful to me in writing this post. We don’t need to wait for a holy day for a revived heart of praise for the Lord. Yet life becomes routine, and holidays help to refresh our spirits— when renewal in Christ is realized.

Attention Readers

Have you visited the Biotech Blog on this website? Find information and resources to help you think about biotech as a Christian.

During the summer of 2017, I explored the topic of kidney donation. Is it right for a society to permit that? To encourage it? What do you think? Read the Live Kidney Donation Series!

Should you sign your driver’s license to be an organ donor? Is cremation OK with God? Do these practices undermine the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection?

Learn more. The conscience cannot function without facts.


Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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