How do you know that Jesus, the Messiah, entered Jerusalem on a Sunday and not on some other day of the week?

Email Received:

You stated the following in your Good Thursday commentary: "Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey (on Palm Sunday, Aviv 10)." Relative to that statement, how does one ascertain that the Messiah came into Jerusalem on Sunday rather than, perhaps, on Saturday? Incidentally, Sunday, as I know it, is the modern-day heathen name for the first scriptural week day.

Ted's Response:

I agree that our modern-day names of the days of the week are heathen names. However, if I were to use "first day," "second day," "seventh day," etc., in my Good Thursday commentary, it would have been confusing to the majority of people reading it. It certainly would have caused many people to scratch their heads if I had named the commentary "Good Fifth Day." I do include a chart with the Hebraic names of the days of the week in my commentary, though.

There are some who believe that Jesus' trimuphal entry into Jerusalem, on a donkey and her colt, took place on a Saturday. They also are inclined to believe that Jesus' crucifixion took place the following Wednesday. I disagree with both of these suppositions.

I will work "backwards" to show that Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem was on the first day of the week, which usually is referred to as "Palm Sunday." Firstly, I am convinced that, a week later, Jesus rose from the dead sometime following sunset after Saturday had ended, at which time Sunday began, since a Hebraic day begins at sunset. So Jesus was resurrected at some point during the darkness of the first day of the week, which was Sunday. This probably was at least a couple of hours before Mary Magdalene went to the tomb (John 20:1).

Secondly, three nights and days prior to the day of Jesus' resurrection would bring us back to sometime during the day on Thursday. From a Hebraic or Jewish perspective, any part of a day could be considered a "day" and any part of a night could be considered a "night." That is, there would have been the

I am convinced that mid-afternoon on Thursday was when Jesus died, since it was the ninth hour (of daylight) that this happened (Matthew 27:46-50). Also, "twilight," at which time the Passover lamb would die, implies that it was midway between the major and minor evening oblations, which would have been mid-afternoon or about 3:00 p.m. From then until sunset (when Friday began) would have been the "day hours of Thursday" shown above, since any part of daylight hours was considered to be a "day."

Thirdly, look at John 12:1, where it indicates that it was six days prior to the Passover that Jesus arrived at Bethany. There were approximately 21 hours of Thursday (which began after sunset on Wednesday) before the lambs were slain (and Jesus died on the cross), which was at the beginning of Passover. According to my Passover and Related Periods chart, that happened at mid-afternoon (about 3:00 p.m.) on Aviv 14 or Thursday. Those 21 hours of Thursday comprised the first "day" of the six days, counting back to Saturday. Thus, the six days prior to the beginning of Passover were determined this way:

day 1: the hours of Thursday prior to the beginning of Passover (at mid-afternoon),
day 2: Wednesday,
day 3: Tuesday,
day 4: Monday,
day 5: Sunday, and
day 6: Saturday.
So Jesus arrived at Bethany sometime on Saturday. At sunset, Sunday began. That night, a dinner was given in Jesus' honor (John 12:2). The next day, during the daylight hours of Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem (12:12-15). This was on the same day, the 10th of the month, that Israel's Passover lamb was brought into the city and taken to the temple, where it was kept until the 14th day of the month and then slaughtered with all of the other Passover lambs (Exodus 12:2,3,6). Since Jesus was the ultimate Passover Lamb, He came into Jerusalem on Sunday, the 10th day of the month, and was crucified and died at mid-afternoon (about 3:00 p.m.) four days later on Thursday, the 14th day of the month.  (See also parallels between Jesus and the Passover Lamb.)

Incidentally, in the Torah it states that animals, including donkeys, were not to do work on the Sabbath (Exodus 23:12; Deuteronomy 5:14). Therefore, if the donkey and her colt had carried Jesus and the cloaks of the disciples into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-7) on the Sabbath (Saturday), this would have violated Torah Law. Jesus never once transgressed the written Law, so He would not have ridden a donkey into the city on the Sabbath.

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