Learn of the early church, that worshiped on the first day
April 19, 2017 | View PDF
Last Sunday many congregations, including ours, sang the much-loved song written in 1874 by Robert Lowry, “Christ Arose,” also known as “Low in the Grave He Lay.”
This song tells of the greatest historical event of all time — historical because it has a large number of eyewitnesses whose testimony is still on record (Acts 1:1-26; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; 1 Peter 1:17-25). Some were glad about the event while others tried to conceal it, although, they knew it actually happened (Matthew 28:1-17; Mark 16:1-14; Luke 24:1-48; John 20:1-31; Acts 4:1-20; 5:12-32).
The song mentioned above and the sign of Jonah mention where Jesus would be in the grave (dark domain, heart of the Earth) and the sign of Jonah says for how long (three days and three nights - Matthew 12:39-40). Jesus is God and when God speaks of a day, whether a specific date or a timeframe, he means a literal 24-hour period with a definite beginning and end (Genesis 1:1-2:3; Exodus 20:8-11; Acts 17:31). When it comes to how long Jesus was in the grave, you cannot account for three days AND three nights (or even three parts of both) and have Jesus crucified on Friday and arise on Sunday morning. To be raised on Sunday, Jesus had to die and be buried on Thursday. So, how can we know this?
John 19:28-42 describes Jesus’ death and burial. The law required that he had to be buried the day he died because he’d been hung on a tree (Deuteronomy 21:22-23; 1 Peter 2:21-24). Did you notice from John 19:31 that the day Jesus died and was buried was a day of preparation for a special Sabbath or a high day to follow?
The Passover began at twilight on the 14th day of the first month of the Jewish calendar and went through the next evening. They had the Last Supper on Wednesday evening and Jesus died before the 24-hour period was over on Thursday (Exodus 12:1-11). The 15th day of that month, beginning at twilight, was a special Sabbath (a holy convocation) that began the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:4-8). It didn’t matter what day of the week that fell on, but Passover was always the day of preparation for special Sabbath. Everyone accepts Saturday as the Sabbath that was celebrated each week, as you read from Exodus 20. Consequently, Jesus was crucified on Thursday, Friday was the special Sabbath, Saturday was regular weekly Sabbath, and Sunday, the first day of the week, was the third day with three intervening nights after he died and was buried.
Since Jesus arose on the first day of the week, Sunday became the day on which the early church met each week to remember Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection and to take part in the other components of corporate worship (Galatians 2:20-3:2; Romans 6:3-7, 17-18; Acts 20:7; 2:42; 1 Corinthians 10:17-34; 16:1-2).
Does the church you attend follow the example of the early church in regard to initial obedience and worship?
Leonard Lauriault writes about faith for the Quay County Sun. Contact him at