We need to talk about preparation day. There is truth but there is also false attached to this. Those who hold the false doctrine of the Day will have much to say about “preparation day(s)” while they overlook much more clear and important details given in the gospels about the passover week when our Messiah was crucified. But we should rely on the Word to bring clarity to this and not the traditions of man.
First the Truth. We learned from Moses in his teaching about the Manna that on the sixth day, our heavenly Father provides a double portion that we may gather and keep overnight so that we may truly REST with Him on the sabbath. You can refer to Exodus 16 for his full teaching.
The False: Religious oppressors looked upon your double blessing as an opportunity to double your work. So preparation day became a day filled with your regular work plus extra chores so that the whole day before the weekly sabbath was busy.
And more False: In addition to the sixth day preparation day, many religious people today believe that every sabbath, including High sabbaths have a preparation day. There is no scriptural indication of a “preparation day” before the High sabbaths. But this serves to confuse the gospel readers when it should be clear that the writers only use that term to refer to the sixth day.
There is nothing wrong about preparing before every sabbath. And in general, preparation is just wisdom in practice. Learn from the ants. The trouble is the religious institution of “preparation day” which compromises the Rest of sabbath.
So lets look at the gospels and understand why they mentioned “preparation day”.
All the gospel writers make mention of “preparation” during the passover week of the death, burial and resurrection of our Messiah. Do a word search on a digital bible and you will find that the “preparation day” is only EVER discussed during that specific week and nowhere else in the bible. A few other “preparations” occur but not connected to a sabbath.
I am going to provide direct quotes from NKJV of every gospel mention. And I will admit they are confusing every time you read them. Unfortunately this was poorly translated into most bibles including King James. But we will come to understand that they are all talking about the same day which was the sixth day of that week.
59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. 61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. 62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. 65Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. 40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; 41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem. 42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. 44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. 45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.
51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. 55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
John mentions preparation day three times in chapter 19. So each passage with context will be on the next page.
11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. 12 And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. 13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! 15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. 16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. 17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:
28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. 31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. 42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.
I said these mentions are confusing and translated poorly. You may hold a different opinion. But nonetheless, we should be able to see and hear the Word regardless of poor translations obscuring the writer’s original intent. And we can find their original intent with the Word. The Word is the scriptures. And the Word is also Yahshua and the Mind of God. He is not the author of confusion.
They all mention preparation day in connection with the urgency to move the body from the cross to the tomb. When we trust all of their testimonies about which day this is, then we will not be mislead by poor translations.
Focusing on Matthew:
62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
This one is actually worded correctly but the placement of a comma is misleading.
62 Now the next day that followed, the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
Mathew is testifying that the day after they placed Yahshua in the tomb was the “day of preparation”. And that indeed was the day they went to Pilate requesting guards. If he is talking about the day “that followed the day of preparation”, why not call it sabbath?
Focusing on Mark:
42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,
I will slightly re-write this so that Mark and Mathew do not get into an argument.
42 And now when the even was come, Because the next day is the preparation, that is, the day before the (weekly) sabbath,
Mark even clarified which day “preparation” refers to. And the only sabbath ahead of this moment is the weekly sabbath.
Focusing on Luke:
54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. 55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
Luke recognizes that this day when Yahshua was on the cross and then laid in the tomb was indeed a sabbath. He tends to mention the next daylight day before it has begun. And Luke is consistent in that speech pattern. Remember Luke 24:1 “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.”
So that Mark and Matthew do not start yelling at Luke, I will re-write this verse very slightly
54 And the following day being preparation day, the High sabbath drew on.
Focusing on John:
We should assume that every mention of “preparation day” within John chapter 19 is referring to the same day. John mentioning it three times emphasizes how much that day is compelling the actions of Pilate and Joseph and the women that night - even on the high sabbath there was work to be done. It is lawful to do necessary works, which fall into a category of good works which Yahshua regularly did on sabbaths. But John finds it necessary to reference the Jews’ preparation day forcing them to get things done that night. This is John’s style of writing. And verse 31 is the best one to look for clarity.
31 “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.”
So that Matthew, Mark and Luke don’t pile-on and shout down at John, I will very slightly re-write this verse.
31 “Therefor, because of the Jews’ preparation day ordinances tomorrow, and that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for this sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.”
14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!
42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.
In John’s gospel, he uses the word passover not only to refer to the night of the passover feast but also to encompass the whole 7 day feast. When he says “the preparation of the passover” we must remember that he called the dinner from the night before “passover” in chapter 13. So he cannot now be talking about the preparation of that dinner. Also notice that he associates this preparation with the Jews. So in order to hear John’s testimony as he intends it, we have to recognize that each and EVERY time he mentioned the “preparation” of the passover, he was talking about the sixth day of the week within the 7-day passover feast.
By applying logos (the Word’s logic) we can understand John’s testimony. And for clarity, now we can fix these verses as well.
Pilate is hoping to release Yahshua...
14 And knowing the Jews’ preparation day is tomorrow (and that their own ordinances require them to be busy with other things that day, while today they should be resting), and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!
Verse 42 does not need amplification because John is simply recognizing that the nearby tomb allowed them to finish necessary works on the high sabbath before the Jews’ preparation day.