By comparing these four accounts (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1), it is evident that Mary Magdalene and the other women arrived at the tomb early in the morning on Sunday morning, while it was still dark. When they arrived, they saw that the stone had already been rolled back. None of these verses specify when Christ arose from the dead, but we do know that He left the tomb before the women arrived. It is plain that the women arrived early in the morning on the first day of the week, and first saw the resurrected Christ at that time. But these accounts do not say that was when Christ arose.
Matthew 28:1 and Mark 16:1-2 also reiterate that the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week.
David C. Grabbe
Mary Magdalene arrives at the grave early on the first day of the week while it was still dark—and Jesus has already been resurrected! So much for Easter sunrise services! Even if one thought Christ rose at dawn on Sunday, counting back 72 hours (three full days and three full nights) brings one to dawn on Thursday, and God's Word explicitly says that Christ was buried at sunset!
Yes, Jesus rose from the grave, but not on Sunday, the day traditional Christians call "the Lord's day." If He did, He could not be our Savior because He would have failed to fulfill the one sign of His Messiahship: three days and three nights in the tomb. Jesus rose on the day of which He says He is Lord: the true seventh-day Sabbath (Mark 2:28).
Was Jesus Resurrected on Easter Sunday?
It is not surprising to find no reference to Jesus or the early church involved in the wavesheaf ritual. However, they were very much aware of it, and it clearly shows in the accounts of Jesus' resurrection. In almost all translations, John 20:1 is rendered, "On the first day of the week. . . ." In Greek, this phrase is te mia ton sabbaton. Sabbaton can be used in a singular or plural sense to designate "Sabbath" or "Sabbaths" or "week" or "weeks."
Notice what Bullinger in the Companion Bible says about this Greek phrase:
The first day of the week = "On the first (day) of the Sabbaths" (pl.). Gk—Te mia ton sabbaton. The word "day" is rightly supplied, as mia is feminine, and so must agree with a feminine noun understood, while sabbaton is neuter. Luke 24:1 has the same. Matthew reads, "towards dawn on the first (day) of the Sabbaths," and Mark (16:2), "very early on the first (day) of the Sabbaths."
Our understanding of the importance of the wavesheaf in relation to both Christ's acceptance and the count to Pentecost should lead us to see that the gospel writers were establishing the exact day of Christ's acceptance. This day was the first day in the count to Pentecost since He was not only the wavesheaf offering, but He was also the beginning of the spiritual harvest.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing John 20:1: