Tradition says this day was the date not only of Jesus’ death, but of countless other biblical events.
While Christians everywhere relive the passion and death of Jesus Christ on the moveable celebration of Good Friday each year, it is easy to forget that Jesus died on a specific historical day.
Some theologians believe the date that Jesus died was on April 3, 33. This corresponds to historical data that a lunar eclipse occurred on that day. According to the Star of Bethlehem website, “only one Passover lunar eclipse was visible from Jerusalem while Pilate was in office. It occurred on April 3, 33 AD.”
However, medieval traditions tell a different story. Christians of ages past believed Jesus died on March 25 and ascribed a number of other important events to that day.
March 25 was thought to be both the day of the creation of Adam and Eve as well as the day of their disobedience in the Garden. It was also counted as the day when Lucifer fell from Heaven and when the Israelite people passed through the Red Sea to begin their journey to the promised land.
Not surprisingly, tradition claims that it was also the day when Isaac was to be offered as a sacrifice by his father Abraham.
It doesn’t stop there.
The Church continues to celebrate March 25 as the day when the archangel Gabriel visited the Blessed Virgin Mary and announced to her the news that she would bear the Son of God. (This year, the liturgical celebration of this feast, which is outranked by Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Easter, and the Octave of Easter, is postponed to April 9.)
Why would Christians place all of these significant events on the same day?
While it is highly unlikely that these events all occurred on the same day, Christians wanted to emphasize the deep spiritual connectionsamong them all. This is probably best summarized by St. Irenaeus of Lyons when he wrote, “it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith.”
It clearly shows how Jesus came to bring about a new creation and to undo the disobedience of Adam and Eve with total and unwavering obedience. The alignment of events remind us that Jesus came to defeat sin and death, and open up the gates of heaven to a new Promised Land. On this day Jesus became the true Lamb of God, who willingly sacrifice himself on the wood of the cross. It was the day that Jesus came into the world in the womb of Mary and the day when Jesus left this world to the womb of the tomb.
The spiritual symbolism of this day connects everything in salvation history, showing the wondrous providence of God.
March 25 may not have been the historical day of the crucifixion orof any of these other events, but the connections among them all is real and profound to contemplate.