Tracing Holy Week: Thursday Evening, After Midnight

Here are the Bible passages for this moment in history: Matthew 26.47-56; Luke 22.47-53; Mark 14.43-52; John 18.1-11; and then John 18.13-14; 19-24; and then Matthew 26.57-68; Mark 14.53-65; Luke 22.54, 63-65; and finally Matthew 26.69-75; Mark 14.66-72; Luke 22.55-62; John 18.15-18, 25-27. You can read all of the Holy Week portions of the Bible in this document, Tracing Holy Week Through Scripture.

“After midnight.” The phrase itself is ominous. 

In Jewish reckoning “after midnight” means far less. The next day doesn’t begin at midnight. The next day began hours ago. At sunset. In most of the contemporary world staying up beyond midnight means staying up right into the next day, which is somehow wrong or inappropriate or disruptive to the chronological cycle of life. To say that you could not get to sleep until “after midnight,” elicits pity. To have been out “after midnight” elicits suspicion.

But even in a Jewish setting of the first century, “after midnight” means something. Betrayal is dreadful, but strangely more dreadful “after midnight.” Somehow, worse. Ominous. And the same is true for an arrest. Just, worse.

And the same is true for a trial “after midnight.” It’s worse. But there’s something else about a trial “after midnight.” It’s illegal.

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