The word “evening” ( opsios ) is used seven times in Matthew’s gospel. Before we look at the details, we suspect that seven evenings prepare for the dawning of a new day, an eighth day that is the beginning of a new week.
What are the seven evenings?
1. At evening, they bring Jesus demon-possessed and sick people to heal (8:16).
2. After Jesus has been teaching all day, evening comes and the people need food so he miraculously provides it (14:15).
3. After feeding the five thousand, Jesus sends the disciples across the sea (Passover-Exodus), while he stays alone to pray on a mountain during the evening (14:23). Later, he walks across the sea to the disciples.
4. Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and Sadducees for failing to see the signs of the times when they can discern the face of the evening sky (16:2).
5. In Jesus’ parable about the vineyard laborers, the lord calls them together at evening (20:8).6. Jesus gathers with the Twelve for an evening meal at Passover (26:20).
7. Joseph of Arimathea offers his tomb on the evening after Jesus’ crucifixion (27:57).
There are hints of an internal structure here. The first evening of healing matches the seventh evening when Jesus is buried, when He goes into the earth to triumph over death. The evening meal with teh 5000 (#2) clearly matches the Last Supper (#6).
We might also speculate on connections with the seven evenings of the original creation. The last two fit. Jesus as the true Adam enjoys a final meal with His disciples (= Bride) in an upper room, and Joseph comes forward to lay Jesus’ body to rest on a day before the Sabbath, on the evening that begins an actual Sabbath day. Perhaps evening #2 is a meal in the “firmament,” in the between-place of the desert, and on the third evening Jesus is on a mountain (= dry ground) before He walks across the water to His disciples.