The Friday Crucifixion
The Crucifixion of Jesus ranks as a top event in the history of Mankind. Was it Good Wednesday, Good Thursday, or Good Friday? The body of Christ would be a little stronger if we all observed the sign of Gods forgiveness on the same day.
But some of us get confused by another sign, the Sign of Jonah, and slide back to a Thursday or Wednesday Crucifixion. Tradition and scripture confirm that Jesus was crucified on Friday.
** Luke carefully investigated and presented an orderly account (Luke 1:3) of the events in the life of Jesus. He told us, The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. (Luke 23:44-24:1)
Jesus died and was laid in the tomb. The women went home and prepared spices and perfume before sunset. After the sun went down it was the next Jewish day, Sabbath night.
They then rested in obedience to the commandment, which was remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11, Deuteronomy 5:12-15) This is the Saturday Sabbath according to the Fourth Commandment. It was also a special Sabbath (John 19:31) or high day because Passover also fell on that Saturday.
What does Luke tell us immediately followed that Sabbath? The first day of the week, Sunday. Luke gives an orderly account and does not skip a day or two. He confirms that the Saturday Sabbath/Passover was immediately followed by Sunday. If we can literally believe Luke, there is no intervening Thursday or Friday.
** In response to the Pharisees request for a sign, Jesus said, For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40, NIV)
These words of Jesus are the heart of the misinterpretations that conclude with His death on Wednesday or Thursday. However, it also properly can mean Friday. In no interpretation is it literal.
First, the Sign of Jonah was Jesus public prediction of His death and resurrection. It was not a prediction of his burial and resurrection as claimed with a Wednesday crucifixion. Jesus died at the ninth hour of daylight, and the count begins then.
This is confirmed because Jesus was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits. (1 Peter 3:18-19) At the ninth hour Jesus was made alive in the Spirit and went into the Abyss to preach forgiveness to the wayward angels (that is another story). Jesus was not made alive in the Sprit hours later when He was buried. His Spirit was never extinguished.
Second, we must listen to the Egyptian. In Jonah we cannot tell when he was swallowed, in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, and then regurgitated (Jonah 1, 2). The only other place in the Bible where the phrase occurs was when David came to Ziklag on the third day (1 Samuel 30:1) and found it burnt with fire. An abandoned Egyptian had not eaten or drunk for three days and three nights. (30:12) The Egyptian confirmed he was deserted three days ago. (30:13). After comforting the Egyptian David and his men pursued the Amalekites and smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day. (30:17) It was during the daytime that the Egyptian used the phrase three days and three nights and three days ago at about the same time with the same meaning, part of a day being as the whole. Three days and three nights was not literal.
Third, three days and three night in sequence are always four days on the Jewish calendar which began the day at sunset. If the order is reversed to three nights and three days it is not literal.
Daylight 1 Day 1
Darkness 1 Day 2 (new day at sunset)
Daylight 2 Day 2
Darkness 2 Day 3 (new day at sunset)
Daylight 3 Day 3
Darkness 3 Day 4 (new day at sunset)
Fourth, the Jews counted any portion of a day as a whole day. The Talmud makes this clear. "A day and night are an Onah (time period) and the portion of an Onah is as the whole of it." (JT, Shabbat 9:3; BT, Pesahim 4a)
** Mary Magdalene and the other women prepared spices and perfume to anoint the body of Jesus. They went to the tomb early on the first day of the week, Sunday, and found the stone had been rolled away. That day had begun the prior sunset, and a miraculous event had occurred that Sunday night. The Son of God was resurrected, just as he had told his disciples, On the third day he will be raised to life! (Matthew 20:19)
Later that Sunday daytime on the Road to Emmaus we are told that since His crucifixion, it is the third day since all this took place. (Luke 24:21) If Sunday (a partial day) starting at sunset was the third day, then the second day was the Saturday Sabbath (a full day), then the first day was Friday (a partial day).
The women with the spices would not have come to the tomb on Sunday if it was the fourth or fifth day after Jesus had died. The fourth day was against Jewish custom, as suggested when Jesus asked the stone be rolled back so he could bring Lazarus to life. Martha warned Him, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." (John 11:39) The women with the spices went to the tomb because it was still the third day.
The women with the spices condemn the Wednesday crucifixion. In this scenario Jesus died and was buried on Wednesday, followed by a Thursday Passover. The next day, Friday, was a regular day for markets and labor. These fervent followers of Jesus, who knew Him personally, would have rushed to the tomb on that Friday to anoint His body. They would never have waited until the fifth Jewish day, the first day of the week.
** The Wednesday Crucifixion, layout and problems:
Day 0 Wednesday Jesus died at the ninth hour, buried at sunset.
Day 1 Thursday Passover night
Day 1 Thursday Passover day.
Day 2 Friday night.
Day 2 Friday day.
Day 3 Saturday Sabbath night.
Day 3 Saturday Sabbath day. Jesus resurrected just at sunset.
Day 4 Sunday night.
Day 4 Sunday day. Women come to tomb with spices.
1. Count should begin with death, not burial, Day 1, not Day 0. Jesus was alive in the Spirit at his death.
2. Burial presumed to be at sunset with any time before that not counted.
3. Sequence is not literal three days and three nights, but three nights and three days.
4. Women would have come to tomb on Friday to anoint Jesus body.
5. If Jesus was resurrected at sunset (or before) on Saturday, who rolled back the stone? The guards would have been awake with probably others also near the tomb during twilight and a full moon.
6. Women come to the tomb to anoint Jesus on Day 4 (really day 5) contrary to Jewish custom.
7. The scenario does not fit three Jewish days, as confirmed and reconfirmed in scripture.
** The Thursday Crucifixion, layout and problems:
Death and Burial. Counting of days now begins.
1. Congratulations here is the sequence of three days and three nights is in order.
2. Oops It uses the day beginning at midnight or sunrise instead of sunset. Thursday Day is followed by Friday Night (Passover), not Thursday night.
3. Saturday Night: Night 3 is really Sunday Night: Day 4, the the first day of the week.
4. The women with the spices still come during daylight on Day 4, contrary to Jewish custom.
5. The scenario does not fit three Jewish days, as confirmed and reconfirmed in scripture.
** The Friday Crucifixion, layout and lack of problems:
Day 1 Friday Day Death and burial.
Day 2 Saturday Night (Sabbath and Passover)
Day 2 Saturday Day (Sabbath and Passover)
Day 3 Sunday Night Resurrection, probably before sunrise.
Day 3 Sunday Day Women come to tomb, men speak to Jesus on Road to Emmaus.
1. Recognizes three days and three nights was a figure of speech for three Jewish days on the sunset calendar.
2. Reconciles all other scriptures, particularly the Sabbath after Jesus death being followed by the first day of the week.
3. Fits three Jewish days where part of a day or night is counted as a whole day.
4. The women with the spices came to the tomb on the third day.
Conclusion: Jesus was crucified, died, and buried on Good Friday. He was resurrected three Jewish days later on Easter Sunday. Friday, Saturday, Sunday - three days - simple and straightforward.
Postscript: You probably ended up on this webpage because you werent quite sure about a Wednesday or Thursday Crucifixion. If your church teaches these, and any of this makes sense, dont ignore it. Discuss it with your Elders, and let them provide the contrary scriptures. If you have a suggestion, yea or nay, please e-mail.
Last update: May 24, 2014