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Was the Lord crucified on a Friday?

by John Accomando

by External Author
An interesting study showing a Wednesday crucifixion, and Saturday evening resurrection. Hermeneutically, Friday is ruled out as the day of the crucifixion based on what the Lord said:
Matthew 12:40- “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS in the heart of the earth.”
A Friday crucifixion would mean only two nights in the grave, at best, so Friday is ruled out. The catholic church likely thought it was on Friday (“Good Friday”) based on the following verses:
Mark 15:42-46: “And now when the even was come, because it was the PREPARATION, that is, THE DAY BEFORE THE SABBATH, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.”
As the normal Sabbath is Saturday, these verses suggest that the crucifixion/death of Christ were on Friday, but the RCC apparently didn’t realize something about Judaism, namely the “High Sabbaths”, which occur on certain feast days. The following article (provided by Angie Deseno O’Hara) explains it very well:
HOW COULD WEDNESDAY BE THE DAY BEFORE THE SABBATH?
But if He was crucified the day before the Sabbath, how could He have been crucified on Wednesday? The answer lies in the fact that the Jews celebrated more Sabbaths than just the weekly Sabbath. They had a number of feast days that were “High Sabbaths,” or high days. He arose on the first day of the week after the Sabbaths* (plural). Sometime after 6 p.m. Saturday, end of the Jewish day, in Matthew 28:1 we read; “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.”
The Scofield Reference Bible (1917 ed.) has a center column note which reveals that “Sabbath” in this verse is plural; from the Greek word “sabbata.” (Also in Young’s Analytical Concordance) The day after the crucifixion was not the regular (Saturday) Sabbath but a Special (“High” – Greek, “megas”, large) Sabbath.
John 19:31 states, “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.”
The Jews observed several “high” Sabbaths (“holy convocations”) in their seasons. Leviticus 23:3-6; “Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.”
The first Jewish month (Nisan or Abib) is our April. The Feast of the Passover (a high Sabbath) and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (another high Sabbath) were celebrated on April 14th and 15th respectively.
The day Jesus died was the preparation day (Wednesday) of the Passover celebration on Thursday (John 19:14, 31: “And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he (meaning Pilate) saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!” This was the morning of the crucifixion day. Verse 31 states, “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.”
Therefore, Passover (Nisan 14) was on Thursday, that year, the Feast of Unleavened Bread began on Friday (seven day feast last to Nisan 21), and the regular weekday Sabbath was on Saturday. Jesus was crucified in the morning on Wednesday and placed in the tomb before 6 P.M. He arose from the grave sometime after 6 P.M. on Saturday, which would be early Sunday morning, the first day of the week, according to Jewish time-keeping. This explanation fits Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 12:40 that He would be “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
FURTHER EVIDENCE FROM THE BIBLE:
The women purchased spices “after the Sabbath” or the Passover (Nisan 14 – Thursday) which would have been Friday as Mark 15:42 and Luke 23:52-54 state. They would not have broken the Law and purchased anything on the Day of the Passover, or the regular Sabbath on Saturday. Luke 23:56 says they returned and prepared the spices and “rested on the Sabbath” which was the regular Sabbath on Saturday. Then on the first day of the week, Sunday morning they went to the tomb to prepare the body.
A POINT OF CONJECTURE
If Jesus was born in 5 BC (The Bible Almanac, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980) and if He died about at 33 years of age, that would fix his death around 29 AD. The first Roman calendar was off four (4) years. Today’s calendar is a product of the Julian & Gregorian calendars. There was a 1 BC and a 1 AD but there was no “0” between BC and AD. Counting 33 years forward from His birth in 5 BC would fix his death in 29 AD.
Herod the Great, who ordered the murder of all the babies less that two years old in Bethlehem, died in 4 BC. Therefore Jesus had to be born prior to his death and therefore Jesus probably was born in 5 BC or earlier. (Matt. 2:13-16)
Those special Sabbaths, Feast of the Passover and Feast of the Unleavened Bread, occurred on the 14th and 15th of the first month of the Jewish calendar (about our April). Leviticus 23:5, 6 states, “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.”
According to Encyclopedia Britannica the 14th day of Nisan ( also called Abar “green ears of corn”) (Easter 3:7), corresponding to parts of March and April in the year of Christ’s crucifixion was the same as our April 7 on our calendar. ( Julian and Gregorian calendars) The Perpetual Calendar [also from Encyclopedia Britannica] shows that the 14th day of Nisan, 29 AD (Passover), fell on Thursday. Hence, it would be followed by the Feast of the Unleavened Bread on the 15th (Friday), and the regular weekday Sabbath (Saturday). Jesus would have therefore been crucified on Wednesday the 13th. (Information sources were many, including commentaries of the late Evangelist Dr. Oliver B. Greene; Dakes’s Annotated Reference Bible, and the article “Sabbaths All In A Row” by Maret H. Dinsmore, Litt. D., Th.D., in The Biblical Evangelist, Vol. 18, No. 8, April 13, 1984, along with research by this writer.)
Passover was on 14th day of the first month of the Jewish calendar, or Nisan (Abib) 14th no matter what day in the week it fell on as the follow passages attest:
Exodus 23:15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:)
Exodus 34:18 The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.
Deuteronomy 16:1 Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.
Leviticus 23:5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S Passover.
Numbers 9:5 And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.
Numbers 28:16 And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the LORD.
Joshua 5:10 And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho.
2 Chronicles 35:1 Moreover Josiah kept a Passover unto the LORD in Jerusalem: and they killed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.
CONCLUSION:
This is the only view that fits the biblical account is that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday and buried before 6:00 PM that day. The Jewish day began at 6:00 PM which was the Passover (Nisan 14). Therefore the Passover began on Wednesday after 6:00 PM which would actually be Thursday in the Julian calendar. The women bought the spices on Friday, rested on Saturday and went on Sunday morning after 6:00 AM and found the Lord was resurrected. This is the series of events and is accord with Jesus’ states of Matthew 12:38-40. Jesus was in the grave three full days and three nights. Any other view violates the biblical account and the historical facts.
(This article is based on one by Grady Daniel, but has been edited and additional added material by Cooper Abrams)].
Thanks to Angie DeSeno O’Hara.
One final note.
(KJV) Mark 16:9- “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.”
Some would argue that this means a Sunday morning (after 12 A.M., by our timekeeping) resurrection, but it’s important to keep in mind that there was no punctuation in koine Greek. That was added later, sometimes arbitrarily, by translators. So the verse could just as easily read as such (and is the rendering in a few translations):
Mark 16:9- “Now when Jesus was risen, early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.”
This rendering (with the comma after “risen”) doesn’t necessarily give the day of His resurrection. It only says that He appeared to Mary Magdalene on the first day of the week (Sunday). If He was resurrected Saturday evening, that rendering would be grammatically and contextually correct. Not having a comma after “risen”, however, forces a Sunday resurrection. Again, there was no punctuation in the Greek manuscripts. That was added later by English translators.
Remember, Mary arrived at the tomb while it was still dark, and the tomb was already empty:
John 20:1- “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, WHEN IT WAS YET DARK, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.”
All of that being said, it doesn’t really matter, because even with the KJV rendering, a Saturday evening resurrection is still possible. Why? Because in Judaism, the day begins after sunset the day before (NOT at midnight). This can be easily seen in the creation account:
Genesis 1:5- “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. AND THE EVENING AND THE MORNING WERE THE FIRST DAY.”
So the first day of the week (Sunday) would have actually began after sunset on Saturday anyway, so there is no conflict with Mark 16:9.
I think we can all agree that the most important point is: Jesus Christ was, in fact, resurrected, and is cause for celebration! He’ll be back soon!
Grace to you,
John

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