I had to revisit this question.
Like so many of you, the Friday crucifixion and Jesus’ statement of “Three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” had me in knots to arrive on Sunday. Early in my Christian walk, I had come to accept an explanation for Friday using a global depiction of days and nights. On closer examination though, the multiple sabbaths and other details in the scriptures just didn’t add up.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before taking the dive into the study:
- For the Jew, a day started at sundown and ended at the next sundown – pretty hard for us to digest, but it’s found in ” God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. ” Genesis 1:5. The different gospels do mix the Jewish system of day (Sunset – Day starts) and the gentile system (Sunrise – Day starts) as and when required. Now to this, add the existence of multiple Sabbaths (Details below) and you can see how a careful, prayerful study was required to find the time of Jesus crucifixion.
- Friday being the day of crucifixion is an extremely weak argument. Some argue for Thursday, and others Wednesday. The Friday narrative is a strong catholic tradition and many scholars have backed it (Subsequently it is also ingrained in world tradition)
- The day we celebrate as Good Friday can remain so because “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God” Romans 14:5-6. It doesn’t have to be an issue like the 25th of December (not really Christ’s birth date). The purpose of this study is to show there is no contradiction in scripture, not to bash people or traditions. Also, the scriptures are so precise about the time of Christ’s death and the Passover lamb being slain! Centuries before the event, God prophesied His Son’s death and who would slay Him. Mind-boggling.
- I truly wish our Christian forefathers did a more thorough study on this before making Friday official. The scriptures are clear, but they must be studied with an openness to the Jewishness of Christ and also placing the gospels side by side. Such things underline the importance of serious bible study in a Christian’s life.
- Thankfully we are all right on Resurrection Sunday! Praise God!
So let’s get into it.
Here is some information that applies to both Wednesday and Thursday propositions, put really well (by Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope Jesus, a proponent of a Thursday crucifixion) to start you off:
A Weak Friday
The biblical evidence for a Friday crucifixion is very weak. The primary support for it comes from this verse: Mark 15:42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath…
Remember that the Jewish day began with the evening hours (at nightfall) and lasted until the end of the daylight hours (signified by nightfall of the next day). Therefore, the Jews weekly Sabbath began at nightfall on Saturday (which we would consider Friday night) and lasted until the end of the daytime hours on Saturday (which the Jews would consider the beginning of Sunday). It’s important to understand that their day was marked by “evening and morning” just as God declared it in creation (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23 31).
Every weekly Sabbath had a day of preparation on the preceding day. It was a day to prepare for the coming Sabbath so no work would be done on that day. Mark 15:42 tells us that Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath. The church has assumed that to be Friday afternoon, which would have proceeded the weekly Saturday Sabbath. But is that correct?
Additional Sabbath Days There are a number of other Sabbaths in addition to the weekly Sabbath. The word “sabbath” means rest and God declared rest for His people with weekly Sabbaths and additional Holy Days of Convocation. Collectively, these Sabbaths are called “seasons” (Gen 1:14) or God’s appointed times (Leviticus 23:2), and they include:
Weekly Sabbaths: 52
Days of Passover: 7
Shavout, Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) 1
Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets) 1
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) 1
Days of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) 1
Shimini Atzeret (8th Day of Assembly) 1
= 70 Sabbaths
The early church considered the reference to the Sabbath in Mark 15:42 to mean the weekly Sabbath. Since Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation, they assumed it to have taken place on Friday afternoon. The error in this logic is that the Sabbath referred to in Mark 15 is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, one the seven Holy Days of Passover.
The Passover Sabbath
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is also known as the Feast of the Passover, which was celebrated in remembrance of the Israelites being delivered from Egyptian bondage. This feast is set on Nisan 15 (Leviticus 23:6), which could fall on any day of the week. This feast day is a High Sabbath (a day of rest), also called a High Day and it was preceded by a day of preparation.
John 19:31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
John 19:31 tells that Jesus was crucified on the Preparation Day before the High Day Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This places the date of Jesus’ crucifixion on Nisan 14. Since the Passover feast is set according to the calendar (unlike the weekly Sabbath that is set according to the day) the question becomes, on what day of the week was the feast day that year?
The above in italics is taken from – https://reasonsforhopejesus.com/crucified/
An audiovisual presentation works wonders for a subject like this. Here are two brilliant presentations on the Wednesday Crucifixion. The first one is simpler than the second one and is a must-watch before attempting the exhaustive second one. The second also delves into the issue of the Lord’s Supper. Watch these videos several times if you must – take notes, it will help you grasp the weight of prophecy concerning Christ in the Old Testament.
Now the second video, special mention to the creators of this one – kudos! this is a whole lot of work.
After watching these videos enough times, I encourage you to go back to the Thursday proposal on the website I shared earlier and try to see that viewpoint too.
In the duration of this study, I also came across some that claim Christ’s ordeal of being taken from court to court and imprisonment/torture started from Monday night till the Wednesday crucifixion. I don’t think that can be thoroughly proved or is needed. If you are wondering why I am not including videos or write-ups from Friday proponents, it’s cause they get mentioned in the above-quoted website.
Here is the result of my work, studying this topic – hope it helps make things clearer. You may have to save the image and zoom in to look at it closer.
So was it Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday?
For me, the scales are in favor of Wednesday.
Be encouraged to study this on your own, in-depth. How the times, the epochs, the seasons, the Passovers, the covenants, the promises, the cultures, the nations, and creation itself came to that summit of salvation! It will only leave you in awe of the great I AM. He is indeed Alpha and Omega – the Beginning and the End – the Lord of time, space, and all created things. Unsearchable is His wisdom.
May every day of our lives be a reminder of the work of the cross. It is the greatest week, and the greatest work, the universe has ever seen. That unspeakable, unfathomable mystery. The beauty of Jesus Christ – Meekness and Majesty.
It is a subject of wonder, worship, and surrender. I pray it will be for you too.
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons
For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
P.S: This same One said He would come again in the clouds of glory… I wouldn’t bet against Him…
But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”
BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”