Jeff Bartell

A "bottom line" kind of guy

Good Friday or Bad Wednesday?

Typically people recognize Friday as the day of the week that Jesus was crucified.  We call it “Good Friday,” I guess because the result was good for us.  I imagine it wasn’t such a good day for Jesus.

Does the Bible give us enough information to confirm or deny which day of the week Jesus was crucified?  Does it really matter?  Ultimately, all that really matters is that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. (1Cor 15:3-4)  This is the gospel.  This is what we believe in order to be saved.

But if God does give us enough information to determine even the day of the week, then He must want us to know that.  Sure, it doesn’t affect your salvation, but if the information is available, don’t you want to get it right?  Let’s look at the key elements in determining when, exactly, Jesus was crucified.

Mark 16:2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

Clearly it was early Sunday morning that Mary Magdalene and Mary came to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus.  Saturday was the 7th day of the week.  It was the “day of rest” – the “Sabbath.”  By this time the tomb was found empty.

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.

Jesus had to be buried for a full 72 hours.  Often we hear of how the Jews counted a portion of a day as a full day and that is how they get the crucifixion of Friday.  History may teach that but the Bible does not.  The Bible clearly states that Jesus will be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth.  That would put his crucifixion back to (as late as) early Thursday morning or (as early as) Wednesday night.  Remember that the Jews began their day at 6:00 pm.  Their day begins with the evening.  Genesis 1:5 … And the evening and the morning were the first day.

The crucifixion came at the time of the Jewish Passover feast.  The Passover feast was always on the 14th day of the month “Nissan” – regardless of which day of the week it fell from year to year.  The Passover and all the major Jewish feasts were also “holy days.”  They were days of rest.  No “servile work” was to be performed on the feast days.  Therefore, the feast days were also considered “Sabbath” days.  (Ref: Lev. 23)  In fact, when Jesus was crucified, they needed to hurry and get his body down off the cross before this “special” Sabbath.  It was called a “high day.”  It was not a normal Saturday Sabbath.  (Ref:  John 19:31)  This would place the Passover Sabbath on a Thursday (actually beginning Wednesday at 6:00 pm)

Luke 23:44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

The 6th hour would refer to the 6th hour of the DAY.  The “day” begins at 6:00 am.  The 6th hour would be 12:00 noon.  That’s why it would have been so surprising for it to be dark from the 6th – 9th hour (12 noon – 3 pm).  That is when Jesus actually died and had to be removed from the cross before 6 pm, because at 6 pm the Passover Sabbath would begin.

Mark 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

The next day after the Passover Sabbath would be Friday.  This would be a normal day.  The two Marys would be able to go out and buy the sweet spices.  If Jesus was crucified on a Friday, then the ladies could not have bought the spices on the next day – Saturday – for that would be the weekly Sabbath and no one was to buy or sell on the Sabbath day.

Luke 23:55-56 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

So the women followed the parade of people ultimately to the tomb where he was laid.  Afterward, they returned home for the Passover Sabbath.  On Friday they would have gone out to buy the spices and then prepare them to anoint His body, but they would have had to rest on the weekly Saturday Sabbath according to the commandment.  So when early Sunday morning rolled around (anytime after 6:00 pm Saturday), they were then free to go back to the tomb for the first time.  By this time Jesus was already risen.  Exactly when Jesus arose prior to this we are not told, but to fulfill the 72 hours he could have risen around 3pm on Saturday – 3 hours prior to the women showing up at the tomb.

This explanation satisfies all of the scriptural record without having to change one word of scripture or redefine the meanings of words.  You can enjoy this Friday if you like (many get a day off from work!) – but it was not the day that Jesus was actually crucified.

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