Did Jesus die on Good Friday?
By Tom Brown
It’s not necessary to know the exact day Jesus died in order to be saved;
you just need to believe that He died for your sins. Knowing the day of His
death is interesting, but not essential. There have been a few people who
have doubted the veracity of the Bible because they misunderstand the
prophecy of Christ, “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” (Matt 12:40). They say you cannot get 3 days
and 3 night from a Friday crucifixion. However, the term, three days and
three nights is a colloquial phrase meaning three days. It does not
literally mean three full days and three full nights.
have a problem with another prophecy that says that Christ would rise "ON"
the third day. Consider the many passages that affirm Him rising on the
- "They will mock him, insult him, spit on him,
flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again." (Luke
- 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the
hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again'"
- "They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but
God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen."
And to confirm
that Jesus rose, not "after" the third day, but "on" the third day, Jesus
appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and while they did not
recognize Him as first, they told Him, "And what is more, it is the third
day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us.
They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find his body" (Luke
24:21-23). Notice, that on Sunday, while the two disciples were talking to
Jesus, they mentioned that today was "the third day" since all of
this had taken place.
You don't need
a calculator to calculate three days. The only way to get three days to
Sunday is to begin on Friday. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Three days!
that in order to count a day, you must have a full 24 hour day. That is
ridiculous, nor does this even make sense in our modern vernacular. For
example, if I told you that I spent the day with a friend, do you assume
that I spent 24 hours or at least 12 hours of the full day, beginning when
the sun came up to the time when the sun went down? No! You understand by my
language that I only meant that I spent some part of my day with him.
The same is
true of the term three days and three nights. It does not mean you must
calculate 24 hours times 3 days, thus 72 hours. That would not even make
sense, since Jesus died at three in the afternoon and rose in the morning on
Sunday. You cannot get an exact 72 hours from those times.
The “date” of
the Passover was always fixed; it was the fourteenth day of their first
month (see Leviticus 23:5-6 and Exodus 12:6).
"The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first
month. On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD's Feast of Unleavened
Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the
first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.
(Lev 23:5-7). The Jewish calendar originally consisted of twelve
months at 28 days for each month. So this meant that the Passover would
always land on the same day, however, the Jews adopted the Julian calendar
which consisted of 29 to 30 days in a month. This was the calendar used
during Jesus era; therefore the Passover was a “floating day”, which meant
it could land on any “day” of the week.
Christmas is a floating day, it is always on the 25th day of
December, and so it can float and land on any day of the week. This was the
case of the Passover. Remember that Jews begin the Sabbath on Friday evening
when the sun sets. For Jews, it becomes Saturday evening, even though for
others it is still Friday.
If the Jews
went by their calendar, it's simple. Jesus died on Friday, since the
Passover would always be on Saturday. The Bible is clear that Jesus died the
day before the Passover. However, a floating day makes it more difficult to
pinpoint the day of Jesus death, since the Passover could have occurred on
any floating day. Although in this case, the Bible actually says the
Passover landed on the Sabbath.. "It was Preparation Day
(that is, the day before the Sabbath)" (Mark
15:42). So it was not simply Preparation Day for the Passover, but Passover
landed on the Sabbath that year. Here is another proof.
“Now it was the day of Preparation, and
the next day was to be a special Sabbath” (John 19:31). Since the
Passover landed on the Sabbath that year, it was considered a special or
high Sabbath. It was very special to the Jews to have their Passover land on
the Sabbath day, so they considered it a special Sabbath.
argue that Passover was also a Sabbath because people had to rest on the
Passover. That is true, they were to "do no regular work." So let us
then turn to the Julian Calendar that will shed more light on the day of
We know from
the facts of the Bible that Jesus died during the rule of Pontius Pilate who
was the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea from
AD 26–36. Here are the only evenings that Passover could have taken
place during those years: (Click
here to see Julian Calendar)
Monday, April 18,
Friday, April 7, A.D. 30
Tuesday, March 27,
Monday, April 14,
Friday, April 3, A.D. 33
24, A.D. 34
Tuesday, April 12,
Saturday, March 31, A.D. 36
All days, but
the two Fridays must be ruled out.
Nearly every article that disputes Friday as the day of Christ
death, will then argue that Jesus died on Wednesday, either AD 29 or AD 34.
The reason they do so is, in their view, the three days and nights must be
at least 72 hours. However, there is no prophecy of scripture that says
after 72 hours Jesus would rise again. As we mentioned before it was common
practice in those days, as well as today, to consider any “part” of the day
to be “a day”.
This would mean that if Jesus died on Wednesday, He would have
been in the tomb for four days and four nights. This would contradict
scripture, plus it would pose some real problem for those who believe that
Jesus died on Wednesday.
The scriptures tell us that the women prepared spices to anoint
Jesus’ body on Sunday. "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 24:1). They could not do it earlier because they had to rest on the
Sabbath. This is the big problem with the Wednesday theory: If Jesus had
died on Wednesday, the Passover would have been on Thursday, however, the
next day would be Friday, and thus the Sabbath would have ended. The women
would have been able to anointed Jesus body on Friday. So if that was the
case, why did they wait until Sunday to do it, when Friday would have been a
much better day? Do you see the problem with this view?
Some in order to justify this sloppy conclusion argue that it
took the women a full day to buy and prepare the spices, and by the time
they were done, it was Saturday again and thus the regular Sabbath began.
This argument is really stretching one’s rationality. There is no way it
would take more than 24 hours to buy and prepare the spices, because the
Jews always buried their dead within one day, so they were accustomed to
preparing spices for the deceased within a day. Besides that if they had
waited 72 hours before coming to the tomb then decomposition would have
begun and according to scriptures this could not happen. "Because you
will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay"
(see Acts 2:27). God promised the resurrection before decomposition. You
might remember that "Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days"
(John 11:17). Decomposition had begun because Martha, his sister, said,
“By this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
In the end, I see three major problems to the theory of
Wednesday being the day of Jesus death:
1. If Jesus died on Wednesday, then Jesus would have been in the
tomb for four days and four nights. He would have theoretically risen "on"
the fifth day:
2. If Jesus died on Wednesday, then the women would have gone to
the tomb on Friday.
3. If Jesus died on Wednesday, then more than 72 hours would
have elapsed which would have caused Jesus body to “see decay”.
Friday only Day Left
That leaves us
only with two possible dates where Friday evening begins the Passover: AD 30
or AD 33. Something very interesting took place on AD 33. There was a red,
blood moon on Passover that year.1 A blood moon is when the moon
looks red as a result of a lunar eclipse. Not only was there a blood moon on
that Passover, but in the previous year of AD 32 there were two total lunar
eclipse landing on Passover and Tabernacles. In addition to these blood
moons, there was a total eclipse two weeks before Jesus was crucified.2
This might be
the reason that Peter, in his first sermon on the Day of Pentecost, mentions
the sun being darkened and the moon turning into blood: "The sun will be
turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and
glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
will be saved'" (Acts 2:20-21). It seems quite probable that Peter
would mentioned these two signs to the Jewish leaders since they could
easily remember them happening recently.
Friday, April 3, AD 33 fits perfectly the day of Jesus' death.
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