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On what day was Jesus crucified?

Every year as we make our way toward Easter many people wonder what day of the week Jesus actually died on. The reason being is that Jesus said that He would spend three days & three nights in the grave before rising (Matt. 12:40) but we celebrate His crucifixion on Friday and His resurrection on Sunday, which adds up to only 1 and 1/2 days.

People who support the view that says Jesus was crucified on Friday cite Mark 15:42 which says that Jesus was crucified on "the day before the Sabbath," and the Jewish Sabbath has always been on Saturday. But this still leaves the problem of Jesus saying He would spend 3 days and 3 nights in the grave. The key to understanding what day Jesus was crucified on is to understand that "High Holy Days" were considered Sabbath days also.

John 19:31 tells us that Jesus was crucified on the day leading up to Passover which was a "High Holy Day (Sabbath)." Based on the 3 days and 3 nights time table that Jesus gave us we can calculate that Jesus died on Wednesday evening leading into Passover which fell on Thursday that year. This would mean that Jesus was crucified the day before the Sabbath of that year's Passover. He spent Wednesday night Thursday day- Thursday night Friday day- Friday night and Saturday day- in the grave rising on Saturday evening (3 days and 3 nights). Thus, the women who visited the tomb on Sunday morning found the tomb empty.

Scripture further substantiates this timeline in Mark 16:1 which tells us that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices for Jesus body after the "Sabbath" and then in Luke 23:56 it says that after they returned from preparing the spices they rested on the Sabbath. Therefore, the only way for it to be possible for the women to purchase spices after the Sabbath AND rest on the Sabbath afterward is if there were two Sabbaths that week. The first being the Passover Sabbath on Thursday, the second being the weekly Sabbath on Saturday. So the women would have most likely purchased the spices on Friday.

As you can see this timeline fits very well with the Biblical events which are mentioned surrounding the days during which Jesus was crucified, buried, and risen from the dead. Tradition has dictated that we celebrate the 3 day timeline from Friday to Sunday instead of Wednesday to Sunday. This does not mean that we should disengage in celebrating Easter the way our modern culture does. In the grand scheme of things it makes little difference as to which timeline you subscribe to. I hope this article has shed some light on this perplexing question that many have wondered about. God bless and happy resurrection day!(see below for a chart that illustrates this timeline)



Photo credit: http://www.rapturechrist.com/twosabbaths.htm

Written by: Kyle Bailey, M.Th.

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