On what day was Jesus crucified?
Question: "On what day was Jesus crucified?"
The Bible does not specifically state which day of the week Jesus was
crucified. The two most widely held views are Friday and Wednesday.
Some, however, using a synthesis of both the Friday and Wednesday
arguments, accept Thursday as the day.
Jesus said in Matthew 12:40, "For as Jonah was three days and three
nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three
days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Those who argue for a
Friday crucifixion say that there is still a valid way in which He could
have been considered in the grave for three days. In the Jewish mind of
the First Century, a part of day was considered as a full day. Since
Jesus was in the grave for part of Friday, all of Saturday, and part of
Sunday—He could be considered to have been in the grave for three days.
One of the principal arguments for Friday is found in Mark 15:42 that
notes that Jesus was crucified "the day before the Sabbath." If that was
the weekly Sabbath, i.e. Saturday, then that fact leads to a Friday
crucifixion. Another argument for Friday says that verses such as
Matthew 16:21 and Luke 9:22 teach that Jesus would rise on the third
day; therefore, He wouldn't need to be in the grave a full three days
and nights. But while some translations use "on the third day" for these
verses, not all do and not everyone agrees that that is the best way to
translate these verses. Furthermore, Mark 8:31 says that Jesus will be
raised "after" three days.
The Thursday argument expands on the Friday view and argues mainly that
there are too many events (some count as many as twenty) happening
between Christ's burial and Sunday morning to occur from Friday evening
to Sunday morning. They point out that this is especially a problem when
the only full day between Friday and Sunday was Saturday, the Jewish
Sabbath. An extra day or two eliminates that problem. The Thursday
advocates could reason: Suppose you haven't seen a friend since Monday
evening. The next time you see him it is Thursday morning and you say,
“I haven’t seen you in three days” even though it had technically only
been 60 hours (2.5 days). If Jesus was crucified on Thursday, this
example shows how it could be considered three days.
The Wednesday opinion states that there were two Sabbaths that week.
After the first one (the one that occurred on the evening of the
crucifixion, Mark 15:42; Luke 23:52-54), the women purchased
spices--note that they made their purchase after the Sabbath (Mark
16:1). The Wednesday view holds that this "Sabbath" was the Passover
(see Lev 16:29-31; 23:24-32, 39 where high holy days that are not
necessarily the seventh day of the week are referred to as the Sabbath).
The second Sabbath that week was the normal weekly Saturday. Note that
in Luke 23:56, the women who had purchased spices after the first
Sabbath, returned and prepared the spices then "rested on the Sabbath"
(Luke 23:56). The argument states that they could not purchase the
spices after the Sabbath, yet prepare those spices before the
Sabbath—unless there were two Sabbaths. With the two-Sabbath view, if
Christ was crucified on Thursday, then the high holy Sabbath (the
Passover) would have begun Thursday at sundown and ended at Friday
sundown—at the beginning of the weekly Sabbath or Saturday. Purchasing
the spices after the first Sabbath (Passover) would have meant they
purchased them on Saturday and were breaking the Sabbath.
Therefore, this view states, the only explanation that does not violate
the biblical account of the women and the spices and holds to a literal
understanding of Matthew 12:40, is that Christ was crucified on
Wednesday. The Sabbath that was a high holy day (Passover) occurred on
Thursday, the women purchased spices (after that) on Friday and returned
and prepared the spices on the same day, they rested on Saturday which
was the weekly Sabbath, then brought the spices to the tomb early
Sunday. He was buried near sundown on Wednesday, which began Thursday in
the Jewish calendar. Using a Jewish calendar, you have Thursday night
(night one), Thursday day (day one), Friday night (night two), Friday
day (day two), Saturday night (night three), Saturday day (day three).
We don't know exactly when He rose, but we do know that it was before
sunrise on Sunday (John 20:1, Mary Magdalene came "while it was still
dark" and the stone was rolled away and she found Peter and told him
that "they have taken away the Lord out of the tomb"), so He could have
risen as early as just after sunset Saturday evening, which began the
first day of the week to the Jews.
A possible problem with the Wednesday view is that the disciples who
walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus did so on "the same day" of His
resurrection (Luke 24:13). The disciples, who do not recognize Jesus,
tell Him of Jesus' crucifixion (24:21) and say that "today is the third
day since these things happened" (24:22). Wednesday to Sunday is four
days. A possible explanation is that they may have been counting since
Wednesday evening at Christ's burial, which begins the Jewish Thursday,
and Thursday to Sunday could be counted as three days.
In the grand scheme of things, it is not all that important to know what
day of the week Christ was crucified. If it were very important, then
God's Word would have clearly communicated the day. What is important is
that He did die, and that He physically, bodily rose from the dead.
What is equally important is the reason He died—to take the punishment
that all sinners deserve. John 3:16 and 3:36 both proclaim that
believing, or putting your trust, in Him results in eternal life!
Is the resurrection of Jesus Christ true?
Where was Jesus for the three days between His death and resurrection?
Who was responsible for Christ's death?
Why did Jesus have to experience so much suffering?
How is Jesus Christ unique?
Questions about Jesus Christ
On what day was Jesus crucified?
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