While we remember Jesus’ crucifixion on the day we call Good Friday, there are many reasons why Friday was not likely the day of the week that the Lord was crucified. ( Read: Was Jesus crucified on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday? and
Thursday Crucifixion? Do these two reasons “nail” it?)
There are many who think the day of the crucifixion was a Wednesday. However, Jesus said that He would be “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12”40) and a Wednesday crucifixion would be four days and four nights. Additionally, a Wednesday crucifixion means Jesus would have traveled to Bethany on the Sabbath, breaking the Sabbath law of not walking more than a Sabbath’s day journey. And, a Wednesday crucifixion would mean Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Saturday (the day of the Sabbath).
The following is a discourse with a reader who had questions about a Thursday crucifixion.
The gospels do not explicitly tell us that Jesus resurrected on the first day of the week. However, it does tell that the tomb was found empty on the first day of the week. Just because it was found empty does not mean Jesus resurrected on the first day of the week. Is it possible that Jesus resurrected on the sabbath? Is it possible we also got the resurrection day wrong as well?
Reasons for Hope* Jesus:
While it is true that the Bible does not explicitly say that Jesus rose on Sunday, it can be proven that Sunday was the day on which He rose. Matthew tells that Jesus rose before sunrise on Sunday (the first day of the week).
Mat 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
To understand that the resurrection was on Sunday, must remember that a Jewish day began with sundown and ended with sunset. Therefore, the Lord’s resurrection was in the nighttime hours of Sunday (“as it began to dawn” Matt 28:1), which preceded the daytime hours (after dawn).
Without a Sunday resurrection, you can’t get three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Review our timeline of Holy Week: Jesus’ Last Days Timeline: the Cross and the Resurrection
The verse that makes me question a Thursday crucifixion, and therefore a Sunday resurrection is 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.” Is it likely that on Saturday night after the sabbath, shop owners would open up businesses to sell these items to the woman?
Reasons for Hope* Jesus:
The women would have bought the spices after Jesus died in the afternoon, and before sundown when the High Sabbath Day, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It was during that time that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea prepared the body for burial (with about 100 pounds of spices). Or they could have purchased them after the Sabbath ended during the nighttime hours of Sunday (preceding the daytime hours.]
If God in creation rested on the seventh day from all his work, is it possible Jesus followed that same pattern? Is it possible Jesus kept the sabbath in this way as he commanded us in the ancient scriptures?
This is a very nice thought, but there is too much Scripture that supports Jesus rising on the first day of the week.
The strongest support for a Thursday crucifixion is the Lord’s words. “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt 12:40) and with Thursday that count is exact — even by the order in which Jesus said it — days and nights, not nights and days. Proponents of a Wednesday crucifixion try to omit the day of Wednesday in their counting saying He was buried right at sunset. However Jesus’ said the Son of Man would be “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth,” and He was not talking about His physical body being in a tomb above the earth. Jesus was speaking of His soul being “in the heart of the earth” — in Abraham’s Bosom (Read: Where did OT Saints go at death? Abraham’s Bosom? Where was that?)
Thank you for your time. I really want to learn more and hope first and foremost that the Lord will guide me and teach me. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. May the Lord bless the ministry.
Reasons for Hope* Jesus:
You are welcome and thank you for the blessing. We hope this discussion helps in your study. Keep on studying and come to your own understanding. We both agree this is fun to study…but not necessary for salvation or for faith. For more in-depth information about why we hold to a Thursday crucifixion, read Was Jesus crucified on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday? and Thursday Crucifixion? Do these two reasons “nail” it?
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