On What Day was Christ Crucified?

Jesus must be three days and three nights in the grave.

Mt. 12:40 For as Jonah 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.
Mk. 27:40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
Mk. 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes ,and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Mt. 27:63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. This is why the chief priests and Pharisees go to Pilate and ask for the tomb to be sealed and guarded.

This requires a full 72 hours in the grave. Scripture clearly says days and nights so there is no confusion. Anyway you try to calculate it, you cannot get three days and three nights from Friday to Sunday morning. God is orderly and plans all things down to minute details. There was an exact moment for Christ to die and another exact moment to rise again.

How the Jewish day is calculated. Days were counted from evening to evening, a 24 hour period. This is roughly from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 24 hours later. The precedent for it is in Genesis when God says “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Daylight hours in the Bible are divided into four divisions, beginning at sunrise and ending at sundown. The third hour is 9:00 a.m., the sixth hour is noon, the ninth hour is 3:00 p.m., and the twelfth is 6:00 p.m.

When Jesus was put on the cross. Christ was hung on the cross at about 9:00 a.m. as told by:

Mk. 15:25 And it was the third hour and they crucified him.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
Mt. 27:45 Then he cried out to the Father, they gave him vinegar on a sponge, and when he had cried again he yielded up the ghost (died-vs. 50).

Thus he died at 3 p.m. or shortly after. (Luke 23:44-46).

When Jesus arose from the dead. Mt. 28:1-6; Mk. 16:2-6; Lk 24:1-2, John 20:1,2 all tell us that early on the first day of the week, the disciples and the women came to the tomb and Christ had already risen. This does not mean that he rose on Sunday morning but that the tomb was already empty by then.

Mk. 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he cast seven devils.

The Greek word here rendered “was risen” is “anastas” and has the meaning of “having risen”– the past tense. From this we can count back three days and three nights and know that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday.

We know Christ was crucified on the day before the Sabbath.

Mk. 15: 42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counselor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.

There was haste to get the body into the tomb because the Sabbath was soon to begin and all work had to be finished. Mark goes on to say that Jesus was wrapped in fine linen and laid in the sepulcher which was nearby (Joseph of Arimethaea knew there would be a time crunch). It was hewn out of rock and a stone was rolled over the door. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were there to see where he was laid.

Confusion number one.

Luke 23: 55 . . .And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after [the burial] and beheld the sepulcher, and how the body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices, and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.

Mk. 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. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.

They find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. A young man sitting on the right side clothed in a long white garment tells them not to be afraid. Jesus had risen and they should go tell the other disciples.

These two passages seem contradictory but John 19:31 tells us there were two Sabbaths in this week.

The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

Their thought was to hasten the death and get the bodies down before Sabbath started because no work was allowed on the Sabbath day. They broke the legs of the other two but Jesus was already dead. They pierced his side to be sure and then the burial occurred.

Thus we see that the high Sabbath which was for Passover was to begin on Wednesday evening while the regular weekly Sabbath would start on Friday evening.

The one verse says that it was AFTER the Sabbath that the women bought spices; the other verse says they prepared the spices BEFORE the Sabbath. When we remember the two different Sabbaths, it all fits. Jesus was buried just before sundown on Wednesday; Thursday was the high day Sabbath; and “after” this Sabbath—on Friday—the women “bought” their spices and prepared them. After preparing them, they rested on the weekly Sabbath. Then going to the tomb on the first day of the week, they found it empty.

Confusion number two. According to common tradition of many churches, primarily the Roman Catholic church, many Bible readers are puzzled to know how the interval between late Friday afternoon and early Sunday morning can be figured out to be three days and three nights. The solution proposed by many commentators is that “a day and a night” is simply another way of saying “a day” and that the ancient Jews reckoned a fraction of a day as a whole day. This is nonsense. This is just man trying to make up his own excuse for a man made tradition. We know the Bible says the tomb was empty on Sunday morning so we just count back and know that the crucifixion was on Wednesday and the Passover high day Sabbath was on Thursday.

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