Those who adamantly contend to a day other than Friday for the death of Christ are in error. They insist on the use of one Scripture, which when analyzed correctly, is actually more of an argument against their theory than a theory itself. Yes, it perhaps is one of the most controversial subjects in Scripture, but allow me to explain.
Daniel also prophesied that Jesus would die in 33 AD according to a study of his “weeks.” That’s all we need to say about that now, but it is important to know.
Jewish days went from about 6 pm to 6 pm. Nisan 14, 33 AD was a Saturday. Passover began at sundown the evening before, or Friday.
John 19:31 “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.”
So clearly, Jesus died just prior to the Sabbath, and it was also a Sabbath that was a “high day” of the Passover feast week. The high days in the Passover feast week, are the first and last days of the 7 Passover feast days of eating unleavened bread. They would kill the Passover lamb on the 14th day of Nisan, and the unleavened bread would be eaten from the 15th on for 7 days.
The Fast of the Firstborn
At the last supper, Jesus told them that he wanted to eat the Passover feast with them. Actually, He didn’t even eat the night before he died. Jesus handed them the bread at that last supper, but didn’t eat any of it himself. Jesus was the first born, and the first born would be fasting on the day the Passover lamb was sacrificed to commemorate the salvation of the firstborn. How ironic! Jesus was salvation!
The day the Passover meal was eaten would have been Thursday evening to Friday evening, and Jesus would have been fasting during that time. Friday afternoon when Jesus was crucified, it was just before the Passover feast’s first day, just before the evening of the Sabbath, when they would have all ate together later that night on the Sabbath… but by then Jesus was dead, dead before the start of the 1st day of the Passover feast, having died during the time of the lambs being sacrificed prior to the first day of the feast of unleavened bread.
Passover Preparation Confusion
In the translations of the verses, there are instances where it’s a little confusing concerning the days of the Passover. For example:
Matthew 26:17 “Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover?”
Obviously, the preparation for the Passover is BEFORE the Passover feast week. Typically it takes days or even weeks to clean the rooms. That verse should have been and can be translated as:
“Then to first honor the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to him, Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover feast?”
Again, that preparation could take days, where they’d first have to clean all traces of the leaven from the place they’d be having the Passover feast, and that cleaning is before the Passover started. So they were asking Jesus before the Passover, and NOT on the 1st day of Passover.
You can find confirmation of this in a prior verse:
Matthew 26:2 “Ye know that after two days, is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.”
In other words, Jesus just told them that in two days, the feast of the Passover would start, and the verses continue on where they then replied back to him “Where should we go prepare for the Passover feast?”. Obviously they weren’t asking him on the first day of the Passover feast week, but had to be asking him prior to the first day… that same 2 days before when Jesus said they needed to go to Jerusalem.
You can make a similar analysis of other similar verses such as Mark 14:12 and Luke 22:7-8.
THIRD DAY RISING EVIDENCE
Matthew 12:40 “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man beb three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
A logical person will ask the question, “How can Friday to Sunday be “three days and three nights” in the earth?
In the Jewish expression of Christ’s day and earlier, the phrase a “day and a night” could be used to refer to any portion of what we 21stcentury Americans think of as a 24-hour day. Examples of this are found in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
Consider Esther’s predicament. Knowing she and her Jewish people could be killed, she decided to approach the king and plead for the Jews. Before going, she wanted the spiritual support of her people. She asked Mordecai:
Ester 4:16-17 “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.”
You will notice she used the phrase “three days, night or day.” The story continues:
Esther 5:1 “Now it came to pass bon the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.”
She had asked others and also committed herself to fast for three days. But she did not fast for 72 hours, as we would assume is implied. Instead, she went before the king on the third day. She considered some portion of the third day as a “day,” illustrating this common Jewish expression.
There are other Old Testament examples of this, but let’s fast forward to the New Testament. We see that Jesus simply used this Jewish expression in Matthew 12:40. Consider that 7 other times he says this to his disciples:
Matthew 16:21 “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”
Matthew 20:19 “And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the bthird day he shall rise/b again.”
Luke 9:22 “Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be braised the third day.”
Luke 18:33 “And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.”
Luke 24:7 “Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the bthird day rise /bagain.”
Luke 24:46 “And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and tob rise from the dead the third day:”
Acts 10:40 “Him God braised up the third day, and shewed him openly;”
Jesus tells his disciples he will be raised on the third day, not the fourth. So, Jesus did not teach he would be in the earth for 72 hours. Was Jesus confused? Had he forgotten his teaching on the Sign of Jonah? More likely Jesus used the expression of his time and place. He referred to a part of our modern 24-hour day as a “day.”
Think about it, this type of expression is not completely strange to us today. Each of us has said something like “I’ve been working on this all day!” when we have not, using a strict 24-hour day or even just daylight hours
SCIENTIFIC AND HISTORICAL EVIDENCE
Those who contend Jesus died on a Wednesday or Thursday usually base their entire argument on the Sign of Jonah in Matthew 12:40, the Jewish festival calendar, and/or the High Sabbath. These points of view are based upon analysis from a single angle and are not to be dismissed lightly. However, there is much more proof – physical and scientific proof.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter asserts that Joel’s prophesy has been fulfilled and that his listeners know it—that they have seen the signs themselves. This is the same argument the apostle Paul made. This argument would have had exactly no persuasive force unless Paul’s and Peter’s audiences knew that signs had occurred. Both men assumed that everybody knew about the signs. Joel said there would be astronomical signs. And now Peter says, “you’ve seen them.” What were they?
“The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood…”
The gospels do recount that the sun was darkened on the day of the crucifixion from noon until 3 in the afternoon. Ancient non-Biblical sources confirm this. Phlegon Trallianus records in his history, Olympiades:
In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad, [AD 32–33] a failure of the Sun took place greater than any previously known, and night came on at the sixth hour of the day [noon], so that stars actually appeared in the sky; and a great earthquake took place in Bithynia and overthrew the greater part of Niceaea,”— Trallianus, Olympiades
This was obviously not a simple astronomical event, it was definitely from God. But what about the bloody moon?
A “blood moon” has a specific meaning. In ancient literature, not only the Bible, it means a lunar eclipse. Why bloody? Because when the moon is in eclipse it is in the Earth’s shadow. It receives no direct light from the sun, but is lit only by the dim light refracted and reddened by the Earth’s atmosphere. The moon in eclipse does glow a dull red, as you know if you have seen it.
Perhaps it will not surprise you to learn that only one Passover lunar eclipse was visible from Jerusalem while Pilate was in office. It occurred on April 3, 33 AD, the Day of the Cross. This can be observed with any astronomy software.
The gospels tell the chronology. Hammers drove spikes through Jesus and into the cross at 9 AM. At noon and for three hours the sky was darkened. The Light of the World was dead. (Take note that the lunar eclipse did not cause this darkness; we’ll get to the eclipse here soon.) In the Temple at Jerusalem, only priests were permitted to enter the presence of God—a thick curtain excluded common men. During the crucifixion, this veil was torn apart, top to bottom, as a shattering earthquake split rocks and broke open tombs. Jesus died at 3 PM. He was removed from the cross before nightfall to preserve the sanctity of the impending Passover. But the signs and wonders did not end. When the moon rose that evening, it was blood red. We can imagine the wonder of those who were present through all of this, and their increasing dread as the signs kept coming.
But there is more which they could not see. The moon rose already in eclipse, already bloody, fulfilling Joel’s vision. Necessarily, this means that the eclipse commenced before moonrise. With software we can look below the horizon and see Earth’s shadow begin the eclipse. When we do, we find that at 3 PM, as Jesus was breathing his last on the cross, the moon was going to blood.
In 33 AD, Jesus was 35 years old. This is the year He died. He had a ministry of about 5 years. Many of us think it’s 3 years, but that just isn’t so. He was 30 years old when he began his ministry. He was born in 2 BC
Events in the sky cannot be bumped a day or two. The lunar eclipse predicted by Joel and observed by Peter did not happen on Wednesday or Thursday. It happened on Friday.
Besides this, there are huge amounts of historical proof from Roman and Jewish records which pinpoint the year. Knowing the year is the most important step since the Bible tells us the days and month.
April 3, 33 AD is the day, a Friday. There is much more evidence which goes way beyond the extent of this post.