Christ's Death – When?

Here we are, on what is called by man “Good Friday”. MEME after MEME extolling the beauty of the horrible day of Christ’s death on the cross of Calvary. And a growing movement of those who disagree with the traditional day ascribed to Jesus’ death.

I grew up seeing Friday as “the day”, not for any particularly biblical reason, but because that is what I was told over and over. It is what I saw played out in the liturgical celebration every year. It was the tradition.

But over the years, I have grown in my faith, in my exploration and desire to be able to defend whatever I attempt to stand on. The grounds of “apologetics” are shaky when it comes to being dogmatic regarding a Friday crucifixion.

First – how do we reconcile the words of Christ in Matthew 14:40? For just 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.

Other descriptions within the New Testament of the “three days” can be somewhat explained by the oddities of how the Hebrew people treated their calendar, and when a day began and ended. BUT, in the case of the crucifixion, we have the passover, a Sabbath (some say at last two of them in one week – a whole other complicated discussion, connected to the Passover).

Others point to Wednesday as the likely day of the Crucifixion of Jesus, taking the math theme (and the double-Sabbath concept) to the other extreme. 3 Days x 24 hours (three days plus three nights in the earth) = 72 hours, requiring a Wednesday crucifixion.

But this conflicts with the record in Luke 24 and the two guys who were on the road to Emmaus “that very day” (the day of Christ’s resurrection, as described in Luke 24:12-13. These guys, approached by the Risen Jesus (and not recognizing Him) described it as “it is now the third day since these things happened”. So we are faced with an odd stacking of events:

– Luke records that the resurrection day was the “first day of the week” (Sunday). That this very day was the “third day” since all had unfolded (crucifixion and death).

– This would make Saturday the “second day since these things were done.

– This would make Friday the first day post-crucifixion.

– Leading to my own conclusion (though I am not dogmatic about it) – that Jesus’ death and burial were on Thursday (day “0”).

This is the only way I can wrap logic with what the Bible says. But I say all of this to bring out what is genuinely important (and what is far less important):

1. Jesus Died for my sins – past, present, and future! Each and every one of them, paying the sin debt I could not pay through the sacrifice of His own blood on that cross (regardless of it the actual day of the week was Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday!).

2. That Jesus arose from the grave, literally, bodily, and fully – proving each and every prophecy, each and every claim, and verifying the very Gospel we are to believe!

And it is this Resurrection that I will be preaching on, as the “lynchpin” of the entirety of the Gospel and the Bible this Sunday morning at New Hope Baptist Church!

* The timeline illustrations are from

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