What day of the week was Jesus crucified?

Traditionally it is believed that Jesus was crucified on Friday. Some contemporary scholars, however, posit that He might have been crucified on Wednesday or Thursday. Arguments for the theories are described below.

In support of a Friday crucifixion, the Gospels state that Jesus died on the day before the Sabbath. We read in Mark 15:42-43, "And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus." The Sabbath has always been the last day of the week, Saturday. It seems, then, that Mark is clearly speaking of Christ's death on Friday.

The Bible teaches that Jesus rose on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:4) and that this third day was Sunday, the first day of the week. In the Jewish reckoning, part of a day counted as a day. Three days would include His burial on Friday, Saturday (the Sabbath), and Sunday. We read in Matthew 16:21 and Luke 9:22 that Jesus predicted His resurrection on the third day.

Some argue that a Friday death and Sunday resurrection do not fit Matthew 12:40. There, Jesus states, "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." Since Jesus was not in the grave "three nights," some argue that either this prediction by Jesus was inaccurate or that the crucifixion was earlier than Friday. Such proponents typically suggest Thursday, though some also argue for Wednesday.

The passage saying that Jesus would be in the grave for three days and three nights does not necessarily mean He would be in the grave for precisely 72 hours. It could mean that Jesus would be in the grave for approximately three days. Jesus' allusion to Jonah's account was intended to show Jesus, like Jonah, would appear to be gone from this life. Yet, as with Jonah, He would return to complete God's will.

Those who argue for a Thursday or Wednesday date also suggest too many events took place between the crucifixion and the resurrection to fit the time period. However, this argument offers little credible evidence, as one would expect the Gospel writers to offer more detail regarding the final aspects of Christ's life than at other times. A close examination of the events shows they could have occurred between Friday and Sunday.

A few have opted for a Wednesday date for the crucifixion by suggesting that there were two "Sabbaths" or holy days during Passover 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 (after the Sabbath, Mark 16:1). This view suggests the Passover was the first Sabbath then the regular Sabbath (Saturday) was only a few days after.

There is no doubt that Jesus' resurrection occurred on the first day of the week (Sunday). And, in reading the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it seems that He was most likely crucified on Friday.

Related Truth:

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What are the last seven sayings of Christ and what do they mean?

When Jesus was pierced, why did blood and water come out of His side?

Where was Jesus for the three days between His death and resurrection?

Why should I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

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