Updated: Jun 23
Let’s discuss the day of the week that Yeshua died on. But first, please answer the poll below and don't cheat by looking at the title...
Now, I can hear you immediately saying, “We already know what day that is, we celebrate it every year! Good Friday!”
And I’ll respond, “Yes, tradition has held up Friday as the day that Yeshua died.”
And I will counter with, well how did we arrive with Friday in the first place? Let’s first understand how we got that day.
Now, before we get too far into this, I just want to preface that whatever day Yeshua actually died on, it really doesn’t matter in the end.
What matters is that Yeshua actually died for our sins and was resurrected on Sunday, which I don’t have issue with.
In Romans 14:5-6 it says, “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each should be fully convinced in his [or her] own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord.”
So, now that we have laid a common ground for us all to stand on, LET’S BEGIN.
So, how come we have always said that Yeshua died on a Friday? Well, the most compelling reason is found in each of the Gospels:
Matthew 27:62 says, “The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate…”
And in Mark 15:42, “And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath…”
Luke 23:54, “It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
We’re going to be coming back to this passage later, so keep this in mind.
And lastly, in John 19:31, “Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a High Day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.”
So there you have it. Yeshua clearly died before a Sabbath! Discussion done! Queue the credits!
No, but seriously it does quite clearly indicate that Yeshua died before the Sabbath, which everyone and their brother knows that the Sabbath falls on a Sunday, cause, you know, that’s church day!
Obviously kidding, the Sabbath is the last day of the week, Saturday, thanks to YHWH Himself during the first week of the existence of time and matter.
So, is there any other evidence pointing to Friday as the day of the Crucifixion?
There honestly isn’t any other compelling evidence and arguments for a Friday, aside from justifications about how Yeshua consistently mentioned he would be dead for three days.
See, the Jewish reckoning of time was rather different than modern reckonings.
First, the day began at sunset, again thanks to Genesis 1, with how it words the passing of each day as “and evening and morning was the ‘n’th day.”
And second, the way they counted days was, supposedly, rather inclusive. As in, any part of a day counted as a full day.
This is supported by documents from various nations at that time, ranging from Egyptians to Greeks.
For example, if someone died on the 4th of a month, and their successor took over on the 15th, they would say that 12 days had elapsed.
And with the Greeks and their Olympiad (Olympic Games), the four-year period in between games was called the πενταετερις (pentaeteris). Πεντε (Pente) being five, as in pentagon.
If we consider this, then Friday counts as the first day, as He did die before sunset, Saturday counts as the second, and sometime during the night Sunday morning Yeshua resurrecting is the third day!
Again, this seems logical and makes sense.
However, there are some other details that I’ve come across that give issue to this.
1. My first pause concerning a Friday crucifixion is what Yeshua Himself said in several instances concerning the Sign of Jonah to the Pharisees who were looking for a sign from Him.
In Matthew 12:40 Yeshua says, “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.”
Mark 8:31, “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
Mark 9:31, “…for He was teaching His disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And when He is killed, after three days He will rise.”
So Yeshua says He will be in the grave for three days and three nights, as well as rise after three days. In order for that to be literally true, Friday is just simply not possible.
At the very least, Thursday, but more probable, Wednesday.
Again, maybe Yeshua is being a bit more metaphorical here using the Jewish reckoning of time, but I do have a hard time accepting that as He is more specific than just stating that He would be in the grave for three days – while not saying anything about an amount of nights.
2. My second pause is what I’m calling: “The Spicy Juxtaposition”. Cause, you know, what good is Biblical bullet-point list without alliteration? *😉*
What I mean by this is a “seeming contradiction” between the Gospels concerning the women who were purchasing and preparing the spices for Yeshua’s body.
Most people probably wouldn’t even notice this, but I recently wrote what is called a Diatessaron – which is a harmonization of the four Gospels into one story – this became rather evident as I tried to make sense of combining these two passages.
The two passages are these: Mark 16:1-2 and Luke 23:54-56.
Mark 16:1 says, “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Him.”
So Mark says this happened after the Sabbath.
But Luke 23:54-56 says, “It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with Him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
And Luke certainly seems to indicate that this happened before the Sabbath, which would be a seeming contradiction to Mark.
We’ll get into this later.
3. My third pause is the additional Sabbaths in Judaism we Gentiles are generally unaware of. Here in Western, modern Christian culture, we aren’t usually educated on Jewish culture, traditions, celebrations, and such.
Sure, probably most of us know about Passover, the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles/Tents (whatever you want to call it), Pentecost, Yom Kippur, and so on.
But most of us wouldn’t really know the mechanics and nuances of each of the festivals, because we’re not taught, nor generally celebrate these festivals.
Here, in this situation, this information can gleam some very interesting context that opens up possibilities, once we understand the context in which the Bible was written – which is always useful because context – is EVERYTHING.
4. This is more a 3a, but my next pause tags along with the last – and that is what the original Greek of Matthew 28:1…Sabbath...Jumbling?
For the life of me, I have NO IDEA why English translations have blatantly mistranslated this – granted, ever so slightly – blink, and you miss it – but still!
What I’m talking about is the plurality of one particular noun that practically undermines the whole Friday argument, in my opinion.
But, I’ll keep you in suspense so I can have time to properly explain this later.
I want to circle back and be clear that, while I definitely seem to favor a not-Friday crucifixion –
That in the end, it REALLY doesn’t matter which day Yeshua actually died on, just that He actually died and rose again.
Given this, I hope that you can be open and listen to the facts I’m going to discuss here to give a compelling argument that it very well could have happened on a different day.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll take you out of suspense and just tell you…
But first, a word from today’s sponsor…
Okay, here we go:
Matthew 28:1, “Now after the Sabbaths, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.”
Did you see it? Let’s zoom in a little closer.
Matthew 28:1, “Now after the Sabbaths…”
Still don’t see it? Even closer now…
Matthew 28:1, “Now after the Sabbaths…”
It might help to go to the original Greek for this one. Don’t worry, I’ll transliterate for you. Actually, even better, I’ll screenshot Bible Hub for you. I promise I didn’t break into the code to change this…
IT’S PLURAL. It’s plural. Why is it plural. How can you call one day plural….
UNLESS, there was more than one Sabbath…
Let me educate you on Passover and The Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Leviticus 23:5-7: “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month between the two evenings, is YHWH’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to YHWH; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work…”
So the day after Passover, AKA, the day after the Passover lambs were sacrificed, was a holy convocation, or rather, a Sabbath…
Paul was right in saying to the Corinthians (1 Cor 5:7): “….For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
Back to John’s account of the timing of Yeshua’ crucifixion…
John 19:31, “Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a High Day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.”
Why does John add the fact that this particular Sabbath was a “High Day”? It must be a special Sabbath and different than the weekly Sabbath, right?
It would make sense then that Yeshua died on Passover given these things. To be our Perfect Sacrificial Lamb, slain at the same time as the Passover lambs. To be buried before a Sabbath, the High Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
What this actually also indicates is that Yeshua and His disciples celebrated Passover a day earlier than is tradition since Yeshua knew that He would die the next day. That would also explain why the house they celebrated the Last Supper (Seder) at was not fully prepared for Passover and had to be cleansed of leaven.
But this point is aside from the main argument, just an interesting aside.
Now, to summarize.
1. The Sign of Jonah, three days and three days/after three days
2. The Spicy Juxtaposition, the timing of the women preparing the spices.
3. The Sabbaths of Judaism, the High Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
4. The Sabbath Jumbling, the plural Sabbaths referred to by Matthew.
A possible breakdown of the events of the Passion Week starting with the Last Supper is laid out below:
Thank you if you have reached this far, and hopefully I have made a convincing Bible-centric argument. At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter which day Christ was crucified, but the fact that He DID die, AND that He was resurrected.
Blessings and Marantha,