Good Friday or Good Wednesday?
For centuries, Christians observe the crucifixion and burial of our LORD Jesus Christ on what is called “Good Friday”. It is the tradition, after all. We know Jesus rose “the third day” and “the first day of the week”, so if one starts with Friday, then Sunday would be “the third day”, right? We are going to look at the Scriptures today, which will clearly prove the crucifixion of the Lamb of God, our Savior, did NOT take place on a Friday. See, the grafted-in Gentile believers in Christ were never of the Hebrew/Jewish mind-set, so we would not know to challenge the traditional observance of “Good Friday”. If the Bible tells us otherwise, should we continue in ignorance? You decide.
I will be quoting from the King James Bible
The Sign of Jonah
Jesus said in Mat 12:39-40
- “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas 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.”
Here, we have ONE SIGN given by God, and yet we IGNORE this SIGN every time “Good Friday” rolls around. Did Jesus say He would be in the heart of the earth three days? Yes. But, what ELSE did He say? We leave out the “three nights”. Three days equals 36 hours. Three nights equals 36 hours. We must agree that Jesus is speaking of a 72-hour time period, no more and no less.
No matter how you slice it, if Jesus was placed in the tomb on Friday at sundown (6:00 PM) and rose on Sunday MORNING (which is yet another traditional error we will address shortly) at say, 6:00 AM we have 36 hours, not 72. We have two nights, not three.
Genesis 1 – Days established by God
To establish the start and end of God’s days we must go back to Genesis 1:5:
- “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.”
Since the second day was also an evening and a morning, a biblical day was from evening to evening.
We know Jesus was on the cross from third hour until the ninth hour:
- Mark 15:25 “And it was the third hour [9 AM], and they crucified him.”
- Mark 15:33-37 “And when the sixth hour [noon] was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour [3 PM] Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?...37 But Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed His last.”
Does this mean Jesus was on the cross from 3 AM – 9 AM? No. Jewish days consisted of two 12-hour periods. We’re going to use 6:00 PM as the beginning of the first set of 12 hours and 6:00 AM as the beginning of the second 12 hours. To figure the time of the third hour, we would start at 6 AM, which would place Jesus on the cross at 9 AM. Thus, the ninth hour would be 3 PM. Our LORD hung on that cross for six hours!!
Seventh-Day Sabbath vs. High Sabbaths
Scripture tells us that the Jews wanted the body of Jesus in the tomb BEFORE the Sabbath, which began at SUNSET (6 PM).
- 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.”
Once again, Christian teachers IGNORE what is in parenthesis in this very important verse, namely (for that Sabbath day was an high day). Other preachers teach that “the preparation” solely points to the day before the seventh-day Sabbath. However, what does John 19:14 tell us?
- “And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour [noon]: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!”
Passover is not a high Sabbath. The day following Passover is, namely the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. I find it important to note that John 19:14 (when Jesus is standing before Pilate at noon) uses the phrase “preparation of the Passover”, while John 19:31 (when the Jews wanted His body off the cross) uses the phrase “the preparation”. I see one preparation for the Passover (Nisan or Abib 13) and one preparation for the high Sabbath (the day of Passover, for the next day was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread).
Preparation of the Passover involves removing all leaven from the home, while preparation for a high Sabbath or seventh-day Sabbath involved preparing all food and finishing the chores, so that absolutely no work would be done on these Sabbaths.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread contained two ‘high’ Sabbaths, as instructed by God in Leviticus 23:4-8:
- “These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day [of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread] ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein [high Sabbath]. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day [of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread] is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein [high Sabbath].”
Let’s say Passover (Nisan 14) fell on a Wednesday. Thursday-Wednesday following would be the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread. Thursday (Nisan 15) would be a high Sabbath and the following Tuesday (Nisan 21) would be a high Sabbath. Of course, the seventh-day Sabbath that falls in between these two high Sabbaths (Nisan 17) would be observed as well.
The Last Supper
So when was the ‘last supper’? Based on the times of Jesus standing before Pilate at the sixth hour (noon) and His crucifixion at the third hour (9 AM) we have to conclude His arrest happened two days before the Passover – the evening beginning Nisan 13.
Because the Passover lambs were to be slaughtered in the afternoon (twilight) on the 14th day (and Jesus was the Passover Lamb), and because the Passover meal was to be eaten the second evening of Nisan 14, Jesus and His disciples did not eat the official Seder together. Furthermore, Jesus prophesied to His disciples as He broke the bread, “This is My body, which is given for you” and as He poured the wine, “This cup is the New Testament in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20)
But what about Mat 26:17?
- “Now the first [day – inserted] of the [feast of – inserted] unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?”
The Greek hear reads prōtē tōn azymōn. The word for “first” is the Greek word protos (an adjective, derived from 4253 pro), where we get the English prefix ‘pro’, meaning before. So this can literally be translated, “Before [or first part of/early in the week of] the feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus…”.
Passover (Nisan 14) and the Feast of Unleavened bread (Nisan 15-21) were commonly lumped together as “The Feast [Days] of Unleavened Bread” or “Passover” (Nisan 14-21). We can see this interchange in the following verses:
- Luke 22:1 “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.”
- Acts 12:3-4: “And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Passover [pascha] to bring him forth to the people.”
Lev 12:4-8 shows us that the Passover (Nisan 14) preceded the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15). Now, let’s go over to John 13:1-2:
“Now before [4253 pro] the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;…”
According to Exodus 12:3 & 6 the Passover lamb was to be chosen on Nisan 10, five days (counting the 10th) before Passover (Nisan 14), when it would be slaughtered and consumed.
- “Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:”…”And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening [ben hā-‘ar-bā-yim - between the two evenings].”
Did you ever wonder why we observe “Palm Sunday”? People didn’t worship at the Temple on Sunday, Not until the Day of Pentecost did congregations start meeting on Sundays. Nisan 10 fell on a seventh-day Sabbath, what Jews call Shabbat HaGadol (The Great Sabbath before Passover). This is the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the people waving palm branches and shouting, “Hosanah to the son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” As the Passover lambs were also chosen on this day, so Jesus was chosen on this day. So, counting Jewish days from Nisan 10 to Nisan 14 we have five days: Fri/Sat (10), Sat/Sun (11), Sun/Mon (12), Mon/Tues (13), Tues/Wed (Nisan 14 – Passover).
Continuing to count forward, the Scriptures declare Jesus rose from the grave on the Feast of Firstfruits, which is always on the first day of the week following Passover.
- 1 Cor 15:20 “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”
- Lev 23:10-11 “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow [the next day] after the [seventh-day] sabbath the priest shall wave it.”
Now, let’s count backwards from Jesus’ resurrection, to reconcile the SIGN of JONAH given in Mat 12:39-40.
The Bible declares Jesus rose from the grave on the first day of the week:
- Mat 28:1 “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.”
- Mark 16:2 “And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.”
- Mark 16:9 “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils…”
- Luke 24:1 “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them”
- John 20:1 “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher”
Did you notice that John 20:1 tells us it was so early on the first day of the week that “it was yet dark” and that the stone was already rolled away? We now know the first day of the week started Saturday evening, “in the end of the [seventh-day] Sabbath” (Mat 28:1). The stone was not rolled away at or after sunrise on Sunday morning, brothers and sisters. Jesus arose Saturday night and we’ll calculate the exact TIME in a few moments.
Likewise, the Bible also declares Jesus rose from the grave the third day:
- Mat 17:23 “And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again….”
- Mat 20:19 “And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.”
- Mark 9:31 “For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.”
- Mark 10:34 “And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: 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 third day rise again.”
- Luke 24:46 “And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:”
- Acts 10:40 “Him God raised up the third day…”
However, there are a couple more verses teachers tend to IGNORE that MUST reconcile into the equation of Jesus’ resurrection, namely that He said He would rise “after three days” (but NOT on the fourth day!)
- Mat 27:63 “Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.”
- Mark 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.”
So far we’ve looked at the four days of inspecting the Lamb (Nisan 10-14). We know Jesus was placed in the tomb on Passover at twilight, just before the ‘high Sabbath’ of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15). Let’s count three nights and three days:
Wed night-Thurs night = 1 night, 1 day
Thurs night-Fri night = 2 nights, 2 days
Fri night-Sat night [seventh-day Sabbath] = 3 nights, 3 days.
Jesus rose from the grave on the third day and “after” the third day (6:00 PM on the dot – both days share the same minute), for we are reminded that Mary went to the tomb “in the end of the Sabbath”, “early on the first day of the week” and “while it was yet dark”, seeing the stone had already been rolled away!
TIMELINE of the FINAL WEEK (Nisan 10-18)
Friday early evening, Nisan 9 – John 12:1, six 12-hour days [hēmerōn – sunrise to sunset] before the Passover, Martha makes supper [deipnon – an afternoon meal] and Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume and wipes them with her hair (anointing Him for burial).
Saturday, Shabbat HaGadol, Nisan 10 – John 12:12, five 12-hour days before Passover, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt (not Sunday), then overturned the tables of the money-changers (Mat 21). This is the day the Lamb was selected.
Sunday, Nisan 11 – Mat 21:18 Jesus returned to Bethany and cursed the fig tree and returned to the temple with more parables that enraged the priests and Pharisees. He rebuked them with the seven woes of Mat 23, then left the temple and prophesied its destruction. He then taught His disciples and prophesied of the last days.
Sunday evening to Monday, Nisan 12 – Mat 26:2-4 “Ye know that after two days is [the feast of – inserted] the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.” Judas met with the Jews, while the rest of the disciples prepared the last supper.
Monday evening to Tuesday evening, Nisan 13 (Preparation of the Passover) – Jesus ate the last supper with His disciples, was betrayed by Judas, prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and was arrested. He was brought before the Sanhedrin at the wee hours of the following morning (Luke 22:26) and stood before Pilate at noon (John 19:14). Pilate sent Him to Herod, who sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate had the Jews choose between Jesus and Barabbas, then had Jesus flogged. His soldiers stripped Jesus of His garments and placed a royal robe and a crown of thorns upon Him. The Jews insisted He be crucified.
Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning, Nisan 14 (Passover and Preparation for the high Sabbath) – Jesus carried His cross to Golgotha and was crucified at 9 AM, died at 3 PM and was placed in the tomb by 6 PM.
Evening to Evening Nisan 15 – one night, one day in the tomb.
Evening to Evening Nisan 16 – one night, one day in the tomb.
Evening to Evening Nisan 17 – one night, one day in the tomb.
Evening of Nisan 17/beginning of Nisan 18 at 6 PM – HE AROSE!
Passover ALWAYS falls on Nisan 14, but does NOT ALWAYS fall on a Wednesday. If any of you have read my hub “The Bible Reveals When Jesus Was Born!”, it shows biblical proof Jesus was born in September of 3 BC. Knowing He died at the age of 33, He was crucified in the year 30 AD. And it’s no coincidence that Passover fell on a Wednesday that Hebrew year of 3790.
This, dear Christian brothers and sisters, IS the Biblical Truth of WHEN Jesus was crucified. We should be observing GOOD WEDNESDAY, NOT Good Friday. I pray we will help the Body of Christ repent of this traditional ignorance and worship our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ, in Spirit and in Truth. Amen.