Was Jesus Crucified on Good Friday?

Unless you live under a rock, you’re probably aware that yesterday was “Good Friday.” If you’re that far along, you might have an inkling that it has to do with the “Holy Week” or the days leading up to Easter, when we celebrate egg-laying rabbits. Oh, wait, I mean the resurrection of Jesus and egg-laying rabbits, chocolate and egg salad for all the hard-boiled eggs we’ve made.

All sarcasm aside, I’ve always had a problem with Good Friday being recognized as the day of Jesus sacrifice. Basically, it doesn’t give time for the sign of Jonah, which Jesus referenced in Matthew 12:39-40 in which he says:

“But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 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.”

How would we get 3 days and 3 nights from Friday to Sunday morning? Is there some quantum physics going on? Let’s count them out. Friday, by evening, Jesus was taken from the cross, prepared and put in a tomb. That’s the first night. Saturday would be the first day. Saturday night would be the second night, then he rose again on Sunday morning before the dawn.

I’m not a math expert, but I’ve counted 2 nights and 1 day. We’re missing a night and 2 days.

Well, the Jewish people observed days differently than we do, which must have been what the Roman Church was thinking when they ordained Friday as “Good Friday.”

So, let’s give that a whirl. Friday evening would have been the beginning of the Sabbath (Saturday). So, if they were trying to avoid working on the Sabbath (in John 19:31 it says that it was a ‘high day,’ or a high Sabbath, which appears to be a distinction from a normal Sabbath), they needed to get Jesus in the tomb before darkness. This was done quickly and the tomb was  near the crucifixion site.

Friday evening to morning would be 1 day (using the Jewish evening to morning). So, 1 evening to morning = 1 day (and a night?). Assuming Saturday was the Sabbath in question (disregarding John’s note that it was a high day) then that evening would mark the end of the 2nd day. Thus, Saturday night to Sunday morning would make the 2nd night and 2nd day.

The problem there is the same: In Matthew Jesus said that He’d be in the “heart of the earth” for 3 days and 3 nights.

So far, no matter what we do, we cannot get 3 days and 3 nights out of Friday to Sunday morning. We’re left with one of those burning questions of “how does this work???”

Simple–and this may come as a surprise–the “church” has it all wrong. When in doubt, go from Scripture.

Messianic Jews, those who observe Jewish traditions and the Law of Moses, note that there was a day of rest after the first day of the Passover week. This view is also held by Seventh-Day Adventists, so I’m not saying it’s Biblical. I’m just pointing out that some take the “high day” reference in John to mean it was a separate Sabbath than the weekly Sabbath that was before the first day of the week.

I suspect the fact that the Sabbath was following Jesus crucifixion is why traditional churches have perpetuated the idea that Friday was when Jesus was crucified.

But, as is abundantly clear, that conflicts with Scripture by not allowing the true sign of Jonah.

So, I’m not advocating that people need to follow the Messianic Jewish interpretations of things, or become Seventh-Day Adventists. But, we might consider if they’ve noted something true.

As a side note, just because I disagree with someone on several points does not mean they might not make a good point here or there. In fact, even a false teacher can say something that is true. Ciaphas prophesied about Jesus sacrifice for the people that they should not all die … and he wasn’t doing it out of good motives or from a pure heart (John 11:49-50).

Let’s take a look at Jonah, since that’s a clear reference.

So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.

And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying, “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 

Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

Notice, the passage doesn’t say the number of days? We get those days from Jesus’ mouth. All we see is that he was sleeping, get’s woken up, tells the sailors to throw him into the sea (for their salvation), God appoints a fish to swallow him, he prays, then God has the fish spit him up on dry ground.

3 days, 3 nights.

If we assume it was evening when he was swallowed, we have one night, then a day, a second night, then a day, a third night …. then spit out on the third day?

The only way Jesus was in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights is if He were crucified on either Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how we interpret the 3 days.

I believe the Seventh Day Adventists and the Messianic Jews say Wednesday. They reason that He was betrayed on Tuesday night, was hastened to trial on Wednesday, the day of the feast (which was why the priests couldn’t enter Pilate’s court), then crucified that day. He was then buried at sundown before the “high Sabbath” on Thursday. Wednesday to Thursday would be the 1st day (I guess, following the evening to morning, one day model). Thursday evening to Friday morning would be the 2nd day, Friday evening to Saturday morning would be the 3rd day. Saturday evening would be the end of the 3 days and 3 nights since it would technically be the first day of the week at sundown.

So, Jesus could rise to life at some point between sundown before sunrise on Sunday.

If we allow for Jesus being resurrected ON the 3rd day (which is contrary to what Jesus said when he said “in the heart of the earth for…”) then we could have the crucifixion on Thursday.

Why does this matter? Am I just trying to mess up people’s Easter plans? No. I’m just a stickler for details. When Jesus said he would be in the heart of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights, I think He meant it. The Word of God is not something we can massage and change how we might prefer. Also, since it seems that Good Friday was an invention of the Roman church, I think Christians should consider whether they really should celebrate something that was advocated by the wicked State Church system.

The truth is, Easter is actually the pagan celebration of the Spring Equinox. It moves, if you haven’t noticed. Christmas is a celebration of the Winter Solstice. Halloween (All Hallowed Eve) is a celebration of the Autumnal Equinox. We tend to have celebrations on or arround the Summer Solstice, too. It’s just a human thing. We have 4 main celebrations and they match the seasons with different general meanings attached to them.

I’m not knocking these celebrations anymore than I’ll knock having a birthday party. It’s fine to have a celebration. But, we should keep in mind that the week isn’t any more holy than any other. We, as God’s people should set ourselves apart as holy for His work. And that’s an ongoing thing, not something that we do one week or day here or there.

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