Was Jesus crucified on a Wednesday?
At this time of the year, I keep hearing the alternate view of Jesus Christ being crucified on a Wednesday.
The primary reason some people hold to this alternate view is to satisfy a literal 3 days and 3 nights that Christ had prophesied ~ Matt. 12:40.
This view is very convincing to those who hear it for the first time. However a careful reading of the scriptures, especially surrounding the timeline of the passion-week, one can arrive at a conclusion that Jesus was indeed crucified on a Friday. I have listed some of the known facts surrounding the Passover feast:
- The Passover was the first of all feasts. It was to be kept on the 14th day of Nisan in the evenings. Which meant the Passover actually started on a Thursday evening and continued until Friday evening (Ex. 12:6). This was to accommodate a large number of pilgrims visiting Jerusalem at the time of the year. Was Jesus Christ crucified on Wednesday? A guest post by Lenin John via Philipscom Click To Tweet
- The feast of unleavened bread started immediately after the Passover. That would be 15th of Nissan. The 1st day of the unleavened bread would be a Sabbath. (Ex. 12:16; Lev. 23:6)
- The feast of first fruits was the following day after the 1st day of the feast of unleavened bread. (Lev. 23:11). In the year the Lord was crucified this would have to fall on a Sunday.
- The Jews kept a lunar clock. Keeping in line with the order of creation found in Gen. 1:5, a 24 hour day began in the evening. They did not keep a midnight to midnight time like us.
Much of the confusion arises because of the phrase 3 days & 3 nights. This phrase is idiomatic to the ancient middle-eastern culture. Any part of the day would be counted as a full day as demonstrated by other portions of scripture. (Esth. 4:16 & 5:1; 1 Sam. 30:12-13; 1 Sam. 9:20a). Also, the Lord himself alluded to His resurrection as being – “in three days” (Jn. 2:19-21) as well as Matt. 16:1-4 where the sign of Jonah is given without the phrase “3 days & 3 nights”.
Next, let’s look at the events during the day that Christ was crucified and its fulfillment of OT prophecy:
- All four gospels allude to a day of preparation. This is the day before the regular Sabbath. Christ was brought to Pilate’s praetorium early in the morning on the day of preparation. Jn. 18:28 says that it was also the day the Passover was being held.
- The high day mentioned in John 19:31 is a coinciding of the regular Sabbath (Saturday) and the 1st day of unleavened bread which was also a Sabbath.
- Christ died on the day of preparation which was also the Passover (Luk. 23:54). This was very important since we believe Christ is the fulfillment of all the law especially the feasts of the Lord. So it was very important that he die on the day of the Passover.
- The feast of first fruits had to be the day after the 1st Sabbath day of unleavened bread (Lev. 23:11). Christ had to fulfill this feast (1 Cor. 15:23). This causes a great difficulty to the Wednesday theorists. If you go by this theory Christ had to rise on a Friday, since that would be the day the feast of the first-fruits had to be celebrated. The theory of a Wednesday crucifixion is simply not plausible.
- Finally, the appearance of the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus is very important. The disciples said it is the third day since he died. If it was a Wednesday crucifixion they would have called it the 4th day (Luk. 24:21, 29). Harmonizing this verse with the flawed theory is extremely difficult. In fact, none of the Wednesday crucifixion theorists ever quote this verse!!!
With these proofs, the view of a Wednesday crucifixion cannot be harmonized from the passion-week timeline given in the bible. The length of days and pinpointing the exact minute and second he was buried and rose again is not the point of the gospel narrative. The fact is he died, was buried and rose again. None of his disciples or even his enemies cried foul – that it was cheating on his part to rise within three days or after three days. They were all gripped with fear for the first time in history someone had come back from the dead by his own power. That my dear friends is what Resurrection Day is all about.
Soli Deo Gloria
~ Lenin John, Hyderabad