The Good Friday Dilemma

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The Good Friday Dilemma

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Recently, I was asked why I believe Jesus was crucified on Wednesday and rose on the Sabbath before sunset.

This is what the gentleman said: "You say that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday. This can't be. We know from Luke 23:53-54 that he was taken down and laid in the sepulcher the same day that he was killed. That means that Wednesday night (would have been) the first night He was 'in the belly of the whale.' Thursday, the first day. Thursday night, the second night. Friday, the second day. Friday night, the third night. Saturday, the third day. We know that He rose again the first day of the week: Sunday morning. If true, that means that He would have been 'in the belly of the whale' on Saturday night, making it 4 nights, not three (see Matthew12:38-40). This cannot be. Now, if he was crucified on a Thursday, this would work, but not on a Wednesday. See my point?"

And further, from Luke 23:54-56, he said, "We can see that Pilate took down the body, wrapped it in linen and laid it is the sepulcher and that these things happened right after Jesus died; (and) that day was the prep day, so it had to have been a Friday. (And in) Verse 55, they (the women) followed after them that took the body on Friday evening to lay it in the sepulcher, again, on Friday evening. Verse 56, they left the site and came back on Friday evening with their ointments and spices because they knew they would not do so the next day, the Sabbath day of rest. This is evident as we read in the last half of verse 56. He must have been crucified on a Friday. Your thoughts?"

These are good questions. How would you answer those who observe Good Friday as the day of Christ's crucifixion, and Easter Sunday as the time of His resurrection? And how can you prove if Jesus was crucified on Wednesday afternoon and resurrected on the Sabbath before sunset?

How do we solve this dilemma? How can we prove which is right from the Bible?

This person was correct in saying that the Bible says Jesus was crucified and laid in the sepulcher (tomb) on the Day of Preparation, and that Friday is a prep day for the weekly Sabbath. But he assumed that THIS Preparation Day had to be a Friday, and THAT Sabbath was the weekly Sabbath.

Let's consider what John wrote in John 19:31: "…because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day)…" And in verse 14 he explained that THIS Preparation Day was "the Preparation Day of the Passover," not the weekly Sabbath. According to Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, "high day" from the Greek "megas" meaning great, is here virtually equivalent to holy.

There are seven annual high holy day feasts in the Old Testament, called "The feasts ("moed" meaning appointed times or appointments, seasons) of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations." They are called holy days (meaning sanctified or set apart for God's purpose) and Sabbaths (meaning a time of rest to cease from one's labor) (Exodus 35:2; Leviticus 23:1-4,24,32,37-39; Nehemiah 8:2,9-11). Traditional Christianity does not understand or proclaim them because they have substituted and keep pagan "holidays" instead of God's true holy days.

The Passover is an observance which always occurs on the evening of the 14th day of the first month of the biblical year (Abib or Nisan: Exodus 12:1). It is not a Sabbath holy day or high day, but it is a preparation day. The following day of the 15th is the first holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is the 15th of Nisan (a high day Sabbath: Leviticus 23:5-8).

Was Jesus resurrected on Sunday?

Another assumption this person made is that, "We know that He (Jesus) rose again on the first day of the week: Sunday morning." Is that what the Scriptures really say? [Note: Sunday came to be called the "Lord's Day" to justify changing from keeping the "Jewish" Sabbath, based on the assumption that Jesus rose from the grave on Sunday, the first day of the week. But Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath," not Sunday (Mark 2:27-28; Luke 6:5).

God's Sabbath has always been the seventh day, which the Lord God sanctified after creating man (Genesis 2:1-4).

Matthew 28:1-6 says: "Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb." An angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said" (see also Mark 16:2-6 and Luke 24:1-7).

Notice that it does NOT say when He rose, but rather that He had already risen, even as He said He would. He said He would rise after being dead and in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights—72 hours (Matthew 12:40). As the angel also said, "Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and the third day rise again’" (Luke 24:6-7).

If we believe the Scriptures, then we must believe that Jesus rose as He said, after being dead and in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. That is from Wednesday evening to Saturday (the weekly Sabbath) evening, not Friday evening to Sunday morning. Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees who wanted to see a sign proving He was the Messiah,

"An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights (72 hours) 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" (Matthew 12:38-40).

When did the three days and three nights begin and end?

So when did the three days and three nights begin and end according to the Scriptures?

We know that Jesus had already risen BEFORE very early Sunday morning, "as the first day of the week began to dawn" (Matthew 28:1). Also, we know that He was laid in the tomb in the evening, just before the high holy day Sabbath (Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:53-54; John 19:14, 31, 38-42). If He was laid in the tomb in the evening and was there three days and three nights (72 hours), as He said He would be (Matthew 12:40), then He rose in the evening BEFORE Sunday morning, which would have been on the weekly Sabbath just before sunset—NOT Sunday morning!

We can therefore count back three days and three nights to determine what day Jesus was laid in the tomb. Counting back three days and three nights from Saturday (Sabbath) evening takes us to Wednesday evening.

Jesus was, therefore, crucified and died on Wednesday afternoon, and laid in the tomb just before sunset. He rose again three days and three nights later on the evening of the weekly Sabbath just at sunset. All four gospel accounts agree on the events of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection.

Which should Christians keep, Passover or Easter?

Should Christians keep Easter Sunday or the Passover—and when is the Passover to be kept? The scriptures are clear that Christians (disciples of Jesus Christ) should follow the example of Jesus. Jesus and His apostles kept God's holy days and the Passover. He said, concerning the Passover,

"For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them" (John 13:15, 17).

Peter wrote concerning Christ's example,

"For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:" (1 Peter 2:21).



  • KARS
    What is twilight? Is it the spand of time between sunrise and sunset? If so, could we say that Jesus Christ rose during twight of the Sabbath day just before dark of the first day of the week? Or was it sundown, then the sky lite up with twilight, then darkness of the first day of the week? Just wondering. I have been at the beach during dark, watched twilight before the rising of the sun. I even took pictures of the whole event. Darkness with the moon was shining; the twilight when the sky is purple, then grows light in colors; then the sun rises on the horizon of the water. It is a sight to see; including the rising of the moon, followed by the sun. Awesome experiences. So what do you say about this?
  • David L. Nunn
    To Jwhite. UCG's position is that Jesus Christ was crucified and died on Wednesday, 4/25/0031 AD. He was put in the tomb near sunset. The immediately approaching Sabbath was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (a high day--John 19:31). After that Sabbath passed, the women bought spices (on Friday). Mark 16:1. They prepared the spices and then rested on the Sabbath (Saturday). Luke 23:56. Jesus Christ was resurrected near sunset on Saturday night, after being in the tomb for exactly three days and three nights (i.e., 72 hours). Jesus Christ was (really really) dead after He died. Revelation 1:18. He did not go places and preach while dead. See UCG's Jesus Christ:The Real Story booklet. The "preaching" event you refer to (1 Peter 3:18-20) was when Jesus Christ (as the Word) confronted evil spirits at the time of The Flood in Noah's day. To Marie Jooste-The Friday crucifixion theory, though popular, is incorrect. See above. Review how Nehemiah counted 12 years at Neh. 5:14 (year 1 was the 21st year, not the 20th). Thus, even if Christ was crucified on a Friday, which he wasn't), day 1 would be Saturday and day 3 would be Monday, not Sunday.
  • jill.chenard

    for someone who is trying "un-learn" childhood Sunday school teachings in order to truly understand God's Word for the first time, these discussions - although bogged down by man-made assumptions - are helpful.
    thank you.

  • onormanns

    Very precise.
    I have pondered this question an amazing hidden solution to all our dilemmas ensued:
    - Jesus was born September 11, 3 BC, Rosh Hosannah, we can prove Herod died in 1 BC**Link removed to comply with comment policy**. This makes him “about” thirty in the Sabbatical year of 27/28 AD when he began His Ministry (decoding John 4:6-26/4:35-38), and in His 33rd year, 3.5 year later, when He died Wednesday April 25, and Rose again Saturday dusk April 28, in 31 AD, exactly three nights and three days later as from the womb of Jonah. This fulfills Daniel's 70th week from 457BC - 27 AD from the first decree.
    - According to Jewish tradition of Passover, the first full moon after spring equinox (March 26, 31AD) was to be moved forwards one month, upon determined when the first Aviv barley would be ripe. Nisan should be within the month of Abib, which start the first day of the waxing new moon, where Nisan 14, started 6 PM, Wednesday April 25, 31 AD.
    - Jesus was judge 9 AM, crucified 12 AM, died ~3 PM, taken off the cross before 6 PM and placed in the tomb on the evening of this "preparation" day. Then the only possible red moon eclipse proof marker from 20 to 24 hours 31 AD. 33 AD misses their eclipse happened before sunset and below the horizon and 30 AD had none.
    -There is one major problem with this and took me a while to figure, symbolically the Passover lamb was to be slaughtered between the two evenings (Num 9:1-4), in this week that would normally have been Thursday afternoon. But you see already when they where to put Jesus in the tomb;
    Mark 15:42 "Now when evening had already come, since it was the day of preparation (that is, the day before the high Sabbath). So this evening was the start of the preparation day, and Jesus was dead. ie the Passover! Thus AD 31.
    - Normally the Firstfruits Offering is the day after the High Sabbath following Passover, this time (31 AD) the weekly Sabbath came right after, thus the double Sabbaths and an exception to post pond the Firstfruits until Sunday by tradition, it fits only 31 AD and is the hidden solution for the age old Sabbath dialectic.
    - The women had all Thursday until 6 PM to buy their oil.
    - The priests began to make the first cutting right at the end of the Sabbath, then continuing over into the next day (this year Sunday) of the week, when the bulk of the work would be done.
    exactly as did Jesus our H

  • KARS

    @ Britt : Right on Britt! You are absolutely right. :o)

    @ hazmieh: yes it does matter that is why the Bible tells us to prove all things. Don't just take it for granted that you are being told the truth. If scripture references are given look them up. Unless you do you may find yourself to be a "doubting Thomas"; wishy washy, so we need to study and prove all things.

  • hazmieh

    does it really matter,as long as we believe he died and rose from the dead.and will come again

  • Ivan Veller
    Dear Intended, How thrilling---I'm so happy for you! :D Hearing of your hunger to draw nearer to God the Father and Christ brings me such delight. God fervently and intensely desires that close, personal relationship with each of us. How truly marvelous and beautiful is Christ's offer of engagement...that we be his fiancé---his 'intended' (" Christ," 2 Cor. 11:2 HCSB)! (This topic would make such a lovely bible study.) So, perhaps we stop--out of sheer overwhelming joy over the proposal--and, doing nothing for a brief moment or two, simply ponder God's amazing love! But then we get quite busy (as we must), eagerly preparing for our wedding day: "[Christ’s] bride has made herself ready…righteous acts" (Rev. 19:7b-8a, NIV 2011). This process is critical, because we must be clothed in righteousness to marry him (Mat. 22:12). Staying in the relationship requires we remain faithful to God, as demonstrated by developing the righteous character and virtues required to be Christ's bride. He wants to marry someone who shares his same values and priorities. While Satan will try to dissuade us from the path God has sat out for us, in years to come we must always remember to remain faithful to our calling. Even the apostle Paul, writing perhaps 25-30 years since his conversion, admitted, "I don't feel that I have already arrived" (Php. 3:13 CEV); and talked about his own need to continually be engaged in the process of developing the "righteousness of God that depends on faith" (Php. 3:9, ESV 2007). "Blessings crown the head of the righteous" (Prov. 10:a NIV). We can be confident that God will richly bestow blessings on those who "hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Mat. 5:6; LEB 2010). As Jesus taught: "I am the bread of life...No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry…again" (Jn. 6:35 HCSB). May you be richly satiated in the love of Christ! Here are some beautiful passages to equip you in your journey. These scriptures reveal God's heart and character in an intensely personal way:
  • Steven Britt

    Marie Jooste,

    Regarding your counting the time Christ was dead, "Day 1 Friday, day 2 sabbath, day 3 Sunday, = 3days," let me remind you of two important points.

    Firstly, days in the bible begin at sundown. This was established at creation - Genesis 1:5 says "So the evening and the morning were the first day," and a similar refrain is added for each day of creation. The Sabbath and all of God's Holy Days begin at sundown and end at sundown.

    Secondly, putting to rest any ambiguity, Christ said in Matthew 12:40 He would be dead for 3 days and 3 nights.

    The common claim of modern Christianity is that Christ died Friday afternoon and was resurrected at first light on Sunday. If Christ died on Friday (meaning before sundown on Friday in order for it to be considered Friday still), then that gives you (part of) 1 day. The evening (i.e. what we call "Friday night" is really the beginning of Saturday by God's reckoning) gives you 1 night, and the day of Saturday gives you a 2nd day. The next evening (i.e. what we would call Saturday night, which God would reckon as the beginning of Sunday) gives you a 2nd night.

    Disregarding the fact that the 1st "day" in this counting is only 3-4 hours instead of a full day, where do you find a 3rd day or 3rd night?

  • jwhite


    You have to understand, the world believes he was buried Friday evening... Friday evening to EARLY Sunday morning cannot be possibly scientifically correct. Are you saying that he was buried Friday- Monday? Because that's a full 72 hour span. Explain please... My beliefs, I believe he was in the heart of the earth preaching from Wed-Sat, rising Saturday night. However, it can be confusing due to jewish calendar believes that the night and the morning are first day... See Daniel 9:27... I'm just tryin to learn here as much as anyone else...


  • blessmeintended

    I believe the answer to your Question Marie, Jesus said when you pray ,pray in this manner ,OUR FATHER ,so who is our father ,GOD.I also believe that Jesus was crucified on Friday,But the bible don't say he rose on the third day it say he was not there n the first dat of the week when Mary madegline and the other Mary went to the tomb.

  • blessmeintended

    ou Know , I am a non-denomnational christan if there is such a thing, for over 30 years, and i have never gotton more out of the bible more than i get from just a few weeks ago i started taking bible lesson from the Church Of God , i am hungry to know God and Jesus in a personl way , Its amazeing what i learned , You know they say if you are doing something to try and get to heaven , then you have to stop and do nothing , because Jesus did it all , other wise your little manipulative mind have missed the boat , I am hopes of heaven one day and will be happy to see all of you there ,

  • Marie Jooste

    I believe that Jesus was crusified on the Friday. There is a simple solution. If He was crusified on another day, for example the Tuesday, The women would have been there the very next day to prepair his body. The Sabbath was forbiden to do so. This gave Him a day to go and fight the devil. As for your day theory. Day 1 Friday, day 2 sabbath, day 3 Sunday, = 3days.
    This raises another question. If Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, who do they pray to on Sunday.
    Jesus also never told us to keep easter sunday, etc. He kept the passover of Israel leaving Egypt. Should we then not be eating flat bread and lamb with bitter herbs.
    The cicus with chocolate bunnies and eggs are a whole other religion that again is commercialised and for personal treats.

  • jgehrke

    Thank you for the page and discussion. I have additionally read that in the Hebrew Jewish time a partial day (any portion) was equivalent in language to a day, so not to argue but to raise a possibility of being in the tomb one hour before sunset being 'a day'. For example **Link removed to comply with comment policy**

    I seriously do not intend to upset anyone, and please educate me further if desired, and above all have a peaceful Passover in our Savior's love.

  • stuart 46

    Why do people make such a mess of what is very simple! Keeping the sabbath and holy days is not you just have to do it.
    The scriptures are very clear until men put their own spin to them to suit themselves, many wars have been fought due to misinterpreting the word of God.


  • KARS

    Thank you for the education offered in remembrance of why we observe the Sabbath and annual Holy Days.

    I just read something today that said exactly this:
    "Listen , O daughter, Consider and incline your ear; Forget your own people also, and your father's house; So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is our Lord worship Him." Psalm 45:10 NKJV What does He mean by this? Because of the duality and parallels of scripture it can get confusing; even if I read it in context.

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