When Was Jesus Christ Crucified and Resurrected? : Did He Really Die on Good Friday and Come Back to Life on Easter Sunday?

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When Was Jesus Christ Crucified and Resurrected?

Did He Really Die on Good Friday and Come Back to Life on Easter Sunday?

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In Matthew 12:38, some of the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign to prove He was the Messiah. But Jesus told them that the only sign He would give was that of the prophet Jonah: "For 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" (Matthew 12:40).

But how can we fit "three days and three nights" between a Friday-afternoon crucifixion and a Sunday-morning resurrection? This traditional view allows for Jesus to have been entombed for only a day and a half.

Some believe that Christ's "three days and three nights" statement does not require a literal span of 72 hours, reasoning that a part of a day can be reckoned as a whole day. Thus, since Jesus died in the afternoon, they think the remainder of Friday constituted the first day, Saturday the second and part of Sunday the third. However, only two nights—Friday night and Saturday night—are accounted for in this explanation. Something is obviously wrong with the traditional view regarding when Christ was in the tomb.

Jonah 1:17, to which Christ referred, states specifically that "Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." We have no basis for thinking that Jesus meant only two nights and one day, plus parts of two days. If Jesus were in the tomb only from late Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning, then the sign He gave that He was the prophesied Messiah was not fulfilled.

Let's carefully examine the details from the Gospels. When we do, we uncover the real story of how Jesus' words were fulfilled precisely.

Two Sabbaths mentioned

Notice the events outlined in Luke 23. Jesus' moment of death, as well as His hasty burial because of the oncoming Sabbath that began at sundown, is narrated in Luke 23:46-53. Luke 23:54 then states, "That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near."

Many have assumed that it is the weekly Sabbath mentioned here, and that Jesus was therefore crucified on a Friday. But John 19:31 shows that this approaching Sabbath "was a high day"—not the weekly Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) but the first day of Unleavened Bread, which is one of God's annual high, or Sabbath, days (Exodus 12:16-17; Leviticus 23:6-7). These annual Holy Days could—and usually did—fall on days of the week other than the regular weekly Sabbath day.

This high-day Sabbath was Wednesday night and Thursday, since Luke 23:56 shows that the women, after seeing Christ's body being laid in the tomb just before sunset, "returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils" for the final preparation of the body.

Such work would not have been done on a Sabbath day since it would have been considered a violation of the Sabbath. This is verified by Mark's account, which states, "Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices [which they would not have purchased on the high-day Sabbath], that they might come and anoint Him" (Mark 16:1).

The women had to wait until this annual "high day" Sabbath was over before they could buy and prepare the spices to be used for anointing Jesus' body. Then, after purchasing and preparing the spices and oils on Friday, "they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment" (Luke 23:56). This second Sabbath mentioned in the Gospel accounts is the regular weekly Sabbath, observed from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

By comparing details in both Gospels—where Mark tells us the women bought spices after the Sabbath and Luke relates that they prepared the spices before resting on the Sabbath—we can clearly see that two different Sabbaths are mentioned. The first, as John 19:31 tells us, was a "high day"—the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread—which, in A.D. 31, fell on a Thursday. The second was the weekly seventh-day Sabbath.

Sign of the Messiah

After the women rested on the regular weekly Sabbath, they went to Jesus' tomb early on the first day of the week (Sunday), "while it was still dark" (John 20:1), and found that He had already been resurrected (Matthew 28:1-6; Mark 16:2-6; Luke 24:1-3).

When we consider the details in all four Gospel accounts, the picture is clear. Jesus was crucified and entombed late on Wednesday afternoon, just before a Sabbath began at sunset. However, that was a high-day Sabbath, lasting from Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset that week, rather than the regular weekly Sabbath, lasting from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

He remained in the tomb from Wednesday at sunset until Saturday at sunset, when He rose from the dead. While no one witnessed His resurrection (which took place inside a sealed tomb), it had to have happened near sunset on Saturday, three days and three nights after His body was entombed. It could not have happened on Sunday morning, because when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb that morning before sunrise, "while it was still dark," she found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty.

We can be assured that the length of His entombment that Jesus gave as proof He was the Messiah was exactly as long as He foretold. Jesus rose precisely three days and three nights after He was placed in the tomb.

Because most people do not understand the biblical high days Jesus Christ and His followers kept, they fail to understand the chronological details so accurately preserved for us in the Gospels.

For more information, please read our booklet Jesus Christ: The Real Story.



    It's a nice and real analysis. It's a pity that this generation are not ready for facts but carried away with Romans doctrine.
    In Daniel 9 vs 24 to 27, vs 27 precisely, the Messiah would die on the mid week. The mid week is Wednesday.
    Thanks for this wonderful analysis.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Does a specific time line really matter?
    The Bible references to days or years can not be taken literally for these are words and accumulated thoughts of people who existed over 2000 years ago, when
    water clocks and sundials were in use.
    All which has been accounted for in such primitive times must be taken with a grain of salt.

  • dougmorris

    yes he did!

  • agathailand

    Wednesday Crucifixion will not stand if we will study the bible closely.
    1. The Jew during bible time did not use accumulative time to account a day. Never in the Bible we can see that it is used in accounting days. Three days and three nights cannot be accounted by 72 accumulative hours. One will fall on a regrouping type of accounting these three days and three nights. (Borrowing time to the other day just to complete the 72 hours) which is unbiblical.

  • Skip Miller

    Hello Aquinaldo,
    Please explain your first sentence. God's, the Bible's, and Jewish days all begin at sunset. So sunset to sunset is one 24 hour day -- no borrowing necessary. I am not sure about what you call "accumulative time." Jesus clearly stated that, as Jonah was, He would be in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights (Matt 12: 40), that is 72 hours. Our 24 hour day (beginning at 12 midnight) is a 'construct' for our convenience. You simply cannot get 72 hours with a Friday crucifixion and a Sunday morning resurrection.

  • Apple

    Let's add more confusion to the conversation. Hebrew (5778 ), Julian (46B.C. to 1582A.D) or Gregorian ( 1582 - present).......in addition there were two. " dating" systems used under the Julian calendar....one based on the Emperor's reign and the other based on the date ascribed to the founding of Rome. Are we counting "days " based on what are usually considered the civil calendars ....sunrise to sunrise?......midnight to midnight? .......or the Hebrew calendar......sunset to sunset? Is Saturday the Sabbath ......the day of rest and prayer ? Jews and some Christians consider it so, but most Christians consider Sunday ......the day of rest and prayer. And another question. The date of Easter Sunday is usually the first Sunday after the first Full Moon occurring on or after the March equinox. Following the Lunar calendar......not a date according to the Hebrew, Julian or Gregorian calendar. Why?

  • javirod281

    It is clear that the days starts with a sunrise to sunrise!
    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. Matthew 28:1 KJV
    So it is clear that the Sabbath ended when the sun was about to rise! So Weds he was entombed before sunset ...so Wednesday night is the first night! Thursday is the first day and second night , Friday is the 2nd day and 3rd night and Saturday is the 3rd and final day and rose after sunset on Saturday night! He was gone before sunrise on Sunday morning!

  • Ivan Veller

    Hi again Javier,

    Matthew 28:1, which has been rendered as "Now after the Sabbath, toward daybreak of the first day of the week," (Mounce interlinear), can be rendered as: "Now after the Sabbath, at the dawning on the first day of the week," (LEB 2012--an excellent literal translation; formerly an interlinear). It is worth noting that Luke 23:54 - which uses the same word "epiphosko" (ἐπιφώσκω) (G2020), defined by Mounce as being "used of the reckoned commencement of the day" - is rendered by the KJV as "the sabbath drew on" and likewise by the LEB as "the Sabbath was drawing near," in the context of sunset rather than sunrise.

  • Ivan Veller

    Hi Javier,

    So we find from Scripture that "evening began when the sun went down (Joshua 8:29; 2 Chronicles 18:34; Nehemiah 13:19; Mark 1:32), and [that] at that time a new day began. Regarding His Sabbaths, God commands that they be observed “from evening to evening” (Leviticus 23:32). This was the usual way at that time of calculating the beginning and ending of days (Exodus 12:18).
    In New Testament times, days were calculated the same way. Mark 1:32 records that, after the sun had set, marking the end of one Sabbath, crowds brought many ailing people to Jesus to be healed, having waited until after the Sabbath to come to Him. The Gospel accounts also record that Joseph of Arimathea entombed Jesus’ body before evening to keep from working on an approaching annual high-day Sabbath (Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:50-54; compare John 19:31)": https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/sunset-to-sunset-gods-sabbath-rest/when-is-the-sabbath-day-to-be-kept

  • Skip Miller

    Hello Javier,
    This came up in another person's question not long ago. I referred them (and now you) to the first chapter of Genesis where each workday of creation is ended by the words, "and evening and morning were the (first, second, third, etc.) day of creation." It appears that God sees and expresses that 24 hour 'day' as "evening and morning." Why? That is another question which you might legitimately ask. But , I think, God (both Father and Son) have Their reasons.

  • bigshurn

    Jesus and the Bible would have gone by the Hebrew calendar. Read about the true origins of Easter.

  • brian.numerick

    I am simultaneously baffled, disappointed, and annoyed that mainstream Christian teachers don't teach the plain truth of scripture. Just today on Christian radio I heard a well-known Baptist minister making the same old erroneous claims about Jesus being in the tomb for "3 days and 2 nights". On another radio show a well known pastor completely botched the true meaning of the Passover, calling it an Old Testament "law" only for the Jews. Then to top it off, yet another famous pastor made a reference to the "12 Jewish tribes" and how the "lost tribes" cannot possibly be in existence in the end times because, "They are lost! They are no more!" Are you kidding me? Is this willful ignorance or has God completely blinded them to the truth?

  • shaun johnson

    Fantastic piece of mathematical deduction! I have and continue to learn so much from these tutorials, please keep them coming.

  • BibleTraditions

    Luke 23 clearly shows the women prepared the spices on Passover and rested according to the commandment, Mark never said when they bought the spices. They would have gone the 6th day to anoint his body if 4th day.
    Luke 24:20-21 along with Matt 12;40 clearly put his death on the 5th day (Thursday)
    Luke 24:20-21 Sunday is the "THIRD DAYS SINCE" he was crucified.
    5th day= crucifixion
    6th day= ONE DAY SINCE
    7th day= SECOND DAY SINCE
    1st day= THIRD DAY SINCE v.21
    IT is IMPOSSIBLE to fit 4th day (WED) into Luke 24:21 or
    John 2;19 destroy the temple and rise it the 3rd day.
    5th day= Temple destroyed (Jesus)
    6th day= raise it 1st day
    7th day= raise it the 2nd day
    1st day (Mark 16:9) raise it the 3rd day.
    Again 4th day is impossible math.

    Matt 12;40
    5th day, 6th night= 1 day, 1 night
    6th day, 7th night= 2nd day 2nd night
    7th day, 1st night= 3rd day, 3rd night

    Yahshua rose the 1st day MARK 16:9 and John 20:1 Mary came 1st day "YET DARK"
    Matthew 28 the earth shook and stone rolled away just at dawn, same when he died the earth shook and split, obvious point of resurrection, when angels showed to raise him, fulfilling FIRSTFRUITS LEV 23:11 and 3rd NIGHT Matt 12:40


    Please read Daniel 9 vs 27.

  • greta1975
    i really love how much im learning and movated i am on reading and sharing this in bible study
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