Which day was Jesus crucified

SERMON TOPIC: Which day was Jesus crucified

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 25 April 2021


Sermon synopsis: While the Bible states that Jesus rose on the first day of the week, the day that he was crucified is not mentioned. Traditionally Christians celebrate the death of Jesus on a Friday and the resurrection on a Sunday.

But in Matthew 12:40 Jesus specifically mentions “three days and three nights.”

Matt 12:40 (ASV) for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

This statement by Jesus points to his death being on a Wednesday or Thursday as you cannot get 3 days and 3 nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning.

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Wednesday, Thursday or Friday?


Saturday (the Sabbath) is the 7th day of the week and Sunday is the 1st. Jesus rose on the first day of the week.

Mark 16:9 (NIV) When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene…

This is why the early church met on Sunday. Justin Martyr (100–165 AD) writes:

And on the day called Sunday there is a gathering together in the same place of all who live in a city or a rural district… We all make our assembly in common on the day of the Sun, since it is the first day, on which God changed the darkness and matter and made the world, and Jesus Christ our Saviour arose from the dead on the same day. ( First Apology of Justin, 1, 67:1-3, 7)



While the Bible states that Jesus rose on the first day of the week, the day that he was crucified is not mentioned.

Traditionally Christians celebrate the death of Jesus on a Friday and the resurrection on a Sunday. Again, Justin Martyr writes:

For they crucified him on the day before Saturn’s day, and on the day after, which is the day of the Sun, he appeared to his apostles and taught his disciples these things. (First Apology of Justin, 1, 67:1-3, 7)


Matt 16:21 (NIV) From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

One can argue that if Jesus died on Friday the passages which speak of him being raised to life “on the third day” would be satisfied - if the day of crucifixion is included.


But in Matthew 12:40 Jesus specifically mentions “three days and three nights.”

Matt 12:40 (ASV) for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

This statement by Jesus points to his death being on a Wednesday or Thursday as you cannot get 3 days and 3 nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning.



Luke 24 tells us that on the first day of the week, after Jesus arose, 2 disciples were walking to Emmaus and were greeted by Jesus, but they didn't recognize him. They told him what had recently happened and that it had been “the third day since all this took place.”

This would only allow for the Thursday to be the day of crucifixion.



According to the Gospel writers, Jesus died at the ninth hour (3 pm our time) and was buried about sunset that same day, Luke 23:44-45, 50-54; Mark 15:33-38, 42-47.

People assumed that Jesus was crucified on Friday because the following day was a Sabbath (assumed to be Saturday)

Mark 15:42 (NIV) It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath) …

But it was a special Sabbath

John 19:31 (NIV) Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.

KJV: for that sabbath day was an high day


The Jews numbered the days of the week – they didn’t give them names like we do. So Sabbath was not the name of a day (like our Saturday) but was used in the same sense we use “holiday” i.e. day of rest. The Hebrew word for Sabbath derives from “shabath” which means “to cease, desist, rest.” E.g. The Day of Atonement is a Sabbath.

Lev 16:29-31 (NIV) This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work—whether native-born or an alien living among you— because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins. It is a sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance.


The Roman day (like ours) was from midnight (+/- 12 p.m.) to midnight i.e. night, day, night. The Jewish day is from sunset (+/- 6 p.m.) to sunset i.e. night then day

Gen 1:5 (NIV) God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

As the Jewish day starts in the evening and although Jesus was crucified the following day (by our reckoning), by Jewish reckoning it was still the Passover day.


So Jesus died on Passover.

Matt 26:1-2 (NIV) When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

Mark 14:16-18 (NIV) The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”


The Last Supper was a Passover meal

Matt 26:18-21 (NIV) He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”


The Passover was on 14 Nisan (Abib).

Lev 23:5 (NIV) The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.

The next day was the first day of a week-long Festival of Unleavened Bread.

Lev 23:6 (NIV) On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast.


Both the first and seventh day of the feast were Sabbaths.

Lev 23:7-8 (NIV) On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present a food offering to the Lord. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’ ”

Hence if Jesus was crucified on Thursday (Passover), the Friday would have been a special Sabbath (The first day of the feats of Unleavened bread) and with the normal Sabbath (Saturday) there would have been two consecutive Sabbaths.


As Jesus died on the week of Passover, there were 2 Sabbaths that week:

the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread – the “special” or “high” Sabbath

the regular Saturday Sabbath

Matthew makes it plain that 2 Sabbaths had passed since Jesus was crucified.

Matt 28:1 (NIV) After the Sabbath [sabbaton], at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

On this verse nearly all translators have allowed tradition to influence their translation. It is not “Sabbath” but “Sabbaths” in the Greek text.


SOURCE: biblehub.com/ text/ matthew/ 28-1.htm

Matt 28:1 (Young's Literal Translation) And on the eve of the sabbaths [sabbaton], at the dawn, toward the first of the sabbaths, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre,

Matt 28:1 (Berean Literal Bible) And after the Sabbaths, it being dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

Matt 28:1 (International Standard Version) After the Sabbaths, around dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to take a look at the burial site.

Matt 28:1 (Literal Standard Version) Now after [the] Sabbaths, it being dawn, toward the first [day] of the weeks, Mary the Magdalene came, and the other Mary, to see the grave,


Earlier in the same book, when Matthew refers to the Sabbath day, he uses the word “sabbato” (singular) - not “sabbaton” (plural) e.g.:

Matt 12:2 (ESV) But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” [sabbato]

Matt 24:20 (ESV) Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. [sabbato]

Luke 23:54-24:1 (NIV) It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath [sabbaton=sabbaths] was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath [sabbaton] in obedience to the commandment. On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.


If Jesus was crucified on the Wednesday, why didn’t the women bring the spices on Friday?


The Israelites were not permitted to travel more than about 2000 cubits (almost 1 km) on the Sabbath. (cf. Joshua 3:4)

The distance between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives was considered a Sabbath day's walk.

Acts 1:12 (NIV) Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city.

From the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem to the present site of the Church of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives is slightly over 1/2 mile.


Therefore, the disciples couldn't have gone much farther than 1 km on a Sabbath. Also, keep in mind if they arrived at a place after sunset, they would have to stay put for the next 24 hours until the Sabbath was over or they would have traveled more than a Sabbath day's walk to go back into town.

According to a current map of Jerusalem, Bethany appears to be about 3 km from the Temple on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives (on the opposite side of the mountain from Jerusalem). Therefore, when you hear of anyone walking from Bethany to Jerusalem, or back again, it could not have been the Sabbath because it was more than double a Sabbath day's walk.

But Jesus walked to Bethany to spend the night and returned to Jerusalem the next morning for several days just before the crucifixion.

8 & 9 NISAN

8 Nisan:

Jesus travels from Jericho to Bethany - longer than Sabbath travel.

Probably stayed at Lazarus' house in Bethany for the night after such a long journey. (Matt 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-19:28; John 12:1-2)

9 Nisan: SABBATH

This is the only day in the week that could have been the weekly Sabbath due to all the work being performed on the other days and all the nights Jesus returned to Bethany.


Jesus goes from Bethany to Jerusalem for the Triumphal entry (Matt 21:1; Mark 11:1; Luke 19:28,29) - longer than Sabbath travel.

Jesus went out of the city to Bethany for the night (Matt 21:17; Mark 11:11) - longer than Sabbath travel.


Jesus goes back to Jerusalem early in the morning and curses the fig tree that is near Bethany - longer than Sabbath travel.

Mark 11:12-15 (NIV) The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” … On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts …


Jesus spends the night in Bethany (Mark 11:19). Mark indicates that the next morning on the way from Bethany to Jerusalem, they saw the fig tree withered on the way back to the Temple (the tree was near Bethany). Jesus went into the Temple courts (Matt 21:23; Mark 11:20, 21). This is the day all the Pharisees, Sadducees and others tried to trap Jesus into saying things that they could arrest him with. Jesus then gave the Olivet Discourse before leaving the city that afternoon while sitting on the Mount of Olives (Matt 21:23-26:1, Mark 11:20-13:37; Luke 20:1-21:5).

Bethany to Jerusalem was longer than Sabbath travel.


Around sunset they leave Jerusalem and head for Bethany where they will be eating dinner at Simon's (Matt 26:6; Mark 14:3, John 12:1-8). Next day (but same day according to Jewish time) the disciples ask where to prepare the Passover. Jesus tells them where it will be and they go to make preparations in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem to Bethany: longer than Sabbath travel.


Jesus and his disciples are now in Jerusalem eating their Passover shortly after sunset as God had instructed in Exodus and Leviticus. Jesus retires to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives where he prays. He is arrested (Matt 26:20-50; Mark 14:17-46; Luke 22:14-54; John 13:1-18:12). He is tried through the night, crucified and dies about 3 pm in the afternoon. He is buried before sunset (still the same day) because of the special Sabbath on the next day - 15 Nisan.


By counting backwards from the day of the crucifixion it is easy to see that several days in a row could not have been the Sabbath.

That leaves only one day that could be a Sabbath: 9 Nisan. It is also very logical that Jesus would have rested on this day after such a long trip and especially with all the activities of the coming week in particular 10 Nisan (Triumphal Entry) which was one of the most important days of his life.

If you add seven days onto the 9 Nisan Sabbath you get 16 Nisan as the next Sabbath, which would mean there was a High Sabbath on 15 Nisan and then the weekly Sabbath on 16 Nisan, i.e., back-to-back Sabbaths right after the crucifixion.

If 16 Nisan was a Sabbath then 14 Nisan 14 - the day of the Crucifixion - is a Thursday.


The lamb was chosen on 10 Nisan and slaughtered on 14 Nisan.

Ex 12:3-6 (ESV) … on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb … a lamb for a household. … and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.


10 Nisan: Triumphal entry (lamb chosen and presented) - could not be on a Sabbath. Besides the travel to and from Bethany there were other activities that were forbidden on a Sabbath.

Jesus rides on a donkey:

Ex 23:12 (NIV) Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest…

Branches are cut:

Num 15:32-36 (NIV) While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day… So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him …


After the lamb was selected, they were to take it into their home for four days (11th, 12th, 13th, 14th) and examine it each day for flaws.

Ex 12:5 (ESV) Your lamb shall be without blemish…

11–14 Nisan: Jesus was tested but they could not find fault with him.

1 Pet 1:18-19 (NIV) For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Heb 4:15 (NIV) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin.


11–13 Nisan: Jesus was tested but he “silenced them.”

Chief priests and elders: Authority of Jesus questioned (Matt 21:23-27)

Pharisees & Herodians: Paying taxes to Caesar (Matt 22:15-22)

Sadducees: Marriage at the Resurrection (Matt 22:23-33)

Expert lawyer: The Greatest Commandment (Matt 22:34-40)


Matt 22:46 (NIV) No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

His disciples would say, “Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.” (John 16:29-30, NIV).


14 Nisan: examined at 3 trials

Sanhedrin: Illegal trial at night with false witnesses

Matt 26:59-60 (NIV) The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.



Luke 23:4 (NIV) Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”



Luke 23:13-15 (NIV) Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death.”


The Mosaic Law stipulated what day the Passover lamb was to be eaten: 14 Nisan.

Num 9:2–3 (NIV) “Let the people of Israel keep the Passover at its appointed time. On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall keep it at its appointed time; according to all its statutes and all its rules you shall keep it.”

Jesus ate the Passover on the day he was crucified. Therefore he was crucified on 14 Nisan.

The 2 most popular views place Jesus’ crucifixion in AD 33 or AD 30, both of which have 14 Nisan as a Friday. But the Biblical evidence points to the crucifixion being on a Thursday. The astronomical records allow only one year when Passover fell within the window of opportunity required by scripture - AD 27.

All four gospels and the Roman historian Tacitus (Annals XV,44) agree that the crucifixion occurred when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea from 26-36 AD. As Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea from AD 26–36 this satisfies all dates (AD 27, 30 or 33).


Matthew records that there was a major earthquake when Jesus was resurrected.

Matthew records that there was a major earthquake when Jesus was resurrected.

Matt 28:2 (NIV) there was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.

Geologists have determined that there was a major seismic event which affected the area in that period - sometime between 26 and 36 AD. * Again this satisfies all suggested dates for the crucifixion. (AD 27, 30 or 33).

* www.livescience.com/ 20605-jesus-crucifixion.html


If 33 AD or 30 AD is the year of the crucifixion, then the day would be Friday.

Some believe he was crucified around AD 27 (because the calendar is out by around 6 years *) and that has 14 Nisan on Thursday.

The only year with 14 Nisan on Wednesday is 34 AD which is too late for the crucifixion.

* Herod the Great died in 4 BC and he killed all the boys in Bethlehem under 2 years old.

Luke says that the ministry of John (which shortly preceded Jesus’ ministry) began “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (3:1). As Tiberius’ reign started in AD 14, this would make Jesus’ ministry commence around AD 28. Jesus’ ministry was around 3 years (by counting Passover feasts in the Gospels) so this points to a crucifixion year of around AD 30 (supporting the Friday crucifixion day).

But Tiberius had begun ruling as coregent with Augustus around AD 11/12. This would allow for Jesus’ ministry to begin around AD 25 and for a crucifixion date of AD 27 (supporting the Thursday). This also satisfies the fact that Jesus was born around 6 BC and “was about thirty years old when he began his ministry” (Luke 3:23).


There is also the statement by the Jews in John 2:20, “This temple took forty-six years to build” which seems to favour the AD 30 crucifixion date (Herod the Great began ruling in 37 BC and Josephus says he began refurbishing the Temple in his 18th year of his reign).

But as we don’t what caused the 6 years error in the Anno Domini calendar (besides the fact that Dionysius Exiguus skipped the year 0) we cannot guarantee any dating precision in this time period without a 5-year margin of error.



Heb 10:1-4 (NIV) The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? … But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins…


Heb 10:11-14 (NIV) Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

The Passover

Ex 12:21-23 (NIV) Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe ... When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood … and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

Jesus – our Passover Lamb

Jesus is our Passover lamb.

1 Cor 5:7 (NIV) for Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

John 1:29 (NIV) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”


The Passover lamb was slaughtered on the day of Passover - as was Jesus.

Luke 22:14-20 (NIV) When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. and he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer … and he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Jesus – our Passover Lamb

As the Jews were slaughtering their Passover lambs, they did not realise that on that very day, the true Passover lamb was being slaughtered.

As just as God told the Israelites in Egypt “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Ex 12:13) so when God sees the blood of Jesus applied to our lives – he will pass over us and spare us from judgement.


Rev 5:6-9 (NIV) Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders … And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

Acts 20:28 (NIV) Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.


1 Peter 2:24 (NIV) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.


Rev 7:9-14 (NIV) After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” … Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.


Heb 9:13-14 (NIV) The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

1 John 1:7 (ESV) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Rev 7:14 (NIV) “… they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”


Heb 9:11-12 (NIV) When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.


Heb 9:23-28 (NIV) It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 


 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people;

and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.


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