Was Jesus Christ really crucified on A Friday?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Did Jesus Christ really die on Good Friday? Or is that merely church tradition? While some may argue that this issue is insignificant, the fact is that anything that is not in the Bible is not of faith. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). What if God’s Word did tell us on what day Jesus died? Would we care to know what God says about the matter, or would we be content to merely believe what we presumed the Bible to teach?
In Matthew 12:40, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” During the three days and three nights between Christ’s death and resurrection, His soul went to the heart of the earth. In Luke 23:43, Jesus called the place “paradise.” This is “Abraham’s bosom,” the same place mentioned earlier in Luke chapter 16. Jesus Christ never went to hell’s torments. Hanging on Calvary’s cross, Jesus declared, “It is finished,” so His suffering was complete before He died (John 19:30). After three days and three nights were accomplished, Christ arose on Sunday, victorious over sin and death.
Let us examine Luke chapter 24: “ And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.  And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.  But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.  And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?  And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?  And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:  And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.  But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.”
Notice in verse 21 that, on resurrection day, Sunday, it was said that that day “was the third day since these things happened [since Christ suffered and died].” If we go back, Saturday would be the second day since Christ died, and Friday would be the first day since He died. That would make Thursday the crucifixion day.
Another way to look at it is like this: Jesus Christ died around 3 p.m. (“the ninth hour;” Matthew 27:46,50; Mark 15:34,37; Luke 23:44-46). The Jews count days from evening to evening (6 p.m. to 6 p.m.), rather than the Roman/Gentile reckoning of time (midnight to midnight). The only way for Jesus to be dead three days and three nights and resurrect on “the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), Sunday, is to be crucified on Thursday. Thursday is the most plausible day of His crucifixion—a Friday crucifixion would be only two nights to Sunday, not three nights, and this would not fulfill the prophecy of Matthew 12:40. Furthermore, if we consider Jewish reckoning of time, Thursday evening and Friday morning were the first day, Friday evening and Saturday morning were the second day, and Saturday evening and Sunday morning were the third day, and Jesus rose Sunday morning. Three days and three nights from Sunday would be Thursday, and Sunday could only be the “third day” if it was a Thursday crucifixion. See diagram:
So, if the Bible indicates a Thursday crucifixion, why do many people talk about “Good Friday?” The main reason it is assumed that Jesus was crucified on Friday is that the Bible says that the day after Jesus’ crucifixion was the Sabbath day. John 19:31 says, “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” However, the parenthetical statement says that that Sabbath day was not the weekly Sabbath (Saturday), but “that sabbath day was an high day.” It was a special Sabbath—“that sabbath”—not “the sabbath.” Israel did not have merely weekly Sabbaths (Saturdays) to observe, but Sabbaths (other days of rest) associated with feasts observed throughout the year as well (Leviticus 16:31; Leviticus 23:24,32,39). The Sabbath of John 19:31 was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which immediately followed Passover.