Did Jesus’ Crucifixion Happen On a Wednesday?

Published by DonDavidson on

In my previous blog entry, I said that the proponents of a Thursday crucifixion make a pretty strong case. But there is one problem.

Mark 16:1 says “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might come and anoint Him.” If Friday and Saturday were both Sabbath days, the women would not have been able to buy the spices before Saturday evening after sunset, at the earliest, when the Saturday Sabbath ended. But Luke 23:54-56 seems to rule out that possibility.

Luke 23:54, talking about the day Jesus was crucified, says this: “It was a preparation day, and a Sabbath was about to begin.” Then Luke 23:55-56 goes on to say: “Now the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how His body was laid. And then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”

So the women bought and prepared the spices after the Sabbath, and then rested on a second Sabbath before going to the tomb.

Only one sequence of events is consistent with both Mark and Luke. Jesus was crucified on Passover (the 14th day of the 1st month), which was a Wednesday. The women witnessed the hasty movement of his body into Joseph’s tomb shortly before the Feast day Sabbath (the 15th day of the 1st month) began at sunset on Wednesday evening. That Sabbath ended on Thursday evening at sunset. On Friday the women bought and prepared the necessary spices and perfumes. Then they rested on Saturday, the weekly Sabbath, before heading to the tomb early on Sunday morning.

Proponents of this view explain Luke 24:21 by saying that the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were measuring the “three days” from Wednesday evening after Jesus’ body was entombed, which would be Thursday (since the new day began at sunset). So from Thursday to Sunday would be “three days.”

The Wednesday crucifixion does create an apparent difficulty regarding Matthew 12:39-40, since we seem to now have Jesus in the tomb for three days (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) and four nights (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday). But keep in mind that we do not know exactly when Jesus rose from the dead—we only know that the empty tomb was discovered early on Sunday morning. He very well could have risen Saturday evening after sunset—which means he was only in the tomb for three nights (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday).

Finally, let us tie up one more loose end. Several verses in the Gospels place “the first day of Unleavened Bread” prior to the crucifixion. (Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:7) But the context of these verses make clear that they are referring to Passover, the 14th day of the 1st month. For example, Mark and Luke both say that “the first day of Unleavened Bread” was the day the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed—which occurred on Passover. And in Matthew, this “first day of Unleavened Bread” was the day the disciples came to Jesus to ask “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” So it seems that the Gospel writers viewed Passover as part of the Feast of Unleavened Bread that immediately followed it.

So was Jesus crucified on a Wednesday, a Thursday, or a Friday? You decide.

But which day it happened is ultimately unimportant. What is important is that Jesus did not stay in the tomb. He rose from death, and in doing so he became the hope of the world.

This blog entry, along with the previous two entries discussing the day of Jesus’ crucifixion (on Friday and Thursday), were based in part on the following sources:

“Was Jesus Crucified on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday?,” by Shari Abbott, 4-4-2022, found at https://reasonsforhopejesus.com/crucified/.

“Jesus Wasn’t Crucified on Friday or Resurrected on Sunday,” by Scott Ashley, 4-2-2006, found at https://www.ucg.org/the-good-news/jesus-wasnt-crucified-on-friday-or-resurrected-on-sunday-how-long-was-jesus-in-the.

“Was Jesus Crucified On a Wednesday?,” found at https://www.gci.org/articles/was-jesus-crucified-on-a-wednesday/

“On What Day Was Jesus Crucified?,” found at https://www.gotquestions.org/three-days.html


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