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Did Jesus Really Die On Good Friday?



Tradition holds that Jesus went to the cross on "Good Friday." On a side note, I like to call this day "Black Friday" since he, who knew no sin, became sin for me. But did Jesus really die on a Friday? Many Christians have differing opinions on this. If Jesus died on Good Friday, there should be some Biblical and historical evidence. My purpose in this post is to review that evidence.

The Jews knew the year of the Messiah's death. According to Daniel 9:25-27, the Messiah would be "cut off" 483 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem once Babylon had destroyed it. According to history, King Artaxerxes issued the order to rebuild Jerusalem on March 14, 445 BC. The Messiah’s death would had to happen 483 years later. Using the Gregorian Calendar that we currently follow, Jesus death should have been in 38 AD, but neither Daniel nor the Jews followed the Roman Calendar. They followed the Julian Calendar, which has 360 days a year instead of 365. With this adjustment, we see that the Bible predicts the Messiah's death between late 31 AD to early 33 AD.

The High Priesthood of Caiaphas. The gospels indicate that Jesus was crucified at the direction of the first century high priest named Caiaphas (Matthew 26:3-4, John 11:49-53). We know from other sources that he served as high priest from AD 18 to 36, so that puts Jesus' death in that time frame.

The Governorship of Pontius Pilate. All four gospels agree that Jesus was crucified on the orders of Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:24-26, Mark 15:15, Luke 23:24, John 19:15-16). The Roman Empire records he served as governor of Judea from AD 26 to AD 36.

After "The Fifteenth Year of Tiberius Caesar." The Gospel of Luke tells us the ministry of John the Baptist began in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1-2), which was in AD 29. Since all four gospels depict the ministry of Christ beginning after that of John the Baptist (Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, John 1), this means that the death of Christ had to be after AD 29.

Crucified on a Friday. All four gospels agree that Jesus was crucified on a Friday (Matt. 27:62, Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:42). We know that it was a Friday because it is referred to as "the day of preparation,” that is, the day on which Jews made the preparations they needed for the Sabbath on Saturday. That eliminates the other six of the days of the week, but there were still quite a few Fridays between AD 29 and 36.

A Friday at Passover. The annual feast of Passover is held on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. According to the Gospels, Jesus died on a Friday that had a Passover feast (Matthew 26:2, Mark 14:1, Luke 22:1, John 18:39). Here is list of the days between AD 29 and 36 on which the Passover feast was celebrated:

Monday, April 18, AD 29

Friday, April 7, AD 30

Tuesday, March 27, AD 31

Monday, April 14, AD 32

Friday, April 3, AD 33

Wednesday, March 24, AD 34

Tuesday, April 12, AD 35

Saturday, March 31, AD 36

Therefore, Jesus had to have died in either AD 30 or 33.

John's Three Passovers. The Gospel of John records three different Passovers during the ministry of Jesus:

  • Passover #1: This is recorded in John 2:13, near the beginning of Jesus' ministry.

  • Passover #2: This is recorded in John 6:4, in the middle of Jesus' ministry.

  • Passover #3: This is recorded in John 11:55 at the end of Jesus' ministry.

Since the ministry of Jesus spanned at least two years and more likely three and a half years. That means the AD 30 date is out. There is not enough time between the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar (AD 29), and John's recording of three Passovers during the ministry of Jesus. As a result, the Messiah was “cut off” on Friday, April 3, AD 33. Can we confirm this?

"The Ninth Hour". Matthew, Mark, and Luke each record that Jesus died about "the ninth hour" (Matthew 27:45-50, Mark 15:34-37, Luke 23:44-46).” The ninth hour" is what we, today, would refer to as 3:00 p.m. This allows us to narrow down the time of Jesus' death to a very specific point in history: around 3:00 p.m on Friday, April 3, AD 33.

The Eclipse. Jesus died after a three hour eclipse that blocked out the sun. According to NASA, a partial lunar eclipse took place on the afternoon of April 3, AD 33 at 3:00 PM for about 2 hours and 50 minutes, exactly when the Bible claims (Matthew 27:45). Please do not just take my word for it, click the image below and see what NASA confirms: