James Patrick’s Blog

April 4, 2009

Good Thursday? part 2 – ‘Good Friday’ and the ‘Day of Preparation’

Filed under: History — alabastertheology @ 9:18 pm
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In Part 1 we noted that disagreements about commemorating the days of Jesus’ death and resurrection were openly acknowledged early in the second century AD, and apparently trace back even to the time of the writing of John’s Gospel in the first century.  One of these disagreements involved the different reasons for celebration of the date of Jesus’ death as the 14th of Nisan (Jewish lunar calendar) or instead the day of His resurrection as Sunday, or ‘the Lord’s Day’, the “first day of the week” as every Gospel records.  Another disagreement is more implicit, as Matthew’s quotation (12:40) of Jesus predicting a ‘three days and three nights’ period in the tomb does not fit with a belief that Jesus was buried on ‘Good Friday’.

The day before the Sabbath = ‘Good Friday’?
So where does the belief that Jesus died on a Friday come from?  Every Gospel writer quotes Jesus’ frequent references to resurrection “on the third day”.  If this is the case, a burial on Friday could naturally lead to Sunday being spoken of as the ‘third day’, if Friday counts as the first day.  However, a burial on Thursday would fit just as well.  In Luke 24:21, Cleopas as he walked to Emmaus on the Sunday said to Jesus, “it is the third day since these things happened”.  Had he been telling the story on Friday he could have said, “it is a day since these things happened”, or on Saturday, “it is two days since these things happened”.  The ‘Good Friday’ option uses an inclusive way of measuring time, whereas the ‘Good Thursday’ option uses an exclusive way of measuring.

Is there any further evidence that has led people to such a unanimous view that Jesus died on a Friday?  Clearly something must have been stronger than Matthew’s evidence of “three days and three nights”, which could only really fit with a crucifixion on Thursday.  The answer is found in Mark 15:42, where we are told that Jesus’ burial took place on “the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath”.  A few verses later in Mark 16:1-2 we find that “When the Sabbath was over, …very early on the first day of the week…”, Jesus rose again.  From Genesis chapter two we know that the Sabbath is the seventh day, the last day of the week.  If, therefore, the regular Jewish Sabbath was the day after Jesus died, His crucifixion must have happened on a Friday, hence, ‘Good Friday’.  Every Gentile in the church would have known that the Jewish Sabbath was a Saturday, so few would have questioned whether Jesus died on a Friday.

But which sort of Sabbath?
Someone has said, ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’, and it seems John was aware of the confusion that could have, or already had, arisen in the minds of Gentile readers of earlier Gospels, unfamiliar with Jewish customs.  Therefore in his own account of the crucifixion and burial, he quotes Mark verbatim that “it was the day of preparation” (19:31), but then emphasises that the Sabbath that followed “was a high day” (literally, “for the day of that Sabbath was great”).  That is, it wasn’t just any old Sabbath.  This was a special Sabbath coming up, and the day before it, on which Jesus was crucified, was that day known as “the Jewish day of preparation” (19:42).  Earlier in 19:14, John had referred to this day as “the day of preparation for the Passover”.

To understand what John was trying so hard to make his readers realise, we must look back at the regulations about observance of the Feast of Passover in the Old Testament.  In Exodus 12, we find the instructions about killing a lamb on the fourteenth day of the first month (i.e. Nisan), some of whose blood was to be put on the doorposts and lintels of each house, making the Angel of Death ‘pass over’ their houses (12:2-14).  This Feast of Passover was to be a permanent memorial, but it coincided with another Feast known as ‘Unleavened Bread’, during which no yeast (‘leaven’) was to be eaten at all, or even found in anyone’s house.  Exodus 12:15-20 describe this part of the feast:

On the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and a holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you.  You shall also observe the Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt…  In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.

Just as the sacrifice of the lambs at twilight on the 14th of Nisan commemorated the ‘Passover’ of the Angel of Death, so the unleavened bread, eaten in a meal with that lamb and throughout the following seven days (15th – 21st), commemorated the haste with which God brought His people out of Egypt the next day.  Yet both the 15th and 21st of Nisan were set apart as holy days, special Sabbaths on which no work was to be done.  Preparing the lambs, and presumably also the unleavened bread, had to happen on the 14th, therefore, which naturally became known as the Day of Preparation of the Passover.

Two Sabbaths in a row!
One crucial point to note here, though, is that because the Feast(s) happened on a certain date every year, the day of the week would change from year to year.  Exactly the same thing happens with our western celebration of Christmas.  If the 25th of December happens to fall on a Saturday or a Monday, Christians may well attend church two days in a row.  If, on the other hand, the 25th was a Sunday, the special day of worship and the normal day of worship would coincide, and be celebrated together.  So with the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  On certain years the 15th and 21st of Nisan would happen to fall on the seventh day of the week, in which case the special Sabbath and normal Sabbath would coincide (the necessary situation if one is to hold to ‘Good Friday’).  On all other years there would be two additional Sabbaths to observe, with a normal Sabbath somewhere in between them.

What John is at pains to point out is that Jesus died on the day before a special Sabbath, not just on the sixth day of the week before a normal Sabbath.  But then, what if John is going further, and actually trying to indicate that it was not the sixth day of the week?  What if John is suggesting that the special Sabbath and normal Sabbath were different days that year, and that therefore Jesus was in the tomb on both the sixth and seventh day of that week?  This would fit perfectly with Matthew 12:40, and mean that Jesus was buried before sunset on the Thursday (first day, = 14th Nisan), spent that night (first night, = 15th Nisan), Friday (second day = 15th Nisan, + second night = 16th Nisan), and Saturday (third day = 16th Nisan, + third night = 17th Nisan) in the tomb, rising again before sunrise on the Sunday (John 20:1, clarifying Luke 24:1-2, Mark 16:2-4 and Matthew 28:1-2).

If the Day of Preparation was not a Friday (that term is not generally used by Jews for the sixth day of the week) but rather a Thursday, this would mean that Jesus died on the 14th of Nisan, the very day that the Passover lambs were slaughtered, and then the women were kept from going to the tomb for two full Sabbaths, ensuring that Jesus was in the grave according to the sign of Jonah for three days and three nights.

This solves the problem of the three days and three nights, but what then of the statements by Matthew, Mark and Luke, to the effect that Jesus celebrated a Passover meal the night before He was crucified?  That is the subject of the next post…



  1. Support for Good Friday Crucifixion

    Three Days and Three Nights.

    Hello, my name is Ed Chapman. I have done a complete study of Passover as it pertains to Jesus. I have heard all sorts of

    scenarios about a Wednesday or a Thursday crucifixion. But I can prove a Friday crucifixion.

    What got me into studying this is that I heard a very interesting question once. The question was, “How do you get three

    days and three nights from Good Friday afternoon to Ishtar Sunday Morning?” It’s either Ishtar or Ashtray, I can’t

    remember which.

    Well, it is possible to get three days and three nights from Good Friday afternoon to Easter Sunday Morning. Especially if

    we get the notion out of our heads that a day is 24 hours, because three days and three nights has nothing to do with

    “time”, but with light and dark.

    Genesis 1:5
    “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night…”

    If it is light outside, it is day. If it is dark outside, it is night.

    The other thing that needs to be looked at, is the notion as to when Passover begins, vs. when the lamb is to be killed.

    The lamb is NOT to be killed immediately upon the beginning of Passover. It is first “prepared” at the START of Passover.

    But when does Passover begin?

    It begins IN (Pay attention to the word IN) the 14th day of Nisan AT (Pay attention to the word AT) even (evening,

    otherwise known as sunset).

    Now, is that the 14th day, or the 15th day? Most believe that this is the 14th day. They think that Passover begins on the

    14th day. But that is not what that states. That states that this is the 15th day, not the 14th.

    Example: For us, New Years Day begins ON New Years Eve AT midnight. Oh, you want Biblical proof, do ya? O.K., no problem.

    When is the Day of Atonement? The 10th Day of the Seventh Month. When does this begin? ON the 9th Day AT sunset.

    Leviticus 23:
    27Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you;

    and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
    28And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD

    your God.
    29For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
    30And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.
    31Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
    32It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from

    even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.

    Verse 32 is discussing the 10th day, not the 9th day. So lets review. When does Passover begin? It begins ON the 14th Day

    at sunset, which is technically the 15th, not the 14th. Passover is known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Luke 22:1). It

    is a seven day feast, not a one day feast. It is from the 15th to the 21st, beginning on the 14th day at sunset (15) to

    sunset of the 21 (21). That is a total of seven days.

    Jesus did not eat the Passover one day early. He ate it based on the law, on the correct day at the correct time.

    The first day of Passover (15th) is a Sabbath Day (the AN HIGH DAY, or as some wish to say, a SPECIAL Sabbath). The

    seventh day of Passover is also a Sabbath Day. Sabbaths go from sunset to sunset…KEEP THAT IN MIND, that it is based on

    sunset, and not the time of the day. This indicates that the “an high day” sabbath ended at noon!

    The day that Jesus died is the FIRST DAY OF THE PASSOVER, which is a Passover Sabbath, and the very next day is the weekly

    Saturday Sabbath. The day that Jesus died was the preparation of the Weekly Sabbath.

    Everything about the death of Jesus MUST MATCH that of the actual passover lamb.

    Jesus died on Nisan 15, and since Jesus died on Nisan 15, that means that the actual passover lamb was also killed on

    Nisan 15, not on Nisan 14 as many want you to believe.

    If you look at the exact words as to when the Passover lamb is to be killed, it states that the Passover “begins” In the

    14th Day of the month “AT” EVEN ( I understand between the eves). That isn’t the 14th. That is the 15th. This is the time

    that the lamb is “PREPARED”, NOT KILLED. It is killed THREE HOURS LATER. You will see that in the following. It is the

    PREPARATION that is at “between the eves”, or twilight, or whatever word that you wish to use (DUSK). But that isn’t when

    the Passover lamb is slaughtered, killed, or crucified.

    Preparation is during BETWEEN THE EVES. Now, I have heard numerous definitions of this. It is funny because people

    actually believe that this is during the daylight hours. But it isn’t. Between the eves, or twilight, is that period of

    time AFTER sunset, when the sun is below the horizon, but not quite total darkness. We call that DUSK. There is also a

    dusk, or twilight, or between the eves just before sunrise, too.

    Jesus was killed at the third hour of darkness. It was dark when Jesus died, and had been for 3 hours. That darkness is

    counted, or as many use the word, “reckoned” as a night in the count of three days and three nights (Genesis 1:5).

    And since it was dark for three hours in regards to Jesus, that is when the actual lamb is killed, ON the 15, not the

    14th. So the actual passover lamb was killed about 9 pm on Friday the 15th, which began three hours before when it was

    THURSDAY the 14th at sunset, which is the 15th, not the 14th.

    Remember the easy verification of Leviticus Chapter 23 in regards to the Day of Atonement. The 10th day begins ON the 9th

    day AT EVEN.

    The Bible does not specify a TIME at which the lamb is to be eaten. God just said to eat in haste, and not to leave any of

    it in the morning, and the uneaten portions that are, that they are to be burnt. This would clarify everyone’s notion that

    the angel of death began his journey at midnight, as there is no time specified. It could have happened at any time of the

    night before sunrise.

    Now, some claim that Jesus was crucified at 9:00 am, equating that crucifying means putting Jesus on the cross at 9 am.

    But Jesus was not on the cross at 9 am, nor was he crucified at 9 am. Mark 15:25 states that it was the third hour, but

    people seem to assume that Mark was discussing the third hour of the day, which would be 9 am if he was, but he wasn’t. He

    was discussing the third hour of the night, not the day. Darkness (NIGHT-Genesis 1:5) began at NOON. It was 3 pm, and they

    crucified him.

    Mark 15:25 (Third hour of the night (3:00 P.M., not 9:00 A.M.))
    And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.

    Now, check out the following:

    John 19:14-16 (The Sixth Hour of the DAY (About Noon, and he had NOT been crucified yet…”TO BE CRUCIFIED”.)
    “And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But

    they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief

    priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified.”

    Mark 15:25 cannot be the 3rd hour of the day (9 AM) because in John 19:14-16 it was noon and he hadn’t been crucified yet.

    At noon he was “TO BE” crucified. He had not even gotten on the cross yet, until about noon. And it was THAT PARTICULAR

    NOON TIME that was SUNSET. This “about noon” from John 14:16 is signifying BETWEEN THE EVES, or TWILIGHT, as it was to be

    SUNSET at any moment, NOON. And Jesus was crucified three hours later, the 3rd hour of DARKNESS, or, the third hour of the


    Tons of people that have a problem with a Good Friday crucifixion do not even consider the darkness (noon to 3 pm) as a

    part of the “reckoning”. The math can be confusing, when attempting to equate the date of the death of Jesus with the date

    of the death of the actual passover lamb, which by “time” reckoning was in reality 18 hours before, but was indeed the

    third hour of the night of Nisan 15. “Time” reckoning shows that the actual Passover lamb was killed AT 9 pm, and Jesus

    was killed at 3 pm. This is where the confusion comes in that Jesus ate the passover a day early. But BOTH OF THEM was

    killed ON Nisan 15, the third hour of the night, yet 18 hours apart.

    A quick review:

    The Lamb is prepared beginning AT sunset, of the 14th, which in reality is the 15th. Sunset begins twilight, or between

    the eves. The First day of the Passover is a Sabbath Day. The last day of Passover is a Sabbath Day. There is no such

    thing as a yearly Special Sabbath (An High Day). The An High Day that is discussed was in regards to the Passover Sabbath

    of Nissan 15, and not in regards to a Sabbath of any other day. The Preparation of the Passover (JESUS) was at NOON in

    John 19:14-16. That was when Jesus was put on the cross. Jesus was on the cross for three hours, not six hours. He was not

    put on the cross at 9:00 am. The PREPARATION of the actual passover lamb was at SUNSET of the 14th, which is the 15th, not

    the 14th. Three hours later, the lamb is killed/crucified.

    For us, New Years Day begins ON New Years Eve AT midnight. That is how it is described for the day of Atonement, as well.

    Three Days and Three Nights
    Night #1. About 3:00pm Friday (PARTIAL NIGHT)
    Day #1. 3:00pm to 6:00pm Friday
    Night #2. 6:00pm to 6:00am Saturday
    Day #2. 6:00am to 6:00pm Saturday
    Night #3. 6:00pm to 6:00am Sunday
    Day #3. 6:00 Sunday Sunrise(PARTIAL DAY)

    Technically speaking, days are “reckoned” as sunrise to sunset, and nights are “reckoned” as sunset to sunrise. This is in

    Genesis 1:5. If it is dark outside, it is night. If it is light outside, it is day. The number of hours in a day or night

    is irrelevant. Yes, Jesus did say, “are there not twelve hours in the day?”. He did say that. But lets look at how many

    hours of day “LIGHT” that there is during THAT TIME OF THE YEAR. Jesus could not say that during, say, November or

    December, as there is more hours of darkness during that time, especially if we are “reckoning” that there is 24 hours in

    a day. But in the case of a literal three days and three nights, we are not discussing how many hours there is in a 24

    hour day, or partial days.

    Now, one final note in regards to Sunday. Some use Luke 24:1 and John 20:1 to indicate that we cannot count Sunday

    Morning, because it was not yet sunrise.

    I beg to differ. Big time. The whole complete story here is left out.

    What is missing is the following:

    Mark 16:1-4
    1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that

    they might come and anoint him.

    2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

    3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

    4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.


    Matthew 28:1-5
    1 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.

    2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back

    the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

    3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

    4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

    5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

    Notice, if you will, that Mark 16:2 states “at the rising of the sun”. That is sunrise!

    Next, notice if you will, that at this point, they had NOT YET got to the tomb, because they asked amongst themselves, in

    verse 3, “Who shall roll away the stone…?” This shows that they were STILL on their journey. It was dark when they

    began their journey, and while on the journey, sunrise happened, so that by the time that they got to the tomb, sunrise

    had already taken place.

    Now, at the rising of the sun, AKA sunrise, if they had been at the tomb at that point, why would they ask “who shall roll

    away the stone…?”?

    The fact is, when they actually arrived at the tomb, the stone was rolled away, already.

    This clearly shows that sunrise had already taken place before their arrival at the tomb, and that it was NOT dark when

    they “arrived” at the tomb.

    This shows that Luke and John is discussing “going” to the tomb, and not “arriving” at the tomb. Do you see how covertly

    that some leave out Mark and Matthew’s account? Very convenient, isn’t it?

    For example:
    If I left the house to go to South America, but I hadn’t yet arrived, and someone looks for me, my roommate will respond,

    He went to South America. That does not mean that I arrived in South America.

    My bottom line is that the three hours of darkness on the day that Jesus died was no mistake or mystery. That darkness was

    extremely important, and Mark 15:25 is discussing that darkness.

    I studied this for many years. What your side does is attempt to use “hours” as the tool, where I just use light and dark,

    aka, sunrise to sunset, sunset to sunrise.

    Jesus died on Friday. There is NO DOUBT in my mind. There is no question. Yes, you can get three days and three nights

    from Good Friday afternoon to Sunday Morning.


    I find it necessary to include the following in this write up, as some actually think that Jesus said that he would be in

    the grave for three days and three nights. He did not say that. This is extremely important, as some believe that the

    countdown of three days and three nights begin at the moment that the body of Jesus entered the tomb, rather than at the

    point that Jesus died on the cross. Heart of the Earth does not equate to “tomb”, or “grave”. It is appointed unto man

    once to die, and then the judgment. Jesus took our sins upon himself. Sin is the separation of God. Jesus said, My God,

    My God, why hast thou forsaken me. That indicates that Jesus took our sin at that point. But sin is not judged while

    alive, sin is judged after death of the body, not when one is buried into the ground, or enters a tomb.

    Jesus NEVER said that he would be in the “Grave” for three days and three nights. Many seem to “covertly” use the word

    “Grave”, rather than the words that Jesus actually used.

    Jesus actually said that he would be in the Heart of the Earth for three days and three nights. The word heart means

    “core”. Where is the core of an apple? In the middle. You will see that definition in the Strong’s Concordance. Jesus

    was in the middle of the earth for three days and three nights. That is not the earthly tomb. Some believe in soul

    sleep, that when you die, that is the end of the story until the resurrection. I don’t buy into that doctrine. Yes, I

    know about Ecclesiastes 9:5, but that isn’t what that is interpreted as. If you come across a dead man in the street, and

    you ask that dead man a question, he will not answer. That is what that is describing. The person is not in his body.

    He is elsewhere.

    Some do not believe in an actual hell with demons, fire, and torment. I do. Note: Read AND compare 2 Samuel 22:4-51

    with Psalms 18:3-50. Then, afterwards, compare one verse: compare 2 Samuel 22:8 with Psalm 18:7. When that is complete,

    compare all this with Jonah Chapter 2.

    The time frame begins, that is, counted upon the death of Jesus. Not upon the entrance to an earthy tomb, called a grave,

    which Jesus never even used the word grave to begin with. However, the word grave is a “spiritual” term of hell fire with

    demons and torment. The Carnal would be an Earthly tomb. Eternal life requires no grave. But Jesus was going to death,

    in the heart of the earth, which began when he died on the cross. Jesus had to go to the place of torment with demons and

    fire. He had taken the sin of the world upon his shoulders, and that sin still needed judgement. It is appointed unto

    men once to die…then after death is the judgment, not before death. Keep that in mind.



    Ed Chapman

    Comment by Ed Chapman — November 6, 2011 @ 4:33 am | Reply

    • Hi Ed,

      I can’t agree w/your “high day ended at noon” assertion.

      That pretty much negates your line of reasoning.

      I don’t see any support for your reasoning in Moses.

      In fact, you contradicted yourself when you quoted Leviticus 23.32.

      Hope you don’t mind that I disagree w/you.

      If you can prove from the Bible and history that “a high day ends at noon”, that I will consider what you say.

      Cheers … Chris

      Comment by Chris — May 26, 2014 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

      • Hi Chris,

        No, I don’t mind that people do not agree.  But, let’s see.

        1.  Genesis 1:5 states that God called the dark night.  It was night when Jesus died.  Night began at noon.  To a Jew, the day begins at night.  To us, the day begins at mid-night.  The end of a day with a Jew is at Sun-Set.  To us, our day ends at 11:59 P.M.  In other words, If it is dark, it’s night.  If it’s light, it’s day.  It has nothing to do with “time”, no Rolex watch, no Grandfather clock, no Naval Observatory. 

        2.  Leviticus 23:32 was used to establish “wording”, as to when a day begins, in that the 10th begins “on” the ninth day “at” sunset.  That does indeed make sense since the 15th begins “on” the 14th at sunset.

        In addition, I look at John’s gospel to show that Jesus was the lamb of the Passover being discussed.  Some think that John was discussing the actual lamb.  Some think that Jesus was crucified at 9:00 AM, thinking that he got on the cross at that time due to Mark 15:25.  But John indicates that at about noon, he hadn’t even gotten on the cross yet.

        I would hope that you would dissect it with a fine tooth comb before you critique.





        Comment by chapmaned24 — May 26, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

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