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Was Jesus Crucified on Thursday or Friday?
Page 5: Making Sense of the Passover

The Passover and The Feast of Unleavened Bread can be a little confusing to understand, but if we can grasp the meaning they lend even greater evidence to the Friday crucifixion. What we refer to as Passover is observed one day per year on Nisan 14 (Exodus 12:2,6, Numbers 9:3-5). On that day, a lamb was to be slain in the twilight, or latter part of the day. As the Jewish day ended at 6pm (or about sunset), this corresponds perfectly to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.

The Jewish historian Josephus confirms that the Passover lambs were slain from the ninth hour to the eleventh hour, that being from 3pm to 5pm ( Wars of the Jews, Book VI, Chapter IX, Section 3). Therefore, the two events, the time for the killing of the Passover lamb and the death of Jesus, coincided precisely on that Friday afternoon the 14th of Nisan, the Lord's Passover, at 3pm. Jesus died in the late hours of Nisan 14, when it was time for the Passover Lamb to be slain.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is often confused with this as it began on Nisan 15 and lasted until Nisan 21 (Leviticus 23:5). The source of confusion, however, is that unleavened bread was to be eaten from Nisan 14 until Nisan 21 (Exodus 12:18).

Some further evidence of the commonly accepted chronology can be seen in the principle of type in the Old Testament. The sequence of days to be observed for Passover was set down in scripture as the "type" or foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus. It was symbolic of what was to come when the crucifixion of the Lamb of God actually took place, which is the "antitype". So the type and antitype must match precisely:

  • 14 Nisan, the Lord's Passover is the type of the crucifixion day. It is the day on which the Lamb is slain. As we have seen, even the time of day was precise. This was the first day Jesus was in the tomb.
  • 15 Nisan, 1st day of Unleavened Bread, is the second day. On this particular year, it was also a seventh day Sabbath, which called for rest the entire day. Jesus was in the tomb all day, the second day.
  • 16 Nisan, Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:10-11) are given to the Lord. "First fruits" is a type of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20). This was "the third day".

 Article info: 
By: Bill Smith
 This Series: 
1 Introduction and Time of Death
2 Which Sabbath?
3 "The Third Day"
4 "Three Days and Three Nights"
5 Making Sense of the Passover

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