Topical studies

Days of the Crucifixion

The tradition days of Easter celebration of the church systems of today have failed to consider the sign of the prophet Jonah. This sign has within it the three days and three nights period as an important and significant witness to the divine nature of the resurrection. The study that follows may assist to clarify this.

1. Calendar of the crucifixion

Gentile days: midnight to midnight SAT. SUN. MON. TUE. WED. THU. FRI. SAT. SUN.
Jewish days: sunset to sunset NISAN

(Weekly Sabbath)

(Secular Day)

(Secular Day)
(Secular Day) Prepare Passover.

(High Day Sabbath)
Jn. 19:31

(Weekly Sabbath)

(Secular Day)
Days of the Week 7th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 1st
Days of the Month 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th 15th 16th 17th 18th
On the 10th day of the month they shall take a lamb. Ex.12:3-8 Fourteenth day … kill the lamb (Ex. 12:8) 1st night & day 2nd night & day Matt.12:38-40
3rd night & day
And after 3 days Mk.8:31
Sign of the Prophet Jonah
Key verses Jn 12:13 Mk 11:15 Mt 24:3 Mk 14:14 Jn 19:30-31 Mt 27:85 Mt 27:88 Mt 28:2 Mk 8:31
Jn 12:1-12;
Mk 11:1-11
Mk 11:12-14;
Mk 11:15-19
Mk 11:20;
Mt 24; Mt. 25
Mk 14:1-9;
Mk 14:12-18
Mk 14:17;
Lk 22:14-22;
Mt 28; Jn. 18:19
Gen 22:4;
Ex 3:18;
Acts 9:9;
Ex 5:3;
Mt 27:82-85
Jos 1:11;
Jos 2:18-22;
Jn 1:17;
Mt 27:88;
Est 4:18
Num 10:33
Jos. 3:2;
Ex 15:22;
Ex 25,28;
Lk 2:48

2. Notes on the Calendar

Nisan 9: The arrival at Bethany.

Nissan 10: The triumphal entry. (Exo 12:3 NRSV) Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. The Passover lamb was to be taken on the 10th day of the month.
(Mark 11:1-9 NIV) As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.'” They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. {7} When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. {8} Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna! ” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

On this day Jesus went towards Jerusalem. Approaching Jerusalem the people shouted and laid branches in His path. Jesus went into the temple and looked about. At evening He returned to Bethany.

Nisan 11: Jesus and the disciples went to Jerusalem and the money changers were thrown out.

Nisan 12: The Olivet discourses were given to the disciples.

Nisan 13: This day was given to being with His disciples and friends. At evening Jesus joined those who went to prepare the Passover. This would be at the end of the day of Nisan 13. which would finish at sunset. Hence the comment following “when the hour came” (i.e. the hour after sunset.)

Nisan 14: (Luke 22:14-22 NIV) When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” {19} And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.”

This scene of the last supper would be taking place after sunset, which would be the beginning of the day of Nisan 14.

This is the day of the fulfilment of the prophetic picture given by the Passover lamb. It was to be the day of the crucifixion.

Nisan 14 … after the crucifixion: As the coming Sabbath day was a high day the Jewish leaders besought Pilate that the legs of those crucified might be broken to hasten death, and that they might be taken away. The day of the High Sabbath would have begun at the sunset of the crucifixion day. Jesus was placed in the tomb between the ninth hour and sunset (6 p.m.)

Notice that His death took place on “Preparation” day. That is the day before the High Sabbath. Bodies were not permitted to hang on the cross during Sabbath. The misunderstanding about the High Sabbath is where the present idea of “Good Friday” comes from. Friday is the day before the usual Jewish Sabbath (i.e.Saturday) This idea seems to work well, except that there are not three days and nights in the tomb possible between a Friday crucifixion and the Sunday which is the traditional day of His resurrection. If we begin on Friday three days ends on Monday.

Nisan 15, 16 and 17: His body was three nights and three days in the tomb. (from the sunset when Nisan 14 ended to the sunset when Nisan 17 ended.)

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary would have come to the tomb about 12 hours after the Lord’s resurrection

Nisan 15: Notice the word AFTER not IN three days. This is another significant reference. This day is the first of the three days in the tomb.

Nisan 16 and 17: (Mat 27:66 KJV) So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch. The soldiers guarded the tomb for the three nights and days.

Nisan 18: (Mat 28:1 NIV) After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. This is just as the morning began of the day Nisan 18, which was the first day of the week.

3. The Passover lamb

The above explanation fits perfectly with Exodus 12 where the commandment in regard to the Passover lamb was Given Jesus was the fulfilment of that lamb for He was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

(Exo 12:2 KJV) This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

The time in the Exodus Scriptures was to be the FIRST month e.g. NISAN On the tenth day the people were to take a lamb without blemish

(Exo 12:6 KJV) And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

The lamb was to be kept until the 14th day.

4. The only sign to be given

Jesus was pointing out that this experience of Jonah was a picture of what would happen to Him following the crucifixion. In Jonah’s day a great revival followed the three days and three nights experience..

Jesus taught that He would be in the tomb for three days and three nights to fulfil the pattern of Jonah.

After this the message of remission of sins could be preached.

5. The perfect testimony

(2 Cor 13:1 KJV) This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

Always the number three appears to be attached to great happenings in the Scriptures. It is well for us to meditate on the importance of this idea of three.

The disciples failed to realise that it was the temple of His body that Jesus was speaking of when he said he would raise it up in three days. (Doubtless He could have done the same to the physical temple in Jerusalem but that was not in the purpose of God !)

It was the will of God that Jesus should die and remain in the grave three days and nights. There is no biblical authority for “Good Friday” Such testimony leads to confusion (Babel) as it goes against the pattern of teaching from the Word of God and contradicts the only sign that Jesus gave to the world. Children who attend secular schools learn that three days and nights constitute 72 hours. If they attend the church they are confronted with three days and nights that only add up to 36 hours or at the most 48. Not to mention the unlearned and the unsaved who are very quick to point out the fallacy of such reasoning.

As was shown above when ever the Passover came – once a year – there were two Sabbaths in one week. One was called Passover or Highday the other was the ordinary weekly Sabbath. So it was that Wednesday became preparation day for the High Day on Thursday. Then came Friday an ordinary day and then the Saturday Sabbath. (see chart)

This was then a perfect testimony of threefold witness which is as it should be and should be celebrated to this day.

6. The sacrifice of Isaac

(Gen 22:2 KJV) And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

There are only two only begotten sons mentioned in the Bible: Isaac, the type and Jesus, the anti-type.

(Gen 22:3 NIV) Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.

It was a three-day journey. Abraham looked upon his son as already dead But such was his faith he believed that because God had promised that in Isaac he would have many descendants God would raise him up. Isaac was in type in the valley of the shadow of death for the whole of the three days and nights of the journey.

The story is a typical picture of the last week the Lord was with us.

7. Israel delivered

When Israel were in bondage in Egypt Gos required three days and nights for sacrifice.

(Exo 3:18 KJV) And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.

Pharaoh refused and the wrath of God was visited upon Egypt. The compromise of one or two days was not acceptable. It had to be three. Just before this journey the Passover lamb was to be slain. The deliverance of Israel was linked to the death of the lamb and the three days and nights. Again the picture of the cross and the atonement

8. Other references

(Gen 40:10 KJV) And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes:

The dream of the chief butler.

(Exo 15:22-27 KJV) So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. {23} And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. {24} And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? {25} And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, {26} And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee. {27} And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.

Three days without water then the waters were healed and a covenant of healing established. There is healing also in the cross and three days and nights.

When the journey began the glory cloud lifted from the tabernacle when journey the ended every three days the glory of God rested again on the Tabernacle.

Jesus also tabernacled with us. When He died on the cross the glory of God left His body and after three days the glory returns and He was resurrected

(Josh 1:11 KJV) Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.

Israel prepares to enter the promised land on the basis of three days preparation.



(Acts 9:9 KJV) And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

The foundation of Paul’s ministry rested upon three days and three nights. During this time he was in a sense dead to the sense world. From this experience came the greatness of Paul the Apostle to the gentiles