A Bible-Related Commentary
The gospel evidence overwhelmingly points to Jesus being crucified on “Good Friday” of Passover week. All four gospel writers report that it was the day of Preparation that Jesus underwent his trial before Pilate and was subsequently executed on. This day of “preparation,” or paraskeuē (παρασκευή) in New Testament Greek, refers to “Friday,” the day Jews set aside to prepare for their holiest day of the week, the Sabbath, or “Saturday”:
“And when evening had already come, because it was the preparation day [paraskeuē], that is, the day before the Sabbath.” (Mark 15:42 RSV)
Two important items of information need to be stressed at this point: first, every Friday is the “day of Preparation” because every Saturday is the Jewish day of Sabbath; and second, Mark is technically incorrect when he says, “when evening had already come …”. This cannot be literally true; for if evening had already come, Mark would be indicating that Saturday, or the “Sabbath” had already begun when it is clear this is not the case. He was, of course, referring to the period of time between Jesus’ death at around 3 o’ clock in the afternoon (“the ninth hour”) and sunset as the text that follows, “it was the the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath” (προσάββατον) points to it still being Friday.
Or is it just possible that Mark is actually referring to Thursday here?
A Possible Thursday Crucifixion – Revisited
I previously dismissed as nonsensical the belief that Jesus was actually crucified on Thursday of Holy Week. But perhaps I was a bit too hasty in doing so. For as previously indicated, when one is dealing with the bible, every thing is not nearly as cut-and-dried as one would imagine.
For example, it is clear from the gospel record that Jesus died during a week in which the Jewish feast of Passover was being observed. All four evangelists attest to this in unison. The testimony of Luke, Chapter 22 (along with Mark 14:12-16) even points to Jesus’ “Last Supper” being the traditional Passover Seder meal:
“Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go prepare the passover for us, that we may eat it …and they prepared the passover … and when when the hour came, he [Jesus] sat at table, and the apostles with him.” (Luke 22:7-14; RSV)
But here’s the “rub”: The fourth gospel gives us every reason to believe that Jesus did not live long enough to eat the Passover Seder meal; that he was crucified the very day and at the very hour the paschal lambs that were to form part of the Seder meal were being slaughtered, or “sacrificed”.
Passover is celebrated on the 15th day of the Jewish month, Nisan. It so happens that Passover fell on a Friday the week of Jesus’ death. So when John reports that:
“They [the Jewish Authorities] led Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium [to undergo trial before Pilate], and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium in order that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover [Seder meal]”. (John 18:28)
he was effectively revealing it was Thursday (14 Nisan) of Holy Week—sunset that evening (the onset of Friday, 15 Nisan) being analogous to the stroke of midnight Christmas Eve for Christians preparing to celebrate Christmas Day.
Further proof that Jesus was crucified on Thursday instead of Friday is found in John 19:14 where we read, “Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour.”
So which is it? Was Jesus crucified at around twelve noon on Thursday of Holy Week as John maintains, or was it at nine o’ clock Friday morning according to Mark’s report?
We should perhaps briefly examine one more exegetical explanation offered by Christian apologists frantically trying to harmonize John with Mark (along with Matthew and Luke) in regards to the day and time of Jesus’ death: the Lunar/Solar Observational Argument. The argument here being that while Mark, Matthew, and Luke were following the normal Jewish lunar calendar in observing the Passover, John may have possibly followed an Essene, Galilean, or a local Greek liturgical sectarian calendar; one that differed from the lunar calendar by 24 hours and that began counting the hours from midnight.
But why would this be the case? Were not all the reports regarding the last week of Jesus’ life based on the testimony of fellow Galileans all observing Passover in a like, customary manner and in accordance with the rest of the Jewish population at-large? And if not, would we not expect “God” to have divinely inspired his evangelists to reveal that at least one or more of His gospel writers was utilizing an alternate calendar so as not to confuse the faithful (and we skeptics)?
No, the answer to why there is such contradictory information being supplied us in regards to the time and day of Jesus’ death is because at least one gospel writer employed a liberal amount of “artistic license” in making up certain elements of the Passion narrative for his/their own theologically-motivated reasons. In the case of John, to portray Jesus as God’s sacrificial “lamb” being sacrificed for the redemption of mankind’s “sins”; Jesus being the ultimate paschal sacrifice, if you will.
Think artistic license was not being liberally employed in the gospel Passion narratives? Read Matthew 27:52-53 and think things over anew.
Greywolf’s 1st Dictum: There can be no greater evil in all of existence than the Creator of Evil. (Assuming such a Creature actually exists, of course.) The conscious, deliberate, act of creating evil is, in itself, inherently evil. End of story.
Greywolf’s 2nd Dictum: If if happened, God wanted it to. If He didn’t, it would never have happened. (Assuming such a Creature actually exists, of course.) Note: This would include every human tragedy, every evil to befall man. Would it not? – A sobering conclusion that needs to be honestly addressed by every brave, uncompromising, individual in their quest for the truth.