The Case for Good Wednesday
According to tradition, Jesus Christ was crucified on Friday and rose again on Sunday. For centuries, this has been commemorated and celebrated as Good Friday by Catholics and a good number of Protestants.
Tradition is wrong. This is why.
Jewish Days: They Ain't Like Our Days
In Jewish tradition, a "day" actually starts at what we consider night. So a Western day starts at 12 AM, but a Jewish day starts at 6 PM.
This is going to get confusing, so hang on.
Jews counted time from 6 PM to 6 AM as the evening, and 6 AM to 6 PM as the day. Therefore, 6 PM Wednesday for us is, to a Jew, the start of Thursday night, which is the start of Thursday itself.
Anyone having fun yet?
The Jews actually count the evening first when they consider a day started. To the Jews, it goes evening, then morning to make up a day. Everyone remember Genesis 1? "And the evening and the morning were the first day." It is sequential for a reason.
Us Gentiles count a day as starting in the morning and ending in the evening.
The Crucifixion's Timeline
In the Scriptures, it says that Jesus gave up the ghost, or died, at the ninth hour. Counting time as the Jews count time, that means Jesus died at 3 PM. He hung on the cross for almost another three hours.
Something happened, though. At 6 PM, the evening of a new day was going to start. The Scriptures say that because of the Sabbath, the priests asked that the Romans take down the crucified prisoners before the start of the new day.
This is when the Romans broke the legs of the thieves to speed along their demise, but saw that Jesus had already given up the ghost. They stabbed him with the spear, and then his body was removed from the cross and set aside.
Here's our first problem. If Jesus was crucified on Friday, then he was taken down from the cross just before the start of Saturday, which makes it really hard to pull a three-days-in-the-tomb thing.
Joseph of Arimathea approaches the Roman governor Pilate, and begs him for the body of Jesus. Pilate grants the request.
Now, I had this question, and my pastor answered it great. My contention was that if He was being taken down because of the sabbath, which is a Saturday, then Jesus must have been crucified on Friday.
I didn't know something about Passover week. Passover week can have two sabbaths. The day before the extra sabbath is a day of preparation to become holy, and on that day, the Jews cannot touch anything dead or they would be unclean.
The priests requested that the bodies be taken down because Jews would have to dispose of the bodies, and the Jews could not touch them after the commencement of this day of preparation.
So Joseph and Nicodemus take the body of Christ, prepare it for burial, and place it within the sepulcher before the commencement of this new day, the day of preparation for the sabbath. This puts Jesus in the tomb for a day of preparation, the extra sabbath day, and the original sabbath day.
Jesus was in the tomb Saturday (original sabbath), Friday (extra sabbath), and Thursday (day of preparation). This puts his crucifixion on Wednesday.
According to this timeline, from the sixth hour to the ninth hour (12 to 3 PM) on Wednesday, darkness covered the land as Jesus hung on the cross. At the ninth hour (3 PM), Jesus gave up the ghost. Joseph of Arimathea obtained the body of Christ sometime before the twelfth hour (6 PM), in order to prepare it for interment before the first hour (6 AM Thursday)
He and Nicodemus had a window of 12 hours to prepare the body of Christ with the necessary spices and oils and place it within the tomb. So, in Jewish reckoning, Jesus laid in the tomb Thursday evening, Thursday morning, Friday evening, Friday morning, Saturday evening, and Saturday morning.
Three days and three nights, just as He said in Matthew 12:40: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Jesus could not have been crucified on Friday and rise again on Sunday, if He was to lay within the tomb for three days and three nights.
Traditions are great. I love tradition. I'm a Marine, and we love our traditions. But when the traditions are wrong or do not reflect the facts, then the traditions should be cast away and the truth embraced instead.
The timeline suggests a Wednesday crucifixion, followed by three days of burial within the tomb over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, culminating in the Resurrection on Sunday.
This is evidence that Jesus is a Baptist, by the way, and that the time-honored traditions of Sunday services and Wednesday prayer meetings are on point.