My question does not involve understanding what the meaning of the Day of Preparation is. This is about which day of the week.

While there are contrary opinions on this, I believe all gospels point to Christ's crucifixion on the day of the Passover, Nisan 14. My question is, and I've searched far and wide on this, which day of the week was this? The Day of Preparation is the day before the first day in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is Nisan 15.

*"Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath..." (Mark 15:42)

"On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate..." (Matthew 27:62)

"That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near." (Luke 23:54)

"So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby." (Luke 19:42)*

Because the first day of the week (Sunday) was when Jesus was recorded as being resurrected, it seems the following increments in time appear to be true:

  1. Jesus was crucified and buried on Nisan 14
  2. The next day was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a day where no work could be done (Exodus 12). In essence, treated as a Sabbath. This day was called a High Day in John 19:31.
  3. The following day after #2 above could have been a regular Sabbath day.
  4. Jesus was resurrected on Sunday.

If these four things above are true, and it's difficult to find reliable data on #3, Jesus did indeed stay in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights. But, because of the lack of clear and scientific proof of #3 above, I'm not certain upon which day Nisan 14 fell. It appears to be Wednesday or Thursday, per my posted increments above.

Because in my research I'm not seeing any consistent proof about this particular question, I'm curious what proof exists. Also interested in anything clear, even though contrary to my stated assumptions.

  • 1
    – user35953
    Nov 14, 2021 at 15:36
  • 1
    Jesus might have risen on Saturday just before sunset.
    – user35953
    Nov 14, 2021 at 16:49
  • 1
    In any case, I do my reasoning probabilistically when there is no clear binary (yes or no) answer.
    – user35953
    Nov 14, 2021 at 17:00
  • 1
    Seeing your researching - consider looking into what’s coming out from the translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially regarding the difference in calendars used by the Essenes and the Pharisees. There is an argument that John was possibly using a different calendar (to that used in the other gospels) in his book. Overall, IIRC the scrolls support your increments.
    – Dave
    Nov 14, 2021 at 17:43
  • 2
    @MartinHemsley, "why would the women not buy the spices and take them to the tomb to further prepare the body on Friday?". Mark says they bought the spices when the sabbath was past. Luke says they then prepared those spices and then rested on the sabbath. Either that's a contradiction, or they bought and prepared the spices on Friday, after the Thursday high sabbath and before the Saturday weekly sabbath. Nov 14, 2021 at 21:04

3 Answers 3


On which day of the week was Jesus crucified - Wednesday or Thursday?

1 Jesus was crucified the day before the Sabbath (Mark 15:42). He also died on the Preparation Day that was not only the preparation day of the Passover but the preparation of the weekly Sabbath. This would be on a Friday, not Wednesday or Thursday. The reason the Passover holy convocation had a preparation day was that all leaven had to be cleansed from the homes. This required some work and inspection. On the other hand, all weekly sabbaths had a preparation day that preceded them (that was Friday). It is interesting to note that the Greek word today for Friday is still "preparation".

2 The confusion comes from mislabeling Nisan 15 as an annual Sabbath. Nisan 15 was never called a Sabbath in the Hebrew Scriptures. It didn't qualify as a Sabbath because it did NOT forbid ALL work like the weekly Sabbaths and the Day of Atonement did. Nisan 15 made an exception to the NO WORK rules in Exodus 12:16 and later, after Israel left Egypt it was modified to forbid only servile work. Once you realize what made a Sabbath a Sabbath then confusing Nisan 15 as a Sabbath disappears.

3 However, despite all that, the Pharisees (Rabbinic Authorites) of Jesus day celebrated Nisan 15 as a Sabbath but not as strictly as an actual Sabbath. Work at your occupations and strenuous labor was forbidden but not all work was forbidden. If Nisan 15 had fallen on a Thursday and the crucifixion had fallen on a Wednesday then there would have been no rush to bury the body as the Nisan 15 drew on. However, if Nisan 15 had fallen on the weekly Sabbath that would not only be a "great" Sabbath but Joseph and Nicodemus would have had to rush the burial of Jesus.

4 So, I believe Wednesday or Thursday could NOT be the day Jesus was crucified. It had to be on a Friday. This of course leaves us with Matthew 12:40 where Jesus said he would be in "the heart of the earth" three days and three nights. That verse is a thorn in the side of those who hold to the Friday crucifixion. It's hard to "explain it away" but there are holes in the arguments one puts forth to place the crucifixion on a Wednesday or Thursday.

5 It's interesting to note that Matthew is internally consistent with himself. There is a conflict between Matthew and the other three gospels though. It's also interesting to note the spurious Gospel of Peter places the crucifixion on a Wednesday or a Thursday, depending on how you interpret "night and day" in verse 27. The writer probably had the gospel of Matthew as his source.


6 See my answer here: can Nisan 15 be referred to as "the sabbath"?

  • +1. The three nights and days only fits on Jesus food consumption, because there is exactly three nights and three days between the last supper and his consumption of fish and honey comb on Sunday evening. Dec 19, 2021 at 23:17
  • @Constantthin LOL. Thank You for that comment Dec 19, 2021 at 23:22
  • The difficulty most have with the "three days and three nights" comes from focusing on the time rather than the event. The "heart of the earth" does not necessarily mean the tomb. If one considers that it might mean in custody of the kingdom of Rome, at that time the greatest kingdom in the known world, then this would have begun at his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Thursday evening. Three nights (by Biblical reckoning): preparation day, Sabbath, first day ; three days: preparation day, Sabbath, first day. Modern reckoning would have the nights as Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
    – Biblasia
    Dec 11, 2022 at 3:12
  • The ancients did not see earth as we see it. They did not know how deep the earth was; all they knew was Hades was the subterranean region where all departed souls would go. A tomb was not in the center of the earth or even under the earth. The tomb Jesus was in was ABOVE the surface of the earth. Dec 12, 2022 at 18:52
  • The question of whether Hades or the tomb was meant is discussed here: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/78708/… Dec 12, 2022 at 19:30

When we collect all the evidences from the four gospel accounts and place them side by side, we get the following sequence in the right order:

(In the modern reckoning):

Tuesday evening – Jesus ate the Passover meals, went to Gethsemane and was arrested (Nissan 14 Passover night);

Wednesday daytime and evening – Pilate’s judgment, Crucifixion (1 Cor 5:7) and Burial (Nissan 14 Passover day as the "Preparation" of the fast approaching Nissan 15, feast of Unleavened Bread);

Thursday daytime – chief priests and Pharisees request Pilate to secure the sepulcher (Matt 27:62-66). (Nissan 15 first UB day, an annual Rest/Sabbath, a great/high day);

Friday daytime – the ladies “bought” spices and prepared spices and ointment – Mark 16:1 (Nissan 16 UB day, a working day);

Saturday – the same ladies rested on Sabbath “according to the commandment” – Luke 23:56 (Nissan 17 UB day, unless Saturday, is a working day);

Sunday early morning – the ladies see the risen Jesus (Nissan 18 UB day, a working day; Wave sheaf offering day).


Wednesday night, Thursday night and Friday night = 3 nights

Thursday day, Friday day and Saturday day = 3 days

Were these the same ladies?

Yes, the Scripture says so:

“And the sabbath (annual Sabbath, a high day, first day of the UB on Thursday) passing, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome, bought spices, so that coming they might anoint Him” (Mark 16:1). This was on the Friday.

But according to Luke, the same ladies “rested on the Sabbath (Saturday), according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56). On Sunday, “still very early, they came on the tomb, carrying spices which THEY prepared” (Luke 24:1).

Who were they who prepared the spices?

“And they were Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary mother of James, and the rest” (verse 10).

Yes, they were the same ladies who bought spices on Friday after the annual Sabbath of Thursday and rested on Saturday Sabbath. They were not two groups of different ladies.

Resurrection on Sunday?

The gospels actually don’t say that Jesus rose on Sunday or the first day. It simply says the ladies saw the risen Jesus on Sunday, the first day.

The only Scripture people use to support a Sunday resurrection is Mark 16:9: “And having risen early on the first of the sabbath, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene”.

But we know very well that there was no punctuation in the original Greek. So, we see, “And having risen, early on the first of the Sabbath He first appeared to Mary Magdalene”.

That is, ‘And having risen, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene early on the first of the Sabbath’.


So, yes, Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday.


Because God is perfect, Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament perfectly. Therefore, the crucifixion of Jesus at Passover must match the Passover described in the Old Testament as follows:

The 10th day of the first month (Nisan) the Passover lamb is selected (Exodus 12:1-3)--------Jesus enters Jerusalem to many hosannas (John 12:1-13).

The Passover lamb is inspected for four days 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th (Exodus 12:1-6)---------Jesus is questioned by Jewish leaders and they could find no fault in Him (Luke Ch.19-20, Matthew Ch. 21-25 and Mark Ch. 11-13).

The Passover lamb is slain on the 14th day of Nisan (Exodus 12:6)-------Jesus crucified on the day of the Preparation Day of the Passover Seder on the 15th making it the 14th (John 19:14).

The Passover Seder and the First Day of Unleavened Bread on the 15th of Nisan (Leviticus 23:6-7)-------Bodies could not remain on the cross on a Sabbath (John 19:31).

I believe the 16th day of Nisan was the weekly Sabbath the year of the crucifixion.

Firstfruit Wave Offering (Leviticus 23:3-11)--------Jesus is the first fruit of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20), 17th day of Nisan.

Six days before Passover, Jesus entered Bethany (John 12:1). I think John is saying six days before the Passover Seder on the 15th of Nison, making the date the 9th of Nisan. Then, the next day Jesus went to Jerusalem, the 10th of Nisan (John 12:12-13). Jesus was born under the law (Galatians 4:4) therefore, to violate the law would be a sin and Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). It is generally accepted that Jesus entered Jerusalem before the crucifixion on the first day of the week or our Sunday, but the scripture does not state the day. In Acts 1:12 Luke states that from Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives is a Sabbath’s day journey. So, how does this fit into the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem preceding His crucifixion and can we believe He entered Jerusalem on the first day of the week. In Luke 19:1-11 we learn that Jesus passed through Jericho and told Zaccheus that today I must stay at your house. Then in verse 11 of the same chapter we learn that the house of Zaccheus was near Jerusalem. In John 12:1-13, we learn that Jesus entered Jerusalem on the next day after entering the home of Lazarus in Bethany. Bethany to Jerusalem is farther than a Sabbath day’s journey and Jericho to near Jerusalem at Zaccheus’ house is certainly farther than a Sabbath day’s Journey. Therefore, it seems logical that the Sabbath day’s journey was from the house of Zaccheus to the house of Lazarus in Bethany making the Triumphal Entry on the first day of the week, Palm Sunday. Then if the 10th of Nisan was on a Sunday, then the 14th of Nisan, when the Passover lamb thus Jesus was crucified was on a Thursday. Note, parts of 3 days & 3 nights in tomb, if He arose before dawn on Sunday (John 12:12-13). And He arose on the 3rd day after entombment as per scripture. 10th -16th is 7 days, the number for complete. 17th is the 8th day, the number for new beginnings.

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