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Educational Reference
Series
The Chronology of Christ's Crucifixion
& Resurrection


The key to understanding the chronology of the events leading up to and including Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection is that there were two Sabbaths in that week, with a day of preparation between them. This makes all of the Gospels accounts fall into place. The fulfillment of Christ's words become clear. A correct harmonization of all the facts will bear this out.


THE EVENTS: . HOW WE KNOW:
TUESDAY
Nisan 13




Jesus and the twelve disciples come into Jerusalem from Bethany, to partake of the Passover meal.

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John and Peter were sent ahead of time to locate the place of the meal and to make preparations for it (Mark 14.12-16).


Mark 14.17


Passover is observed on the 14th of Nisan every year (Leviticus 23.5). Jesus and His disciples partook of the Passover in the early evening of the previous day. (Days are calculated from sunset-to-sunset, not midnight-to-midnight.)

Gethsemane is at the foot of the Mount of Olives, not far from the brook Kidron, and takes its name from a cave there that contained an oil press — thus, Gat-Shmanim.








Luke 23.44 shows that Jesus died around the ninth hour or approximately 3PM. He would have been buried before sunset because of the approaching Sabbath, for that Sabbath day was a high-day (John 19.31).


John 19.31 mentions that the day following Jesus' crucifixion was a high day as opposed to the weekly seventh-day Sabbath. TWO Sabbaths – first an annual Holy Day and then the regular weekly Sabbath – are mentioned in the Gospel accounts. Compare Mark 16.1 with Luke 23.56



The 15th of Nisan is the first Holy Day, high-day, or annual Sabbath of the 7-day festival of Unleavened Bread. It begins at sunset on the 14th.





















Mark 16:1 tells us, "And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary (the mother of James and Salome), bought sweet spices that they might come and anoint Him." Luke's account also describes how the women "prepared the spices and ointments" and then they "rested on the Sabbath day according to the commandment." (Luke 23.56) Thus, according to these two accounts, they bought the spices and prepared them after the Sabbath and yet before the Sabbath. There had to be two Sabbaths involved here with a day of preparation between them.
















Jesus' promise was fulfilled exactly as he said it would. He said that, like the prophet Jonah, He would be entombed three days and three nights and that then He would be raised up from the dead the third day after His crucifixion and death (Matthew 12.39-40; 17.23; 20.19).












Jesus' resurrection had already taken place by the time Mary Magdalene arrived at dawn Sunday morning. (John 20.1-2) In Matthew's account he states that "In the end of [or after] the Sabbath(s), as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week" they came to see the sepulchre (Mt. 28.1) The original Greek word used here for Sabbath is actually plural and should be translated "Sabbaths."
Jesus ate an early-evening Passover meal with His disciples. After the meal, the walks with His disciples towards the Mt. of Olives.

Jesus was betrayed by Judas at the olive grove in Gethsemane, arrested and brought before the high priest, Caiaphas.

Trial ends at daybreak.
WEDNESDAY
Nisan 14

Preparation day for the annual, not weekly, Sabbath.

In the morning, Jesus was brought before Pilate the governor.

Jesus was crucified and dies around 3PM

Jesus' body was placed in the tomb at twilight
Annual Sabbath begins at sunset. Sunset at this time of year in Jerusalem, is about 6:30 to 7:00 PM.



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THURSDAY
Nisan 15


This was the first annual Sabbath or high-day - the first day of Unleavened Bread.

Tomb is guarded and secured by sealing it with a stone.


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The annual Sabbath ends at sunset.













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FRIDAY
Nisan 16


With the annual Sabbath now over, the women bought and prepared spices for anointing Jesus' body.





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The weekly Sabbath begins at sunset Friday night. No work is to be done as commanded in the fourth commandment.










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SATURDAY
Nisan 17

The weekly Sabbath.
The women rested on the weekly Sabbath.


Jesus rose around sunset, exactly three days and three nights (72 hours) after burial, to fulfill the sign of Jonah and authenticate Jesus' messiahship.



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The weekly Sabbath ends at sunset Saturday night.








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SUNDAY
Nisan 18

The women brought the prepared spices early in the morning while it was still dark. When they arrived they found that Jesus had already arisen.



Sunday night






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From The Companion Bible published by Kregel Publications (1922)
Appendix 156.  "SIX DAYS BEFORE THE PASSOVER"
(John 12:1)

We are furnished by Scripture with certain facts and fixed points which, taken together, enable us (1) to determine the events which filled up the days of "the last week" of our Lord's life on earth; (2) to fix the day of His crucifixion; and (3) to ascertain the duration of the time He remained in the tomb.

The difficulties connected with these three have arisen (1) from not having noted these fixed points; (2) from the fact of Gentiles' not having been conversant with the law concerning the three great feasts of the LORD; and (3) from not having reckoned the days as commencing (some six hours before our own) and running from sunset to sunset, instead of from midnight to midnight.

To remove these difficulties, we must note:

I.  That the first day of each of the three feasts, Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, was "a holy convocation", a "sabbath" on which no servile work was to be done.  See Lev. 23:7, 24, 35.  Cp. Ex. 12:16.

"That Sabbath" and the "high day" of John 19:31, was the "holy convocation", the first day of the feast, which quite overshadowed the ordinary weekly sabbath.

It was called by the Jews Yom tov ( = Good day), and this is the greeting on that day throughout Jewry down to the present time.

This great sabbath, having been mistaken from the earliest times for the weekly sabbath, has led to all the confusion.

crucifixion
II.  This has naturally caused the further difficulty as to the Lord's statement that "even as Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights" (Matt. 12:40).  Now, while it is quite correct to speak according to Hebrew idiom of "three days" or "three years", while they are only parts of three days or three years, yet that idiom does not apply in a case like this, where "three nights" are mentioned in addition to "three days".  It will be noted that the Lord not only definitely states this, but repeats the full phraseology, so that we may not mistake it.  See the subject fully discussed in Ap. 144.

crucifixion
III.  We have therefore the following facts furnished for our sure guidance :

    1. The "high day" of John 19:31 was the first day of the feast.

    2. The "first day of the feast" was on the 15th day of Nisan.

    3. The 15th day of Nisan, commenced at sunset on what we should call the 14th.

    4. "Six days before the passover" (John 12:1) takes us back to the 9th day of Nisan.

    5. "After two days is the passover" (Matt. 26:2.  Mark 14:1) takes us to the 13th day of Nisan.

    6. "The first day of the week", the day of the resurrection (Matt. 28:1, &c.), was from our Saturday sunset to our Sunday sunset.  This fixes the days of the week, just as the above fix the days of the month, for:

    7. Reckoning back from this, "three days and three nights" (Matt. 12:40), we arrive at the day of the burial, which must have been before sunset, on the 14th of Nisan; i.e. before our Wednesday sunset.

    8. This makes the sixth day before the passover (the 9th day of  Nisan) to be our Thursday sunset to Friday sunset.

Therefore Wednesday, Nisan 14th (commencing on the Tuesday at sunset), was "the preparation day", on which the crucifixion took place :  for all four Gospels definitely say that this was the day on which the Lord was buried (before our Wednesday sunset), "because it was the preparation [day]" the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, "for that sabbath day was a high day", and, therefore, not the ordinary seventh day, or weekly sabbath.  See John 19:31

crucifixion
IV.  It follows, therefore, that the Lord being crucified on "the preparation day" could not have eaten of the Passover lamb, which was not slain until the evening of the 14th of Nisan (i.e. afternoon).  On that day the daily sacrifice was killed at the 6th hour (noon) and offered about the 7th hour (1 p.m.).  The killing of the Passover lambs began directly afterwards.  Thus it is clear, that if the killing of the Passover lambs did not commence until about four hours after our Lord had been hanging upon the Cross, and would not have been concluded at the ninth hour (3 p.m.) when "He gave up the ghost;"—no "Passover lamb" could have been eaten at the "last supper" on the previous evening.

crucifixion V.  With these facts before us, we are now in a position to fill in the several days of the Lord's last week with the events recorded in the Gospels.  By noting that the Lord returned to Bethany (or to the Mount of Olives) each night of that week, we are able to determine both the several days and the events that took place in them.


crucifixion

THE SIXTH DAY BEFORE THE PASSOVER, THE 9th DAY OF NISAN
(Our Thursday sunset to Friday sunset)
  MATTHEW MARK LUKE JOHN
The Lord approaches Jerusalem from Jericho   .......... 19:1-10  
He passes our Thursday night at the house of Zacchaeus     19:5  
And delivers the Parable of the Pounds     19:11-27  
He proceeds toward Jerusalem     19:28  
He sends two disciples (apenanti) for an "ass" and a "colt" (two animals) 21:1-7      
And makes His first entry from Bethphage (not Bethany) (Ap. 153) 21:8, 9      
He is unexpected, and they ask "Who is this?" 21:10, 11      
He cleanses the Temple 21:12-16      
He returns to Bethany 21:17     12:1


THE FIFTH DAY BEFORE THE PASSOVER, THE 10th DAY OF NISAN
(Our Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.)
The Lord passes the Sabbath at Bethany; and after sunset (on our Saturday), the first of three suppers was made, probably at the house of Lazarus, in Bethany (Ap. 157) ............ ............ ............ 12:2
At this supper the first of two anointings took place (Ap. 158)       12:3-11


THE FOURTH DAY BEFORE THE PASSOVER, THE 11th DAY OF NISAN
(Our Saturday sunset to Sunday sunset), the Gentile "Palm Sunday".
The second, or triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  He sends two disciples (katenanti) for a colt (one animal).   See Ap. 153 ............ 11:1-7 19:29-35 12:12-
The Lord starts from Bethany (not Bethphage) and is met by multitudes from Jerusalem (Ap. 153).   1:8-10 19:36-40 12:12-19
He weeps over the city.     19:41-44  
He enters the Temple, looks around.   11:11-    
And Returns to Bethany.   11:11    


THE THIRD DAY BEFORE THE PASSOVER, THE 12th DAY OF NISAN
(Our Sunday sunset to Monday sunset).
In the morning (our Monday a.m.) the Lord returns to Jerusalem. 21:18 11:12    
The Fig-tree cursed. 21:19-22 11:13, 14    
The Temple.  Further cleansing.   11:15-17 19:45, 46  
In the Temple.  Further teaching.  "Certain Greeks".     19:47- 12:20-50
Opposition of Rulers.   11:18 19:-47, 48  
He goes out of the city (probably to Bethany; see Luke 21:37, 38, below).   11:19    


THE SECOND DAY BEFORE THE PASSOVER, THE 13th DAY OF NISAN
(Our Monday sunset to Tuesday sunset).
In the morning (our Tuesday a.m.) on the way to Jerusalem, the question of the disciples about the Fig Tree.   11:20-26   .............
In Jerusalem again; and in the Temple. 21:23-27 11:27-33 20:1-8  
In Jerusalem teaching in Parables; and questions. 21:28-23:39 12:1-44 20:9-21:4  
The first great prophecy, in the Temple (Ap. 155).     21:5-36  
(Parenthetical statement as to the Lord's custom during this week).     21:37, 38  
The second great prophecy, on the Mount of Olives. 24:1-51 13:1-37    
The second great prophecy, continued (Ap. 155). 25:1-46      
"After two days is the Passover". 26:1-5 14:1, 2    
He returns to Bethany, and is present at the second supper in the house of Simon the leper.  The second  Anointing.  See Ap. 157 and 158. 26:6-13 14:3-9    


THE DAY BEFORE THE PASSOVER — THE 14th DAY OF NISAN —
"THE PREPARATION DAY" — THE DAY OF THE CRUCIFIXION.
(Our Tuesday sunset to Wednesday sunset).

The plot of Judas Iscariot to betray the Lord. 26:14-16 14:10, 11 22:1-6  
The "preparation" for the last supper (*1). 26:17-19 14:12-16 22:7-13  
"The even was come" (our Tuesday after sunset) when the plot for the betrayal was ripe for  execution. 26:20 14:17    
The last supper, commencing with the washing of the feet.       13:1-20
The announcement of the betrayal, &c. 26:21-25 14:18-21   13:21-30
The supper eaten, the "New Covenant" made (Jer. 31:31).  The lamb abolished, bread and wine substituted. 26:26-29 14:22-25 22:14-23  
The first prophecy of Peter's denials (Ap. 160).       13:31-38
The strife; who should be the greatest, &c.     22:24-30  
The second prophecy of Peter's denials (Ap. 160).     22:31-34  
The final appeal to His first commission (Luke 9:3).     22:35-38  
The last discourse to the eleven, followed by His prayer.       14:1-17:26
They go to Gethsemane. 26:30-35 14:26-29 22:39 18:1
The third prophecy of Peter's denials (Ap. 160).   14:30, 31    
The agony in the garden. 26:36-46 14:32-42 22:40-46  
The apprehension of the Lord (Ap. 165). 26:47-56 14:43-50 22:47-54  18:2-11
The escape of Lazarus (see notes on Mark 14:51, 52).   14:51, 52    
The trials: continued throughout our Tuesday night. 26:57-27:31 14:53-15:19 22:54-23:25 18:12-19:13
About the sixth hour (our Tuesday midnight) Pilate said "Behold your King".       19:14, 15
Led away to be crucified. 27:31-34 15:20-23 23:26-31 19:16, 17
And "led with Him" two "malefactors" (kakourgoi) (Ap. 164).     23:32, 33 19:18
Discussion with Pilate about the Inscriptions (Ap. 168).       19:19-22
The dividing of the garments. 27:35-37 15:24 23:34 19:23, 24
"It was the third hour, and they crucified Him" (our 9 a.m. Wednesday).   15:25, 26    
"Then were there two robbers" (lestai) crucified with Him" (Ap. 164). 27:38 15:27, 28    
The revilings of the rulers, both "robbers", and one "malefactor". 27:39-44 15:29-32 23:35-43  
The Lord's mother and John.       19:25, 27
"The sixth hour" (our Wednesday noon) and the darkness (Ap. 165). 27:45-49 15:33 23:44, 45  
"The ninth hour" (our Wednesday 3 p.m.) and the expiring cry (Ap. 165). 27:50 15:34-37 23:46 19:28-30
Subsequent events  27:51-56 15:38-41 23:47-49 19:31-37
Buried in haste before sunset (our Wednesday about 6 p.m.), before the "high day" (the first day of the  Feast began), our Wednesday sunset. 27:57-66 15:42-47 23:50-56 19:38-42

"THE FIRST DAY OF THE FEAST" - "THE HIGH DAY"  (Yom tov) - THE 15th DAY OF NISAN.
(Our Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset.)
THE FIRST NIGHT AND FIRST DAY IN THE TOMB.

THE SECOND DAY OF THE FEAST - THE 16th DAY OF NISAN.
(Our Thursday sunset to Friday sunset.)
THE SECOND NIGHT AND SECOND DAY IN THE TOMB.

THE THIRD DAY OF THE FEAST - "THE (WEEKLY) SABBATH" - THE 17th DAY OF NISAN
(Our Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.)
THE THIRD NIGHT AND THIRD DAY IN THE TOMB.

"THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK" - THE 18th DAY OF NISAN
(Our Saturday sunset :  "the third day" of Matt. 16:21, &c.; not the third day of the Feast.)



Thus the Resurrection of the Lord took place at our Saturday sunset or thereabouts on "the third day"; cp. "after three days" (Matt. 27:63.  Mark 8:31.). 28:1-10 16:1-18 24:1-49 20:1-23

[For the sequence of events connected with and following the Resurrection, see Ap. 166.]

It will be seen from the above that we have neither power nor authority to alter or shift any day or date; or to change the order or position of any of the events recorded in the Holy Writ.

Each day is marked by a return to Bethany during the last week (up to the Preparation Day); and each day is filled with the recorded events.

It follows, therefore, that the Lord was crucified on our Wednesday; was buried on that day before sunset; and remained "three days and three nights" in the tomb, as foretold by Him in Matt. 12:40; rising from the dead on "the third day", "the first day of the week".

The fixed days and dates, at either end, hold the whole period as in a vice, and place the whole subject on a sure foundation.


(*1) The words in Mark 14:12 and Luke 22:7 refer to "the first day of unleavened bread", which was the 14th day of Nisan, and therefore "the preparation day".  That is why the Lord goes on to tell the two disciples to go and make preparation for the Passover.



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