Good Friday: Truth or Myth?

There is a lot of confusion around what day of the week Christ was crucified. Many hold to the tradition that he was crucified on a Friday. 

According to the Bible though, is it possible for Christ to have been crucified on a Friday? As believers, we have to be on guard and alert to the deceitful ways that Satan undermines the Word and power of God. We need to compare everything we believe against the infallible Word of God, and if it doesn’t match it we must change our beliefs.

Let’s look at what we know the Bible tells us in black and white about the timeframe of Christ’s death on the cross.

“And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.”

Mark 15:25

Christ was crucified in the third hour. According to the way that the Jewish clock worked, that would mean He was crucified at 9:00 am modern time.

“And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.”

Mark 15:33

This means that from noon until 3:00 pm, there was darkness over everything.

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?…And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.”

Mark 15:34,37

We understand from this that Christ was buried sometime between 3:00 pm and dusk, because He had to be buried before the following day which was a Sabbath. So then let’s see how this fits with the crucifixion taking place on “Good Friday”.

As you can see, using a modern clock, Friday does not give us three days and three nights that Christ would have been in the tomb.

We have to recognize and understand that the Hebrew clock was different from ours today. For Jews, the day began at six o’clock in the evening and ended at six o’clock the next. Evening came first in the Jewish day, and then came morning. This is shown to us in the very first chapter of the Bible.

“And the evening and the morning were the first day.”  ~Genesis 1:5

I think it’s incredible that every portion of the Bible clicks together in perfect harmony with the others. Do you think it is coincidence that God tells us in the very first chapter of the Bible how the Hebrew clock worked? He could have just said, And twenty-four hours was the first day. But we know of course that He didn’t, and I have no doubt that His wording was with special purpose. Evening came first, then came morning.

For the Jews, there were 12 hours in a night (6 pm to 6 am) and 12 hours in a day (6 am to 6 pm). This constituted their 24 hour “day”.  Jesus reveals this to us in John 11:9: “Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in a day?” 

Now that we understand how the Jewish time clock worked, we can look into what this means in regard to the crucifixion.

We know that prophecy foretold that Jesus would be in the grave for three days and three nights. 

“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.”

Matthew 12:40

Let’s say that Christ was crucified on Friday, and use the Jewish clock this time. Where would that put us? 

Friday at 6 pm to Saturday at 6 pm = 24 hours—one night and one day.

Saturday at 6 pm to Sunday at 6 am = another 12 hours—one night.

That adds up to thirty-six hours that Jesus would have been in the grave, and incidentally only two nights and one day. That cannot possibly be true because Jesus promised he would be in the tomb for three literal days and three literal nights. That would give us seventy-two hours. 

Where are the other thirty-six hours that would be missing had Christ been crucified on Friday? 

Regardless of whether you are using the Jewish clock or the modern clock, Jesus being crucified on Friday does not add up to three days and three nights in the tomb.

So then where does three nights and three days place us?

Let’s try counting from Wednesday and use the Jewish time clock.

Does it matter?

This question might be posed by some. What difference does it make what day of the week he was crucified? 

Let me ask you this, does it matter that we take Christ at His Word?

Of course it does! If Jesus was only in the grave for thirty-six hours, that would not only make Christ a liar, but it would also make room for doubt that the Resurrection was real. The case could be made that it was no big feat for someone to be in a tomb for only thirty-six hours.

Not to be gross, but the process of decomposition is barely under way thirty-six hours after death. 

It takes seventy-two hours for the four stages of decomposition to take place in a body. Do you think it was a coincidence that God chose to have Jesus remain dead for three days and three nights? Absolutely not! Seventy-two hours made it impossible for anyone to sanely try to dispute the power and magnitude of Christ’s Resurrection. 

Don’t you think God knew that there would be some who would try to reason away the power of the Resurrection? Or say that it wasn’t that big of a deal? Of course He did.

I think the sign of Jesus being in the grave for seventy-two hours is very important. At that point, death would have taken its toll on Christ’s body and, humanly speaking, it would be even more impossible for Him to be resurrected. When He rose again after three days and nights in death’s grip, it displayed the power of God in a magnitude far greater than if He had only been dead thirty-six hours.

This is one of the main reasons that it is important for us to be careful in the traditions we follow. When we say that Christ was crucified on Friday, it is minimizing the power and strength of God. Not only that, but we are making the Word of God a lie, because He said He would be in the grave for three days and three nights. 

Apart from that, the idea of Good Friday stemmed from the Catholic church and was later adopted by the Protestant churches. I am not Catholic nor am I Protestant.

Good Friday is steeped in Catholic practices. For instance, not eating meat on this day? That is a Catholic man-made tradition that is supposed to somehow be a way of making one’s self right with God.

In an article (I will leave a link down below) written about why eating meat is forbidden on Good Friday it is stated, “Abstinence is a form of penance. Penance expresses sorrow and contrition for our wrongdoing, indicates our intention to turn away from sin and turn back to God, and makes reparation for our sins, it helps to cancel the debt and pay the penalties incurred by our transgressions.”

That is a lie straight from the Devil. Nothing that I can do could ever make reparation for my sin. The Bible says that our salvation is “not of works, lest any man should boast.” To imply that we are able to pay the debt of our sins with our own works is blasphemy, pure and simple.

Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection was the only way we could ever have our sin debt paid.

I want nothing to do with a tradition that makes a mockery of Jesus’ brutal death on the Cross for my sin.

I know that many believers who observe Good Friday today do not ever intend on purposefully minimizing Christ’s power and strength. And they may not participate in the Catholic traditions of abstaining from meat, etc. Many just haven’t thought about it. Good Friday has become accepted by the vast majority of people today.

But we have to be cautious in what traditions we follow and what conclusions we draw. What are we aligning ourselves with when we celebrate Good Friday? And is it biblical that Christ would have been crucified on a Friday when He rose on a Sunday—giving only a portion of the time that He promised He would be in the grave?

Let’s be students of God’s Word and study matters out fully.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

2 Timothy 3:16

Every single Word of God is important. When Jesus promised that He would be three days and three nights in the tomb, He meant it. If He had meant that He would only be in the tomb for thirty-six hours, that is what He would have said. But we know that He said three days and three nights was the amount of time that He would be in the grave before coming to life again.

Be cautious in what you believe and the conclusions you draw. Compare them to the Word of God and make sure they are Biblical!

A. M. Watson

Hebrews 13:8

Sources Cited

The Holy Bible

Why don’t Catholics eat meat on Fridays?

The Stages of Human Decomposition

The Jewish Day

2 thoughts on “Good Friday: Truth or Myth?

  1. Hmm, so interesting! I have heard people say Jesus was crucified on a Thursday, I think, but not on a Wednesday (from my faulty memory.) But what you said definitely makes sense … thanks so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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