When Did Jesus Die

By Paul King •  Updated: 10/11/23 •  13 min read

In the quest for understanding the historical context of Jesus’ crucifixion, the question of when exactly he died has been a subject of scholarly investigation. To unravel this enigmatic event, let us delve into the biblical accounts and historical records.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover feast (Matthew 27:62). This aligns with the Gospel of Mark, which states that Jesus’ crucifixion took place on the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath (Mark 15:42). The Gospel of John further confirms this, stating that Jesus’ crucifixion occurred on the day of preparation for the Passover, before the Sabbath (John 19:14).

Now, to provide a deeper understanding, let us explore a factual story from the Bible. In the Gospel of Luke, it is mentioned that Jesus was crucified alongside two criminals (Luke 23:32). One of the criminals mocked Jesus, while the other recognized his innocence and asked Jesus to remember him when he entered his kingdom (Luke 23:39-43).

In response to the repentant criminal, Jesus uttered these profound words, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:43). This interaction not only showcases Jesus’ mercy and forgiveness but also provides insight into the timing of his death.

By Jesus stating ‘today,’ it is evident that his death and the granting of salvation to the repentant criminal occurred on the same day. This aligns with the accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion taking place on the day of preparation.

Furthermore, the significance of the date of Jesus’ death is deeply intertwined with the Passover feast. In the Old Testament, the Passover commemorates the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. The sacrificial lamb was slaughtered on the 14th day of the first month at twilight (Exodus 12:6).

Jesus, often referred to as the Lamb of God, fulfilled the symbolism of the Passover lamb through his sacrificial death. His crucifixion coinciding with the Passover feast holds great theological significance, highlighting the ultimate liberation and salvation brought forth by his sacrifice.

In conclusion, through an analysis of biblical accounts and historical records, we can ascertain that Jesus died on the day of preparation for the Passover, aligning with the day before the Sabbath. The story of the repentant criminal on the cross further supports this timing, showcasing Jesus’ mercy and the granting of salvation. The connection to the Passover feast adds depth and meaning to this enigmatic event, highlighting the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus as the Lamb of God.

Key Takeaways

Historical Context of Jesus’ Crucifixion

The historical context of Jesus’ crucifixion is deeply intertwined with the biblical accounts. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, who questioned him about his claims to be the King of the Jews. Pilate asked Jesus, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ Jesus replied, ‘You have said so’ (Matthew 27:11).

The political climate of the time played a crucial role in Jesus’ crucifixion. The Jewish religious authorities, including the Pharisees and the Sadducees, were threatened by Jesus’ teachings and his growing popularity among the people. They feared that Jesus’ influence would lead to a revolt against Roman rule. In their eyes, Jesus was a potential revolutionary figure who could disrupt the delicate balance of power in the region.

Religious tensions also contributed to Jesus’ crucifixion. The religious authorities accused Jesus of blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God and the Messiah. In the Gospel of Mark, during Jesus’ trial before the high priest, he was asked, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Jesus replied, ‘I am’ (Mark 14:61-62). This declaration sealed his fate in the eyes of the religious leaders, who saw it as a direct challenge to their authority.

The Roman occupation of Judea further complicated the situation. The Romans viewed Jesus as a potential threat to their control over the region. In the Gospel of John, it is mentioned that the chief priests and the Pharisees said, ‘If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation’ (John 11:48). The fear of a Roman crackdown and the desire to maintain political stability drove the decision to have Jesus crucified.

The biblical accounts also provide a deeper understanding of the significance of Jesus’ crucifixion. In the Gospel of John, it is stated, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). Jesus’ crucifixion is seen as an act of love and sacrifice, offering salvation to all who believe in him.

Biblical Accounts of Jesus’ Death

One of the central themes found in the biblical accounts is the detailed narration of the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus. The Bible provides profound insights into the cultural significance of this event, shedding light on the spiritual teachings and messages conveyed by Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

In the Bible, Jesus is depicted as a spiritual teacher who shared deep insights and understanding through his teachings, parables, and messages of love, compassion, and forgiveness. His words were not only meant to inspire and uplift, but also to guide individuals towards living a righteous and purposeful life. As it is written in Matthew 5:14-16, ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’

The writing style of Jesus Christ of Nazareth is poetic and metaphorical, using imagery, symbolism, and figurative language to convey his profound teachings and spiritual messages. He often spoke in parables, such as the Parable of the Good Samaritan, to illustrate moral lessons and provoke deeper contemplation. This can be seen in Luke 10:29-37, where Jesus tells the story of a Samaritan who showed compassion and kindness to a man in need, teaching us the importance of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

The crucifixion of Jesus holds immense cultural significance and serves as a source of spiritual guidance and inspiration for many. It reminds us of the sacrificial love that Jesus demonstrated through his death on the cross, as stated in John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’

To further understand the historical context of Jesus’ crucifixion, it is important to explore the timing of this event. The Bible tells us that Jesus was crucified during the Passover festival in Jerusalem. This festival commemorated the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt and was a time of great importance and significance for the Jewish people. The crucifixion of Jesus during this time adds a deeper layer of meaning, highlighting the ultimate sacrifice he made for the salvation of humanity.

The Timing of Jesus’ Crucifixion

During the Passover festival, Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem, which holds deep spiritual significance. The crucifixion of Jesus is a topic that has sparked much debate and speculation throughout history. However, we can find clarity and understanding by examining the relevant facts and quotes from the Bible.

In Luke 22:7-8, it is written, ‘Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.”

This passage establishes the connection between Jesus’ crucifixion and the Passover festival. The Passover was a commemoration of the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt, as described in the book of Exodus. Just as the Israelites were saved from bondage, Jesus’ crucifixion symbolizes the ultimate sacrifice made for the salvation of humanity.

Furthermore, let us explore the story of the Passover in Exodus 12. The Israelites were instructed to sacrifice a lamb and mark their doorposts with its blood. This act of obedience would cause the Lord to pass over their homes and spare their firstborn sons from death. In a similar manner, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed for our sins, and His blood brings salvation and protection to all who believe in Him.

The timing of Jesus’ crucifixion during the Passover festival highlights the divine plan and purpose behind His mission on Earth. It emphasizes the themes of freedom, redemption, and deliverance that are central to Jesus’ teachings.

It is crucial to note that while there have been debates about the historical accuracy of the events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion, the spiritual significance of the timing remains steadfast. The Bible provides us with a profound understanding of God’s plan for our salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice.

The Significance of the Date of Jesus’ Death

The significance of the date of Jesus’ death is deeply rooted in biblical history and spiritual teachings. According to the Bible, Jesus’ death occurred during the time of the Passover festival, which was a significant event for the Jewish people. This alignment holds great importance as it relates to the symbolism and meaning behind Jesus’ sacrifice.

In the Old Testament, the Passover festival commemorated the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. During this festival, a sacrificial lamb was offered as a means of atonement for the sins of the people. In the New Testament, Jesus is often referred to as the ‘Lamb of God’ who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). This connection between Jesus and the sacrificial lamb of Passover highlights the profound significance of his death.

The apostle Paul further emphasizes the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice in his letter to the Corinthians. He writes, ‘For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed’ (1 Corinthians 5:7). This statement not only reaffirms the connection between Jesus and the Passover festival but also underscores the transformative power of his death. Just as the Israelites were liberated from bondage through the Passover, believers are set free from the bondage of sin through Jesus’ sacrifice.

Furthermore, Jesus himself alluded to the significance of his death during the Last Supper, which took place on the eve of Passover. As he shared the bread and wine with his disciples, he said, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me’ (Luke 22:19). These words signify Jesus’ willingness to offer himself as a sacrifice for the salvation of humanity.

The Gospel of Matthew provides a factual account of Jesus’ death, stating, ‘At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock’ (Matthew 27:45). This supernatural darkness that covered the land during Jesus’ crucifixion adds to the awe-inspiring nature of this event.

In addition to these biblical accounts, there are various stories and parables in the Bible that further illustrate the significance of Jesus’ death. One notable example is the story of the thief on the cross. As Jesus was crucified between two criminals, one of them recognized his divinity and said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’ (Luke 23:42). Jesus responded, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:43). This story highlights the power of Jesus’ sacrifice to offer forgiveness and salvation to all who believe in him, regardless of their past actions.

The controversies and theories surrounding Jesus’ time of death, such as the debate between the different methods of calculating the date, add to the complexity and depth of this significant event. However, it is important to remember that the ultimate significance of Jesus’ death lies in its spiritual and transformative power. It invites individuals to reflect on their own journey of liberation and forgiveness, and inspires them to live a life of righteousness, purpose, and spiritual growth.

Controversies and Theories Surrounding Jesus’ Time of Death

The controversies and theories surrounding the time of Jesus’ death have sparked considerable debate among scholars and theologians. The Bible provides some insights into the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. It states in Matthew 27:46, ‘About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).’ This suggests that Jesus was crucified in the afternoon.

Some theories propose that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, as it is mentioned in Mark 15:42, ‘It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached.’ This indicates that Jesus was crucified on the day before the Sabbath, which is traditionally Friday. However, there are also theories that suggest Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday or Thursday.

One theory that supports a Wednesday crucifixion is based on Matthew 12:40, where Jesus says, ‘For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ Advocates for a Wednesday crucifixion argue that counting three days and three nights from Wednesday would place the resurrection on Saturday evening, which aligns with the biblical account.

Another theory suggests a Thursday crucifixion based on the events of the Last Supper. According to Luke 22:14, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.’ Passover is traditionally celebrated on the evening of the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nisan, which would have been a Thursday in that year. This theory proposes that Jesus was crucified on the day following the Passover meal.

While these theories offer different perspectives, it is important to remember that the exact day and time of Jesus’ death may remain uncertain. The focus should be on the spiritual significance of his sacrifice and resurrection, rather than the precise details. As it says in John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’

Regardless of the specific theories surrounding the crucifixion, Jesus’ resurrection serves as a foundation for the Christian faith. It is a symbol of hope, redemption, and eternal life. As stated in 1 Peter 1:3, ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.’

Paul King

I post written versions of my powerful sermons exploring topics like prayer, praise, biblical truths, and more expressions of faith. My church has a deeply spiritual culture, which I try to convey through vivid storytelling and applications in our everyday life. I spread the Good Word with lots of conviction and passion.