“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:40).
This prophetic word from Jesus gave a chronology of His death and resurrection that called for three days and three nights for Him to be in the grave. The chronology of the passion week, which puts Jesus on the cross on Friday morning, does not allow for three days and three nights, but rather for three days and two nights. I have heard many explain that because of the nature of the Hebrew reckoning of days and nights (they begin and end at sunset), a Friday crucifixion is workable in fulfilling literally and accurately this prophetic word.
The purpose of this article is not to dispute a Good Friday crucifixion, but to lay forth a Thursday crucifixion of our Lord, which meshes with Scripture and harmonizes the Matthew 12:40 prophecy. In order to do this, I have attached an article I have compiled that lays forth this chronology of the passion week. One of the key elements in harmonizing a Thursday crucifixion is a recognition that Passover fell on the 14th of Nisan (Exod. 12:18, 19) and it was followed immediately by a High Day or a High Sabbath Day (John 19:31). In the year of Jesus’ crucifixion there was a Friday Sabbath or High Day followed by the weekly Saturday Sabbath day. Matthew 28:1 and Mark 16:1 both use a plural form of Sabbath, which if translated properly would read, “In the end of the Sabbaths” and “And when the Sabbaths were past.” This back-to-back Sabbath days allows for a Thursday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection that puts Jesus in the grave for three days and three nights.
Friday—Nisan 8—Supper in Simon’s house (Matt. 26:6–13)
Sunday—Nisan 10—Jesus enters Jerusalem as the Passover lambs enter the town (Exod. 12; Matt. 21:1–11)
Monday—Nisan 11—Second cleansing of the temple (Matt. 21:12–17; Mark 11:15–19)
Tuesday—Nisan 12—Olivet Discourse and debates with religious leaders (Matt. 21:23—23:39; 24:1—25:46)
Wednesday—Nisan 13—Jesus makes ready for the Last Supper (Matt. 26:17–20)
Wednesday (Eve)—Nisan 14—Last Supper, Upper Room Discourse, Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:17–29; John 13:2—14:31; Matt. 25:30–46)
Wednesday Eve—Thursday—Nisan 14—Religious trials, Peter denies Jesus, civil trials, crucifixion (Matt. 26; 27)
Thursday Eve before 6 p.m.—Nisan 14—Jesus is removed from cross and buried before the Friday Sabbath
Thursday Eve after 6 p.m.—Nisan 15—Passover Lamb eaten and Feast of unleavened bread begins (Exod. 12; Lev. 23:5)
Thursday (6 p.m.)—Friday (6 p.m.)—Nisan 15—High Sabbath Day
Friday (6 p.m.)—Saturday (6 p.m.)—Nisan 16—Weekly Sabbath Day
Sunday Morning—Nisan 17—Jesus rises from the grave! (Matt. 28:1–10)
Attached is a detailed chronology along with some notes. Enjoy!