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Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

A Reconstructed Chronology

By Clovis E. Miller

(Revised 03-29-2015)


In this chronology, we will look at which day on the Biblical calendar the death, burial and resurrection occurred; and also which day of the week they may have occurred on, according to our reckoning of days (i.e. Monday, Tuesday etc.). It is not intended to be a thorough listing of all the events, but rather an outline showing the progression from the arrival of Jesus at Bethany to His resurrection at Jerusalem. Fault will undoubtedly be found with it; especially by those who hold to the traditional viewpoint. Right or wrong, it is an honest effort to discover the truth about the events of the day. Traditions are fine as long as they are fully supported by Scripture. However, the fact of the matter is: that in many instances there is far too little information available in Scripture to categorically state that a series of events happened exactly this way, or that way. Ultimately, we must each cling to the truth as best as we understand it, and that is what this study is all about. The truth is: Jesus died, was buried and rose again, though we may disagree concerning the details of those events. The timimg of those events is important because they relate to the fulfillment of the Biblical types of Passover as found in Exodus 12, Leviticus 23 and elsewhere in Scripture.

8th Day of Nissan
Wednesday night - Thursday day

"Then six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany..." {John 12:1}

We will begin this study by asking the question: On which day should we begin the counting in order to verify the actual dates of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus? There are two possible starting points, depending on what John meant, when he used the word, "Passover" in the above verse. He obviously, was speaking of a specific day, and not the Passover season in general, because he used a specific number of days (6) to describe the time frame for the events he was going to write about. Note too, in this verse, that Jesus came to Bethany "...six days before Passover". It doesn't state that He arrived there on the sixth day before Passover. So there were six days between His arrival, and the start of Passover.

Firstly, John may have been referring to 14 Nissan (on the Jewish calendar), the day when the Passover Lamb was to be slain {Ex.12:6}. Secondly, he may have been referring to 15 Nissan, the Feast Day, upon which the Passover Lamb would be eaten {Ex.12:7-8}. It does not appear that he was speaking of 14 Nissan as "Passover", because in John 19:14, that day is distinctly referred to as, "the preparation day of the passover" (the day before the seven day Festival of Unleavened Bread, also called Passover, began). There are seven "high days" in Scripture which occur annually. They are: the first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread; the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost); the Feast of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement, and the first and last days of the Feast of Tabernacles. They are called high days because they are not only ceremonial days, but also days of rest. The first high day of the year occurs of 15 Nissan to begin the week long Festival of Unleavened Bread. The lamb was eaten with unleavened bread during the night time hours of that day, {Luke 22:1 ; John 19:31 ; Ex. 12:16-17}. The second "high day" (day of rest, or sabbath) for that festival was on 21 Nissan, the closing day of that festival week {Ex. 12:16}.

John's perspective about the day however, was somewhat different from that of Jesus in the synoptic gospels. For instance, the Lord's reference to Passover in Matt. 26:2 points to the day when He would die (14 Nissan), not to the following day in which the lamb would be eaten. In that verse, the words in the King James Version, "the feast of" are in italics, meaning that they were not in the Greek text, but were added to "clarify" it. Unfortunately, adding those words only tends to make the Scripture say something that was not intended. Adding the words seems to indicate that Jesus may have been killed on the actual Feast Day of Passover; not on the preparation day. As a results, there are people saying that Jesus was crucified on 15 Nissan, which runs absolutely contrary to Matt. 26:3-5 and Mark 14:1-2., where those plotting to kill Jesus emphatically stated that it shouldn't be done "...on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people". The plan was to ensnare Jesus and put Him to death, before the Feast Day (15 Nissan) arrived; and the last opportunity to accompolish that would be the preparation day (14 Nissan). Little did they realize that by carrying out their scheme on that day, they would be causing a Biblical type (God's Passover Lamb) to be slain to protect those who abide in His household; as prophetically layed down in Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23. Ultimately we can go back to the original Passover in Egypt. That occurred at midnight on 15 Nissan (i.e. at midnight, following the previous sunset which ended 14 Nissan). Pharoah summoned Moses during that night and told him to take the children of Israel out of Egypt {Ex. 12:30-31}. In Numbers 33:3 we find that the exodus from Egypt began on 15 Nissan, the morning following the death of the firstborn of Egypt. Moses had clearly warned the people to stay in their houses on the night of the Passover, until morning arrived {Ex.12:22).

If then, we conclude that John was referring to "Passover", as 15 Nissan, and we count backwards, "...six days before Passover..."; that would make the arrival of Jesus at Bethany to have occurred sometime during the late afternoon of 8 Nissan. Not counting that day, because of the lateness of His arrival, due to the long and tiring journey from Jericho; the six days before the day the Passover meal would be consumed were: 9,10,11,12,13 and 14 Nissan. Following this chronology, Jesus would have arrived at Bethany on Thursday afternoon, six days before He would have been crucified (on the following Wednesday afternoon). So, His death would have coincided with the killing of the Passover lamb on the afternoon of 14 Nissan (the day before Passover). The lamb was then eaten during the evening hours of 15 Nissan (The Biblical day running from evening to evening - Gen. 1:5).

9th Day of Nissan
Thursday night - Friday day

John 12:12-15 tells us that it was the day following His arrival at Bethany, that Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on the colt of a donkey. For several reasons we know that His entry did not occur on the weekly Sabbath. First Deut.5:14, prohibits beast of burden from being worked on the Sabbath. They were to have rest the same as people. Also, the people would not have been cutting palm branches from the trees, had it been a Sabbath day {Matt. 21:8}. Proponents of the "Good Friday" crucifixion declare that Jesus entered Jerusalem on "Palm Sunday", and was crucified on the following Friday. The problem here is: that would mean that Jesus' journey from Jericho to Bethany, a tiring 15 mile uphill trip the previous day, had been conducted on the weekly Sabbath; an unlikely event. The very distance He traveled on that day indicates that His arrival in Bethany would be late in the day, and shortly before the supper was to be prepared for Him {John 12:1-2}. Travel on the Sabbath was highly restricted; not to mention the fact that Jesus would not have broken the fourth commandment by making such a long and tiring journey on the Sabbath.

On the morning following His arrival, Jesus entered Jerusalem, presenting Himself as the prophesied King of Israel {Zech. 9:9}. On His return the next day, He would present Himself as the Passover Lamb of God {John 1:29}, and begin the process of fulfilling the prophetic type as set forth in Ex. 12:3-5. None of the Gospel accounts report that Jesus was inspected, or tested (as the "Passover Lamb") on the day He rode into Jerusalem on the donkey. Instead, it was not until His return on the next day, that the religious leaders began the process of examining Him; and not long after that, the High Priest Caiphas, selected Jesus as the one to die for the people {John 11:49-52}.

10th Day of Nissan
Friday night - Saturday day (Weekly Sabbath)

After a short stay in Jerusalem on 9 Nissan, Jesus returned to Bethany, on the Mount of Olives {Mark 11:11}. The next day (the 10th), being the Sabbath, He returned to the Temple and began by driving out the money changers and merchants who were selling sacrificial animals (probably in the Court of the Gentiles). Were the religious leaders turning a blind eye to these things occuring on the Sabbath day? After all, the Temple would surely benefit from such transactions. In the process of driving them out, Jesus quoted Isaiah 56:7, "...My House shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." This chapter, in the Book of Isaiah, deals with God accepting all peoples who come to Him, "...Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath". Jesus had visited the Temple many times and surely saw such things going on. Why did He become so incensed at these people on this particular visit? According to Mark 11:16, He also would not allow them to carry wares through the Temple on that day. Carrying anything on the Sabbath constituted work and was strictly forbidden. As stated previously; even beast of burden were prohibited from being used to carry anything on the Sabbath. The actions of Jesus, prompted some of the religious leaders to question Him, as by what authority He could do such things. On this day He, began to answering questions of the religious leaders, who did their best to find fault in Him. This time, there is no mention of Him, arriving on the colt as He had done the previous day. Was it lawful for Jesus to even walk from Bethany to Jerusalem on the Sabbath? Travel was permitted for matters of religion, provided it did not exceed a "sabbath day's journey". That was reckoned to be 2,000 cubits, or roughly 3,000 moderate size paces (Based on Num. 35:4-5). We learn from Luke 24:50-51 and Acts 1:9-12, that "Bethany", on the Mount of Olives was regarded as being a Sabbath's days journey from Jerusalem. John 11:18 indicates that Bethany was about two miles from Jerusalem. However, town limits often went beyond the structures of town itself, as indicated in Num. 35:4. It is not clear if Jesus actually went to the town of Bethany, or stayed somewhere along the road that led to Bethany, the first stop after leaving Jerusalem. At any rate, since Jesus did not return to the Mount of Olives before that day concluded at evening, there would have been no violation of the rule. It is also worth noting here, that while the sabbath day's journey is mentioned in the Book of Acts, it is not otherwise found in Scripture. It's origin is derived from the Oral Law of the Jewish people, and was based in part on Ex. 16:29-30 and Joshua 3:4-5.

The examination of Jesus by the religious leaders not only included their asking Him, by what authority He was doing the things which He did {Matt. 21:12,23 ; Mark 11:27-28 ; Luke 20:1-2}. They also raised questions about paying tribute to Caesar; a woman marrying her deceased husband's brothers, and which is the greatest law. Both Matthew and Mark's accounts, are in agreement that this testing occurred, not on the day of the triumphal entry, but on a day afterwards. According to Matthew, it occurred on the day following the triumphal entry. Mark, on the other hand, indicates that the testing by the religious leaders occurred on the second day after the entry. Luke's account is in agreement concerning the questions asked, but does not specify on which day they were asked. It was on the 10th of Nissan that every house would choose a lamb to be sacrifice on the 14th day {Ex. 12:3-6}. A lamb was also chosen and inspected on the 10th day by the priest, to be sacrificed on behalf of the nation. After the selection, it was taken to the Temple and staked out until the 14th day for the people themselves to inspect for any blemishes, or other imperfections. On the 14th day, if no blemishes had been found, it would be pronounced to be without fault and tied to the Temple's altar of sacrifices, to be killed later that day.

As a fulfillment of the prophetic type, we see the same thing being played out with Jesus on this day. He was singled out, inspected, and tested by the religious leaders (on the 10th of Nissan). Both Matthew and Mark agree that after they had finished their questioning on that day, they dared not to ask anything more from Him {Matt. 22:46 ; Mark 12:34}. Jesus ' selection was afterwards approved by Caiphas, the High Priest {John 11:49-51}. He was then left alone; teaching daily in the Temple, where the people themselves could thoroughly inspected whether He (the Lamb of God - John 1:29), was without blemish or not. On the 14th of Nissan, Jesus was prononuced to be without fault {Luke 23:14}, and died at the very hour the lamb chosen by the priests was sacrificed at the altar in the Temple (about 3 PM).

11th Day of Nissan
Saturday night - Sunday day

It was at the end of this day that Jesus said, "...after two days is the Passover." {Matt. 26:2 ; Mark 14:1}; referring to 14 Nissan, on which He would be put to death, as clearly indicated by the verse in Matthew. Again, the critical words, "the feast of" occuring in the King James Version, are not found in the Greek text, showing that this was indeed a reference to 14 Nissan, and not the feast day which followed. The two days He was referring to here would have been 12 and 13 Nissan; after which He would be slain.

12th Day of Nissan
Sunday night - Monday day

On this day, Jesus continued to offer Himself for inspection by the people, by teaching in the Temple. They would judge whether the doctrines He presented were of God, or not.

13th Day of Nissan
Monday night - Tuesday day

At the end of this day, the four days of inspection (of the Lamb of God) by the religious leaders, and the people who heard Jesus teach in the Temple, were finished. The disciples questioned Jesus as to where they should prepare to eat the Passover. They went forth following Jesus' directions and prepared the Passover meal (or Last Supper, as it is commonly called).

14th Day of Nissan
Tuesday night - Wednesday day

This day is referred to as the preparation of the Passover {John 19:14}. On this day all leaven had to be removed from the houses of Israel, and during the afternoon the Passover lamb must be killed, in preparation for the ensueing feast. At the start of this day, during the night time hours, Jesus kept the Last Supper with His disciples. Afterwards they went to Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed, and was then taken into custody by the authorities {John 18:12-13}. During the next six hours, Jesus would be tried by the religious leaders; brought before Pilate, then Herod, and Pilate again, before being finally delivered up early in the morning, to be crucified. At the third hour (about 9 AM), He was nailed to the cross. Approximately six hours later, He died (about the ninth hour, or about 3 PM). Between the time of His death and sunset, a number of things transpired. Joseph of Arimaethea went to Pilate; obtained permission to remove the body. He then bought linen to wrap the body. Nicodemus, also brought one hundred pounds of spices for the burial process. Time was quickly fleeting away, so they took Jesus' body to a nearby tomb owned by Joseph, prepared Him for burial, laid Him in the tomb and sealed it just before sunset, as the Feast day of Unleavened Bread was about to begin {John 19:38-41}. Preparing the body of Jesus for burial rendered both Joseph and Nicodemus as unclean; therefore they could not eat of the Passover meal that evening. However, a provision was made in Scripture for those who were found in this condition {Num. 9: 10-12}.

15th Day of Nissan
Wednesday night - Thursday day

Following the burial of Jesus on Wednesday at about sunset, the first "sabbath" of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (one of the seven "high days" of Scripture) began. The twenty four hours, beginning with the sealing of the tomb, represents the first full day and night of Jesus' burial, and the beginning of the fulfillment of Matt. 12:40. Jesus' burial at the approach of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (15 Nissan), does not, in any way, hamper His ability to fulfill the Biblical type of unleavened bread. His burial, at that time, did that very thing {John 6:48-51 ; John 12:24}. The Hebrew word for bread, and the grain from which it is made, is "Lekh'-em" (Strong's Hebrew #3899). The "corn of wheat" was planted in the earth (the tomb), to arise exactly three days and three nights later, as a new plant which would bear much fruit.

16th Day of Nissan
Thursday night - Friday day

Thursday at sunset to Friday at sunset is the second full day and night that the grain seed (Jesus) was covered by the earth . During this time period the women bought and prepared spices {Mark 16:1} which they would take to annoint the body of Jesus on Sunday morning. Buying the spices, after the sabbath was past, seems to be at odds with the account given in Luke 23:56 whereon they bought and prepared the spices, and then rested on the Sabbath.

It is however, totally consistent if we consider that the sabbath mentioned by Mark was the first sabbath of unleavened bread (Wednesday night - Thursday day): whereas the Sabbath mentioned by Luke was the weekly Sabbath (Friday night- Saturday day). This means that women would have bought and prepared the spices on 16 Nissan (between the two sabbaths).

The question has been posed by some, that if this was the case, " Why didn't they take the spices to annoint the body on Friday, instead of waiting until Sunday morning?". The simple answer is: The religious leaders went to Pilate the day following the crucifixion and obtained permission to set a seal on the tomb, and post guards {Matt. 27:62-65,66}. So, it would not have possible for the tomb to have been opened for the women to annoint the body. They would surely have been turned away, if not arrested, for seeking entry into the sealed tomb of Jesus. Sunday morning would have been the earliest possible time they could have gained access to His body (Matt.27:64). Some would also reason that by Sunday morning, the body would already be decaying, citing the incidence of Lazarus {John 11:39}. This however, was not a real consideration for Mary Magdalene on that Sunday, as she, unknowingly speaking to Jesus said, "tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away."{John 20:14-15} She appeared to be little concerned about the stench of death, and more enveloped by the love and respect she had for her Master.

17th Day of Nissan
Friday night - Saturday day

Friday at sunset to Saturday at sunset is the third full day and night Jesus was in the tomb. After sunset, in the fleeting moments of that Sabbath day's light, the Priests from the Temple, would cut the sheaf of grain called the "Firstfruits" {Lev. 23:10-11}. Indications are, that at the same time the priest went forth to cut the sheaf of firstfruits in the field: Jesus, having just risen from the dead, departed the tomb, and went to another field (the graves) where the bodies of the resurrected saints {Matt. 27:50-53} had been "planted"; and reaped the true sheaf of firstfruits, which all previously harvested ones had symbolized.

18th Day of Nissan
Saturday night - Sunday day

On this day, early in the morning, the High Priest went into the Temple and offered up the omer, made from the sheaf of grain, reaped at dusk the previous evening {Lev. 23:11}. About that same time as the offering in the Temple was beginning to be carried out, Jesus first met Mary Magdalene and told her that He was to ascend to heaven {John 20:17}. To fulfill the Feast of Firstfruits, Jesus most likely took the risen saints, mentioned in Matthew 27, up to heaven with Him, and as our High Priest, presented them to the Father as the sheaf of Firstfruits harvested from the earth. He then returned latter that day and appeared to the other disciples {John 20:18-19}.

Luke 24:18-21 is often cited in an attempt to discredit a Wednesday crucifixion. The phrase, "...besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened", is most frequently quoted. Obviously if we were counting Wednesday, the likely day of the trial and crucifixion, as the first day in this reckoning, then Sunday would be the fourth, not the third day. Bear in mind however, that the men were explaining the events to Jesus, as though He was a stranger, who didn't know what was going on (Luke 24:18). Go back to verse 14 which states, "And they talked together of all these things which had happened". In the course of their explanation, the last event which they would undoubtedly have relayed to Him, among "...the things which are come to pass there in these days...", would have been the sealing of Jesus' tomb and setting of the guard. That would have taken place on Thursday, the day following the crucifixion {John 19:31-33 ; Matt. 27:62-64}. So, Friday would have been the first day since this last event occurred. Saturday would have been the second day; and Sunday would have indeed been the third day, "...since these things happened.". When all of the events (i.e. the arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial, setting the seal and guard, and the resurrection) are taken into consideration; then the verses in Luke are in perfect harmony with a Wednesday crucifixion.

Whether you agree with the chronological points of this study or not; at least don't go away without realizing that the Lord Jesus fulfilled the Biblical types of Passover: chosen and inspected as the Passover Lamb on 10 Nissan; Slain on 14 Nissan; buried as "the corn of wheat" ( the bread of life), at the onset of 15 Nissan; resurrected at the end of the weekly sabbath (17 Nissan); and came out of the tomb shortly thereafter (18 Nissan) at the onset of Firstfruits (Sunday).

For a New Look at Golgotha, "Place of a skull" Click Here
For additional study on the day of the crucifixion Click Here
For a more indepth study of the Feast Days of the Lord Click Here

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