I am assuming that the year of the Passover crucifixion is 30 AD. It is amazing how much confusion exists in explaining the answer to this question despite the clear teaching in the New Testament that Jesus is crucified on a Friday and it is Nisan 14, the Passover on the Hebrew calendar. Many commentators will give a Thursday date of April 6 while others give a Friday date of April 7.
When giving these Julian nomenclature dates, the writers never specify if they are talking about Julian or Gregorian calendar dates.
In the year 30 AD, there is a two-day difference between the two calendars which also shows the Jewish secular calendar Friday date as Nisan 16. The lack of calendar knowledge in 30 AD may account for some of the confusion. I will list some other reasons that might explain the difficulty of some authors to accurately date the year, day of the week, and date of the Passover crucifixion of Jesus. I will only be commenting on the Friday, Nisan 14 date for the crucifixion.
In Scripture, Nisan 14 and Nisan 15 are both referred to as Passover. Nisan 14 is often referred to as “the preparation” or “the day of preparation” (the word ‘day’ [Greek: dia] is not in the original) and is always a reference to the day of the crucifixion in the four Gospels (Matt. 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:52-54, and John 19:14,31, 42).
The following day, Nisan 15, is usually referred to as the first day of the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15–21). Nisan 15 is also a “high sabbath” day and is treated as a sabbath on which no work is to be done according to Leviticus 23:4–8 and Exodus 12:1–20, regardless of the day of the week it falls on. In the year 30 AD, Nisan 15 was both a normal sabbath and a “high sabbath.”
Then, since it was Preparation, that the bodies not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for great was the day of that sabbath, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and they be taken away. (John 19:31, KJ3).
There were not two sabbaths during Passion Week as those who say Jesus was crucified on Wednesday or Thursday sometimes claim.
Day of Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem is a Monday, Not a Sunday
At this point in the discussion, I am attempting to rescue ‘truth’ from what is familiar. Scripture is very clear that Jesus enters Jerusalem on Monday (not Sunday) Nisan 10, the start of the Passover Feast, the day on which the Passover Lamb is chosen to be slain on Nisan 14 (Exodus 12:1-6). Using the text of Scripture will make this very clear. On Saturday, Nisan 8 in 30 AD, Jesus is in Bethany six days before Passover on Friday Nisan 14.
Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany, where was Lazarus, who had died, whom he raised out of the dead. (John 12:1 KJ3).
- On that evening, the start of Sunday, Nisan 9, Martha serves supper with her brother Lazarus and her sister Mary anoints the feet of Jesus (John 12:2–8). That same Sunday, during the following daylight hours, the chief priests meet with Jesus and want to see Lazarus who was recently raised from the dead.
Then a great crowd of the Jews learned that He was there. And they did not come because of Jesus alone, but that they also might see Lazarus whom He raised from the dead. But the chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus to death also, because through him many of the Jews went away and believed into Jesus. (John 12:9–11, KJ3).
- On Monday, Nisan 10, “the next day,” Jesus enters Jerusalem for the events of the triumphal entry (John 12:12–15). Later that same day Jesus goes into the Temple and returns to Bethany.
- On Tuesday, Nisan 11, Jesus cleanses the Temple and spends the rest of the day teaching with some opposition from the Temple authorities.
- On Wednesday, Nisan 12, Jesus continues teaching in the Temple. On this day Jesus faces much controversy with the Temple’s religious leaders (Matthew 21:23–23:39, Mark 11:27–12:44, and Luke 20:1–21:4) questioning the source of Jesus’ teachings. Jesus continues His second day of teaching in the Temple.
Basically, Jesus has control of the activities at the Temple for two days. The Temple authorities’ plans to get rid of Jesus picked up speed after He cleansed the Temple on Tuesday, Nisan 11 in 30 AD.
- On this day, still Wednesday, Judas agrees to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:1–5, 14-16, Mark 14:1–2, 10-11). Later in the day, Jesus does his teaching at the Mount of Olives before returning to Bethany (Matthew 24:1–25:46, Mark 13:1–37, Luke 21:5–36). Jesus predicts He will be crucified in two days on Nisan 14, the Passover (Matthew 26:1–5, Mark 14:1–2). The Jewish elders gather to plot to seize Jesus (Mark 14:1–2) in order to have him crucified by the Romans.
- On Thursday morning, Nisan 13, Jesus directs the disciples to prepare the Passover lamb for the Last Supper Passover meal that will be eaten that evening on the Friday start of Nisan 14, Passover (Matthew 28:17–19, Mark 14:12–16). Jesus also directs the disciples to find the upper room for the Passover meal (Luke 22:7–13).
All these previously listed events clearly show a Friday Passover meal at the start of the Jewish day on the evening of Nisan 14. The nighttime portion of this day included all the events of the Last Supper, the arrest of Jesus, the mock trial with the Pharisees, and the scourging of Jesus. The Friday daytime events include the crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus.
Misunderstanding the Sign of Jonah
The Pharisees demand a sign from Jesus showing the source of His miraculous powers (Matthew 12:38–40, Luke 11:29). In Luke 11:16 Jewish leaders want to see “a sign from heaven,” perhaps, something like rearranging a constellation of stars. Instead, Jesus gives them a sign from Scripture about Jonah. Jesus responds:
An evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign, and a sign shall not be given to it, except the sign of Jonah the prophet. And even as ‘Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights,” so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights’ (Matthew 12:39–40, KJ3).
We know from this statement that the crucifixion and resurrection would involve a time period containing “three days and three nights.”
What does this have to do with Jonah? Some have argued that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday or Thursday since Jesus had to be in the tomb for a longer period of time. This view completely ignores the fact that Jonah was not dead when he was in the large fish or whale. What do Jesus and Jonah have in common to explain this connection? Both men were confined in a near-death situation for a period of time involving three periods of darkness (night) and three periods of light (day).
The three nights, for Jesus, were:
- His arrest and trial on Friday,
- the tomb all night Saturday,
- and Sunday night before the Sunday morning resurrection — a total of three nights.
The three days were:
- all day Friday, the crucifixion,
- all day Saturday in the tomb,
- and part of Sunday morning, probably until sometime between 6:00 AM and 8:00 AM before Mary and the other women arrive at the tomb — a total of three days.
New Moon Charts identify the New Moons of 30 AD
The final assistance in solving this issue comes from the unexpected source of new moon charts for the years 1 AD through 100 AD on the Gregorian calendar found at AstroPixels.com. Their chart shows there was a new moon on Friday, March 22 at 17:47 (5:47 pm) in the year 30 AD. This means that there would be a full moon 14 days later on the Jewish date of Friday Nisan 14, the Passover.
According to the Gregorian-Hebrew solar calendar research found in my book, Earth’s Sacred Calendar, Nisan 14, the Passover, always falls on April 5 in a normal year and on April 3 in a leap year (see the normal year matrix in chapter 32). You can see at Rosetta Calendar.com that April 5 falls on a Friday on the Gregorian calendar in 30 AD. On this same day of the secular Hebrew calendar, it shows a Friday date of Nisan 16 and is off by two days according to the moon charts.
- The Scripture fits well with Jesus being crucified on Friday, Nisan 14, in the year 30 AD. That date was on April 5 of our Gregorian calendar.
- Like Jonah, Jesus was confined and in physical torment involving three periods of darkness (nights) and three periods of daylight (days).
Holy Bible KJ3 Literal Translation -translated by Jay P. Green, Sr. SGPBooks.com 2010.