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The following timeline for the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ accommodates three full nights (Wednesday night, Thursday night and Friday night) and three full daylight periods (Thursday, Friday and Saturday), as well as fitting in with the other details recorded in the Gospels.
Jesus Christ ate an evening Passover meal with His disciples (at the beginning of Nisan 14, Jewish reckoning) and instituted the New Covenant symbols (Matthew 26:26-28). Jesus was then betrayed by Judas, arrested and during the night brought before the high priest.
Jesus was crucified and died around 3 p.m. (Matthew 27:46-50). This was the preparation day for the annual—not weekly—Sabbath, which began at sunset (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:31). Jesus' body was placed in the tomb just before sunset (Matthew 27:57-60).
This was the high-day Sabbath, the first day of the biblical Feast of Unleavened Bread (John 19:31; Leviticus 23:4-7). It is described as the day after the "Day of Preparation" (Matthew 27:62). Wednesday night and the daylight portion of Thursday were the first of three days and nights Jesus' body was in the tomb.
The high-day annual Sabbath now past, the women bought and prepared spices for anointing Jesus' body before resting on the weekly Sabbath day, which began at Friday sunset (Mark 16:1; Luke 23:56). Thursday night and the daylight portion of Friday marked the second of three days and nights Jesus' body was entombed.
The women rested on the weekly Sabbath day, according to the Fourth Commandment (Luke 23:56; Exodus 20:8-11). Jesus rose near sunset, exactly three days and three nights after His body was placed in the tomb, fulfilling the sign of Jonah and authenticating the sign He gave of His messiahship.
The women brought the prepared spices early in the morning while it was still dark (Luke 24:1; John 20:1). Jesus had already risen (Matthew 28:1-6; Mark 16:2-6; Luke 24:2-3; John 20:1). He did not rise on Sunday morning, but near sunset the day before— three days and three nights after being put in the tomb, just as He foretold.
The Good News magazine (Mar-Apr 2013)