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What does “Good Friday” reveal about Christ’s death and resurrection?
Question: I have looked in my Bible for evidence of the “Good Friday” my church observes, but I cannot find it. What am I overlooking?
Answer: You should be commended for your careful reading of Scripture! The Bible does reveal what Jesus Christ was doing on the Friday before His resurrection—but the truth is not what most professing Christians today believe!
We know from Scripture that Christ spent three full days and nights—72 hours—in the grave. He had to do this in order to fulfill the biblical sign of Jonah, as He proclaimed to the scribes and Pharisees. “But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 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’” (Matthew 12:39–40).
This fact by itself proves that the widely assumed Good Friday to Easter Sunday chronology cannot be correct, since a Friday afternoon crucifixion would have kept Jesus in the grave until Monday afternoon.
But when does Scripture say Christ was resurrected? Notice this account: “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him’” (John 20:1–2).
Her visit on the “first day of the week” means that Mary Magdalene went to Christ’s tomb in the night hours after the Sabbath—before the sun had risen on Sunday—and found that Jesus was not in the tomb. So, counting back 72 hours, there is no way Jesus could have been crucified on Friday at all!
Scripture reveals that Jesus died at about 3:00 p.m. (Matthew 27:46–50). The Gospel of John gives us another vital detail about what happened immediately after His death. We read: “Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away” (John 19:31).
The “Preparation Day” is the day before the Sabbath, when tasks are performed in anticipation of the coming Sabbath rest from workaday activities. But we have already seen that Friday cannot be the day of Christ’s death, since He had to have been dead for 72 hours before the end of the seventh day of the week! Is this an apparent contradiction in Scripture? No! Notice the description that the coming Sabbath was a “high day.” This is a reference to one of the “annual Sabbaths” (Leviticus 23:6–36). Christ was crucified in the hours immediately preceding the First Day of Unleavened Bread (v. 6).
So, we know from Scripture that Jesus Christ was buried shortly before sunset, before the First Day of Unleavened Bread began. We know that 72 hours later, before the first day of the week had begun, He had risen. This means that He rose near the end of the weekly seventh-day Sabbath, so He must have been crucified on a Wednesday—not on “Good Friday” as many now believe. On “Good Friday,” Jesus was dead, in the grave, in fulfillment of prophecy.
Churches that hold to the Good Friday and Easter Sunday traditions are denying not only the plain words of Scripture, but also the very sign Jesus gave of His being the Messiah. If you worship a Messiah who rose on Sunday after 36 hours in the grave, you are not worshiping the true Jesus Christ of the Bible, but rather a counterfeit invented by men who want to draw attention away from God and His Truth. To learn more about many false teachings that have been promoted in the name of “Christianity,” please request your free copy of our booklet, Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity.