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Was Jesus' Crucifixion and Death On the Wrong Day?
(Part 1 of 3-part Study)

Jesus' crucifixion and death is commonly understood to have been on a Friday and scripture says that the Passover sacrifice should be made on Nisan 14.

"Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening." (Exo 12:5-6)

(Note that the original wording which is translated "in the evening" has the meaning more like "between the evenings" referring to the time between noon when the sun starts to go down and approximately 6pm when the sun sets. The middle of this time period is 3 pm, the time of the evening sacrifice, when Jesus died.) The day Jesus entered into Jerusalem is usually understood to have been the Sunday before. The 10th of Nisan is the day scripture says the Passover lamb was to be chosen.

In the book In the Heart of the Earth: The Secret Code That Reveals What Is In the Heart of God it is presented that the crucifixion day was Nisan 15. Many people will have a hard time with that and insist that the crucifixion must have been on Nisan 14 to fulfill the types. However, this question could be turned around for those who believe that the day Jesus died could only be Nisan 14. The question would then be: if Friday was Nisan 14, why did Jesus consider Passover to be on Nisan 13 and eat the meal that evening, actually in the early hours of Nisan 14 and a day earlier than specified in Leviticus 23?

"In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread." (Lev 23:5-6)

The problem is illustrated in the chart below which shows the days of the week (in 31 AD) corresponding to the days of Nisan and the days the lamb was to be selected and slain:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Nisan 10 11 12 13 14 15 ???
Lamb selected       lamb slain  

You can see that a Sunday, Nisan 10 selection of the lamb and a Friday, Nisan 14 slaying of the lamb cannot be. The fact is that Jesus could not both observe the Passover at the prescribed time and be sacrificed as the antitypical Passover Lamb the same day (actually a few hours before the time of the meal). We could debate which was more important for Him to do:

  1. to die as the Passover Lamb at the specified time "between the two evenings" on the afternoon of Passover Day, Nisan 14
or
  1. to partake of the Passover meal at the right time in the early evening of Nisan 15.

Clearly, He could not do both. However, we do not need to debate because, when scripture is carefully examined, it is clear what happened as far as the timing. Here is a thought that affects this problem and is probably new to you.

Is it possible that, in God's "Plan A," Jesus would have been accepted by the priests and people and sacrificed by the high priest on the altar of sacrifice in the temple, on Nisan 14, as the official Passover lamb was every year?

The penalty for sin is death and Jesus was the Lamb (planned to be) slain from the foundation of the world. But what lamb was ever crucified? Even Abraham's almost-sacrifice of Isaac which typified Christ's sacrifice, on Mt. Moriah (centuries later, to be the very site of the altar in the temple in Jerusalem where Jesus should have died) followed the style of animal sacrifices - there was no cruel cross, no crucifixion involved.

Plan A would have required acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah, and recognition of His role as the Lamb of God, by the spiritual leadership and the people of Israel. Surely, the Father would have preferred that and did not compel them in any way to reject His Son. While the spiritual leaders should have understood from scripture, even Jesus' closest companions didn't understand His role as the sacrificial Lamb of God.

Because Jesus was rejected, God's "Plan A" was thwarted. However, God's eternal purpose was still carried out - the sins of the world were atoned for by the death of Jesus. The way it happened was that Jesus arrived in Jerusalem as the Sacrificial Lamb on time on the tenth of Nisan. He was examined and tested as He taught in the temple in the following days. On the day (Nisan 14) the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed, had He been accepted as the spotless Lamb of God that He really was, He should have been sacrificed for the sins of the world. Sacrificed in the temple, not executed by crucifixion outside the city walls of Jerusalem as a common criminal.

There is evidence, from the actions of Jesus Himself, that, in fact, the day before the crucifixion in that year, Thursday was Nisan 14 (see part 2).

 


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