Today is Good Friday, so called because this is the day we honor Christ’s death on the cross. The traditional timeline puts Jesus on the cross the Friday before Easter (Resurrection) Sunday. I use the words “traditional timeline” because there are other possible timelines.
Down through the years some excellent Bible scholars have contended that Jesus was actually crucified on the Wednesday before Easter Sunday. The linchpin for this line of interpretation is Matthew 12:40, where Jesus says, “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.” As the argument goes, for Jesus to be in the tomb three literal days and nights He had to be crucified on Wednesday, not Friday. The list of well known preachers who have believed in a Wednesday crucifixion includes R.A. Torrey, Dave Breese, Howard Estep, Oliver B. Greene, and John R. Rice.
However, other excellent students of the Bible continue to hold to a Friday crucifixion. They point out that the Jews considered any part of a day to be a whole day. Thus, if Jesus was buried Friday afternoon, that would be day one. He was in the tomb all day Saturday for day two. Then He arose just after dawn on Sunday morning, which amounted to day three.
Now let me complicate things even further. A few years ago noted prophecy expert Jimmy Deyoung came to our town and preached a three-night series of meetings. On the last night, he held a question and answer session. I didn’t get the chance to submit a question to him, but I stole a chance as he was shaking hands after the meeting. I shook his hand and asked him, “Was Jesus crucified on Friday or Wednesday?” Without a moment’s hesitation he said, “Thursday. Look it up.” I went home and did just that by doing a Goggle search on “Thursday crucifixion.” Sure enough, I found an excellent article that laid out a believable case that Jesus was crucified on Thursday.
Frustrated yet? Please don’t be. If someone came to you and handed you a brown paper bag that had one million dollars inside it, how would you react? Would you say, “Let’s talk about this paper bag. The stores normally use plastic bags these days. I have to know every detail concerning this bag”? You wouldn’t obsess over the bag, would you? You’d want to spend all your time talking about the contents of that bag. Well, that should be our attitude toward Christ’s crucifixion. In our debating over the exact details of the event, let’s make sure that we don’t miss the event’s significance!
That significance is: Jesus died for your sins and my sins. There are so many passages that I could cite here, but I’ll go with Romans 5:6-8: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Take some time today and dwell upon the fact that Jesus (God the Son in the flesh) died to pay the debt for your sins. He took your place. The godly died for the ungodly. The righteous died for the unrighteous. The sinless died for the sinful. How can you ever doubt that God loves you? What more could He have done to prove it? In return for His great love and sacrifice on your behalf, He asks that you place your belief in Jesus as your personal Savior (John 7:38; John 20:27-31; Acts 10:43; Acts 16:30-31). If you haven’t made this decision, I can think of no better day than Good Friday to make it. If you have made it, be sure to say, “Thank you” to Jesus today for dying for you.