Wednesday is the day of the Crucifixion of Christ; Good Friday is not the day of the Crucifixion. In order to arrive at this conclusion we must go to the scriptures.
Lev 23:4-8 HCSB “These are the LORD’s appointed times, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times. (5) The Passover to the LORD comes in the first month, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the month. (6) The Festival of Unleavened Bread to the LORD is on the fifteenth day of the same month. For seven days you must eat unleavened bread. (7) On the first day you are to hold a sacred assembly; you are not to do any daily work. (8) You are to present a fire offering to the LORD for seven days. On the seventh day there will be a sacred assembly; you must not do any daily work.”
Let us break this down.
Verse 5 tells us that Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. The first month is Aviv (Abib), also called Nisan (Nisan). Nisan occurs during March or April on the Gregorian Calendar, which is the calendar most of the world currently uses. Passover was the day that the first paschal lamb was slaughtered at sunset and cooked, and eaten that night. At midnight all the firstborn sons in Egypt died. After that happened, while it was still night time, Pharaoh demanded that the Israelites leave (Ex 12:31), so they prepared to leave Egypt, which they hurriedly did that day. So it was also known as the preparation day (see Mat 27:62; Mar 15:42; Luk 23:564; John 19:14, 31, 42) because the people prepared to leave that day (Ex 12:31-33).
Twilight begins immediately after sunset. On the Hebrew calendar, the day begins immediately after sunset, whereas or our calendar, the day begins immediately after midnight. To help us better understand this, let us use an example. Let us use Wednesday as our example. On our calendar, Wednesday begins at midnight. On the Hebrew calendar used in Jesus’ day, Wednesday began at sunset, so their Wednesday began on what we now consider as our Tuesday at sunset. We must be careful to remember this important fact in order to understand this Scripture in its historical context.
Accordingly, the fourteenth day of Nisan began at sunset immediately following Nisan 13. The Passover began at sunset. During the daylight hours on Nisan 13, the disciples prepared for the Last Supper. The last supper occurred after dark, which made the date Nisan 14. This corresponds exactly with the first Passover when the actual Exodus from Egypt took place. After the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, the Rabbis of Rabbinical Judaism decreed that the Passover Meal or Seder would take place after dark on Nisan 15, a day later than at the actual Exodus.
Verses 6-7 tell us that the day after Passover is the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is a Sabbath that occurs annually. Unleavened Bread begins at sunset immediately following Nisan 14. This festival celebrates the fact that the Israelites were aroused in the night by Pharaoh (Ex 12:31) who told them to leave Egypt quickly (Ex 12:33) so the Israelites did not even have time to put yeast (leaven) in their bread before they left. We find in verse eight, that Unleavened Bread is a seven day festival that begins with a Sabbath, and ends with a Sabbath. All of these details are significantly important in understanding the sequence of events that occurred between Passover and the Resurrection.
Now let us go to the New Testament.
In the New Testament, in Mat 26:17 and Mark 14:12, concerning the Last Supper, most translations state to the effect, “on the first day of the Feast Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, ‘Where do you wish for us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?'” This is somewhat misleading for the Torah, which is the Old Testament Scriptures plainly states that the Passover comes before the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We get some help from Luke 22:7, where the KJV translators wrote, “Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed,” and from Mark who echoed the same thing.
Mat 26:17 literally states, “Now on the first unleavened came the disciples…” The word ‘day’ is not mentioned here in the Greek. Mark 14:12 literally states, “And on the first day of the unleavened , when the Passover was Killed…” Luk 22:7 literally says, “And came the day of unleavened on which must be killed the Passover…” (Literal translations from Green’s Interlinear). Taking all three of these verses on the same subject together we see that this happened before the Passover lamb was killed.
On the day of the exodus, in the daytime before the firstborn of Egypt were killed, the Israelites smeared the blood of the Pascal lamb on the doorposts after the lamb was killed at twilight when Nisan 13 ended Nisan 14 had just begun (Ex 12:6). Then the Israelites ate the lamb after dark (Ex 12:8). Later that night, after the firstborn of Egypt were killed (Ex 12:29), Pharaoh ordered the Israelites to leave Egypt (Ex 12:31-32).
Annually, after the actual exodus from Egypt, when the Israelites celebrated Passover as a memorial, the Pascal lamb was killed in the afternoon on Nisan 14 (Num 9:1) between the 9th and 11th hours (Josephus, Wars, Book VI, 9:3), and the Passover meal or Seder took place after dark, which would be the 15th of Nisan; which is a day later than they did on the actual exodus.
That equates to between 3 PM and 5 PM local time. Since the Passover was killed around 3-5 PM on Nisan 14, the conversation between the disciples and Jesus about the preparations for the Passover meal obviously took place before that time.
The difference is that on the day of the actual exodus, the people had to be ready to leave in a hurry after midnight when the firstborn of Egypt were slain. Afterward, when that event was celebrated annually, the lamb was slain in the afternoon on Nisan 14, and the Passover Seder was eaten that evening, which was Nisan 15. That means that the disciples were referring to the upcoming Feast of Unleavened Bread but it had not yet taken place.
Passover week is eight days long. Day one, Nisan 14 is Passover, Days 2-8, Nisan 15-22, are the days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The disciples were including all eight days of Passover week as Unleavened Bread in their conversation that was recorded in Mat 26:17, Mark 14:12, and Luk 22:7.
We know from the Scriptures that Jesus died at 3 PM or the ninth hour (Mat 27:45, Mark 15:33, Luk 23:44), which was the time the priests began to kill the Passover lambs (Josephus, Wars, Book VI, 9:3). Taking all these things into consideration, we know that His disciples ate their Last Supper with Him the evening before He was crucified.
At the original exodus from Egypt, the Israelites killed their lambs at twilight, put some of the blood on their doorposts, and ate the lamb after dark. Later, at midnight, the Lord struck the firstborn males in Egypt, killing them. Jesus, knowing He would die before the Jews ate their Passover meal, which would occur in the early evening on the 15th of Nisan, ate the Last Supper with His disciples before midnight on Passover just as the Israelites did on that first Passover.
Jesus, the Lamb of God, had to be sacrificed on the day the Pascal lambs were sacrificed at the same time they were sacrificed. That time was between the 9th and 11th hours, which is between 3 and 5 PM in the afternoon of Nisan 14. That is why He and His disciples ate their Passover Seder a day early. Jesus could not have been sacrificed and then eat the Passover at the normal time; He had to have the Last Supper with the disciples on the evening before He was sacrificed.
Here is the timeline of Passion week. The scripture says that Jesus would “be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mat 12:40). After the exodus from Egypt, the first Pascal Lamb was slaughtered on Passover at about 3 PM. Jesus died at about 3 PM on Passover (Mat 27:46; Mar 15:34).
The sign of Jonah only states that Jesus would be in the earth (or in the grave) for three days and three nights. It does not say when Jesus would be killed and does not include the crucifixion in the three days and nights. It only includes the time when Jesus was dead and in the tomb. Thus the sign of Jonah began when Jesus was placed in the tomb. The three days and three nights began at that time.
The day began for the Jews at Sunset. So if Jesus was crucified on Passover, and if Passover was a Wednesday, and Jesus was quickly placed in the tomb just before dark (Mark 15:42) (all of which happened), then at dark it became Thursday. So he was in the tomb Thursday night and day (1); Friday night and day (2); Saturday night and day (3), and He was resurrected just after sunset and before dark on our Saturday, which is Sunday on the Hebrew calendar. That makes 3 full days and 3 full nights.
Furthermore remember that Passover is also preparation day, and the day after Passover is the first day of Unleavened Bread and that is a Sabbath (Lev 23:4-8; Mar 15:42). The ladies could not come to him the day after Passover because it was a Sabbath. Then on Friday, which was not a Sabbath they got spices (Mar 16:1; Luk 25:36). Then it was the Saturday Sabbath (two Sabbaths in Passion Week) preventing them from coming to the tomb (Luk 25:36). The women came to the grave before daylight on Sunday to find it empty (Joh 20:1). Three days and Three nights ended at dusk on Saturday, which was also the beginning of Sunday.
Let us take Passion week a day at a time.
On the 8thof Nisan (our Thursday), six days before Passover (John 12:1), Jesus arrived and remained at Bethany on the 9th of Nisan (our Friday)
On the 10th of Nisan (our Saturday), Jesus observed the weekly Sabbath.
On the 11th of Nisan (our Sunday), the Triumphal entry occurred; later that evening, Jesus returned to Bethany (Mar 11:11) (Palm Sunday).
On the 12th day of Nisan (Our Monday), Jesus returned to Jerusalem from Bethany, was hungry, and cursed the fig tree (Mar 11:12-14).
On the 13th of Nisan (Our Tuesday), Jesus has His disciples go and prepare the Passover meal or Seder. This was also the day Jewish families searched their houses for leaven.
On the 14th day of Nisan (our Wednesday) CRUCIFIXION DAY, Jesus is crucified at 9 AM and then dies at 3 PM, the same time the first Pascal lamb was killed. He is placed in the tomb at evening, just before sunset.
The 15th of Nisan (Our Thursday), the first day of Unleavened Bread occurs, which is a high Sabbath where no servile work is to be done. This is night 1 and day 1 in the tomb.
The 16th of Nisan (Our Friday) is the second day of the feast of unleavened bread, and the second night and second day in the tomb. The women go and purchase spices and ointments to anoint the body of Jesus, but must rest again at sunset because the weekly Sabbath begins.
The 17th of Nisan (Our Saturday) is the third night and third day in the tomb and the weekly Sabbath. Jesus arose from the grave at dusk, exactly three days and nights after he was buried.
The 18th of Nisan (Our Sunday); the women arrive at the tomb early before daylight with spices and ointments and find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty.
The 19th-21st of Nisan (Our Monday through Wednesday are the last three days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Wednesday is another high Sabbath commemorating the end of Passion Week.
For a graphic display, see Six Days Before Passover and Passion Week.