John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 18:28, When did Jesus die?

Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.

//In Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus shares a final Passover meal with his disciples. Thus the first three Gospels imply that Jesus died on or after the Passover, but John’s Gospel provides a different time line. In John, Jesus dies on the “day of Preparation” (see John 19:42). All four Gospels indicate that Jesus’ body was rushed to the burial site before the Sabbath begins (6pm Friday evening), and this is where we get Good Friday and the idea that Jesus died on a Friday, but John’s Gospel has changed this from a Saturday Sabbath into a “High Sabbath.” John’s “Sabbath” (day of rest) is the feast day of Passover, not Saturday. Nowhere is this more clear than in today’s verse, which indicates that the trial of Jesus occurs before the Passover. Jesus is crucified that same day. There is no final Passover meal in John’s Gospel; the Passover had not yet begun. So, in trying to figure out when Jesus died according to John, we must figure out the day of the week on which Passover occurred.

This is not as simple as it sounds, and there will not be universal agreement, but most scholars suspect that Jesus died in the year 30 CE. This agrees with Luke, who dates John the Baptist’s public baptism to the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius–29 CE on our present Calender–and then, like the other two Synoptics, narrates about a year for the ministry of Jesus. Computer analysis of the Hebrew calendar places the Passover on a Thursday for the year 30 CE (though any such calculation is not a certainty). Thus John’s Gospel indicates Jesus died the day before, which would be Wednesday, before 6 pm. (On the Hebrew calendar, the day always began and ended in the evening, as indicated in Genesis of a “day” being “an evening and a morning.”)

Now comes a very interesting fact. John, you may recall, is the Gospel that says when Jesus spoke of the Temple being rebuilt, he spoke of his own body. This is one of John’s most fascinating contributions to Christian theology. The book of Daniel indicates that the rebuilding of the Temple will be over a period of three and a half “days,” which most theologians interpret to mean three and a half years. But if Jesus died just before sundown on Wednesday, and rose from the dead just before sunup Sunday, he was in the grave … precisely three and a half days! According to John, we may lay to rest all of the ideas about the Temple being rebuilt in three and a half days/years as described in the book of Daniel, for Jesus has already fulfilled that scripture!


  1. I just lost another post….. I was not sure who was confused: the sources for the Dubious Disciple, the Dubious Disciple, or me. I have been removed from the list. At least as far as this goes. I am still probably quite confused about many other things.

    John refers to the day starting soon as the sabbath, Saturday, John 19:31. In the same verse is speaks of “because it was the preparation.” It was the preparation for the sabbath. Thus John 19:42, where it is again speaking of “the preparation day”; the day being refereed to is preparation day for the sabbath. This places the Crucifixion on Friday. The Passover meal that Jesus had with the Disciples would of been Thursday evening, John 13.

  2. Nice try, but the verse in my post makes it clear Jesus died before the Passover. He dies on the same day as John 18:28. John 19:31 refers to a “high sabbath”, meaning not Saturday, but the Passover.

    This should not come as a surprise; John’s entire passion narrative relates Jesus to the Lamb. Culminating, of course, in Jesus dying as the passover lambs are slaughtered in the Temple.

  3. I understand the sabbath to be Saturday. Where do you get the information that it is different? I can not find a reference in the Bible or so far a Jewish perspective of “high sabbath” refering to the Passover.

    You do not respond to the information about John 13 being the Passover meal. That was the evening meal, the first one of the three meals during Passover.

  4. Maybe you could query “high sabbath” or “great sabbath” or “special sabbath” on google. My information comes from several books about Jewish customs and from studies of John’s Gospel.

    For John 13…I am not sure how to respond. I think it’s clear this meal happened before verse 18:28, which means it happened before the Passover. Are you suggesting that Jesus ate a passover meal with his followers BEFORE passover? I’ve heard that guess before, by people trying to reconcile John with the synoptics.

    I think it’s better to just simply accept that John’s memory or theology differs. There is absolutely no hint in John that he speaks of a Passover meal, so why read something into the text that isn’t there?

  5. Neat. I came to this conclusion too, about Wednesday being the day Jesus was crucified, based on Johns account and teh three days in teh grave. And it fits, as you say, with John portraying Jesus as the Lamb of God. Of course it doesn’t fit with the other gospels, but, this is not the only difference..

  6. Lori Eldridge

    I believe that Jesus died on a Thursday. I came to that conclusion by studying events that occurred several days before and after his death and noting which days could not have been a Sabbath by how far Jesus and his disciples were walking every day (anything over 3/4 of a mile would have been more than a Sabbath Day’s walk). I go into great detail in my article.

  7. Cornelius

    This analysis is not so correct. In 30 AD Passover was Friday, just like in 33 AD/CE/Whatever. Moreover, John was well-aware of the Synoptics, so he did not think the Passover meal was skipped – he simply adds to it (John 13), just like he adds things but omits many of the famous episodes (exorcisms, various healings such as resuscitations, etc).

    • No Cornelius, you are twisting the text of the Gospel of John. In that gospel, Jesus died on Passover day as the Sacrifical Lamb for the sins of the world.

      Cornelius, you are a lying c.u.nt. Go suck some

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