Time of Christ's burial

Christ's tomb

 Christ's Tomb

Many believe that Christ died at 3:00 PM on Friday, and that He was buried shortly thereafter -- around 6:00 PM Friday evening. If that were the case, in order to have 3 days and 3 nights as He prophesied (see Sign of the Messiah), Christ would have resurrected at 6:00 PM Monday evening. However, that is not the case; Christ rose from the grave on Sunday morning before sunrise.


John 20:1 Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance

Matthew 28:1 Now after the Sabbaths, as it began to light up into the first of sabbaths (Sunday), Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 

The Greek word that has been translated as "began to light up" is "ἐ π ι φ ω σ κ ο ύ σ ῃ".  Notice that "phos" is the Greek root for light.  From the root "phos" or "phot" come words such as phosphorus, phosphorescence, photo, photograph, photon, etc. 

Another place where a similar word " ἐ π έ φ ω σ κ ε ν " appears is in the book of Luke, in reference to Christ's burial.

Luke 23:54
"it was day of preparation, and Sabbath was lighting upon"

The Greek word for "lighting upon" is " ἐ π έ φ ω σ κ ε ν" "epephosken", therefore when Luke states "Sabbath was lighting upon," he means that it was becoming daylight, or dawn.  

It was becoming MORNING when Christ was finally buried, not evening as most people believe. Yeshua/Jesus had to be buried before morning because our Messiah is the Passover lamb, and the requirement was that any part left of the Passover lamb had to be buried or burned before daybreak.

Exodus 34:25
You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover be left to the morning.

From reading in Luke 23:54  "Sabbath was lighting upon," many people have assumed that this means that it was now Saturday.  However in the Bible there are weekly Sabbaths, and there are also annual Sabbaths which refer to the Holy Days.

This Sabbath was not a weekly Sabbath; this was a yearly Sabbath that falls on Nisan 15 of the Jewish Calendar, the first day of Feast of Unleavened Bread.  It happens that in the year Jesus died, Nisan 15 fell on a Thursday.  Counting 72 hours (3 days and 3 nights) from that Thursday morning when Yeshua / Jesus' burial was finally COMPLETED, we arrive at Sunday morning, the day that we find that He was already resurrected, fulfilling  the prophecy.

Notice that he was buried before sunrise and resurrected before sunrise.

See our file Did Christ Die on a Friday?

The crucifixion occurred at 3:00 PM Mark 15:25 It was now the third hour, and they crucified Him. Jesus died during the night, late on Wednesday (Roman time).  His burial took place during the night of Wednesday and past midnight until the early hours of Thursday, the burial finishing with the stone being rolled over the entrance of the grave in the predawn hours of Thursday. 

Mark 15:46 So Joseph purchased a [fine] linen cloth [for wrapping the body], and after taking Jesus down [from the cross], he wrapped Him in the linen cloth and placed Him in a tomb which had been cut out of rock. Then he rolled a [large, wheel-shaped] stone against the entrance of the tomb.

To answer the question "Was he buried at 6:00 pm on Friday?" we have to understand that the problem arises from trying to "fit a foot too big for the shoe."  Throughout the ages people have tried to fit the events of Christ's death and prove that He was the Messiah.  From the lack of knowledge of what Pesach/Passover, feast of unleavened bread, and the annual holidays mean, people have assumed that the Sabbath in reference was a weekly Sabbath, and therefore in order to fit the 3 days and 3 nights, they needed to "bury" Christ as early as possible in order to be able to count Friday as one of the 3 days.  We do not need to fit a square peg into a round hole.  We want to find the truth; we are going to look into the bible and find out what it says.

More evidence that Christ died LATE IN THE EVENING is found in Mark 15.

Mark 15:42-43
When evening had now come, because it was Preparation, which is before the Sabbath, having come Joseph from Arimathaea, reputable counselor, who also himself was waiting for the kingdom of God, boldly went in to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. 

The original Greek transliteration states "and already of evening having come to be" The word translated as "evening" is the Greek word "o y i a V" "opsias" which means late evening.  It was already late evening when Joseph from Arimathea came to the cross.  After Jesus was already dead, Joseph went to Pilate to claim the body of Jesus.

Jesus died at 9:00PM, so we calculate that around 9:30 PM Joseph from Arimathea, still in shock over the death of Christ, boldly decides he will be the one to claim the body of Jesus

Notice that Mark talks about the preparation for Passover. It was an annual Sabbath, not a weekly Sabbath.

Pilate had to make sure that Jesus was dead, so he first sends the centurion to find out if it is true.  After Pilate confirms that Jesus is dead, about 10:30 PM, he allows Joseph of Arimathea to take the body for burial.

From the time  Joseph of Arimathea came to Jesus' cross we can list the following events:

Roman Centurion

  • 1. The request of Joseph to Pilate  9:30 PM Wednesday
    Matt 28:58

  • 2. Pilate sending the Centurion to the cross 9:45 PM
    Mark 15:44

  • 3. The Centurion returning to Pilate  10:15 PM
    Mark 15:44

  •  4. Pilate giving the order to allow Joseph to get the body 10:30 PM  
    Mark 15:45

  • 5. Joseph going to buy linen for the burial 11:00 PM


  • 6. Getting the body of Jesus out of the cross 11:30 PM 

Mark 15:46 Accordingly he [Joseph] bought fine linen and took him down.




  • 7. Nicodemus getting the spices and aloes. 12:15 AM Thursday

John 19:39 Nicodemus, also, the man that came to him in the night the first time, came bringing a roll or myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.

  • 8. Preparing the body for burial according to Jewish custom. 1:00 AM - 3:00 AM 

John 19:40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it up with bandages with the spices, just the way the Jews have the custom of preparing for burial.

  • 9. Preparing the tomb. 1:00 AM - 4:30 AM

Luke 23:53 ...And he laid him in a tomb carved in the rock  in which no man had yet lain.  Matthew 27:59 and Joseph took the body wrapped it up in clean fine linen and laid it in his new tomb, which HE QUARRIED in the rock-mass.  Mark 15:46 And laid Him in [tomb] which was having been quarried out of the rock-mass.

Joseph was the owner of the cave site were they buried Jesus, but it was just a cave, not a burial site.  Since there were no power tools at that time,  they had to prepare the tomb by chiseling out the rock with hand tools.   The tomb included a flat bed carved out of the rock in which they put the body of Christ.  This took several hours.


  • 10. Bringing the prepared body to the tomb. 5:00 AM

John 19:41-42 Incidentally at the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden, a new tomb in which no-one had ever yet been laid. There therefore through the preparation of the Jews, because near was the tomb, they put the Jesus.

The whole burial  took place "through" the time of preparation for the Passover Feast of Nisan 15.  While our Passover Yeshua was  being buried, the traditional Jews were doing all their preparations for their Seder meal that night as the Feast of Passover was about to begin in the morning.

  • 11. Rolling the stone over the entrance of the tomb 5:30 AM

Mark 15:46-47  and he [Joseph] rolled a stone up to the door of the tomb.  But Mary Magdalene and Mary the [mother] of Joses were viewing where he had been laid.

Matthew 27:60-61 and after rolling a big stone to the door of the  tomb, he [Joseph] left, but Mary Magdalene and the other Mary continued there, sitting before the grave.

Christ's Tomb

Luke 23:54
"Now it was day of preparation and Sabbath was lighting upon."

It was becoming daylight when they finally finished rolling the stone to the door of the tomb.  Remember, the original Greek word for "lighting upon" is " ἐ π έ φ ω σ κ ε ν" epephosken.

How long did all of these events take?  Several hours as a minimum. That is why we can be sure that if Jesus died at 9:00 PM that Wednesday night, then Christ's burial was finally completed around 5:30 AM that Thursday morning, because during the spring equinox -- time of the year when Christ died -- the sun rises at 6:00 AM.

By finishing His burial before daybreak of Nisan 15, it was fulfilled the requirement of the law that no part of the Passover lamb was to remain till the morning. 

Exodus 34:25
You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover be left to the morning.

To see all the events from Jesus' last supper to His crucifixion, read
our file Did Christ Die on Friday?  In this article we present the scriptures in chronological order so that the reader could easily follow everything that happened the day our Lord was crucified.

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