The Death of Christ

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 12
The date of the crucifixion is much disputed. As our Lord slipped, as it were, into the world unobserved, so He was cast out unheeded and almost unrecorded. It matters comparatively little to fix a date to it, though it was the greatest event this world ever can witness, unless it be to see in it the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks: far more important that reader and writer should believe that in that death their sins were atoned for, and forever put away. But believing and knowing this, we may ask, When was it that our Lord was crucified?
As has been observed before, nearly all Christians have, as it were, instinctively concluded that our Lord lived on the earth about thirty-three and a half years, and yet, curiously enough all our reference Bibles give the dates thus:
The birth of Christ ———B.C. 4
The crucifixion ———A.D. 33
Being 37 years, or, at least, 36 years.
It has been attempted to decide the length of Christ’s ministry by counting the Passovers mentioned in the gospels. But this would not decide it, because we are not sure that every passover is recorded, though all may be pointed out.
We have seen it as most probable that our Lord was baptized but a short time before a Passover; and they would perhaps stand thus: -
We say “perhaps,” because the second is not called the passover, but “a feast,” and it may or may not have been the passover.
But nothing really hangs on the point, because if not the passover, there may have been another which is not named in John’s gospel, as the first and third are not named in the other gospels.
Again, it has been made a great element in this inquiry to ascertain on what day of the week the 14th of Nisan fell in the various years near the supposed date, and then fix on the one that fell on a Friday as the true one.
But surely such a calculation is perfectly useless, knowing as we do that they had no such corresponding reckoning. We know that their months did not make a full year, and that an extra month was occasionally added; and, therefore, unless we can ascertain exactly when about that time this additional month was added, we cannot even get an approximate date. (See the Jewish months, p. 28.) It is obvious, therefore, that all such calculations are only a waste of time.
We have already seen that in interpreting the Seventy Weeks (page 17), Messiah was to be cut off after sixty-nine weeks, and that this pointed to A.D. 29 for the crucifixion.
In confirmation of the date given for the commencement of the Seventy Weeks (B.C. 455) a writer says, “It is satisfactory to know that the idea entertained by Archbishop Usher, of dating the commencement of Artaxerxes’ reign nine years earlier than the canon of Ptolemy allows, grounded upon what Thucydides says of Themistocles’ flight to Persia, has been confirmed by hieroglyphic inscriptions in Egypt, showing that Artaxerxes was associated with his father in the twelfth year of Xerxes’ reign, so that there ought to be no longer any doubt respecting that famous prophecy of Daniel, so far at least as regards the crucifixion.”
Early Christian writers confidently appeal to a document which they call “The Acts of Pilate,” and which is supposed to have recorded the trial and death of Christ, and these “Acts” point to the same date, A.D. 29.
With common consent, the Latin Fathers relate that the crucifixion was in the year when the two Gemini were consuls. This is also A.D. 29.
Clement and Origen give the destruction of Jerusalem as forty-two years after the crucifixion. The destruction was A.D. 70, and this goes to prove that the crucifixion could not have been later than 29.
From all this evidence we feel justified in concluding that the death of our Lord took place at the Passover in A.D. 29.