How Long Was Jesus On The Cross Before He Died?

A Contradiction In The Gospels —

There seems to be some confusion in the Gospels about the time Jesus was on the cross before he died.

Jesus Before Pilate
Jesus Before Pilate

This confusion is because of:

Mark 15:25 tells us Jesus was crucified at the third hour.

John 19:14.tells us the crucifixion took place after the sixth hour.

Were the statements of these two evangelists contradictory? We’ll get to this after we study the two methods of calculating extant during the time of Jesus.

During the time of Jesus it was customary for the Jewish daytime hours to begin with dawn and end with sundown, which began the next day.

The Romans on the other hand began their day at midnight and counted 12 hours to 12 noon and then 12 hours from noon to midnight.

So For How Long Was Jesus On The Cross?

The answer to this question is often 3 hours. But that is incorrect. The following passage from Mark 15:24-37 says: “And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. It was the third hour when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS…At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”…With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.”

From this passage it is clear that Jesus was crucified at the third hour, at the sixth hour darkness came over the land, and he died at the ninth hour. So in fact Jesus was on the cross for six hours before he died.

The Gospel of John corroborates the statement of Mark. John refers to Pilate having said “behold your king” to the people of Jerusalem at “the sixth hour”. If John had used the Hebrew method of timekeeping, it would have been noon or midnight. But John used the Roman method. Hence his sixth hour would have been six o’clock in the morning.

It is likely that John used the Roman time method since he was writing from Ephesus (Turkey) after the year AD 70. Besides he was not writing for a Jewish audience nor was he influenced by Hebrew culture.

Therefore it can be concluded that Jesus was on the cross for six hours before he died.

.Picture Credit:
Jesus Before Pilate — http://spreadjesus.org/HW13/Jesus-before-Pilate–Jesus-Questioned-by-Pilate-spreadjesus.org.jpg