How Long Was Jesus' Crucifixion on the Cross?

The painful truth is recorded in the Scriptures

Jesus on cross
Andy Brandl / Getty Images

Anyone familiar with the Easter story understands that Jesus' death on the cross was a horrible moment for many reasons. It's impossible to read about the crucifixion without cringing at the physical and spiritual agony Jesus endured -- let alone watching a re-enactment of that moment through a Passion Play or a film like "The Passion of the Christ."

Still, being familiar with what Jesus went through on the cross doesn't mean we have a proper understanding of just how long Jesus was forced to endure the pain and humiliation of the cross. We can find that answer, however, by exploring the Easter story through different accounts in the Gospels.

Beginning with the Gospel of Mark, we learn that Jesus was nailed to a wooden beam and hung on the cross at about 9 in the morning:

22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him.
Mark 15:22-25

Luke's Gospel provides with the timing of Jesus' death:

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Luke 23:44-46

Jesus was nailed to the cross at 9 in the morning, and He died at about 3 in the afternoon. Therefore, Jesus spent about 6 hours on the cross.

As a side note, the Romans of Jesus' day were especially adept at stretching out their torture methods for as long as possible. In fact, it was common for victims of Roman crucifixions to remain on their crosses for two or three days before finally succumbing to death. This is why the soldiers broke the legs of the criminals crucified on Jesus' right and left—doing so made it impossible for the victims to stretch up and breath, which lead to suffocation.

So why did Jesus perish in the relatively short time of six hours? We cannot know for sure, but there are some options. One possibility is that Jesus endured an incredible amount of torture and abuse from the Roman soldiers before He was nailed to the cross. Another possibility is that the shock of being burdened with the full weight of human sinfulness was too much for even Jesus' body to bear for long.

In any case, we must always remember that nothing was taken from Jesus on the cross. He knowingly and willingly gave His life in order to provide all people with the chance to experience forgiveness from their sins and spend eternity with God in heaven. This is the message of the gospel.

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Your Citation
O'Neal, Sam. "How Long Was Jesus' Crucifixion on the Cross?" Learn Religions, Sep. 3, 2021, O'Neal, Sam. (2021, September 3). How Long Was Jesus' Crucifixion on the Cross? Retrieved from O'Neal, Sam. "How Long Was Jesus' Crucifixion on the Cross?" Learn Religions. (accessed March 27, 2023).

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