Did Jesus die on "Good Friday"? If so, how is it that 3 days & 3 nights are reckoned between Fri - Sun? “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).
Friday afternoon to early before dawn on Sunday does not comprise three days and three nights. The Catholic and predominantly Protestant teachings on the Good Friday crucifixion may very well be wrong.
It does seem to be true that any part of the day was counted as the full day, and any part of the night as the full night (inclusive count). But, still three days and three nights were needed (Matt. 12:40).
Gabriel told Daniel (Dan. 9:27) that Christ would be cut off in the midst of the week. While the "weeks" of that prophesy were "years", it may very well mean both the middle of the seventh year (3-1/2 years) as well as the literal middle of the week. God's word is fully complete in many ways.
Our Friday...if it can be reconciled to the Hebrew day 6, which may not be at all the same.... is not the middle of the week. That would be our Wednesday, or the Hebrew day 4. They did not name the days, but only counted them.
The argument for this viewpoint runs as follows:
If Christ was crucified on Wednesday afternoon, then we count Wed. as day 1, Wed. night as night 1; Thurs. day as day 2 and Thurs. night as night 2; Friday day as day 3 and Friday night as night 3.
Either our 6 PM or our 12 AM was the start of the next day in the Hebrew "day", as there are different definitions of the "day". So, our Friday night would have been their Saturday / Sabbath. And, early dawn of the next "sabbath" / Saturday would have been the resurrection day.
It is interesting that ALL of the gospels are literally translated in Young's as "on the first of the sabbaths".
"And on the eve of the sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of the sabbaths, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre," (YLT)
" and early in the morning of the first of the sabbaths, they come unto the sepulchre, at the rising of the sun," (YLT)
"And on the first of the sabbaths, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bearing the spices they made ready, and certain [others] with them," (YLT)
"And on the first of the sabbaths, Mary the Magdalene doth come early (there being yet darkness) to the tomb, and she seeth the stone having been taken away out of the tomb," (YLT)
It may very well be that "the first of the sabbaths" on the eve of the sabbaths were speaking of after the holy sabbath days of Passover and Unleavened Bread (eve of the Sabbaths) on the 14th and 15th of Nissan, they would have begun to count seven sabbaths to get to Pentecost (Lev. 23:15).
So, in this view, "the first of the sabbaths" would have been the first regular sabbath / Saturday to count seven regular sabbaths to Pentecost.
This does seem to fit nicely with a literal mid-week cut off of Dan. 9:27 and does count a literal three days and three nights which Christ prophesied in Matt. 12:40. This makes an attractive argument but for one circumstance.
The two disciples that Jesus met on the road to Emmaus counters the idea of a Sabbath resurrection day. Emmaus could have been one of several villages walking distance from Jerusalem, the shortest of which appears to have been 36 stadia or about 1 mile. It could have been as much as 7 miles from Jerusalem. Either distance was too far for the disciples to consider traveling on the Sabbath.
Therefore, it appears that "first of the Sabbaths" must be understood as Sabbath + 1, or the first day of the first sabbath week to Pentecost.
That still leaves the discussion of the crucifixion on the afternoon of Nissan 14, eating the Passover meal after sundown which began Nissan 15 and trying to determine if Nissan 14 was a Thursday or Friday.
A hebrew idiom - any part of a day or night constituted a full day per traditional Jewish teaching (and the Talmud).
So - Jesus died Friday before sundown (before the Sabbath) and was burried (1 day), Jesus remains buried Friday through Saturday sundown (2 day), Jesus is resurrected on Sunday morning ("on the third day" - which per the idiom is a day and night (a full day).
This actually is what harmonizes the verses which say Jesus arose "on the third day" with "three days and three nights".
Note: night is actually morning and morning is part of the day.
Friday day(12am - 6pm) and Friday evening(6pm - 12am) = 1st day
Saturday morning(12am - 6am) and Saturday day(6am - 12am) = 2nd day
Sunday morning(12am - 6am) and Sunday day is part of the morning(12am - 12am) = 3rd day
The misunderstanding at work in the OP and in all of the answers proposed (aside from this one) is to identify “heart of the earth” to mean tomb. That is incorrect; that is not the definition. Scripture defines these things for us.
BELLY of HELL
We find two belly’s at work.
Belly of the fish, Jonah 1:17
Belly of hell, Jonah 2:2
Belly of hell (Strong's H7585) refers to hell, death, the grave. It does not refer to, nor is it identical with, the belly of the fish.
The KJV translates Strong's H7585 in the following manner: grave (31x), hell (31x), pit (3x).
Jonah prays from inside the fish. He refers, however, to the belly of hell, which was his watery grave, the weeds wrapped, the descent to the bottom with the bars, while outside the fish. The fish then swallowed him. Jonah revives and recalls his prayer. Upon the end of 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish, the fish vomits him out.
So, to which belly does Jesus refer; is it to the fish or hell?
The comparison of “heart of the earth” is to “belly of the fish”. It is emphatically not to “belly of hell”; it is not to the tomb.
BELLY of FISH
Jesus refers to the sign of Jonah as 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth, as Jonah was 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish. Again, we now know Christ is not referencing His visit to hell. It is not solely about the tomb. So, what else is the Lord telling us?
For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst [heart] of the earth. Psalm 74:12
The word for “midst” is qereb; it may also mean “heart”. Here is Strong’s.
קֶרֶב qereb, keh'-reb; from H7126; properly, the nearest part, i.e. the center, whether literal, figurative or adverbial (especially with preposition):—× among, × before, bowels, × unto charge, eat (up), × heart , × him, × in, inward (× -ly, part, -s, thought), midst, out of, purtenance, × therein, × through, × within self.
When did Christ work salvation? While in the tomb only? No; again, that is a misunderstanding. The truth is Jesus Christ our King of old worked salvation from Passover to resurrection; from sufferings to glory. That’s the New Testament. See for examples Luke 24:26, Acts 17:3, 1 Peter 1:11.
THREE DAYS and THREE NIGHTS
Now we know that 3 days and 3 nights refers to the period of Christ’s sufferings to His glory. Which days and nights were they? The OP doesn’t ask for this answer.