Three Days and Three Nights

Tradition has it that Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and rose from the dead on ‘Easter’ morning, a Sunday. ( Easter is a word derived from the name of a heathen goddess so you can see where tradition has brought us) – we have the four Gospels which each supply different parts of the story.

Jesus said that this would be the only sign that he would give to those who demanded a sign from him. “— there shall be no sign given to it , but the sign of the prophet Jonas. For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matt.12:39-40

Actually he consistently called himself notthe son of man” but the Greek literally says “the son of the man”, however, for some traditional reason it is always translated as “the Son of man” – it is written with the definite article in front of man about eighty times – always when Jesus speaks of himself and also when Stephen says it as he is being stoned and sees Jesus at the right hand of God.

Was this “ the son of the man” not understood by the Jews as meaning – the son of David, the longed for Messiah. Males usually are – sons of men?

So, did he mean three days and three nights or was this just a Jewish idiom which meant a few days?  He was also to rise on the third day Acts 10:40

In Genesis we read that – the evening and the morning were the first day, so the Jewish day started in the evening. In another place we read – are there not twelve hours in the day John 11:9. Like us they referred to a whole day as a day or used the word to refer to the daylight hours. So a day and a night must mean roughly a whole day, But not so roughly that three days and three nights could be one whole and a bit of a day and two nights.

John tells us that Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Sabbath but John goes on to tell us that that Sabbath was a High Sabbath John 19:31. The Day of Atonement and the First Day of Unleavened Bread, were High Sabbaths and could fall on any day of the week.

On the Day of Preparation the unblemished lamb was to be killed and then eaten after sunset on the First Day of Unleavened Bread which was a High Sabbath.

 Jesus is the Passover Lamb and so, as prophesied – he was killed on the Day of Preparation.

Was it the Passover meal that Jesus ate with his disciples? If it was then how could the others think that Judas had been sent out by Jesus to buy something for the feast, as the High Sabbath was begun and so it was against the law to buy or sell John 13:29.

The women watched Joseph put Jesus in the tomb but it says they returned and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment Luke 23:56. So they needed some non Sabbath time for that.They came to the tomb before sunrise and found him already risen. It does not say that he rose on that Sunday morning but that he was already risen.

Putting all the accounts together we can say –

Tuesday evening – the last supper

Wednesday – trial and crucifixion and burial.

Wednesday evening and Thursday – First Day of Unleavened bread – Jesus in the earth N + D

Thursday evening and Friday a workday N + D

Friday evening and Saturday – the weekly Sabbath, just before evening he is raised .N + D

So he arose on the third day after being in the grave for seventy two hours. Prophesy fulfilled! He is the Messiah!

Have you noticed how traditional teaching makes a group of top Jewish lawyers and Pilate appear stupid in Matthew’s account.

Mat 27:62  Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,

Mat 27:63  Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

Mat 27:64  Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away –

Notice the after and until – well, the answer is simple. The third day must mean the third day of the week- Monday evening to Tuesday evening. The Greek supports this idea. Otherwise they would be sending the guards home just before the action was due to take place.

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