Was Jesus Christ three days and three nights in the grave, as He said in Matt. 12:40?
Can you figure three (3) days and three (3) nights between sunset “Good Friday” and sunrise “Easter Sunday?” It is commonly supposed TODAY that Jesus Christ was crucified on FRIDAY, and that the resurrection occurred about sunrise on “Easter Sunday morning.”
It would seem that no one even thought to question or even try and PROVE this “Good Friday-Easter Sunday” tradition. Yet the Bible tells us to prove all things. You will be astounded by this PROOF. For this proof, there is but one dependable authority, a sole historical record - the Bible.
There were no eyewitnesses to the resurrection. Even so called “Apostolic fathers” had no source of information save that record which is available to us. Traditions, then, must be dismissed.
Just what are these recorded facts? The doubting Pharisees were asking Christ for a sign that he was the Messiah. The answer that Jesus Christ gave them is found in (Matt. 12:38-40). Now have you ever considered the tremendous import, the overwhelming significance of what Jesus said?
Jesus declared that the “only sign” He would give to prove He was the Messiah was that He would be only three (3) days and three (3) nights in the rock-hewn sepulcher in “the heart of the earth.”
These Pharisees, who rejected Christ, demanded proof. Jesus offered but only one piece of evidence. Now that evidence was not the fact of the resurrection, it was the length of time Jesus would repose in His grave, before being resurrected.
Do you really understand just what this means? Jesus Christ staked His claim to being the world’s Savior upon remaining exactly three (3) days and three (3) nights in the tomb. If He remained just three (3) days and three (3) nights (and not a second more), inside the earth, Christ would PROVE Himself the Savior, if He failed in this sign, He must be rejected as an imposter!
Is it any wonder that Satan has caused unbelievers to sneer at the Story of Jonah and the “whale,” no wonder the Devil has set up a tradition that DENIES Jesus is the Messiah.
This one and only PROOF ever given by Christ for His Messiahship has greatly bothered commentators and their Higher Critics. Their attempts to explain away this sole proof for Christ’s divinity are ludicrous to say the least. They have to explain this away, or their “Good-Friday-Easter Sunday” tradition collapses.
One commentator says, “Of course we know that Jesus Christ was not in the the grave as long as He thought He would be!” Some expositors impose upon our credulity to the extent of asking us to believe that “in the Greek language in which the New Testament was written, the expression three (3) days and three (3) nights means three periods, either of Day or of Night!”
Jesus Christ, they say, was placed in the grave shortly before sunset Friday, and rose at sunrise Sunday morning, two (2) nights and one day. Now the Bible definition of the duration of “nights and days" is very simple and very easy to understand.
These same critics admit that in the Hebrew language, in which the Book of Jonah was written, the expression “three (3) days and three (3) nights ” means a period of 72 hours ... that is three (3) twelve (12) hour days and three (3) twelve (12) hour nights
Jonah 1:17 “And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights!” Now this they admit was a period of 72 hours. And remember that Jesus Christ distinctly said that “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the great fish,” so He would be the same length of time in the heart of the earth, His grave.
Now as Jonah was in the grave for 72 hours, after which he was supernaturally resurrected by God, he being vomited up, to become a savior to the people of Nineveh upon proclaiming the warning to them, so also was Christ in the grave 72 hours, there upon being resurrected by God the Father to become the “SAVIOUR” of the world.
Now did Jesus Christ know just how much time was in a “day” and in a “night?” Jesus answered, “Are there not 12 hours in a day, but if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth” (John 11:9-10). Now notice the Bible definition of the expression “THE THIRD DAY. ”Scripture after scripture tells us that Christ rose The Third Day. Now see just how the Bible defines the time required to fulfill “The Third Day.”
In Genesis 1:4 God “divided the light from the darkness and God called the light Day, and Darkness He called night. And the evening (darkness) and the morning (light) were the first day … and the evening (darkness) and the morning (light) were the second day, and the evening (now three (3) periods of darkness were called night), and the morning (now three (3) periods of light called Day - Three days) they were the “Third Day.”
Here we have the only Bible definition which explains and counts up the amount of time involved in the expression “THE THIRD DAY.” It includes three (3) dark periods called “Night” and three (3) light periods called “Day.” Three (3) days and three (3) nights, and Christ said that they contained twelve (12) hours for each period, a total of 72 hours!
You would think that this would be conclusive, that any ten (10) year old boy or girl could figure it out very easily. We must give thanks unto God that His truths are revealed unto “Babes,” and hidden from the wise and prudent.
What is wrong with these plain, simple words of Jesus? How do these wise and prudent theologians know that Jesus was crucified “Good Friday” and rose “Easter Sunday?” The simple answer is that they don’t know -- for it is not true! It is merely a tradition. A tradition we have been taught from childhood, and carelessly assumed! Christ warns against making “the word of God of no effect through your traditions” (Mark 7:3).
We have examined two (2) scriptural witnesse -- in Matthew and in Jonah -- both setting the duration of the Body of Jesus Christ in the tomb as three (3) days and three (3) nights, which the Bible plainly defines as 72 hours.
There are four (4) other scriptural witnesses that prove the same thing, the duration of time that Christ was in His grave.
Mark 8:31 “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Now any young second grader can figure this out. If Jesus has been killed on Friday, and then after one day He had risen, the resurrection would have occurred on Saturday evening, after two (2) days, it would have occurred on Sunday evening, after three (3) days, it would have occurred on Monday evening.
Let’s look at the scripture very carefully. You cannot, by any process of arithmetic, figure any less than a full 72 hours -- three (3) days and three (3) nights -- in a resurrection that occurred three (3) days after the crucifixion! If Jesus Christ was in the tomb only from Friday sunset to Sunday sunrise, then these scriptures must be torn out of the Bible or else you must reject Christ as your Savior!
Again notice what Mark wrote in Mark 9:31 “And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.” The duration expressed here must be between 48 and 72 hours. It could not be one second PAST 72 hours, and Jesus still rise “the third day.” It could not be Friday sunset to Sunday sunrise, because that is only 36 hours, carrying us into the middle of the second day after He was killed.
In Matt. 27:63 Jesus is quoted as saying: “after three days I will rise again.” This cannot possibly be figured as less than 72 hours.
Now look at John 2:18-22. To be raised up in three (3) days after being destroyed or crucified and buried, could not be more than 72 hours. If we are to accept all the testimony of the Bible, we must conclude that Jesus Christ was exactly three (3) days and three (3) nights -- a full three (3) twenty four (24) hour days -- 72 hours -- in the grave -- or the only supernatural proof He gave must be rejected.
Now notice this very carefully. In order to be three (3) days and three (3) nights, 72 hours, in the grave, our Lord had to be resurrected at exactly the same time of day that His body was buried in the tomb.
If we can find the time of day of the burial, then we have found the time of day of His resurrection! If the burial, for instance, was at sunrise, then in order to be left an even three (3) days and three (3) nights in the grave, the resurrection likewise had to occur at sunrise, three (3) days later.
Jesus Christ cried on the stake soon after “the ninth hour” or three o’clock in the afternoon, Matthew 27:46-50, Mark 15:34-37 and Luke 23:44-46. The crucifixion day was called “the preparation” or day before “the Sabbath.” (Matthew 27:62, Mark 15:42 and Luke 23:54, John 19:14) This day ended at sunset, according to Bible reckoning to time. (Lev. 23:32)
Christ was buried before this same day ended, before sunset. (Matt. 27:57, Luke 23:52-54). John adds, “there laid they Jesus, therefore, because of the Jews’ preparation day.” Now according to the laws observed by the Jews, all dead bodies must be buried before the beginning of a Sabbath or feast Day. Therefore Christ was buried before sunset on the same day He died, He died shortly after 3 P.M.
The burial of Christ’s body was in the late afternoon! It was between 3 P.M. and sunset as these scriptures prove. And since the resurrection had to occur at the same time three (3) days later, the resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred, not at sunrise, but in the late afternoon, near sunset! Surprising as this fact is, it is the “Plain Truth” of the Bible.
If Christ rose at any other time of the day, He could not have been three (3) days and three (3) nights in His tomb. If He rose at any other time of the day, He failed to prove, by the only sign He gave that He was the True Messiah the Son of the Living God! Either He rose near the end of a day near sunset, or else He is not the Christ. Jesus staked His claim on that one and only sign. So a time honored tradition must be shattered! Let us praise God for his truth which has been preserved through the dark ages, so that the “true light” may now shine forth, if our hearts and minds are still willing to receive it. Do you love the “truth” as it is revealed, or despise it and love the traditions you have heard? “Whoso ever despiseth the Word shall be destroyed!”
Which day of the week was the resurrection day? Mary Magdalene and her companioness, came to the tomb on the first day of the week (Sunday) very early, while it was yet dark, as the sun was beginning to rise at dawn.(Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1)
In these scriptures most people have supposed the resurrection was at sunrise Sunday morning, but the scriptures do not say that. When the women arrived, the tomb was already open! At that time Sunday morning while it was yet dark, Jesus Christ was “not there!” Now notice how the angel says “He is not here, but is risen!”
(Mark 16:6, Luke 24:3 John 20:2 and Matt. 28:5-6)
Christ was already risen at sunrise Sunday morning! Of course He was. He rose from the grave in the late afternoon, near sunset! Since we know the resurrection was just shortly prior to that Sunday morning, and that it occurred in the late afternoon of the third day, we now know the resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred late Saturday afternoon. The Sabbath day ended at sunset. It was late on the day, before the beginning of the first day of the week. It was not a Sunday resurrection at all, it was a Sabbath resurrection.
All this is based on the supposition that Christ did fulfill His only sign of being three (3) days and three (3) nights in the heart of the earth (His grave). All our evidence is based on the claims of Jesus before His crucifixion, but some of the “higher critics” and “doctors” of “divinity” tell us that Christ made a mistake, that He was only in the tomb half as long as He expected to be. Let us have PROOF as to whether He did spend the exact amount of time in the grave that He said He would.
Now notice that in Matthew 28:6 the angel of the Lord gives this testimony, which we now present as evidence. “He is not here, for He is risen, As He said.” And He certainly did not rise as He said unless He rose at the precise time that He had said! So we have the proof of the angel of the Lord, recorded in the “Word of God” that Christ died and fulfilled His sign.
Another proof that Christ was in the grave the full length of time He expected to be is found in I Cor. 15:3-4. Christ’s death and burial were according to the scriptures, not contrary to them.
Which day was the crucifixion? It is not difficult now to determine the day on which Jesus Christ was killed. Counting back three (3) days from the Sabbath when He rose, we come to a Wednesday, the 4th or the very middle day of the week.
Jesus Christ was crucified on Wednesday, the middle of the week. He died on the stake shortly after 3 P.M., that afternoon, and was buried before sunset Wednesday evening. Now count the three (3) days and three (3) nights. His body lay Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, three (3) nights, in the grave. It was also there through the daylight part of Thursday, Friday and Saturday, three (3) days. He rose Saturday, the Sabbath, late afternoon, shortly before sunset, at the same time of day that He was buried! And Sunday at sunrise He was not there, He was already risen.
What Sabbath followed the crucifixion? Perhaps you have noticed that the scriptures say the day after the crucifixion was a Sabbath! Hence, for centuries people have blindly assumed the crucifixion was on a Friday. Now we have shown by all four (4) gospels that the crucifixion day – Wednesday --, was called “the preparation,” the preparation day for the Sabbath, but what Sabbath?
The gospel of John gives us the definite answer. It was the preparation of the“ Passover” for that Sabbath day was an “high day” (John 19:14,31).
You may ask, just what is a “high day?” You can ask any Jew, and he will tell you it is one of the annual holy days, or feast days. The House of Israel observed seven (7) of these every year, and every one of those days is called a Sabbath! Annual Sabbaths, can fall on different days of the week in different years. Just like the Roman Holidays now observed. These Sabbaths might fall on Monday, on Tuesday, or on a Sunday.
You need to read (Lev. 23:24, Lev. 16:31, and Lev. 23:39 also Lev. 23:15, Lev. 23: 25-32) and you will see these annual holy days were called Sabbaths.
In Matthew 26:2 if you will read the rest of this chapter, you will see that Jesus Christ was killed on the “Passover.”
There is yet one final clinching proof of this “truth.”
Matthew 28:1 says,”In the end of the Sabbath,” or more correctly, “after the Sabbath.” Notice that both of these renderings use singular Sabbath, but in the Greek the word is in the plural. Ferran Fenton renders it correctly by saying, “After the Sabbaths.”
According to Mark 16:1, Mary Magdalene and her companions did not buy their spices to anoint the body of Christ until after the Sabbath was past. They could not prepare them until after this, yet after preparing the spices they rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. (Luke 23:36).
There is only one possible explanation. After the annual “high day” Sabbath, the feast day of the Day of Unleavened Bread, which was Thursday, these women purchased and prepared their spices on Friday, and then they rested on the weekly Sabbath, Saturday, according to the commandment.
A comparison of these two (2) texts proves there were two (2) Sabbaths that week, with a day in between. 0therwise, these scriptures would contradict themselves.
Let us feed upon the pure Word of God! Don’t reject His Truth, or God will reject us. Let us rejoice in it with praise and thanksgiving.