Three Days and Three Nights[i]
The greatest fact of the Bible is that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God.[ii] The gospel is the good news that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again, according to the Scriptures. [iii] Scripture states that Jesus rose the third day, in three days, and after three days.[iv] Only three full days – seventy-two full hours – will satisfy all the numerous statements of the New Testament. If we believe 6 literal days of creation in Genesis, we must also believe in 3 literal days for Jesus to be in the tomb.
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”
39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” [v]
Satan is at war against Jesus Christ and wants to deny His gospel by any lies that He can.[vi] Easter tradition has Jesus dying on Good Friday afternoon and rising Sunday morning – one day and two nights. Easter tradition denies the gospel and the very sign that Jesus Christ gave of His identity as the Son of God.
A timeline as presented in scripture
Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples on the evening of the fourteenth by Moses’ law.[vii] After Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, Jesus and the disciples went to the garden to pray. Judas met them there and betrayed Jesus.[viii] The crucifixion began at 9:00 AM, and Jesus died after the darkness ended at 3:00 PM.[ix] Jesus was buried hurriedly as the preparation day ended and the high Sabbath day was about to begin at sunset.[x] The women who followed Jesus rested the high Sabbath day of the Passover before buying and preparing their spices.[xi] The women bought their spices and prepared them on the regular workday between the two Sabbaths days this week.[xii] The women rested during the weekly Sabbath day after buying and preparing their spices the previous workday.[xiii] Jesus rose from the dead as the weekly Sabbath ended – three days and three nights after burial – as prophesied.[xiv] While it was still dark, “toward the dawn of the first day” the morning of the first day of the week, the women found the tomb already empty.[xv]
The pivotal point to understand the timeline is that Passover is a High Sabbath day and Saturday is the weekly Sabbath day. During the celebration of Passover, there were two Sabbath days; one High Sabbath (on Thursday) and the weekly Sabbath (on Saturday). Friday was the only work day available to the women to buy the spices and prepare them. They were forbidden to work on Thursday or Saturday.[xvi] They also could not have purchased the spices, prepared the ointments, and made it to the tomb “very early” on Sunday morning.[xvii] Plus in Luke’s account the women went and saw the tomb (vs.55), then purchased spices (vs. 55) and then rested for the Sabbath (vs. 56).[xviii] In Mark’s account the women bought spices “When the Sabbath was past.” “And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.”[xix]
When considering the women’s preparation of the spices and ointment and when they could purchase these and work on preparing the ointment; it is impossible to reconcile Mark 16:1 and Luke 23:55-56 with a Friday crucifixion and only one Sabbath day. The proper timeline has the Lord’s Supper Tuesday evening, the arrest, trial, and crucifixion on Wednesday, the High Sabbath on Thursday, a regular work day on Friday, the weekly Sabbath on Saturday, and the resurrection before the women arrived at the tomb Sunday morning.
Therefore, we reject the tradition of a two night one day time in the tomb and teach 3 days and 3 nights in the tomb. All of this only matters though if you repent of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus. The cross was God’s desire to punish Jesus for our sins and impute Jesus’ righteousness on us while placing our sins on Jesus. This grand substitution is the doctrine of imputation, and was God’s gift to a sinful man.
[i] This study is adapted from the same study at www.LetGodbetrue.com
[ii] John 20:30-31; Acts 8:36-37; I John 5:4-5
[iii] I Cor 15:1-4
[iv] Matthew 16:21; 26:61; 27:63
[v] Matthew 12:38-40
[vi] II Cor 11:3-4; Gal 1:6-8
[vii] Exodus 12:6-8; Matt 26:17-20; Mark 14:12-17; Luke 22:7-15
[viii] Luke 22:14-20, 39-46
[ix] Matthew 27:45-50; Mark 15:25,33-37; Luke 23:44-49
[x] Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14,31,42
[xi] Mark 16:1 Exodus 12:16
[xii] Mark 16:1 cp Luke 23:55-56
[xiii] Luke 23:55-56 cp Exodus 20:10
[xiv] Matthew 12:39-40; Mark 8:31
[xv] Matt 28:1-6; Luke 24:1-3; John 20:1
[xvi] Exodus 12:16, 20:10
[xvii] Mark 16:2
[xviii] Luke 23:55-56
[xix] Mark 16:1