We demanded proof from Him… He called us an evil generation that would demand a sign, however He gave us the sign that we would be able to tell that He was indeed the Messiah and would be raised. This was the sign Jesus gave to prove He was the MESSIAH! He plainly said He would be in the grave “three days and three nights”.
Here is a simple diagram of the timeline of our Messiah’s passion:
- “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.’ 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. 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.'” (Matthew 12:38-40, NKJV throughout unless noted).
Since Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, the Jews demanded a sign of Him to prove His claim. Jesus could give them no better proof that He was the Christ than the literal fulfillment of the well-known sign of Jonah. If this sign were not literally fulfilled, it would prove to them that He was not the Messiah. This was the ONLY sign Jesus ever gave to prove He was the MESSIAH!
The Gospel of Mark tells us:
- “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and AFTER THREE DAYS rise again.” (Mark 8:31)
Did Christ mean what He said? Did He really expect to be buried in the earth for three days and three nights? Jesus did not say, “After two nights and one day I will rise again.” He said, “After three days I will rise again.” He meant three days and three nights — a full seventy-two hours! The Jews remembered this sign when He was crucified.
- “On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.” ” (Matthew 27:62-64).
They did all they could to prevent His resurrection. They got the watch, made the sepulcher sure, and sealed the stone. “After three days I will rise again” was necessary to fulfill the Jonah sign. Modern interpreters of the Bible make Jesus Christ a liar. They say Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, buried about sundown the same day, and arose on the next Sunday about daybreak in contradiction to the Scriptures! Any schoolboy knows that this is only two nights and one day. If He were crucified on Good Friday and arose on Sunday morning as they say, then He did not literally fulfill the sign of Jonah. If He did not fulfill this sign as He promised the Jews, then He was an IMPOSTER and not the Messiah! In other words, Jesus Christ lied to the Jews about His burial and resurrection. If the Good Friday theory is correct as some teach, then the Bible contains “highly figurative language” which requires a human interpreter to tell people what the verses really mean. By this same liberal method of interpreting the Scriptures you can destroy every basic doctrine in the Bible.
I am greatly concerned about not accusing the Messiah of lying! Jesus Christ plainly said He would be in the grave “three days and three nights”. He emphatically declared He would rise again “after three days”. I believe He fulfilled the sign of Jonah and vindicated His claim of being the Messiah. In Matthew 28, we read this testimony of the angel at the tomb:
- “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.” (Matthew 28:6)
He said He would be in the grave “three days and three nights” and “after three days” He would rise again. Jesus did fulfill the Jonah sign. But He was not crucified on Good Friday, nor did He rise on Sunday morning!
Is a PART of a day a WHOLE day?
Men, in order to get the Bible out of an embarrassing situation, allege that the Jews counted a part of a day as the whole day. Such passages as Genesis 42:17-18, 1Samuel 30:12 and Esther 4:15-16 are cited to prove this theory. However, NONE of these passages prove “three days and three nights” means TWO nights and ONE day! Only one of them even contains the expression “three days and three nights.”
- “So he put them all together in prison three days. Then Joseph said to them THE THIRD DAY, ‘Do this and live, for I fear God:’ (Genesis 42:17-18)
- “And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. So when he had eaten, his strength came back to him; for he had eaten no bread nor drunk water for THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS.” (1Samuel 30:12)
- “Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for THREE DAYS, NIGHT OR DAY. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’ ” (Esther 4:15-16)
There is absolutely no reason to give “three days and three nights” in 1Samuel 30:12 any meaning except its literal meaning. Divine inspiration declares the young man “had eaten no bread nor drunk water for three days and three nights.” What authority has any man to contradict these plain words by affirming the time was not so long?
The expression, “three days, night or day” in Esther 4:15, is not the same wording as “three days and three nights” in Matthew 12:40. There is no mention of any nights at all in the other passages; therefore, they give no evidence as to the meaning of “three days and three nights.” There is no reason to take any of the passages cited in any sense except their literal sense, unless one has a theory to prove.
- “Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS.” (Jonah 1:17)
The “three days and three nights” in Jonah 1:17 are to be taken in their literal sense.
Even if some of the Jews counted a part of the day as a whole day, can it be proven that this is what JESUS meant? Can it be proven that the Jews counted a part of a day as a whole day and a whole night? Where is the proof in the inspired Word? Yet, proponents of the Good Friday tradition want us to believe that a part of a day meant a whole day and a whole night. Men who believe the Bible to be literally true dare not accept such reasoning.
What is the Bible’s definition of a Day?
The word “day” in the Bible, in its primary sense, means the interval between dawn and darkness.
- “God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. . . . ” (Genesis 1:5, compare with Genesis 1:14-18; 8:22.)
This is the first occurrence of the word “day” in the Bible, and the Lord God himself gives its meaning. Jesus stated there were twelve hours in a day. He asked in John 11:
- ” . . . Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.” (John 11:9) Jesus made a day and night consist of twenty-four hours. Can there be any higher authorities than the Lord God and Jesus Christ? Do not such authorities settle the matter for all true believers? In the Bible a day is the interval of time comprising the period between two successive risings of the sun (Genesis 7:24; Job 3:16).
The Hebrews reckoned it from evening to evening:
- ” . . . at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:32).
The twelve hour night began at sunset and ended at sunrise. It was counted before the twelve hour day.
- “. . . So the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Genesis 1:5).
Hence a new day began at 6 o’clock in the evening and lasted until the same time the next evening — a period of twenty-four hours — a twelve hour night followed by a twelve hour day!
What is the Good Friday Hoax?
The Bible nowhere says or implies that Jesus was crucified and died on Good Friday! Because the Jewish weekly Sabbath came on Saturday, scholars have assumed Jesus was crucified on Good Friday. This is poor reasoning because the Bible bears abundant testimony that the Jews kept OTHER Holy times besides the weekly Sabbath (which fell on Saturday). The Jews kept the annual Holy Days God had given Israel (Exodus 23:14-17, Leviticus 23, Numbers 28-29, etc.).
The Bible teaches that there were TWO Sabbaths, or days of rest, between the time when Jesus was put in a tomb and the moment he was resurrected from the dead! This is the KEY to understanding the correct sequence of events of what happened to Jesus our Savior!
Another reason why the traditional teaching that Jesus died on a Friday afternoon and was resurrected on Sunday morning CANNOT be correct is:
- “Jesus’ statement that He would rise three days after He had died is acutely significant. According to Jewish law, to be declared legally dead, a person had to be dead for three FULL days or more. Therefore, if Jesus had risen from the dead before 3 PM on the afternoon of Nisan 17, a weekly Sabbath (Saturday), He would not have been considered legally dead. As a result, His return to life would not have been considered a true resurrection from the dead.
- “If He had been crucified on a Friday and restored to life on Sunday morning at sunrise (what Christianity calls Easter morning), His death WOULD NOT have been “valid” since only two nights and one day would have passed between Friday sunset and Sunday morning. In order for His death to be publicly recognized and acknowledged, it was necessary for Jesus to remain in the grave for three nights and three days before He was raised from the dead.” (Holy Bible in Its Original Order, Appendix J)
The FIRST Sabbath after Jesus died
After sunset on a Tuesday (the day of Passover began at sunset and ended at sunset the next day) Jesus ate the Christian Passover with his disciples (Matthew 26:20, Mark 14:17, Luke 22:14-15). Jesus is crucified and finally dies at 3 p.m. the next day (Wednesday). Since work was allowed on the Passover day, people used it to prepare for (which is why the Bible calls it “preparation day”) the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (an annual High Sabbath where no work was allowed – Leviticus 23:6-7). In the year Jesus died, 30 A.D., the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread began at SUNSET on Wednesday. Since there was only three hours between the time Jesus died and the start of the Feast at sunset (6 p.m.), his body was quickly taken off the cross and placed in a tomb:
- “Now evening was coming, and since it was a preparation (that is, the day before a Sabbath), Joseph of Arimathea, an esteemed member of the council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God, came; and he went in to Pilate with boldness and requested the body of Jesus. ” (Mark 15:42-43, Holy Bible in Its Original Order)
- “Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a HIGH DAY), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away . . . Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus . . . Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby. ” (John 19:31, 38, 41-42, NKJV)
- “Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man . . . This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. That day was THE PREPARATION, and the Sabbath drew near.” (Luke 23:50, 52-54, NKJV)
The SECOND Sabbath after Jesus died
The Bible states that after the annual Sabbath known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread had ended (on sunset Thursday), three women went to buy spices for Jesus’ body:
- “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. ” (Mark 16:1).
After buying what was needed for Jesus’ body the women spent the rest of Friday preparing the spices. When the Saturday Sabbath (the fourth of the Ten Commandments) started at sunset Friday the women rested:
- “Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. ” (Luke 23:56)
Mary Magdalene and another Mary go to observe Jesus’ tomb late on the weekly Sabbath:
- “Now late on the Sabbath, as the first day of the weeks was drawing near, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to observe the sepulcher.” (Matthew 28:1, Holy Bible in Its Original Order)
When was Jesus resurrected from the dead?
Some Scriptures speak of Jesus’ resurrection “after three days” (Mark 8:31; Matthew 27:63). Other verses say “in three days” (Matthew 26:61, 27:40; Mark 14:58, 15:29; John 2:19-20). Still others speak of “the third day” (Mark 9:31, 10:34; Matthew 16:21, 17:23, 20:19, 27:64; Luke 9:22, 18:33, 24:7, 21, 46; Acts 10:40; 1Corinthians 15:4). Do the phrases contradict each other?
- “When we understand Jesus statements, we find that instead of being contradictory, they reveal the exact time that he was raised from the dead. Jesus made it clear that he would be raised AFTER He had been dead for three days. The other statements, “in three days” and “on the third day,” do not include the total time that he was dead but only the time that he was buried in the tomb. The Gospel accounts show that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus closed the tomb just before sunset, three hours after Jesus died on the cross. Although he was in the tomb for EXACTLY three days and three nights (seventy-two hours), He was dead for a longer period than that. Thus He rose from the dead “after three days.” The difference between this statement and the statements “in three days” and “on the third day” is that these two statement refer to His burial “in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” ” (Matthew 12:38-40, Holy Bible in Its Original Order) (Taken from: The Day Jesus the Christ Died, Chapter 6, emphasis added)
Jesus was resurrected from the dead at sunset Saturday which is three full days and nights (seventy-two hours) after he died and was put in the tomb. This fulfilled the sign of Jonah the prophet he gave in Matthew 12:38-40 and PROVED He was the TRUE Messiah to the Jews!
A closing thought explained
Some who wish to believe Jesus rose from the dead at SUNRISE on a Sunday morning point to a statement made in Luke 24. This statement is made on the first day of the week (Sunday) by two disciples who were discussing the death of Jesus as they walked toward a village called Emmaus. Sometime during their journey they meet a “stranger” who enters into their conversation — not knowing that the stranger was actually the resurrected Christ:
- “Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
- “And He said to them, ‘What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?’
- “Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, ‘Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?’ And He said to them, ‘What things?’
- “So they said to Him, ‘The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, BESIDES ALL THIS, TODAY IS THE THIRD DAY SINCE THESE THINGS HAPPENED. ” (Luke 24:13-21, NKJV)
Had Jesus been resurrected earlier in the day? NO, because:
- “Because this statement (Luke 24:21) was made on the first day of the week, many have incorrectly assumed that Jesus rose from the dead early Sunday morning. However, the Gospel accounts clearly show that Jesus had already risen from the dead before the women came to the tomb at sunrise (Luke 24:1). There is no question that Jesus was in the tomb for “three days and three nights” — beginning at sunset on Wednesday, Nisan 14, and ending at sunset on the weekly Sabbath, Nisan 17. Jesus rose at the end of three full days and three full nights, exactly as He had declared.
- “The problem with Luke 24:21, according to A. T. Robertson, is that the phrase “today is the third day” is an idiomatic expression — and is most difficult to translate into English (Word Pictures in the New Testament, s.v. Luke 24:21). Because the phrase is idiomatic, its actual meaning cannot be understood by a literal translation — which only serves to distort the true meaning. With this in mind, scholars and translators have studied how such idiomatic expressions were used by various writers of that era — such as the historian Josephus and others who used classical Greek. What they have discovered is that the idiom is an expression of completed time. In other words, “today is the third day” actually indicates “as of today, three days have already passed.” Berkley’s translation, for example, renders the phrase as “three days have already passed;” (The) Moffatt Bible Translation translates the phrase as “three days ago.” Both of these translations properly convey the idiom to show a period of time which has been completed.
- “Based on this information, a precise translation of Luke 24:21 would be: “But besides all these things, as of today, the third day has already passed since these things took place.”
- “Thus, Luke 24:21 in no way supports the teaching that Jesus was raised from the dead on the first day of the week at sunrise.” (Taken from: The Day Jesus the Christ Died, Appendix B)
There is nothing in the Bible to favor a Friday crucifixion of Jesus Christ or a Sunday sunrise resurrection from the dead. The Biblical record harmonizes with a Wednesday crucifixion and a Saturday sunset resurrection. Jesus was dead and in the grave for three days and three nights (72 hours total) and not for parts of three days.