(Article first published as Jesus' Death: Was it Really Three Days and Three Nights?
Here is the issue: Before Jesus was crucified, He said, “For as Jonah 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” (Matthew 12:40). The duration of His time in the grave has been a point of discussion for generations, and today we are no closer to solving the mystery. Accordingly, each year we approach Easter, or Resurrection Day, we resurrect the subject.
A couple of days ago I read an article on this subject that appeared on The Huffington Post’s site
. Two of the more popular attempts at reconciling the above Scripture with the biblical timeline of Jesus’ death and bodily resurrection are mentioned in the Huffington Post article. One has to do with how the ancient Jews reckoned a day. According to scholars, a portion of a day was counted as a full day. So if Jesus died on what we call Good Friday and rose from the dead on Sunday morning, that span would include portions of three days, and could be referred to as three days and three nights.
But that explanation, I suppose, seems so far-fetched to many of us in this current culture in which we keep time to the second. No, we could never accept such sloppy time-keeping as being the answer to the disparity. Accordingly, another argument is that the timeline for the Last Supper and the crucifixion, as recorded in Scripture is flawed, and that these events must have occurred a day or two earlier in the week to make the time duration work out.
And so next year when Easter rolls around again, you can look for this subject to be brought again from the dead. But let me close by offering this as a possibility. On the same day Jesus rose again, it is recorded in the Bible that He showed up and walked along with two men who were going about sadly because it was now the third day since Jesus had been crucified, and they thought He had not risen from the dead as He had promised: “We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done,” they said to Jesus, not knowing it was He to whom they spoke (Luke 24:21).
My point is that however Jesus meant what He said about the duration He would be in the grave before He would rise again, these men understood that the day He showed up corresponded to the day He said He would be raised from the dead. So maybe, just maybe, it’s confusing to us today, but it wasn’t to those of His day. Just a thought.
Copyright © 2011 by Frank King. All rights reserved.