Three days or Not?

In case you never heard, there is a HUGE debate surrounding the death of Christ.  You see, there are… ooh, half a dozen verses in which Christ stated that he would die and rise after 3 days.  Want a few?

Matt 16:12  –  Matt 17:23  –  Matt 20:19  –  Mrk 9:31  –  Mrk 10:34  –  Luke 9:22  –  Luke 18:33

This is where a problem comes in.  Because if Jesus died on Friday night, there aren’t three days and three nights between Friday night and Sunday morning.  Did He lie?  Was there a mistake?  What is the deal?  What is the truth?  We’ll start out by finding out when He died:

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” And when some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. (Mark 15:34-37)

The ninth hour after the sunrise would be about three o’clock in the afternoon.  So whatever day it was, it was mid-afternoon.  And they didn’t do the burial rituals because it was the Sabbath.  Sabbath starts on Friday at sunset, and ends Saturday at sunset.  So there just wasn’t time before Sabbath started to prepare the body for burial.  Sabbath as in once-every-7-days, or Sabbath as in a Feast day?

The Jews therefore, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” (John 19:31)

And on the Sabbath they [the women] rested according to the commandment (this would be a seventh day Sabbath). But on the first day of the week (Sunday), at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared.” (Luke 23:56-24:1, parenthesis added)

First note the phrase ‘day of preparation’.  Friday was a day to prepare for the coming Sabbath, because no work would be done Saturday.  Food must be made in advance for the next day, work must be done to tide over the animals and such for the next day.  So it was a Friday.  But look at the next bolded phrase – ‘for that Sabbath was a high day’.  Now we know this was in the spring, so the two high days that would pertain were the first and last days of the feast of Unleavened Bread – called sabbaths in Leveticus 23.  Since it was 3pm on Friday, it was the day before this ‘high Sabbath’.  That would be Passover – Nisan 14… the day of the slain lamb.  Whoa.  It really matches up!

Now what about the three days, three nights thing?  We know Jesus died on Friday NOT because the day that followed was the holy convocation of Nisan 15. Nisan 15 is a fixed DATE. NOT a fixed DAY. Nisan 15 is ALWAYS a sabbath as it’s a holy convocation (Leviticus 23:7). It is seldom a Saturday. But in the year of the crucifixion, Nisan 15 was also the weekly or seventh-day sabbath.

“The day after the day of the preparation, that is on Saturday the high sabbath, the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate and said, ‘We’ve been reminded how that impostor said, while he was still alive, “After THREE days I will rise again.  Therefore give an order to have the sepulchre secured until after the THIRD day, in case His disciples come of a night and steal Him away, and tell everyone, “He has risen from the dead:” so the last deception shall be worse than the first.  Pilate said to them, ‘You may have a guard: take them, and make it as secure as you can’. So they went, and made the sepulchre secure, by sealing the stone, and leaving the soldiers to keep guard” (Matthew 27:62-66).

What time was Jesus buried? Close to sunset, as Nissan 14 darkened into the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the High day of John 19:31 and the SPECIAL sabbath of the other passages.

How long was He buried? According to His Own prophecy, three days. When the Sisters came to the tomb on Sunday morning to anoint (not embalm) Him with aromatics, the stone had already been rolled away from the entrance.

When was He raised? “As it began to dawn toward the first day of the week (Sunday)”. He had risen from the tomb “on the third day”. He could not have risen earlier as guards were posted near the end of the sabbath.

When did Jesus die? Counting back three days from Sunday morning, (between Saturday sunset and Sunday sunrise our time) we count the Sunday morning as the third day, Saturday as the second night and day, and Friday as the first night and day.

Woo-HOO!!  It works out.  How kewl is that?!

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