Just How Long Did Jesus Stay In The Tomb?
Daniel Burke contributed to this article. Religion News Service is a news service dedicated to covering religious issues (RNS) As Christians throughout the world prepare to celebrate Easter, they will follow a well-known sequence of events: During Good Friday’s Passion Week, Jesus was crucified and arose from the dead on “the third day,” according to the ancient Nicene Creed. If Jesus died at 3 p.m. on Friday and was exhumed from his tomb by daybreak Sunday morning – around 40 hours later – how does it add up to three days in a calendar year?
Even Pope Benedict XVI, in his latest book, Jesus: Holy Week, about Christ’s last days, wrestles with the latter topic in the final chapter.
In the words of Marcus Borg, an advanced biblical scholar and co-author of the book The Last Week, which is about Holy Week, “the chronological problem is a bit of a mystery.” However, according to Borg and other researchers, the issue may be solved if you understand how first-century Jews measured time and if you give the four evangelists a little poetic license in their writing.
As a result, for them, Saturday night was Sunday.
- Using these techniques of counting, a backward computation from Sunday morning to Friday afternoon results in three days.
- “The Bible uses ambiguous expressions such as ‘three days’ and ’40 days,'” Borg explained.
- Evangelical New Testament scholar Ben Witherington, who teaches at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, concurred with the statement.
- His research has revealed that Gospel authors did not stroll about with sundials on their wrists in the same manner that current researchers walk around with wristwatches, according to the expert.
- What causes the most concern for these believers is Jesus’ own promise, recounted in the Gospel of Matthew, that he would rise from the grave after “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” This is the most worrying prophecy for these believers.
- John Behr, dean of St.
- The Didascalia Apostolorum, a third-century Christian treatise, took a more radical approach.
That viewpoint is still promoted by several Christian denominations on the periphery.
To put it another way, “Jesus made a false prophesy,” said Robert Miller, a professor of religion at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.
According to Witherington, the purpose of Jesus’ prophesy is to draw a contrast to Jonah, who was ready to die in order to save his shipmates (and who spent three days in the belly of a great fish), rather than to establish a timeline for the Resurrection.
John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., Martin Connell, refers to the chronology dilemma as a “never-ending problem.” “Because the evidence is so uncertain and the evidence is so elastic, the argument will almost certainly continue indefinitely,” Connell said.
Some biblical scholars, such as Wahlen, believe Paul is alluding to a passage in the Book of Hosea, which states that God would “heal” and “restore” Israel after three days of affliction and suffering.
According to first-century custom, it was only after three days that you could be sure someone was dead; after four days, it was assumed that the spirit had left the body.
Jesus Wasn’t Crucified on Friday or Resurrected on Sunday: How long was Jesus in the tomb?
About one billion Protestants and another billion Catholics believe that Jesus Christ was killed and entombed on a Friday afternoon—”Good Friday”—and was resurrected to life again at the crack of dawn on Easter Sunday morning, a day and a half later, according to the Christian belief system. This is in direct conflict with what Jesus Himself declared regarding how long He would be entombed, which is a major source of confusion. According to Jesus, how long He would remain in the grave was not specified.
Identifying God’s timetable for counting the days from the beginning of the year when these events took place as well as His biblical festivals during the spring season of the year when these events took place is essential to understanding when Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection took place, as well as the timing of His biblical festivals during that same spring season.
The scribes and Pharisees were pressing Him for a supernatural sign to establish that He was, in fact, the long-awaited Messiah.
Traditional timing doesn’t add up
The Gospels are unequivocal in their assertion that Jesus died and that His corpse was swiftly put in the tomb late in the afternoon, just before nightfall, when the Jewish Sabbath started (John 19:30-42). According to the conventional “Good Friday–Easter Sunday” timetable, the period from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown is one night and one day, or one night and one day. The period from Saturday night to Sunday morning is another night, giving us a total of two nights and one day. As a result, how can we obtain another night and two days to make the total of three days and three nights that Jesus promised would be spent in the tomb?
- In order to get around this, most theologians and religious experts argue that any part of a day or night qualifies as a day or night.
- The problem is that it does not function.
- Aside from that, the book of John 20:1 informs us that “on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early and saw that the stone had been lifted away from the tomb.” Did you notice something wrong here?
- Jesus had already been raised from the dead long before the sun came up.
- That leaves us with, at the most, a fraction of a day on Friday, the entirety of Friday night, the entirety of Saturday daytime, and the most of Saturday night.
- Something doesn’t seem to add up here.
One of two things happened: either Jesus misspoke about how long He would remain in the tomb, or the “Good Friday–Easter Sunday” time frame is neither scriptural or authentic, or both. Obviously, neither of these statements can be true. So, which of them is correct?
Understanding God’s time is the key
Identifying God’s timetable for counting the days from the beginning of the year when these events took place as well as His biblical festivals during the spring season of the year when these events took place is essential to understanding when Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection took place, as well as the timing of His biblical festivals during that same spring season. It is surprising to learn that the Bible mentions two types of Sabbath days: the typical weekly Sabbath day, which occurs on the seventh day of the week, and seven yearly Sabbath days, which occur on the seventh day of the week.
Genesis 1:5states unequivocally that God considers a day to begin with the evening (the night part) and terminate with the evening of the following day—”So the evening and the morningwere considered to be the first day.” This formula is repeated by God during the whole six-day period of creation.
This is why Jesus’ friends, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, swiftly laid His corpse in Joseph’s adjacent tomb shortly before dusk on the last day of the week (John 19:39-42).
Two kinds of “Sabbaths” lead to confusion
Because it was the Preparation Day, and because the corpses could not be left on the cross on the Sabbath (because it was a high day on that Sabbath), the Jews petitioned Pilate to have their legs severed and their bodies removed off the cross, as John 19:31 explains. Cooking and housecleaning were done on the day before a Sabbath in order to avoid working on God’s appointed day of rest, according to Jewish tradition at the time. So the day before the Sabbath was referred to as “the preparation day” by the Jewish community.
WhichSabbath do you want to celebrate?
Because of John’s unequivocal assertion, the majority of people believe Jesus died and was buried on a Friday—hence the conventional belief that Jesus was crucified and died on “Good Friday”—and this is correct.
Because traditional Christianity long ago abandoned these biblical annual Sabbath days (as well as the weekly Sabbath), for many centuries people have failed to recognize what the Gospels plainly tell us about when Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected—and why “Good Friday–Easter Sunday” never occurred in this manner as a result of their neglect.
- You’ll see in John 19:31that he gives an explanation as to why “that Sabbath was ahigh day”—”high day” being a phrase that is used to distinguish the seven yearly Sabbaths from the normal weekly Sabbath days.
- It is recorded in the Gospels that on the evening before Jesus was convicted and killed, He celebrated the Passover with His apostles and disciples (Matthew 26:19-20;Mark 14:16-17;Luke 22:13-15).
- According to Leviticus 23, which lists God’s feasts, the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the day following the Passover, which is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:5-6).
- God’s yearly Sabbath begins on this day, which is the beginning of the year.
- There are a number of Bible commentaries, encyclopedias, and dictionaries that point out that John is referring to an annual Sabbath day rather than the ordinary weekly Sabbath day here.
- Jesus observed the Passover with His disciples before being arrested later that night.
The arrangement and time of these days are revealed in Leviticus 23, and the events of the Gospels match the sequence in which they occurred.
Jesus crucified on Wednesday, not Friday
There are a number of computer software tools available that allow us to determine when the Passover and God’s other festivals will take place in any particular year. That year, A.D. 31, the year of these occurrences, the Passover supper was eaten on Tuesday night, and Wednesday dusk marked the beginning of the “high day,” or the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which began at sundown on Thursday afternoon. As a result, Jesus was killed and buried on a Wednesday afternoon, rather than on Friday.
The habit of celebrating Good Friday and Easter Sunday is just neither accurate or scriptural.
We can, in fact, do it!
Because Jesus’ body was put in the tomb shortly before the beginning of the high-day Sabbath, the women did not have time to go out and purchase the spices before the Sabbath began.
As a result, according to Mark, they purchased the spices “after the Sabbath had passed.” But take note of another eye-opening detail in Luke 23:55-56: ” “And the ladies who had traveled with Him from Galilee trailed behind, taking note of the tomb and the manner in which His corpse was buried.
- Then, in accordance with the law, they took the Sabbath day off.” Do you think there’s an issue here?
- Consequently, they purchased the spices after the Sabbath and then prepared the spices before to the Sabbath’s resting period.
- Indeed, once we realize that two separate Sabbaths are being referenced, the dilemma is no longer an issue.
- After then, Luke informs us that the women prepared the spices, which would have taken place on Friday, and that after that, “they rested on the Sabbath according to the law,” which would have taken place on Saturday.
- As a “high day,” the first Sabbath occurred on Thursday, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was the first day of the week.
- The ancient Greek language in which the Gospels were written also makes it clear that two Sabbath days were engaged in the events described in these narratives.
When was Jesus resurrected?
As we have seen, Jesus Christ was executed and buried on a Wednesday, right before the yearly Sabbath started, rather than on the weekly Sabbath as previously believed. So, when did He rise from the dead? As previously stated, John 20:1 informs us that “on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.” When Mary discovered the tomb empty, the sun had not yet risen—”it was still dark,” John tells us—and the day had not yet begun.
- So, when exactly did this happen?
- In the same way that Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the huge fish, so will the Son of Man spend three days and three nights in the depths of the earth, as Jesus said in Matthew 24:36.
- As we have demonstrated, Jesus was entombed — that is, he was deposited “in the heart of the ground” — right before dusk on a Wednesday, just before sunset.
- We’ll be at the end of the day on Thursday at sunset after one day and one night.
- After a third day and night, we arrive on Saturday evening at dusk.
- Does this make sense in light of the Scriptures?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ, according to His own words and the details recorded in the Gospels, had to have occurred three days and three nights after His burial, near sunset at the end of the weekly Sabbath, even though no one was present to witness it (which took place inside a sealed tomb guarded by armed guards).
The habit of celebrating Good Friday and Easter Sunday is just neither accurate or scriptural.
The words of the angel of God, who astonished the ladies when they discovered the empty tomb, have been proven correct: “Do not be frightened, for I am aware that you are seeking for Jesus, who has been crucified, and I will assist you.
Religious customs and notions that are not backed by Scripture should not be held upon.
Make certain that your personal religious ideas and practices are solidly established in the Bible before proceeding. Willing to make a commitment to worship God in accordance with biblical truth rather than human custom, are you?
How do we understand the timing of the Great 3 Days?
How can we make sense of three days if Jesus died on Friday and rose from the dead on Sunday? Christians commemorate the salvific events of Jesus Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection over the course of three days, which we refer to as the “Great Three Days” (Triduum in Latin). The gospels all confirm that Jesus rose from the grave on the first day of the week, early in the morning. Matthew 28:1 (NIV): “After the Sabbath, when the first day of the week was beginning to rise.” Mark 16:1-2 (NIV): It was “after the Sabbath had ended.
Have questions?We have answers!
Fill out the form below to ask your questions and to view further FAQs. Luke 24:1 (ASKFAQSLuke 24:1): “It was the first day of the week at the crack of dawn.” “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark,” says John in verse 1. Sunday is the first working day of the week. The day begins with sunset in that culture, as it does throughout the Bible, rather than with dawn or midnight. Saturday’s Sabbath came to an end at dusk. Sunday officially began just after sunset. Three days may not always equate to 72 hours.
It entails three different days, which are distinguished by the arrival and departure of the sun.
- The Last Supper and the Great Commandment will be held on Thursday. The beginning of the first day is marked by the setting of the sun (Eve of Friday). Jesus is taken into custody and tried
- Friday morning: The first day continues with the execution of Jesus, his removal from the cross, and his burial
- Friday night at sundown: The second day has begun. Friday evening/Saturday morning
- Saturday (from dawn to sunset): Jesus is laid to rest in the tomb. The third day begins at sunset on Saturday. Saturday evening
- Sunday morning: The third day continues, and Jesus is risen from the grave
From at least the third century A.D., this method of determining the beginning and end of Holy Week has remained constant in Christian practice, both East and West. It was created by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, which may be found here.
On What Day Did Jesus Rise?
The May/June 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review is available online. Biblical Perspectives is a weekly column. Staff of the Biblical Archaeology Society On November 16, 20217, there were 106660 views. What day did Jesus resurrect from the dead? Is it better to wait three days or to wait until the third day? During his Biblical Views column, “It’s About Time—Easter Time,” which appeared in the May/June 2016 edition of Biblical Archaeology Review, Ben Witherington III explores this subject in further depth.
“It’s About Time—Easter Time”
Anachronism is a hazard that arises when reading ancient books like the Bible in the twenty-first century. By this I mean that we risk introducing damaging current notions and expectations into our readings. This challenge becomes much more serious when dealing with old manuscripts, which have significant historical significance and are thus difficult to interpret. What day did Jesus resurrect from the dead? Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome visited Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning to anoint his corpse (Mark 16:1–2), as shown in Henry Osawa Tanner’s painting “The Three Marys” (1910).
- To provide an example, we are a people who are fascinated with time — and with accuracy when it comes to time — to the millisecond level.
- When it came to the passage of time, they did not stress over accuracy.
- Jesus promised that he would rise from the dead “after three days,” according to certain sources.
- In fact, the time reference should be avoided entirely.
In Mark 8:31, on the other hand, Jesus declares, “The Son of Man will rise from the dead after three days.” In John 2:19, he refers to the same event as taking place “in three days,” and the Gospel authors tell us that Jesus used the term “on the third day” on a number of occasions (see, e.g., Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Luke 24:46).
- While it is feasible that both forecasts will be incorrect, is it really possible that both will be correct?
- Furthermore, the term “after three days” in the New Testament might simply indicate “after a time” or “after a few days” without any obvious specificity other than to hint that multiple days, in this case portions of three days, would be engaged in the event.
- “Come to me again after three days,” says the Bible’s Second Chronicles 10:5, 12.
- According to my interpretation, the term “after three days” is a more generic or imprecise way of expressing, but “on the third day” is a little more particular (albeit it still doesn’t tell us when it is on the third day).
When it comes to time, these books were not written in a way that would suit our present high expectations.
Become a Member ofBiblical Archaeology SocietyNow and Get More Than Half Off the Regular Price of the All-AccessPass!
With an All-Access pass, you may access more than 9,000 articles from the Biblical Archaeology Society’s extensive collection, as well as much more. We must recognize that most of the time references in the New Testament are not precise, and we must give the ancient author the freedom to be general when he wants to be general and more specific when he wants to be more specific. This is one of the keys to understanding how the New Testament interprets time references. When you find both types of references to the time span between Jesus’ death and resurrection in the same book by the same author, and in some cases even within close proximity to each other, it is reasonable to conclude that these texts were not written in accordance with our modern exacting expectations when it comes to time references.
- I believe it is past time for us to accord these ancient authors the respect they deserve and to read them with a knowledge of the standards they followed when writing ancient history or ancient biography, rather than imposing our later genre norms on them, as we have done in the past.
- This article has been updated.
- Ben Witherington III is the Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky and a member of the doctoral faculty of St.
- He received his bachelor’s degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky.
Read Ben Witherington III, Reading and Learning the Bible, for assistance in understanding how to read the Bible in light of its original settings (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2014).
Related reading in Bible History Daily:
When Was the First Holy Communion Celebrated? Even yet, Jesus’ Last Supper was not a Passover meal. The Herod’s Jerusalem Palace Remains are on Display During a Seder Meal Tour— The site of Jesus’ trial is a possibility. And Why It Really Does Make a Difference The “Strange” Ending of the Gospel of Mark and Why It Really Does Make a Difference What Method Was Used to Seal Jesus’ Tomb?
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How long was Jesus in the tomb?
Each of these three sacrifices (Passover, unleavened bread, and the waving of the first fruit) represented a stage in Christ’s life. They also served to construct a chronological framework for the events of his life. The lamb was slaughtered on the 14th of Abib, the Friday before Passover. This year’s first day of unleavened bread fell on Saturday, 15th of Abib, which was also a holy convocation for Jews across the world. Today is a day of rest. The waving of the first-fruits took place the next day, on Sunday, the 16th of the month of Abib.
His body was subsequently nailed on the cross and buried the following day.
When Jesus spent the entire Sabbath day sleeping in the tomb, the very following day, the 16th of Abib, which was Sunday, the resurrection of Jesus took place.
This is an important element that many people overlook.
According to Leviticus 23:5-11, “The Lord’s Passover is celebrated on the fourteenth day of the first month, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the month.” Afterwards, on the fifteenth day of the same month, the Lord’s Supper is celebrated; on the seventh day, there is a holy convocation, during which you are not permitted to engage in any strenuous labor.
- In order for you to be approved, he must wave the sheaf before the Lord.
- The unleavened bread Sabbath fell on the 15th of this month.
- This was exactly the pattern that Jesus followed.
- On the next day, which was the Sabbath, he rested in the tomb.
- In preparation for the morning burned offering sacrifice, which took place at daybreak, the priest was waving the firstfruits of the crop in front of the congregation.
- He is the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep in the Lord.
- This is how we know this is true.
- The idea that Jesus had to stay in the grave for three physical days and nights (72 hours) just does not hold up to the prophetic timeframe of these three feasts, as demonstrated above.
- He was laid to rest in the grave on the 15th of Abib, which was the weekly Sabbath.
- There is no way, no matter how hard you try, that this can be considered three nights according to the Eastern calendar.
- After all, how are we supposed to make sense of Jesus’ statements in Matthew 12:40, when he says, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the big fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”?
* Afterwards, He started to tell them that the Son of Man would have to *suffer many things and *be rejected by elders, chief priests, and scribes, and *be slain, and then *rise from the dead after three days.” In Matthew 17:22-23, Jesus provides a meaning for the phrase “in the center of the earth” that he used earlier in the chapter.
It is as straightforward as that.
On the following day, which was the Sabbath, he was buried, and on the following Sunday, which was the first day of the week – Sunday morning – the women come to anoint his body, but he has already died; and all of this was commemorated in the Passover, the feast of unleavened bread, and the feast of first fruits.
Jesus’ Resurrection Day
QUESTION: Was Jesus’ resurrection day on a Sunday or a Saturday or both? Christians, as well as many other people, are familiar with the account of Jesus’ resurrection. Traditionally, it is thought that He died on a Friday (today known as Good Friday) and that He was raised the following Sunday (now celebrated as Easter Sunday). But there is disagreement about whether this timeline corresponds to the biblical prophesy contained in Matthew 12:40, which states: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Our present technique of counting days indicates that Jesus would have been in His tomb from late Friday afternoon until early Sunday morning according to our calendar.
- Even if you consider Friday and Sunday to be complete days, it would imply He remained in the grave for a total of three days and two nights at the most.
- In defense of Friday and Sunday, many biblical scholars argue that it was typical among Jews at the period to consider any segment of a day to constitute the full day and night, which is what happened on those days.
- According to Jewish custom, the next day (Sunday) begins when the sun sets on the previous day (Thursday), making it plausible that Jesus was killed and buried on a Thursday, or possibly a Wednesday, with His resurrection occurring on Saturday night.
- His disciples, without a doubt, were the only ones who knew how long He had been in the tomb.
- He either opted not to fulfill the prophesy in its entirety, lingering in the grave for three days and three nights, or he chose to do it in a way that was consistent with the text.
- His challenge to them, as well as to all of us, was to place our trust in Him, rather than on whatever “evidence” He may provide.
However, it would be far more awful if He had genuinely been dead for the entire three days and nights and they had failed to acknowledge it because they had hardened their hearts to the truth.
Where was Jesus for the three days between His death and resurrection?
QuestionAnswer On the cross, after saying, “It is done,” Jesus bent his head and surrendered his spirit, according to the Bible (John 19:30). When Jesus died on the crucifixion, his corpse stayed there until it was brought down and laid in a neighboring tomb (John 19:40–42). His spirit, on the other hand, was somewhere else. Thirty-two hours later, He was raised from the dead by the reunification of his body and spirit (John 20). There has been some debate concerning where Jesus was during the three days between His death and resurrection—that is, where His spirit was during that time period.
- During Jesus’ entry into His kingdom, the believing thief requests to be remembered, and Jesus responds, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42).
- As a result, upon His death, Jesus was taken to the region of blessing where God resides—heaven.
- Another text is frequently cited in the debate of where Jesus was during the three days that elapsed between His death and His resurrection.
- According to this understanding, the spirits Jesus addressed may have been either demonic or human in nature, but not both.
- Peter does not tell us what Jesus said to the spirits that were imprisoned, but it could not have been a message of redemption since angels cannot be rescued, as we know from the Bible (Hebrews 2:16).
- However, there is another reading of the text from 1 Peter.
- The fact that Jesus had “in spirit” taught to the people of Noah’s day while they were still alive on earth is provided by Peter as a footnote to the passage.
- The wordnow in 1 Peter 3:19 is included for clarity in the Amplified Bible and the New American Standard Bibles of 1977 and 1995, and it contrasts with the words “long ago” (NIV) and “formerly” (ESV) in 1 Peter 3:20.
The Amplified Bible and the New American Standard Bibles of 1977 and 1995 include the wordnow in 1 To further understand, consider the following paraphrase of 1 Peter 3:18–20: When Jesus died in the flesh, He was raised to life in the Spirit (it was by means of this same Spirit that Jesus preached to those who are currently imprisoned—those souls who rebelled during the period of God’s great patience when Noah was constructing the ark).
- According to this interpretation, Jesus preachedspirituallyto the people of Noah’s day, and He did this via the prophet Noah, in much the same way that God communicates through us today when we declare God’s Word.
- Quoting Psalm 68:18, Paul writes regarding Christ, “When he climbed on high, he took many captives” (Ephesians 4:8).
- The ESV puts it that Christ “led a throng of captives.” Some claim this alludes to an act not otherwise recounted in Scripture, namely, that Jesus gathered all the rescued who were in paradise and transported them to their permanent residence in heaven.
- Another perspective of Ephesians 4 is thatascended on highis a plain allusion to Jesus’ascension.
- In His triumph, Jesus had defeated and taken captive our spiritual enemies: the devil, death, and the curse of sin.
- The only thing we know for sure is that, according to Jesus’ own words on the cross, He went toparadise.
We can also say with confidence that, His work of redemption finished, Jesus did not have to suffer in hell. Questions regarding Jesus Christ (return to top of page) Where was Jesus for the three days between His death and resurrection?
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What was the significance of Jesus being dead for three days?
QuestionAnswer There are a variety of reasons why it is noteworthy that Jesus was dead for three days prior to His resurrection. First and foremost, Jesus’ opponents were convinced that He had genuinely risen from the grave after three days of death because of his resurrection after three days of death. Why? Jewish tradition holds that the soul or spirit of a person remains with his or her dead body for three days after death. After three days, the soul/spirit was no longer with us. If Jesus’ resurrection had taken place on the same day, or even the following day, it would have been much simpler for His opponents to claim that He had never actually died in the first place.
The fulfillment of biblical prophecy was a second reason why it was necessary for Jesus to be dead for three days before rising again.
Some interpret Hosea 6:1–3 as a prophesy of the Messiah’s resurrection after three days, saying, “Come, let us return to the LORD.
He will resurrect us after two days, and on the third day, he will restore us so that we may live in the presence of the Lord.
It is certain that he will arrive, just as certain as the sun will rise; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring showers that water the ground.” These three days were crucial in other ways as well, according to the text Paul alludes to in 1 Corinthians 15:4 when he says that Jesus “was risen on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Jesus died on a Friday, Nisan 14, the day of the Passover lamb’s sacrifice, marking the end of the Jewish year.
His death reflects the death of a flawless, immaculate sacrifice made on our behalf by the Father in heaven.
Hence the importance of Jesus being dead for three days prior to His resurrection, as explained in the Gospel of John.
(2) Because Jesus Himself said that it would take three days.
The Bible does not specify exactly why three days were required between Jesus’ death and resurrection, except from these two reasons. Questions regarding Jesus Christ (return to top of page) The fact that Jesus had been dead for three days had a significant meaning.
Why Did Jesus Wait Three Days to Rise from the Dead?
You are here: Home/Redeeming Theology/Why Did Jesus Wait Three Days to Rise from the Dead? Why Did Jesus Wait Three Days to Rise from the Dead? This may seem like an inconsequential topic, but why did Jesus have to wait three days before rising from the dead? By this I mean that when He died, He had totally atoned for all the sins of the entire human race. He could have risen right then and then, jumped down from the cross, brushed himself off and called it a day. But why didn’t He simply do it?
Why not cover yourself in burial clothing and rise at some point during the first night?
To prove He was dead
Some would claim that He had to remain in the tomb for three days in order to demonstrate that He was no longer alive. There is, after all, the “swoon theory,” according to which Jesus did not actually die, but rather became unconscious while on the cross. I guess that if Jesus “resurrected” from the dead two minutes after he died on the cross, this explanation would be much more compelling. However, once Jesus is buried in the tomb for three days, this idea is rendered completely ineffective.
Why didn’t Jesus simply wait seven days to demonstrate that He was no longer alive?
Although these lengthier times may be ignored, I believe they should be because God did not want Jesus to see degradation (Ps 16:10; Acts 2:27).
To fulfill prophecy
It has been suggested that Jesus needed to spend three days in the grave in order to fulfill prophesy. Which prophesy are we talking about? a sign from Jonah, who spent three days in the belly of a massive fish (cf. Matt 12:39-40). However, we must proceed with caution since the narrative of Jonah is not actually a prophecy in the traditional sense. No doubt, Jesus foretold that He would be dead for three days, just as Jonah was imprisoned in the fish for three days, but if Jesus had never stated anything like this, there would have been no such thing as a prophesy about spending three days in the grave.
Why couldn’t Jesus have made a connection between His death and the creation of the world, and spoken a prophecy along the lines of “Just as the world was created in six days, and on the sixth day, Adam was raised from the dust of the earth, so also, after six days, the Son of Man will rise from the dust” (Genesis 1:26-27)?
In the Bible, Jesus could have picked any number of events and accounts and transformed them into a prophesy about how long He would stay in the tomb. What was it about the narrative of Jonah that drew His attention? What is it about three days that is so special?
To increase faith
Another probable explanation is that Jesus wished to boost the trust of His disciples by this event. They were forced to examine why they had followed Him and if He was indeed the Messiah as a result of His failure to revive immediately. Their sadness at having lost Him, as well as the issues of what would have occurred if they had not followed Him, or if they had defended Him more vigorously, or whether they had just been tricked, were all difficult to deal with. Through his decision to wait three days, Jesus gave them the opportunity to work through some of their difficulties and questions.
It is reasonable to assume that three days will accomplish this; yet, why not seven, twelve, or forty days, all of which are major biblical numbers?
Could not rise during the Sabbath
As resurrection is seen to constitute labour, it may be claimed that Jesus could not rise on the Sabbath, but instead had to wait until the Sabbath was finished. This is an argument that does have some validity. However, Jesus was constantly engaging in activities on the Sabbath that were frowned upon by other Jewish people, like healing on the Sabbath. As a result, it appears He may have been reared on the Sabbath as well.
Acting as our High Priest
Perhaps Jesus was occupied with “doing something” in paradise, hell, and heaven at the same time. Typical High Priestly duties include things such as sprinkling blood on the altar in heaven, victorious victories over sin, death, and the devil, and preaching to spirits in prison, among other things (Hebrews 9; 1 Pet 3:19). This is something that I believe is possible. It just does not explain why these tasks took three days to do.
It doesn’t matter
Maybe it doesn’t make a difference. Perhaps everything happened at random. Perhaps Jesus chose a number out of thin air and chose Jonah as a method of making a prophesy about it in order to demonstrate that He could anticipate the future, which would then demonstrate that He was a prophet of God when the prophecy came true. The number of days spent in the grave, on the other hand, is meaningless. It just so happens to be the one that Jesus choose. All I can say is that I’m having trouble with this since the biblical authors seem to lay so much emphasis on Jesus’ three days in the grave.
But that’s all right since.
The important thing is that Jesus rose
We can all agree on this point. Perhaps the topic of why Jesus remained in the tomb for three days is an useless one that only theologians should consider. The key thing to remember is that Jesus resurrected from the grave, and for this we may give God praise and thanks for all of eternity. It is difficult to comprehend why Jesus remained in the tomb for three days. But the most crucial thing to remember is that He rose from the dead!
Theologians like asking these kinds of questions about Scripture, theology, and Jesus, but at the end of the day, what it all boils down to is trusting God for what He has done for us in Jesus Christ, even if we do not grasp all of the specifics of what God has done.
The cross of Jesus is CENTRAL to everything!
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Contradictions: Three Days and Nights
We have to figure out how to fit three days and nights in the grave between Good Friday and Easter Sunday if Jesus was in the dead for three days and nights. How can we fit three days and nights in the grave between Good Friday and Easter Sunday if Jesus is to remain in the dead for three days and nights? There are a variety of options for dealing with this issue. A unique Sabbath may have been observed, leading some to speculate that Jesus was crucified on a Thursday rather than the usual Sunday.
- Esther exhorts Mordecai to convince the Jews to fast in Esther 4:16, and we find this in Esther 4:17.
- This was most likely done in preparation for her exceedingly dangerous effort to meet with the king later that day.
- The king could not have been seen by Esther until the fourth day if the three days and nights were tallied in the same manner as they are now.
- Because, just as Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the giant fish, so will the Son of Man spend three days and three nights in the center of the earth, according to the prophecy of the prophet Malachi (Matthew 12:40; NKJV).
- Then, seeing that they were terrified and dropped their heads to the ground, they asked them, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” He is not present, but has risen from the dead!
- If the three days and nights were numbered in the same manner that we do, then Jesus would have to rise on the fourth day, according to our reckoning.
The following table, which was taken from the website of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM), demonstrates how the counting process works. 1
|Day One||Day Two||Day Three|
|FRIstarts atsundown onThursday||FRIends atsundown||SATstarts atsundown onFriday||SATends atsundown||SUNstarts atsundown onSaturday||SUNends atsundown|
According to this chart, Jesus died on Good Friday, which was the first day of the week. Despite the fact that Jesus died during the day, day one comprises both the current day and the previous night. So, despite the fact that only a little of Friday remained, it was the first day and night to be recorded. Saturday was the second day of the week. Jesus resurrected from the dead on the first day of the week. That was the third day. As a result, according to Jewish calendar, we have three days and nights, yet Jesus resurrected from the dead on the third day.
As soon as we accept this system of counting, all of the alleged biblical challenges associated with keeping track of the days vanish.
Thank you, Master Books!