Many churches teach that Jesus died on a Friday and rose on Sunday and He was in the grave for three days. If you count the days, there are only two days between His death and resurrection…is that wrong?
The traditional teaching within the church is that Christ was crucified on a Friday, and churches commonly observe the Friday before Easter Sunday as the day of Christ’s death, but this observance is a matter of church tradition and not a Biblically accurate portrayal of Christ’s death.
Scripture says clearly that Jesus would spend three days and three nights in the grave:
Matthew 12:40 (NKJV)
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.
Interestingly, Scripture never names the specific day of the week on which Jesus dies, however, we do know the day Christ was raised from the dead. Scripture says Christ was raised before sunrise on the first day of the week:
Luke 24:1-3 (NKJV)
He Is Risen
24 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, [a]and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
The first day of the week in the Jewish calendar is Sunday. So if Christ was in the grave three days and three nights and rose before dawn on Sunday, then there is simply not enough time available for Christ to have died on a Friday and raised on a Sunday. In reality, Christ was not crucified on a Friday, but rather He was crucified on a Thursday.
This conclusion is supported by Jesus’s own comments in Matthew 12:40.
Furthermore, a Thursday death is confirmed by the Jewish festival calendar in the year Christ died. In that year, the day of Passover began Wednesday night and ended Thursday at sundown. Therefore, the seven-day feast of Unleavened Bread began the next day on a Friday. The first day of this feast is always a Sabbath day according to scripture.
Therefore, Jesus was buried on a Thursday, which was a preparation day prior to the start of a Friday Sabbath to celebrate the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Following the Friday Sabbath came the normal, weekly Sabbath observance on Saturday. So in the week Jesus died, two back-to-back Sabbath days were observed (i.e., Friday and Saturday).
The weekly Sabbath day ended at sundown on Saturday night. Then before sunrise on Sunday morning, the women came to an empty tomb, which is why Scripture says Jesus resurrected before sun break on the first day of the week. So if we count from Thursday daytime to Saturday night, we find three days and three nights, just as scripture requires.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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