WAS JESUS REALLY THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE HEART OF THE EARTH?
Matthew reports Jesus as saying, “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale (“sea monster,” RV marg.), so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). According to the commonly accepted tradition of the church Jesus was crucified on Friday, dying somewhere between 3:00 p.m. and sundown, and was raised from the dead very early in the morning of the following Sunday. Many readers of the Bible are puzzled to know how the interval between late Friday afternoon and early Sunday morning can be figured out to be three days and three nights. It seems rather to be two nights, one day and a very small portion of another day.
The solution of this apparent difficulty proposed by many commentators is that “a day and a night” is simply another way of saying “a day,” and that the ancient Jews reckoned a fraction of a day as a whole day, so they say there was a part of Friday (a very small part), or a day and a night; all of Saturday, another day, or a day and a night; part of Sunday (a very small part), another day, or a day and a night.
There are many individuals whom this solution does not altogether satisfy, and the writer confesses it does not satisfy him at all. It seems to him to be a makeshift very weak makeshift.
Is there any solution that is altogether satisfactory? There is.The first fact to be noticed in the proper solution is that the Bible nowhere says or implies that Jesus was crucified and died on Friday.It is said that Jesus was crucified on “the day before the Sabbath” (Mark 15:42). As the Jwish weekly Sabbath came on Saturday, beginning at Sunset the evening before, the conclusion is naturally drawn that as Jesus was crucifie the day before the Sabbath He must have been crucified on Friday. But it is a well-known fact, to which the Bible bears abundant testimony, that the Jews had other Sabbaths beside the weekly Sabbath which fell on Saturday. The first day of Passover week, no matter upon what day of the week it came, was always a Sabbath (Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:7; Numbers 28:16–18).The question therefore arises whether the Sabbath that followed Christ’s crucifixion was the weekly Sabbath (Saturday) or the Passover Sabbath, falling on the 15th of Nisan, which came that year on Thursday. Now the Bible does not leave us to speculate in regard to which Sabbath is meant in this instance, for John tells us in so many words, in John 19:14, that the day on which Jesus was tried and crucified was “the preparation of the Passover”, that is, it was not the day before the weekly Sabbath (Friday) but it was the day before the Passover Sabbath, which came that year on Thursday.That is to say, the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified was Wednesday, 14 Nissan 30 AD. John makes this as clear as day.
The gospel of John was written later than the other gospels, and scholars have for a long time noticed that in various places there was an evident intention to correct false impressions that one might get from reading the other gospels. One of these false impressions was that Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples at the regular time of the Passover. To correct this false impression John clearly states that He ate it the evening before, and that He himself died on the cross at the very moment the Passover lambs were being slain “between the two evenings” on the 14th of Nisan (on Wednesday the day of preparation for the Passover Sabbath) (Exodus 12:6, Hebrew; cf. RV marg.).God’s real Paschal Lamb, Jesus, of whom all other Paschal lambs offered through the centuries were only types, was therefore slain at the very time appointed of God.
Everything about the Passover lamb was fulfilled in Jesus. (1) He was the Lamb without blemish and without spot (Exodus 12:5). (2) He was chosen on the 10th of Nisan (Exodus 12:3), for it was on the tenth day of the month, the preceding Saturday, a sabbath day, that the triumphal entry into Jerusalem was made.Since they came from Jericho to Bethany six days before the Passover (John 12:1—that would be six days before Thursday, which would be on Friday the 9th); and it was on the next day that entry into Jerusalem was made (John 12:12 ff.), that is, on Saturday, the 10th of Nisan. It was also on this same day that Judas went to the chief priests and offered to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:6–16; Mark 14:3–11). As it was after the supper in the house of Simon the leper, and as the supper occurred late on Friday which was the beginning of Saturday for the Jews, that is, after sunset, or early on Saturday, “after” the supper would necessarily be on the 10th of Nisan. This being the price set on Him by the chief priests, it was the buying or taking to them of a lamb which according to law must occur on the 10th of Nisan. Furthermore, they put the exact value on the lamb that Old Testament prophecy predicted (Matthew 26:15; cf. Zechariah 11:12). (3) Not a bone of Him was broken when He was killed (John 19:36; cf. Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; Psalm 34:20). (4) And He was killed on the 14th of Nisan between the evenings, just before the beginning of the 15th of Nisan at sundown (Exodus 12:6, RV marg.).
If we take just exactly what the Bible says, that Jesus was slain before the Passover Sabbath, the type is marvelously fulfilled in every detail; but if we accept the traditional theory that Jesus was crucified on Friday, the type fails at many points.
Furthermore, if we accept the traditional view that Jesus was crucified on Friday and ate the Passover on the regular day of the Passover, then the journey from Jericho to Bethany, which occurred six days before the Passover (John 12:1), would fall on a Saturday, that is, the Jewish Sabbath. Such a journey on the Jewish Sabbath would be contrary to the Jewish law. Of course it was impossible for Jesus to take such a journey on the Jewish Sabbath. In reality His triumphal entry into Jerusalem was on the Jewish Sabbath, Saturday. This was altogether possible, for the Bible elsewhere tells us that Bethany was a Sabbath day’s journey from Jerusalem (Acts 1:12; cf. Luke 24:50).
It has been figured out by the astronomers that in the year 30 A.D., which is the commonly accepted year of the crucifixion of our Lord, the Passover was kept on Thursday, 14 Nissan 3790 (April 3, 30 AD on the Gregorian calendar), the moon being full that day. The chronologists who have supposed that the crucifixion took place on Friday have been greatly perplexed by this fact that in the year 30 A.D., the Passover occurred on Thursday. One writer in seeking a solution of the difficulty suggests that the crucifixion may have been in the year 33 A.D., for although the full moon was on a Thursday that year also, yet as it was within two and half hours of Friday, he thinks that perhaps the Jews may have kept it that day. But when we accept exactly what the Bible says, namely, that Jesus was not crucified on the Passover day but on “the preparation of the Passover,” and that He was to be three days and three nights in the grave, and as “the preparation of the Passover” that year would be Wednesday and His resurrection early on the first day of the week, this allows exactly three days and three nights in the grave.
To sum it all up, Jesus died about sunset on Wednesday (which was the beginning of Thursday). Seventy-two hours later, exactly three days and three nights, at the beginning of the first day of the week (Saturday at sunset which is the beginning of Sunday), He arose again from the grave. When the women visited the tomb just before dawn the next morning, they found the grave already empty. So we are not driven to any such makeshift solution as that any small portion of a day is reckoned as a whole day and night, but we find that the statement of Jesus was literally true. Three days and three nights His body was dead and lay in the sepulcher. While His body lay dead, He Himself, being quickened in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18), went into the heart of the earth and preached to the spirits (the fallen angels from the days of Noah) which were in prison (1 Peter 3:19).
This supposed difficulty solves itself, as do so many other difficulties in the Bible, when we take the Bible as meaning exactly what it says. It is sometimes objected against the view here advanced that the two on the way to Emmaus early on the first day of the week (that is, Sunday) said to Jesus in speaking of the crucifixion and events accompanying it, “Besides all this, today is the third day since these things were done” (Luke 24:21); and it is said that if the crucifixion took place on Wednesday, Sunday would be the fourth day since these things were done. But the answer is very simple. Jesus died on Wednesday about sundown the beginning of Thursday for the Jews. From Sundown Wednesday to sundown Thursday was the first day. Then from sundown on Thursday until sundown Friday is the second day. Then from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday is the third day which is the beginning of Sunday for the Jewish nation. So the supposed objection in reality supports the theory. On the other hand, if the crucifixion took place on Friday, by no manner of reckoning could Sunday be made “the third day since” these things were done.
It is wonderful to come to a simple understanding of Jesus crucifixion time frame and when and where it took place. By this we also learn that Jesus was three days and nights in God’s prison for the fallen angels proclaiming the Gospel not offering them salvation.
Always keep Jesus in your heart and on your mind.
God is testing us every day and has given us the right to make our own choices. Do you know which ones are the right choices in Gods mind?
Fear God, love God, honor God, and trust God with all your heart, mind and soul and you will receive and experience the promises of God’s blessings in His time.
Prayer: Father in heaven, I praise You for Your Son and the Holy Spirit. I praise You for Your grace in sending us Your wisdom about “Was Jesus Really three Days and Three Nights in the Heart of the Earth.” Please bless all those who read the crucifixion time frame and the time Your Son spent in exhorting to the angels in prison in the heart of the earth, for they too are seeking Your righteous truth, love, wisdom and understanding.
May God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit and Christianity be our guiding lights, our safety nets and our inspiration for loving happiness in all of Your kingdom. Father into your hands I commend my spirit. Not my will, but Yours be done. Please come Lord Jesus.
I pray in Jesus sweet name and to His glory through the power of the Holy Spirit,
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