Three Days and Three Nights
by Tim Greenwood

Yesterday, I was watching a nationally known Pastor on television giving an Easter message.  During this message he began to refer to ‘black Friday’ (or good Friday).  Now this was surprising because this same Pastor just weeks earlier taught a great series on the Holydays of Israel, which caused me to believe that he not only knew the symbolism of the Holydays, but also knew when they were observed during the year.  Evidently not.

That got me to thinking.  If this man, considered one of the Bible scholars of today, does not understand that the period between ‘good Friday’ and ‘resurrection Sunday’ does not equal three days and three nights (72 hrs) – then how many others are missing what Jesus himself called “the ONLY sign” that He would give that He was who He said he was?
Mat 12:39  But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
This was the ONLY sign ...
Mat 12:40  For as Jonas 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.
So, how does Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday add up to make three days and three nights (72 hrs)?  Well it doesn't.
 
Good Friday (day) Good Friday (night) Saturday (day) Saturday (night) Resurrection (Easter) Sunday (day)
Buried at sundown >
 One night and One day (24 hrs)
One night (12 hrs)
< Risen by sunrise

Total = One day and two nights! (36 hrs)

To the Jews of Jesus' day, time was marked by the seven annual Holydays as well as the weekly Sabbaths.  And the Holydays were also Sabbaths.  They were high Sabbaths with preparation days even more busy than the weekly Sabbaths.  Since no work was to be done on a Sabbath, all the buying, cooking, cleaning and setting up had to be done on the previous day.  The preparation days for high Sabbaths were even busier because the high Sabbaths were literally feast days, kind of like our thanksgiving day.  The Jews of that day had no problem understanding which days were which.

So lets look at a couple of scriptures about the preparation day...
Mark 15:42  And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath...

The High Sabbath known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread fell on a Thursday the year Jesus was crucified.  Mark 15:42 is referring to this High Sabbath and its preparation day.  But just because there is a High Sabbath during the week, that does not mean that the regular weekly Sabbath goes away!

Luke 23:54  And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.
Luke 23:55  And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how his body was laid.
Luke 23:56  And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.

Now, this was the day portion of Friday.  Therefore it was also a preparation day.  But this time for the regular weekly Sabbath.
Are you starting to see how it works?

Just to complicate it a little more, the days on the Jewish calendar BEGAN and ENDED at sundown. (Rather than at midnight, like we figure days.)  And they viewed a day as NIGHT and then DAY.  (Rather than viewing a day as DAY and then NIGHT as we do.)  Evidently, so does God.  During creation the week, which is recorded in the first chapter of the book of Genesis the day is repeatedly referred to as "the evening and the morning."

Gen 1:1  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Gen 1:2  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Gen 1:3  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Gen 1:4  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
Gen 1:5  And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Gen 1:8  And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Gen 1:13  And the evening and the morning were the third day.
Gen 1:19  And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Gen 1:23  And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
Gen 1:31  And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

This is very important when it comes to counting the three days and three nights.  The lack of this understanding has confused many causing them to discount six to twelve of the seventy-two hour period.

This is why they had to rush to get Jesus into the grave before sunset, because at sunset the Sabbath began.

Now, with this foundation,  I think you are ready to step through the scriptures concerning Jesus' death, burial and resurrection...

This time sequence begins in the garden where Jesus is praying...
Luke 22:48  But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?
Luke 22:54  Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. 
Luke 22:66  And as soon as it was day (sunrise), the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council.
Luke 23:1  And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate.(Aprox. 6 AM)
Luke 23:7  And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.
Luke 23:11  And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.
Luke 23:24  And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.

Mark 15:20  And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.
Mark 15:25  And it was the third hour (9 AM), and they crucified him.

Luke 23:44  And it was about the sixth hour (Noon), and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour (3 PM).
Luke 23:45  And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.
Luke 23:46  And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

Mark 15:42  And now when the even was come (late afternoon - the sun was getting ready to go down) , because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath (the High Sabbath or Holy Day - the Feast of Unleavened Bread),
Mark 15:43  Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved (begged) the body of Jesus.

Luke 23:53  And he (Joseph of Arimathaea) took it (the body of Jesus) down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.
Luke 23:54  And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath (the High Sabbath or Holy Day - the Feast of Unleavened Bread) drew on (the sun was going down).
Luke 23:55  And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.

They got Jesus' body covered and into the tomb just as the sun slipped below the horizon.  Jesus is now in the earth and the clock begins.

Luke 23:56  And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. A better translation would be:
And they rested the Sabbath day (the High Sabbath or Holy Day - the Feast of Unleavened Bread), and then returned to purchase and prepare the spices and ointments and then again rested the Sabbath day (the Regular weekly Sabbath) according to the commandment.

They had to wait till the High Sabbath and following night passed, before going to the market to purchase embalming materials. Then they had to prepare everything. Evidently this took all day and then they had to again stop for the Regular weekly Sabbath to pass as well as the night time portion of the 1st day of the week so that they would have the light of day to work in the tomb.

The first night and day was the Holy Day (The Feast of Unleavened Bread the 1st of two Holy Days during this feast). The first night and day has passed.

The next night shops are closed and it is too dark to do anything in the tomb.  The next day materials are bought, transported and prepared but sundown begins the regular weekly Sabbath.  Now, the second night and day have passed.

The next night and day are the regular Sabbath.  At sundown, (on what we would call Saturday night), exactly 72 hours after Jesus' body was placed in the tomb - When the third night and day had passed - Jesus rose from the dead. 

Three(3) days and Three(3) nights - in the heart of the earth.

Luke 24:1  Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning (at sunrise), they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
Luke 24:2  And they found the stone (already) rolled away from the sepulchre.
Luke 24:3  And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

Jesus had already risen. (Up to 12 hours earlier - see charts.)

(Some people are more graphic oriented and others are more linear minded.  So I have provided both examples:)


The Hebrews counted "Days" from Sunset to Sunset.  So the 12 Hr. "Night" portion of that date came first (beginning at sun down) and then the 12 Hr. "Day" portion of that date (ending at sun down).    So the total day, (sunset to sunset) was the same as today, 24 Hrs.


Night Wed, Nisan 14
(31 AD?)
PASSOVER
(Evening Event)
"Last Supper," Garden, Betrayal, "Midnight Trial," Beatings
In-Grave Clock
Day


Wed, Nisan 14 PREPARATION DAY  Pilot, Scourging, Crucifixion (9AM-3PM)
 

In the Grave (6PM +/-)

0 - Begin
Night Thurs, Nisan 15 HIGH Sabbath
(1st Holyday of
Unleavened Bread)
[Begin the "In-Grave Clock"]


 

.
.
.
Day


Thurs, Nisan 15
.
.
.
(Holyday - No Work)
.
.
24 Hr
Night Fri, Nisan 16
-
(Too dark to work at tomb)
(Plus, soldiers are their now)
.
.
.
Day


Fri, Nisan 16 PREPARATION DAY Women buy and prepare spices to anoint Jesus' body
(Takes all day) (Run out of time)
.
.
48 Hr
Night Sat, Nisan, 17 WEEKLY Sabbath
-
.
.
.
Day


Sat, Nisan, 17
.
.
.
(Sabbath - No Work)

3 days & nights in the grave ( 6PM+/-) 

.
.
72 Hr - Stop
Night Sun, Nisan, 18 1st DAY OF THE WEEK
.
.
Mary Leaves for tomb before dawn
There is a full 12 Hr 
period in which Jesus could have risen.*
Day


Sun, Nisan, 18
Mary Arrives at tomb just after dawn 
Jesus Has Already Risen!



*To fulfill Jesus' own prophesy of the Son of man being in the grave 3 days and 3 nights, He had to stay there at least 72 Hrs.
So what have we learned?
We learned that Jesus did indeed fulfill the ONLY SIGN that He gave concerning His being the Messiah.  He was in the heart of the Earth, 3 days and 3 nights (72 hrs) just as He said He would be.