Diminishing The Darkness By Lifting up The marvelous Light Of Jesus Christ
April 2010
Window On The Word
3 Days And 3 Nights
By Tim Greenwood

How many have missed what Jesus Himself called "the ONLY sign" that He would give that He was who He said He was?

Mat. 12:39-40 Jesus said that there shall no sign be given, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 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. (See chart below.)

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, 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 because these 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...

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 does not mean that the regular weekly Sabbath goes away! Luke 23:54-56 on the other hand is referring to 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.)

They viewed a day as NIGHT and then DAY rather than viewing a day as DAY and then NIGHT as we do. Evidently, so did God. During creation 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." 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 High Sabbath began.

Now, with this foundation, you are ready to step through the scriptural time sequence concerning Jesus' death, burial and resurrection... (Please follow along using the chart on the back page.)

Luke 22:48 Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss; Luke 22:54 They take Jesus to the high priest; Luke 22:66 At sunrise the elders, chief priests and scribes lead Jesus into their council;

Luke 23:1 They take Jesus to Pilate.(Aprox. 6am); Luke 23:7 Pilate sends Jesus to Herod; Luke 23:11 Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate; Luke 23:24 Pilate sentences Jesus; Mark 15:15-20 Jesus is scourged and led out to be crucified; Mark 15:25 At the third hour (9am), they crucified Him;

Luke 23:44-46 At about the sixth hour (Noon), darkness fell over all the earth until the ninth hour (3pm). And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in half and Jesus gave up His spirit;

Mark 15:42-43 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), Joseph of Arimathaea went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus;

Luke 23:53-55 Joseph of Arimathaea took the body of Jesus down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre. But that day was the preparation day, and the Sabbath (the High Sabbath or Holy Day - the Feast of Unleavened Bread) drew on (the sun was going down). The women only got to see where the sepulchre was and where 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 The women 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 24:1-3 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning (at sunrise), the women came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone (already) rolled away from the empty sepulchre.

Jesus had already risen up to 12 hours earlier.

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

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

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


Thurs, Nisan 15
(Holyday - No Work)
24 Hr
Night Fri, Nisan 16
(Too dark to work at tomb)
(Plus, soldiers are their now)
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
Sat, Nisan, 17
(Sabbath - No Work)

3 days and 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.*
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, three days and three nights (72 hrs) just as He said He would be.

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