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Jesus referred to the prophet Jonah, just as he was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so would He be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matt. 12:39-40; Luke 11:30. On another occasion, Jesus stated that He would destroy the temple, and He would raise it again in three days - John 2:19. (This is referring to His body, as his body became the living temple/tabernacle on earth).

Matt 27:62-64: “Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first.”

Mark 15:42-44: “Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time.” This means it was Friday afternoon since the Sabbath day begins at sundown.

Luke 23:54-56: “That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid.  Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.”

Talmud states he died on the eve of the Sabbath, because he practiced sorcery and took them from their God. Mk.14:12 says on the first day of the Unleaven Bread when they sacrificed the Passover.

John 19:31-33: “Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.”

A high Sabbath was one that landed on a feast day.

The Gospels  of Mark, Luke and John all make it clear that Jesus' burial occurred shortly after His death on the day of “preparation” (Friday) before the Sabbath (Saturday), and ends at the sunset of each day.  Mark 15:37-47; Luke 23:53-56; John 19:31. In order for Jesus to have been buried just before the Sabbath (Saturday), Jesus' crucifixion could only have occurred on Friday.

The Bible is clear that Jesus was crucified on the Passover, Friday, then buried later that (Friday) afternoon or evening before the Sabbath  (Saturday) began, and then rose from the dead the first day of the week (Sunday).  How could there be a fulfillment of Jesus' prediction that He would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth? What exactly does this mean? 3- literal 24- hour days or a statement related to a certain time period.

In Old Testament the expression “one day and one night” was an idiom used often by the Jews for a day, even when it was applied to only a part of a day. The Jewish reference to this period as three days and three nights is strictly in accordance with the Jewish mode of reckoning. Evening and morning, or night and day, is the Hebrew phrase for a natural day. It was a maxim among the  Jews in computing time, that a part of a day was to be received or computed as the whole.

Christ was dead at three o’clock on Friday, they had before six o’clock, three hours to bury Him. After going through the red tape with the Romans it took less than an hour. The Jewish reckoning of time is found in the Jewish Talmud and the Babylonian Jerusalem Talmud (the commentaries of the Jews), said any part, an “onan”, any part of the day is considered a full day. On Friday before six o'clock by Jewish reckoning, any minute was considered one day and one night. From Friday night at six o'clock to Saturday at six o'clock, was another day and another night. From Saturday night to Sunday was a third day. Thus, Jesus was in the grave part of Friday (a whole “natural day”), through all of Saturday (the second day), and from Saturday at sunset a part of Sunday (the third day). Thus, it is likely that the part of the day (Friday) on which Jesus was crucified, the entire day He was in the grave (Saturday), and the part of the day on which He rose again (Sunday), estimated as entire days. The concept of three days would be an idiom, not necessarily meaning 3 full 24- hour periods.

Genesis 42:17 shows us this idiomatic usage was common in their culture. Joseph had his brothers imprisoned for three days; in v.18, he speaks to them and releases them, on the third day. I Samuel 30:12, 13: “For he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights,” and in the next verse, “My master left me behind… three days ago.” There are other instances in the Bible in which part of a day is viewed as constituting a whole. For example, the same quantity of time referred to in the Gospel accounts of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection as three days and three nights, which in reality was only one whole day, a part of two others, and two whole nights, is termed three days and three nights in the book of Esther. Compare Esther 4:16 (“Go ...neither eat nor drink three days, night or day . . . and so will I go in unto the king”), with Esther 5:1 (“On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king's hall”) this is also found in 2 Chr.10:5, 12; Gen. 42:17-18; 1 Kings 20:29; Luke 2:21.

The Jews were aware of Jesus' prophecy. Matt. 27:63. The fact that the Jews asked that a command be given that the sepulcher be made secure “until the third day” showed that when the Jews spoke of “three days,” Matt. 27:64, they did not of necessity mean three “whole (24) days,” but parts of three days, as was the case of Jesus' lying dead in the grave. While this is debated the evidence for which day He rose is absolutely clarified in Scripture.


Matt. 28:1-2: “Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.” The first day of the week is Sunday according to Judaism, according to the New Testament since Saturday is the 7th day.

Mark 16:1-4: “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away-- for it was very large.”

Luke 24:1: “Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.”

John 20:1 “On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”

Just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish so will the Son of man be in the heart of the earth.” This is a statement of nature and fact not of time. In rebuttal to the Pharisees not believing his miracles only one last one will be given the resurrection. He’s expressing that he will die giving Jonah as a pre-type of his death and resurrection. It was an idiom used for what He would do. How do we know this? All one has to do is read the eyewitness accounts which verify what was meant.

Luke 24:21-23 “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. “Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive.”

Jesus has twice appeared to people none of which were the apostles but disciples. Cleopas and the other disciple had disbelieved the two reports already given of the resurrection. It is now the third day since all these things have occurred. If he was in three 24 hour periods it would have read the 4th day. The scripture is absolutely clear in the eyewitness testimonies on this.

Jesus himself said he would rise ON the third day more than he used this one statement of Jonah.

The testimony of Paul who refers to the scriptures as his validation. 1 Cor. 15:3-4: “ For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that he was buried and that He rose again the the third day according to the Scriptures.  The third day. If it was 3 full 24-hours Paul would have said after the third day or more precisely the fourth day. Paul is not preaching another gospel nor taking liberty in interpreting the event, he is speaking according to the Scripture and the facts. 

Jesus also made it clear from his own mouth, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.He was speaking of the temple of His body (John 2:19–21). There it is!

Peter in the book of Acts declares to the Jewish brethren (Acts10:39-40) “And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly.

Notice the apostles are very specific what day Jesus rose on and the apostles offered Jesus 'post resurrection appearances as “many convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3). The Resurrection was the catalyst for their powerful fearless preaching of Christ as the Son of God (Acts. 2:22-36; 4:2,10; 13:32-41; 17:1-4,22-31).

He rose just as He said he would- on the 3rd day. So whatever Jesus meant by using Jonah is clarified by the apostles and the very act of the resurrection.


Is there a contradiction between Mark’s account and John’s of the timing of Jesus' death?

Darkness was over the land Lk.23:44, Now it was the 6th hour (12:00) and there was darkness over all the earth until the 9th hr. (3:00) Mk.15:33 and Mt.27:45 state the same thing.

Mk.15:25: “Now it was the 3rd hour and they crucified him.”

John 19:14: “It was about the 6th hour he was on trial.”

Mark in his text tells us the crucifixion took place on the 3rd hour using the Jewish reckoning of time, which means around 9 AM in the morning. The Jews measured time by breaking the day into 12 hours twice, with an additional 4 watches in each 12 hour period. The new day in Jewish time began at sunset and the morning began at sun up approx.6 AM.

The apparent contradiction with John’s writing can be easily solved through the centuries of time. It would be hard to accept that John with the other Gospels written over a period of 20 years together, wrote his last with a span of 30 more years later would introduce an independent reckoning of his own. And not taking into account what was already handwritten and bring confusion in the records.

What we need to understand is that John is writing from Asia Minor at least 30 years after the events transpired 70-95 A.D. When John wrote his Gospel the Jewish temple was destroyed and the nation was scattered. So everyone was now under Roman influence, whereas before they existed partly under Rome still functioning as Israel. So when he wrote there was no more Jewish standard of time only Roman. So John used the official Roman mode of computing time. The 6th hour would be 6 AM as they counted the day from 12 midnight as we still do today. This would coincide exactly with the other writers who used the Jewish reckoning of time. The trial was early in the morning and the crucifixion approximately began at 9:00 in the morning lasting until 3 in the afternoon. So John consistently used Roman time while the other Gospel writers use the Jewish standard. Therefore there is no conflict in the accounts.



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