Contrary to tradition, I’ve long believed that Jesus died on Thursday. He was likened to Jonah in Matthew 12:40, For just 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.
If he died Friday and rose on Sunday, that’s three days, but not three nights (a day starts at sunset vs midnight in Jewish culture, see note below with website reference).
Let me show you …
Matthew 27:1, When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.
Matthew 27:45-46, Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
In case you don’t know, the sixth hour was noon, and the ninth hour was three p.m.
Minutes later, I expect, Jesus gave up His spirit. (Matthew 27:50) He died around three in the afternoon (keep that in mind).
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus.
Matthew 27:58-60, He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.
Matthew 28:1, Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
Here is where it might get a little confusing, and yes, I’m aware MANY theologians have probably discussed and argued this point. I don’t care.
So, if he died on Thursday, then that would make it four days and three nights, right? But what if He raised before day started?
In the beginning, God created night and day (Gen. 1:5, And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.) In this passage, the word day is used as both the time when light shines AND as the equivalent of twenty-four hours.
So which is meant when it is referenced in Matthew? Both. Yep, the Greek word is similar in meaning to the Hebrew word.
That means we have to discern by context what is meant. Since I am not a theologian, and even if I were, it would be pure speculation, think about it for yourself and decide which you think is true. Not that it really matters in the long run, but …
Okay, so day can be twenty-four hours or daylight. Because day and night are referenced in Matthew 12, I am inclined to believe He is referring to daylight. So if He died on Friday, He was dead for two daylight days: Friday, Saturday.
Remember that the Marys went toward dawn and the tomb was already empty. So when did Jesus resurrect? I don’t know. I can only guess sometime after nightfall but before dawn.
Thus He wasn’t in the tomb when daylight came on Sunday. The angel rolled away the stone and declared, “He is not here. He has risen.” (Matthew 28:2-6) Past tense. It was done.
Okay, so, go with me now. IF He died on Thursday, He would have been in the tomb for three days (Thursday, Friday, & Saturday) and three nights (Thursday night, Friday night, & Saturday night).
Have I proved my theory? Don’t know.
And you know what? It really doesn’t matter.
He was buried.
He was resurrected.
He was and is and always will be the Son of God. The Christ.
He fulfilled all the things prophesied about Him, and despite my logic (accurate or faulty), He fulfilled this one too. Whenever He died.
Happy Resurrection Day,
PS. I know it’s not Wednesday, and I know I promised a sneak peak at a cover, but it’s not done. Soon. 🙂
Jewish day: https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/526873/jewish/The-Jewish-Day.htm