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Tuesday 25 October 2011


Matthew 12:39 – 40

“But He answered and said unto them [the scribes and Pharisees, v28], 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: 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.”

We have long been persuaded that the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on a day we call ‘Friday’. Certainly we believe that He rose again on the first day of the week, which we call ‘Sunday’, but how does that make “three days and three nights” from Friday ??

In every day life we are able to mark the passing of days very simply ! Take the Chilean miners trapped underground recently, for example :

The tunnel collapsed on Thursday 5th August, 2010. On Sunday 22nd August news was received that all 33 miners were alive and well. The men were said to have been underground for 17 days. That Sunday was the 17th day! 22 minus 5 = 17. Obviously!

Who or what has blinded our understanding and corrupted our reasoning concerning these important Scriptures ??

The hold that Roman Catholicism held over the world was never totally destroyed by the Reformation. Its corrupting influence pervades into every Protestant denomination, including the Pentecostals. The G.S. of Elim, John Glass, recently referred to Peter as “the rock”, misinterpreting as usual Matthew 16:18. And the incessant habit of addressing the Lord Jesus Christ personally simply as ‘Jesus’ is strongest in all charismatic and Pentecostal groups. This is all Papist infiltration; an anti-Christ spirit to denigrate the Lord of Glory to an inferior status.


In providing an answer according to the Scriptures on this issue of “three days and three nights”, we must start with what we do know; what is immovable.

The Lord Jesus was raised from Hell and the tomb on the first day of the week [Matthew 28:1 – 6; Mark 16:2 – 6; Luke 24:1 – 8 (note v7); John 20:1 – 9]

The Sabbath before which the bodies had to be removed from the crosses was the seventh day of the week [Genesis 2:1 – 3; Exodus 16:25, 20:8]

The Passover lamb was killed on the fourteenth day of the month [Exodus 12:6; (1 Corinthians 5:7)]


1 Corinthians 5:7 “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.”

Matthew 26:2 “Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.”

So we are assured that whatever the Jews’ arrangements were in those days for the Passover Feast, Christ had to die on the fourteenth day to fulfil the Law of the Feast of Passover…

We read in Matthew that the disciples enquired about their personal arrangements for the Feast on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They were given specific instructions which they followed and would then have prepared the necessary dishes for the ‘seder’ – the order of service [Matthew 26:17 – 19].

v20 “Now when even was come, He sat down with the twelve.” This is when the fourteenth day begins ! [Genesis 1:3, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31 – the marking of Hebrew days was from one evening until the next evening].

We can only presume, not being historians or theologians !, that by that time, in order to cater for the many thousands of Jews resident in Palestine and Jerusalem, and the Diaspora, pouring into the city and the temple where the lambs were kept, inspected and killed under the authority of the religious leaders, participants of the Feast were able to collect their lamb on the thirteenth day. Then from that evening until the following evening, marking the fourteenth day, the Passover Feast would be actually celebrated in accordance with the Law in Exodus 12.

Mark 14:12 – 17 gives the same account as Matthew : “And in the evening He cometh with the twelve.”

Luke 22:7 “Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed.” … 14. And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him.”

Slightly different words, but the same order of things, and a very poignant emphasis of the importance of keeping that Fourteenth Day.

John gives specific details which took place during the seder. His is quite a different account, found from John 13:3 – 38.


However, John also gives us some very pointed phrases to help us form our conclusion :

John 19:14 “And it was the preparation of the passover and about the sixth hour [about 9 o’clock] : and he [Pilate] saith unto the Jews, Behold your King.”

John says “the preparation of the passover”, not “the preparation of the sabbath” which Matthew, Mark, and Luke speak of; an entirely different day !

John 19:42 though also says, “There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.” This is the preparation of the Sabbath.

The preparation of the Passover which John first speaks of, would appear to mean that the Passover Feast was under way, being celebrated by those thousands of Jews. The chief priests had not yet partaken of theirs, as John 18:28 reveals. They would have partaken after the thick darkness had passed, and as Christ, the True Passover, died at the time of the evening sacrifice.


Matthew 27:57 – 58 “When the even was come, there came a rich man … Joseph … went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.”

Mark 15:42 – 43 “And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph … went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.”

Luke 23:54 “And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.”

John 19:42 “There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”

All these speak of the next day. The next evening had come; the Passover Feast was over ! The day of preparation had begun – a day after the Passover to prepare for the weekly Sabbath.

Now we have to think sensibly, and put right out of our minds all the pre-conceived deceptions we have been fed for so long !!

If this next day was the Sabbath, how could the thieves have died in that short time after Christ had died as the Passover Lamb, and, even more importantly, their bodies removed from their crosses before that next evening came ? How could Joseph have gone to Pilate to ask for the Lord’s Body on the Sabbath ??

How could he have had the opportunity to buy the linen for the shroud, or the ointments on the Sabbath ? What time was there for him to have waited for the two thieves to die, after their legs were broken, before he could claim the Lord’s Body, and prepare Him for burial, before resting on the Sabbath ? Nothing adds up !


This is the day after the Passover; the Passover itself was a Sabbath [Exodus 12:14 – 16]. This fifteenth day is called “the Jews’ preparation day” – the day before the normal Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. Except that in this case it was called “an high day” [John 19:31], because it was within the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover.

John 19:30 “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” – on the Passover Feast Day, the fourteenth day of the month…

v31 “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away…” They came to Pilate on this fifteenth day, as Joseph did.

Luke 23:52 – 54 “This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. … And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.”

During this day, from the evening after the Passover Feast until the next evening before the Sabbath, the soldiers broke the legs of the thieves and found that the Lord was already dead. Later that day the thieves died and the bodies were able to be removed. Joseph had at some point claimed the Lord’s Body, receiving Pilate’s permission, prepared it with the ointments and linen he and Nicodemus had bought, and closed up the tomb in the sight of the women.


Matthew 27:62 “Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying … Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day…”

So this is now the Sabbath – the day following the day of the preparation for the Sabbath. Knowing what the Lord said about rising again on the third day (although the poor disciples still did not know !), the priests and Pharisees thought they would make sure there was a watch on the tomb until the seventeenth day !

They could count ! 14 plus 3 = 17.

Luke 23:55 – 56 “And the women also, which came with Him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how His body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

So Luke shows the obedience of the women. Again, if the Sabbath was the day following the Passover Feast Day, what time would they have had to prepare these spices and ointments before that evening ? And it would have meant two Sabbaths one after the other… Besides, they were in shock over their Master’s sudden trial and execution; only the sight of His actual burial prompted them to prepare the spices, realising that it was all over… (as they thought !)


Matthew 28:1 “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week…”

Mark 16:1 “And when the sabbath was past…”

Luke 24:1 “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning…”

John 20:1 “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark…”

Psalm 119:62 “At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto Thee because of Thy righteous judgments.” Hallelujah ! Christ is risen from the dead !


In order then to see the fulfilment of the Scripture, we must realise that the day when Peter and John prepared the seder for the last Passover before Christ died was what we call ‘Wednesday’. When the evening came, that marked the beginning of the fourteenth day, the Passover Feast; to us ‘Thursday’. Christ died before that evening. The thieves were not yet dead, so their deaths were hastened the next day, the “day of the preparation”; a day to prepare for the “high” Sabbath, the sixteenth day. By the time the Lord rose again on the first day of the week, He had been dead, His body in the tomb, His soul in Hell, for three nights – Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night. And the days :17 minus 14 = 3 days. Glory to God !!

There is yet another revelation to this. Genesis 8:4 says that the ark rested on the seventeenth day – it was a foreshadowing of resurrection; a new beginning for God and His people !!