Did Jesus Really Spend Three Days in the Tomb

by Christine Sine


Photo by Tara Malouf used by permission

Photo by Tara Malouf used by permission

Have you ever wondered why we talk about Jesus spending three days in the tomb when we actually believe that he died Friday evening and rose again on Sunday morning?  

Here is a great explanation by Ken Collins that I think is worth a look

The ancients counted days instead of calculating elapsed time—in fact, Jesus Himself counted days this way in Luke 13:31-32. This is why the tradition is universal that Jesus spent three days in the tomb when He was buried on Friday and rose from the dead on Sunday. All intervals in the Jewish and Christian calendars are calculated the same way, which is why Pentecost falls on a Sunday and not on a Monday.  Read the entire article

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Steven Carr April 9, 2009 - 8:47 am

How did Jesus spend 3 days and 3 nights in the tomb?

Which was the third night? The Friday or the Saturday?

Steven Carr April 9, 2009 - 8:50 am

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 12:40.

I think the third night must have been Friday, because Saturday was the second night.

Jonathan Watts April 11, 2009 - 1:18 am

Here is something a friend with Messianic Jewish ties told me: the first and last days of the Passover feast were also “Sabbaths” – not because it was Saturday, but because it was a holy day (see Lev. 23:5-8… also note that John calls it a “special Sabbath” – John 19:31). So she believes that Jesus was crucified and buried on Wednesday, when the Passover lambs were also sacrificed… Thursday was the “Passover sabbath,” on Friday the women bought and prepared spices, Saturday was the regular Sabbath, and by Sunday morning before sunrise Jesus was already gone from the tomb.

One thing this explains is how the women had spices bought and prepared by sunrise Sunday morning (see Mark 16:1-4, where it says they bought the spices after the Sabbath was over) – but even more significantly to me, it explains the three nights (Wed/Thu/Fri) and three days (Thu/Fri/Sat).

Another article I read suggested that the two Sabbaths fell back to back (Fri/Sat) and that Jesus died on Thursday.

I’ve heard the same explanation Christine posted too… not sure which is true, but figured the Messianic Jewish one was worth mentioning too. It does seem consistent with the chronology of Jesus’ final week as described in the gospels, and with the flow of the passover feast. Sorry for the long reply!

Kalev May 25, 2011 - 9:25 pm

None of the Gospel accounts give a “name” of the day of His crucifixion, it was during the Passover/ Feast of Unleavened Bread Holy Days. He said He would be 3 days in the grave. I believe it was about 6 p.m. on a Wednesday through about that same time on a Saturday. It was the early Romish Church that adopted the Pagan holiday of Ishtar (Easter) into the new state religion, Christianity under Emperor Constantine that brought about the Good Friday/ Easter Sunday abomination.

Kalev May 31, 2013 - 4:32 am

The Third Day by Avram Yehoshua http://www.SeedofAbraham.net
Yeshua spoke of being dead for three days and three nights in Matthew, but He also spoke of rising ‘on the third day,’ which precludes being dead for three full days and three full nights:
Matthew 12:40: “For 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.”
In three of the Gospels it’s plain to see that Yeshua spoke more of rising on the third day than being in the grave three days and three nights:
“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” (Mt. 16:21)
“and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.” (Mt. 17:23)
“and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” (Mt. 20:19)
“For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.”” (Mark 9:31)
“and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”” (Mark 10:34)
“saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”” (Luke 9:22)
“And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’” (Luke 13:32)
“They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” (Luke 18:33)
“saying, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”” (Luke 24:7)
“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.” (Luke 24:21)
“Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day”” (Luke 24:46).
The question is asked: ‘If He wasn’t crucified on Passover day, how is He our sacrificial Lamb?’
Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that Yeshua would die on the Passover (14 Aviv) as the sacrifice lamb. That title or designation is defined by God, not by our attempts to place Messiah’s death on the day of the sacrificing of the Passover lambs (14 Aviv). The first Passover in Egypt was eaten in the night (15 Aviv) and it was in the middle of the night that God killed all the Egyptian firstborn sons. Then Pharaoh, still ‘in the night’ (darkness) called for Moses and told him to take all the Hebrews and leave Egypt:
Exodus 12:12: “For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast, and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am Yahveh.”
Exodus 12:29–32: “And it came to pass at midnight that Yahveh struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock. So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians and there was a great cry in Egypt for there was not a house where there was not one dead. Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, ‘Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the Sons of Israel. And go, serve Yahveh as you have said. Also, take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.’”
Numbers 33:3: “They departed from Rameses” (were set free) “in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month (15 Aviv) on the day after the Passover the Sons of Israel went out with boldness in the sight of all the Egyptians.”
When Messiah was being crucified it became dark (like night) from 12 noon until 3 PM (at least) when He died. The point is that when Yeshua died we were set free from our Egypt, just as the Hebrews were set free from their Egyptian slavery. It seems that it was here, on 15 Aviv, the day after the Passover was eaten the night before, that God chose to align His Son’s death as the Passover Lamb that was slain for our freedom. God chose to have Yeshua sacrificed when the Hebrews were literally set free from Egypt by Pharaoh’s proclamation (15 Aviv), not the actual slaying of the Passover lambs in Egypt (14 Aviv) because the ancient Hebrews weren’t freed from Egypt by their sacrificing of the lamb, but by God’s slaying of the Egyptian firstborn sons in the middle of the night, hence, when Yeshua, God’s Firstborn Son was slain, on 15 Aviv, paralleling when the Egyptian firstborn sons were slain, we, too, were set free from slavery to sin, sickness, Satan and death.


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