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The World to Come. The Restored Church of God presents David C. Pack.
Greetings, friends. I am here at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, where it is commonly believed
Jesus was buried after crucifixion. It was also the place from which He was believed
to have been resurrected. This location is fascinating to see---and many millions hold
it to be a very special place. But what is the truth of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection?
Almost none know! The Good Friday-Easter Sunday tradition is
among the most popular in the Christian world. Did Jesus Christ rise from the grave on Sunday
morning? Had He been there for 3 days and 3 nights? He said this was the only sign He
was the Messiah! Does this fit with the tradition of a Friday crucifixion near sunset and a
Sunday sunrise resurrection? Much more is at stake here than meets the eye.
Since no one saw Jesus rise, we must examine the only available authority on this miraculous
event---the Bible! While most accept popular traditions without
proof, including everything Easter, true followers of Jesus want to know what HE says.
What proof did Christ offer that He was the Messiah? The Pharisees challenged Him on this
point and He answered: "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall
no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: for as Jonah was 3 days and
3 nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart
of the earth." This is plain. Could Jesus then be in the
grave less than 3 days and 3 nights---3 complete 24-hour periods? Can 72 hours fit between
late-day Friday and early Sunday morning? Why do so few question this only sign Jesus
said He would give that He was the Messiah? Could He have been wrong on this single proof
and still have been the Messiah? Consider what is at stake in Jesus' statement.
If He failed His only sign, then He is not our Savior and nothing He said can be trusted.
In effect, if His prophecy did not come to pass as He foretold---exactly!---then He must
be considered a false prophet---a fraud who should be ignored---meaning mankind has no
savior! Do not confuse the resurrection itself with
the question of how long Jesus would be in the grave before rising. This length of time
was the test of His sign---not the actual resurrection.
Get this! While it is embarrassing to watch so-called
"Bible experts" try to explain away Jesus' obvious meaning, they really have no choice.
Think! If His sign remains intact, the Good Friday-Easter Sunday tradition would be exposed
as groundless---and therefore false! Many Bible commentaries leave one nearly breathless
in astonishment in how they assert that 3 days and 3 nights, in the Greek language,
can mean three periods of time---day or night. Friday night, Saturday day and Saturday night
are supposedly these three "periods." At least some are honest enough to acknowledge
the Friday-Sunday tradition is, in fact, only half the length of time---36 hours---Jesus
said He would be in the grave. Can we know for certain or must we speculate
on the definition of a day or the meaning of a night? Does the Bible leave this open
to interpretation---with one man's opinion as good as another?
The book of Jonah records, "And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three
nights." Most scholars acknowledge that this Hebrew phrase must mean a 72-hour period.
In short, there is no room for any "approximations of time" theories in the Hebrew.
Jesus said His time in the grave would be "as Jonah." "As" means comparison. In other
words, just like Jonah was in the fish for 3 entire days, Jesus was to be in the grave
for 3 entire days. This comparison prohibits "negotiating" the meaning of the Greek---as
many do---since the Hebrew phrase can only mean 3 full days!
Let's ask. Did Jesus understand the length of a "day" or the length of a "night"? Of
course He did! Notice His question: "Are there not 12 hours in the day?"
In several places, the Bible mentions Jesus rose "the third day." How long was this? The
first half of the Gen. 1 creation chapter plainly states God "divided the light from
darkness. And God called the light Day and the darkness He called Night. And the evening
[darkness] and the morning [light] were the first day...And the evening [darkness] and
the morning [light] were the second day...And the evening [now 3 periods of darkness---3
nights] and the morning [now 3 periods of light---3 days] were the third day."
This is the Bible's definition of the length of time accounted for within the phrases "the
3rd day" and "3 days and 3 nights." It spanned three periods of darkness and three of light.
6 times 12 hours equals 72 hours! Clear---and easy! Simple math!
We have now established the exact duration of Christ's time in the tomb as a 72-hour
period---3 days and 3 nights "as Jonah was." Think. A late Friday afternoon entombment
would have to mean a late Monday afternoon resurrection. Again, it is as simple as counting
1, 2, 3! If this passage stood alone without other verses to qualify it, it must be admitted
that Christ's use of the word "after" does not---by itself---limit His time in the tomb
to 72 hours. He could still be there longer. He just could not be there one bit less than
72 hours. This much should now be clear. Now the second passage from Mark: "They shall
kill Him; and after that He is killed, He shall rise the third day." This presents another
limitation on Christ's time in the tomb. Consider! This verse, if taken alone, places Christ
in the grave between 48 and 72 hours. The phrase "the third day" caps the duration at
72 hours---but it also creates a minimum of 48 hours---or the period would be somewhere
in the second day! In time, Sunday came to represent the Passover,
as the whole general period of Christ's crucifixion, burial and resurrection. However, since no
one could accept condensing events of 3 days and 3 nights into just one day---Passover
is one day---the idea of a Friday crucifixion was born.
The effort to change the day of the resurrection to Sunday was in fact a continuation of a
Babylonian tradition---that *** (father of the Babylonian Mystery Religion) was resurrected
on a Sunday. By A.D. 321, Roman Emperor Constantine established Sunday worship as part of the
official state religion, thus legitimizing the various traditions attached to that day.
Jesus' crucifixion occurred on Passover afternoon, the 14th of Abib, which is the first month
in God's Sacred Calendar. This occurred in the year A.D. 31, in which Passover fell on
a Wednesday. Wednesday is the day of Passover in A.D. 31. According to the Roman calendar,
this was Wednesday, April 25. Here is a brief but important timeline. Between
the 9th and 12th hours on Wednesday (3:00-6:00 p.m.), Jesus died (Luke 23:44-46). With Pilate's
permission, Joseph of Arimathaea procured the body, wrapped it in linen (John 19:40)
and placed it in the sepulcher (Luke 23:50-53). By the time the burial was complete, the Sabbath
"drew on" (vs. 54). Thus, the burial took place on Passover day, shortly before sunset.
Passover is what is called a preparation day. It precedes an annual Sabbath, called the
First Day of Unleavened Bread---or a high Sabbath or "high day" (John 19:31). This Sabbath
fell on a Thursday that year. It was on this day that the high priest and the Pharisees
came to Pilate to ensure Christ's tomb was sealed and guarded (Matt. 27:62-66).
Mark 16:1 records what occurred Friday: "And when the [annual] sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene,
and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come
and anoint Him." (Verse 2 jumps to Sunday morning.) The phrase, "and when the Sabbath
was past," refers to the Thursday high day. Since the women could not buy spices on the
7th-day Sabbath (Saturday), Friday was the only time they could have done this.
Luke 23:56 states, "And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested
the sabbath day according to the commandment." After buying the spices, they returned and
prepared them to be applied to Christ's body in the tomb, which they planned to do after
resting on the weekly Sabbath (again, Saturday). The next verse, Luke 24:1, adds, "Now upon
the first day of the week [Sunday], very early in the morning, they [the women] came unto
the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them."
The women found the tomb empty (vs. 3). Two angels informed them that Christ was already
"risen" (vs. 4-6). Mark 16:2 states that the women were present "at the rising of the sun."
This means Jesus was resurrected before sunrise. John 20:1 tells us that Mary Magdalene came
early "when it was yet dark" and found the stone that sealed the tomb was already rolled
away. So a sunrise resurrection was impossible---because Jesus was already resurrected! Let this sink
in. Nowhere does Scripture record that Jesus rose
at sunrise on Sunday morning. However, it does tell us that He would be in His grave
for 3 days and 3 nights. Anyone willing to believe the Bible should not find this difficult
to accept. In fact, it is the only logical conclusion that can be drawn. Christ was placed
in the tomb before sunset on Wednesday. Three complete days (3 days and 3 nights) bring
us to the end of the weekly Sabbath---Saturday---just prior to sunset, when Christ was resurrected---exactly
as He had prophesied! I urge you to read our booklet Christ's Resurrection
Was NOT on Sunday, and the article Christ's Crucifixion Was NOT on Friday. They thoroughly
cover the timing of these events. Until next time, this is David C. Pack saying,
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