THOUGHTS ON THE CRUCIFIXION AND RESURRECTION TIME FRAME
by Larry A. Smail
As early as my late teens, I began to question how anyone may add up the time from a Friday crucifixion and late day burial to a Sunday morning resurrection as three days, and three nights. Of course, I elected to remain quiet on these thoughts for fear of being stupid, and uninformed. After all, the world honors Christ’s death on Good Friday with Easter on Sunday morning. I must not be understanding something!
These thoughts would surface from time to time usually around the Easter season. However, I began studying for answers. One argument I heard was that the Jews counted even a small amount of time on any given day as a “day”. I didn’t buy it! This, to me, sounded like someone trying to make the traditional Easter time frames fit into their traditional beliefs. I needed to study scripture.
Let’s look at some scripture to discuss this most important event for true Christianity.
Matthew 12: 38-40 Some of the scribes, and Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher we wish to see a sign from you.” Jesus answered them, “An evil, and adulterous generation seeks a sign; BUT no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days, and three nights in the belly of the fish, so will the Son of Man be three days, and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
There you have Christ’s own words concerning the only sign needed to prove who he was, and is! This language occurs several other places in the Bible. The only sign to be given was to be Jesus in the tomb for three days, and three nights. So, who am I, to say any other words other than Christ’s own words as to the importance of this sign!!!
Why is this sign so important? That time frame would guarantee without question that Jesus was truly dead! Skeptics would jump at a lesser time. They would state Jesus wasn’t actually dead only unconscious, and other fallacies.
WHAT WE KNOW FROM SCRIPTURE
Matthew 27: 45: Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. The sixth hour would be noon, and the ninth hour would be 3:00 in the afternoon. The Jews began a “day” at 6:00 A.M. our time to 6:00 P.M. Night was 6:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M. This is important to remember!)
Matthew 27: 50: And Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit around the ninth hour. (3:00 P.M. our time)
John 19: 31: Since it was the day of Preparation of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Passover events the Jews did not wish any of the bodies remaining on the cross over the Sabbath time. Joseph of Arimathea requested of Pilate to remove Jesus’ body before sunset. (This annual Sabbath was a high Sabbath, and can occur any day of the week. IMPORTANT! Preparation of this Sabbath had to occur prior to the evening sunset.)
Matthew 27: 57: When it was evening… Joseph of Arimathea requested permission for Jesus’ body… and placed him in a tomb, and the tomb was sealed. (This would take some time to accomplish to beat the quickly coming High Sabbath beginning at sunset.
John 20: 1: (all 4 gospels) Now on the 1st day of the week… (Sunday is the 1st day of the week, and we know the women went to the tomb early on the 1st day of the week)
To allow for the 3 days, and 3 nights, as told by Jesus Himself the high Sabbath would need to be on a Thursday of that year.
Jesus, to fulfill His own promise, could have been resurrected anytime after Saturday’s (Weekly Sabbath) sunset. (The weekly Sabbath occurs Friday evening at sunset, and lasts until Saturday at sunset.)
The above mentioned facts are known from scripture, and Jewish culture, and law. The best way to determine that time frame is begin counting back from the early Sunday morning visit to the tomb. The tomb was already empty at that early time of the day.
CRUCIFIXTION & RESURRECTION
WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY
Cross, burial DAY 1 DAY 2 DAY 3
NIGHT 1 NIGHT 2 NIGHT 3 Resurrection
Jesus, to fulfill scripture would have been resurrected at sunset after the weekly Sabbath. Burial occurred just prior to sunset on Wednesday evening to beat the Annual High Sabbath. The Passover feast days, along with two Jewish Sabbaths would not allow the women to show up prior to Sunday morning. Jesus became the Passover Lamb at this time. The time frame insured Jesus would be in the tomb for three days, and three nights to fulfill prophecy.