The statement of Jesus was that He would be “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” This phrase originates in Jonah 1:17, which says Jonah was three days and three nights inside the sea creature that swallowed him. So, here is what Jesus said---
“An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given it but the sign of Jonah the prophet: for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:39-40
It is concluded and contended that this period was a strict series of 12 hour periods, “three full days and three full nights,” a total of exactly 72 hours. This position is taken by both those who insist on a Wednesday, and by some, a Thursday crucifixion. The statement of Jesus is first taken to be very literal and then all other related verses are made to fit with the conclusion reached first from this one literal phrase. Let’s see what facts we can uncover.
First, this phrase specifies the time. He would be “in the heart of the earth,” meaning “buried,” figuring the time of three days and nights, not from the time of His crucifixion, but from the time of His burial. However, the figurative nature of this phrase is seen in the fact that He would be in a rock hewn cave instead, literally, “heart of the earth.” He was placed in a tomb, not buried in the ground.
Second, the “days” in the phrase specify the daylight part and “nights” specify the darkness part. The phrase means three daylight periods and three darkness periods. Jesus did not make His statement based on the reckoning of sundown to sundown as is used by the feast days and Sabbath. It is just a simple viewing of the difference of daylight and dark, 12 hour periods.
This takes us back to creation. Genesis 1:5 says,
“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.”
See also Genesis 1:14-18, Psalm 74:16, Acts 20:31 and many other verses Old and New Testaments. The Hebrew word, yom, can mean the daylight part, a 12 hour period of light, as versus night, also a 12 hour period but one of darkness. That is not the only meaning and use of yom. Yom can also mean a 24 hour period of nighttime and daylight combined as also found in Genesis 1:5,
“the evening and the morning were the first day.”
Thus, two distinct meanings of the word in one verse. Yom can also mean an indefinite period of time, depending on the context. The Greek term for “day,” hemera, has the same range of meanings. Here is an interesting statement from Strong, showing yet another meaning of “day.”
“Eastern usage of this term differs from our western usage. Any part of a day is counted as a whole day, hence the expression “three days and three nights” does not mean literally three whole days, but at least one whole day plus part of two other days.” 2250
As before stated, all of this emphasizes the fact that words and phrases have different meanings in different contexts. This will be very important as we continue.
Third, in the phrase, the days and nights refer to 12 hour days and 12 hour nights, the daylight and darkness. Let’s first consider a Thursday crucifixion, with Jesus being buried “in the heart of the earth” virtually as night began. That made one dark period. Friday daylight, beginning the next morning, starts a day period followed by a darkness period of night. Saturday morning begins a second day, followed by a third darkness period at sundown. Sunday morning dawn ushered in the next day. It was at that time Jesus rose, just before any disciples came to the tomb but that sliver of light was counted as a day. This would indeed be three night times of 12 hour periods, but only two days of 12 hour periods, Friday and Saturday, with Jesus’ resurrection at the very beginning of the daylight of the third day; no 12 hour period there.
If we consider a Wednesday crucifixion, we wind up with four nights and three days plus the beginning of the fourth day. Even a Friday crucifixion does not fit the exact literal, strict, seventy two hour pattern of “three days and three nights” in the heart of the earth.
It should be obvious that we have here a figurative statement in the three days and three nights. However, I think we can settle the issue of the crucifixion day by viewing the subject beginning with the first day of the week and working backward.
Luke 24:1 establishes what follows in that chapter as the “first day of the week.” The chapter begins a series of verses describing events on that day. Start with verse one to see that the chapter is talking about the first day of the week. Then read these verses in order—4-7, 13, 19-21, 45-46.
“That very day” specifies the first day of the week. The first day of the week, that very day, was the third since His crucifixion, not His burial. Jesus had foretold this would happen before that time--Matthew 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:18-19, and Luke 18:31-33, along with the verses in Luke 24. Adding to the fact of the third day resurrection are the following—Acts 10:39-40, I Corinthians 15:3-4.
If early Sunday was the third day, Saturday was the second day, Friday was the first day and was thus the day of His crucifixion. Day one, day two and day three. The phrase, “after three days,” is found in Mark 8:30-31, 9:31 and 10:34, but means the same as “on the third,” or, just “the third day.” These facts establish Friday as the day of crucifixion and Sunday morning the time of His resurrection.
The phrase, “three days and three nights” was a poetic statement to call attention to the short period of time between His burial and His resurrection, not a formula of just how many hours He was in the tomb.
I hope this answers your question.
One point I believe Mr. Barnett missed is that on this particular week there was also an annual Sabbath. I learned about this a few years back and it opened my understanding quite a bit regarding the sabbath mentioned during the week of crucifixion.
In thinking about what you sent, I started searching a few more things. I came across this, which I had never heard of, the wave sheaf offering, and feel it to be enlightening as I do firmly believe in foreshadowing. Jesus did rise on the third day but he did not ascend to His Father until Sunday, after seeing Mary. This article touched on the wave sheaf offering and I think it could be a very crucial key.
thanks, get back to me.......
Regarding the reference you provided about the wave sheaf offering, I did read through the entire article, or sermon. I was making some notes on what appeared to me to be misinterpretation of passages and then I got to the last three paragraphs. He asked the question, “How do we observe it today?”
The answer to that question is simple. We don’t observe it at all. That was part of the Law of Moses written for the Jews. It has no application to us today. We are to follow the law of Christ. Please read chapters 7 thru 10 of the book of Hebrews and you will clearly see that the old law does not apply to us.
The purpose of the article i sent was for a "timing" thing regarding when Christ died and rose and I believe this was just an amazing foreshadow of Christ and being the firstfruits.
So do you believe that the article by Mr. Barnett is 100% true? Again, I am not a scholar, very simple-minded, downright "stupid" sometimes, and the "simplicity of Christ" really has to be just that for me. Thanks for your input, nice sharing with you.
In answer to your question as to whether or not I think what Mr. Barnett wrote is 100% true, my response would be that Mr. Barnett is human like you and me and thus he could be wrong. I have in the past read some arguments for a Thursday death that had some merit. I will say I have never read any credible argument for a Wednesday crucifixion and Saturday night resurrection as Mr. Bedwell writes in his sermon. The Bible clearly says first day of the week. As you know the Jews counted their days from 6 to 6, not 12 to 12 as we do. Thus, Saturday would be over at sunset on the Sabbath.
I will say I strongly lean toward Mr. Barnett’s conclusion. In addition, I checked three of the most accepted commentaries, Albert Barnes, Pulpit Commentary and William Hendriksen, and they all support what Mr. Barnett wrote. Of course, these were written by men. The question is what appears to be the most logical conclusion based on what the Bible actually says.
I am thankful for your interest in spiritual matters.