Jesus spent three days in the berry of the earth. This was part of the plan of redemption. He was hanged on the cross on Friday and gloriously resurrected on Sunday. These are basic fundamental truth to every Christian. Now I want us to boggle our mind with these questions? Did Jesus spent three full days in the grave? What does three days mean? When did Jesus resurrect on Sunday; evening or morning?
First we must do some Bible equation here. The Jewish calendar begins from sunset to sunset. From Genesis 1, we see evening and morning (Gen. 1, 5; 1, 8; 1: 13; 1: 19; 1: 23; 1: 31). In Jewish tradition, evening commences a day. Jewish Saturday evening may be our Friday evening since they begin counting the day from the sunset. So for example Tuesday begins from sunset Monday to sunset Tuesday.
We are told from the Bible that Jesus died on a Friday and His burial took place when the special Sabbath was drawing near (Mathew 27, 57-61, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23, 50-56, John 19, 41-42). The following day was a Sabbath rest for the entire Jews. So it is so clear from the texts that He was buried on Friday.
Now what happened after the Sabbath? Jesus indeed resurrected! All the gospels record the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Moreover, the time of His resurrection was given though not specific. Read from Mathew 28:1-6; Mark 16:1-4; Luke 24:1-3; John 20:1. From the texts above, they don’t really say that Jesus resurrected early Sunday morning. They are saying that an empty tomb was discovered early Sunday morning since Jesus had already risen by then. So obviously, Jesus resurrected between Sabbath sundown and the time the empty tomb was discovered.
I think we are discovering some truth but what for? Can we do a further study to presume exactly when the resurrection took place? When may not necessarily mean specific clock time, rather the Bible evening and morning.
There is a probable sanctified logic here; either Jesus resurrected on Sunday evening or morning according to Jewish calendar. Now let’s find out.
Jesus in His lifetime ministry reminded His disciples of His death and resurrection. In Luke 24:7 He said “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” “On the third day” resurrection is repeatedly emphasized (Mathew 16, 21; Luke 24, 46; 1 Corinthians 15, 4). Now there is no difficulty here, if Jesus died on Friday before sunset, then the third day will fall on another sunset according to Jewish calendar. NOTE: In as much as Westerners and our today’s clock time sets begining of a new day from 12H00am, to the Jew, the day had already began from sunset. So Jesus’ ressurection was expected to take place from sunset on the Sabbath to sunset on Sunday the first day of the week.
Now it is a convincing fact that, He might have resurrected early after sunset on the Sabbath day. This is because he had already risen according to the testimony of angels (Mathew 28: 2-7; Mark 16, 5-7; Luke 24, 4-6) who appeared to the women by the dawn.
Some reflective facts
- He had risen before the empty tomb was discovered.
- If Jesus was to meet the disciples at Galilee, then the resurrection took place earlier than dawn since it will take about 17hours from Jerusalem to Galilee. But on this we are not sure whether it was to be a spiritual walk or normal human journey.
- If he was not in the tomb in the morning, then He might have resurrected in the evening of sunset on the Sabbath day.
- Christ died to restore dignity and salvation to mankind. It was an act of recreation sealed by His own blood. The creation accounts in Genesis took place within intervals of morning and evening. On the 7th day, God rested. Jesus finished His ministry on the sixth day (John 19, 30). His burial met two Sabbaths, the Special Sabbath of the Passover and the weekly Sabbath. So he rested in the tomb and possibly arose after the Sabbath.
- Jesus’ body was not to see corruption according to the Bible. Read “For you will not leave my soul in Sheol,neither will you allow your holy one to see corruption.” Psalm 16, 10. This prophecy is confirmed by the apostles Acts 2, 24-32; 13, 33-37. Jesus’ body was not to suffer decomposition or decay. This may suggest an ealier resurrection. NOTE: His body was not balmed by any ointment.
There are a lot of questions that may arise from our studies. For example if Jesus resurrected after sunset of the Sabbath, where was He? Why didn’t He show Himself to His disciples? Yes, it can also be noted that, Jesus didn’t have an intimate daily contact with the disciples after His resurrection. He showed Himself to them on some occasions (John 21: 14; Acts 1: 3-4). He also appeared to several others at different instances (1 Corinthians 15, 4-7).
And so what?
The idea of Sunday morning ressurection is an ecclesiastical tradition to justify Sunday as the Lord’s day but non scriptural. However, I do not deny the resurrection taking place possibly on the evening of Sunday according to Jewish calendar.
Christianity is built on the writings of the Prophets and teachings of Christ but not traditions. Let us spend time to study our Bibles well.