Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How Long In The Grave?


Theodore H Epp

Pic. Credit: awakenthebride d32-news
It is possible to be so caught up in the discussion of when Christ died that we overlook why He died.
A question that I am frequently asked is, “Was Christ crucified on Friday?”  If so, how could He be in the grave three days and three nights and arise on Sunday”?

The question can be answered from the Word of God.  But before we do that, we need to be reminded that we are not to be judged by the days we keep (see Colossians 2:16).  Some regard one day holy and some another.  We should be careful about legalism on this point.

First, notice a few verses from Matthew 12.  certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered (Jesus) saying, “Master, we would see a sign from thee” (v. 38) They wanted a sign to know that Jesus was truly Christ, the Messiah who was coming.

But He answered and said unto them,  “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah” (v. 39).  What was the sign of the prophet Jonah?  “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the son of the man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (v. 40).  So Jesus gave them a sign.

If Jesus had not been in the heart of the earth three days and three nights, He would not have been the Messiah.  Jesus said that by this sign, they could tell whether it was true or not.  And the Pharisees and the scribes understood that to be so, for in Matthew 27: 63,64 we read that on the day after the crucifixion and burial, the chief priests and Pharisees came to Pilate and said, Sir, we remember that, that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, after three days, I will rise again.  Command therefore, that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day,  lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people He is risen from the dead, so the last error shall be worse than the first.

Whereas the scribes and Pharisees wanted to prove their point – that He was not the Messiah – they unknowingly become the very proof that He was.  For they set a guard there, and the guard was the proof that He rose on the third day and that He was not stolen.

Now this is where the conflict of thought comes.  Because we read in the scriptures that Jesus died on the day before the Sabbath, and the Sabbath is always Saturday, it has been presumed that He died on Friday.  However, something very important has been overlooked.  Namely that the Israelites had seven different feasts during the year; and in these seven feasts, they always had a High Sabbath (s special Sabbath) which could be on any day of the week.  The day did not make any difference, but it had to fit into the particular feast that they were keeping.  When it came to the Feast of the Passover, there was a preparation day before Passover, which was Wednesday.  Following this was a High Sabbath, the height of the Passover Feast, which was on Thursday.  Then there was a Friday in between, and then came the regular Sabbath – the  weekday Sabbath.  After this, of course came the first day of the week.  Having that in mind, the answer is very simple.

The Passover lamb, in Jewish history, was always slain on the night before the High Sabbath.  And in the case of Israel, it was slain on that Wednesday night before the High Sabbath on Thursday.  Jesus was the real Lamb to be slain, and all types had been pointing to Him.  He, therefore, also had to be slain on the same day (Wednesday) that the lambs were slain for the regular Passover.  Thus, Jesus was  slain on Wednesday, just before the high Sabbath.

Sometime during the evening, Joseph of Arimathaea came and asked for the body of Jesus, that He might be buried.  Sometime after Jesus died at three in the afternoon, maybe in the early part of the Sabbath evening.  Joseph came and took Jesus and buried Him.  So Jesus went into the grave – it could have been six O Clock in the evening, which was the end of Wednesday and the beginning of the High Sabbath.

Now, note Matthew 23:1,2 “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.  And behold, there  was a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven , and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.”  So,  evidently, even before the sun rose on that first day, Mary Magdalene and Mary came to see the sepulcher.  They came there wondering how they would roll the stone away.  As they stood nearby, there was an earth quake as the angel descended from heaven, rolled the stone from the door and sat upon it.  When did he roll the stone away?  He did it while to women were there.  Is that when Jesus arose?  No, that is not what the Bible says.  There was no stone that could keep Jesus in the grave.  But somewhere between six o’ clock on the Sabbath day and this morning, Jesus rose – possibly after the Sabbath.  The only ones who saw Him were the soldiers who were watching the door at the time. Jesus did not have to have the stone rolled away for His resurrection; but the angel rolled it away and said to the women,  “come and see that He is not here.”  So then Jesus definitely was in the grave three days and three nights.

Let me emphasize again Colossians 2:16.  we are not to judge one another on the basis of which day we are commemorating, because that is not the real issue.  THE REAL ISSUE IS CHRIST.   What I have explained here simply proves that Jesus is the Messiah, according to the Scriptures, and history will corroborate this.  But though some have chosen Friday (and we call it Good Friday) as the day of the death of Jesus, this does not mean that we cannot take that day to remember it.   I have no problem with that for the day does not make any difference.  The fact remains, though, that Jesus died and rose again and was in the grave three days and three nights.  Along this line, some people have felt that it is wrong to observe Easter as a memorial to Christ’s resurrection because of its pagan historical associations.

I would say that on Easter we remember the death of Jesus Christ.  Make it a real thing.  Do not make Easter a time to parade new clothing or to emphasize Easter rabbits, eggs and so forth.  Rather, make it a time to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He is the one whom we honor—it is not the day, but it is Jesus Christ.  So let us thing of Christ. CL

For More Information and for the Print edition of Confident Living Magazine Please Contact at the following address:
30-220, Telecom Colony
Secunderabad – 500015
Andhra Pradesh, India.
Tel: 91 040 27796353
Email: backtothebibleindia@yahoo.com

Confident Living Magazine, Secunderabad India
Picture Credit: sxu.hu


Share Free Hit Counters
Hit Counter

1 comment:

  1. Jesus is the victorious Lord . He got victory over Satan, grave and the death. Not only that He is giving victory for His followers to over come Satan, grave and death.
    1 Corinthians 15
    The Resurrection of Christ
    1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

    3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. ..............................................

    The Resurrection of the Dead
    12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

    20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

    42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

    If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[f]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.
    51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[h]

    55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]

    56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.