Jesus said He would be buried for “three days and three nights” (Matt. 12:40). How can this be true when Christ was crucified on Friday and raised on Sunday? Today, Gabe Fluhrer addresses the context of the Lord’s burial.
NATHAN W. BINGHAM: Our guest this week on the Ask Ligonier podcast is Dr. Gabe Fluhrer. He's one of the ministers at the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina. Dr. Fluhrer, how long was Jesus in the grave?
DR. GABE FLUHRER: This is a question that has puzzled people because it really takes us to the heart of harmonizing the different Gospel narratives on this question. I think the simplest answer is this: Jesus says, "As Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the tomb that long." Well, He's crucified on Good Friday, raised on Good Sunday, and we go, How can that be three days and three nights?
I think what the solution boils down to"and there's different ways to answer this question"is that when the Jewish time frame was recorded, that Jesus is living in, speaking about, that Jonah would have shared as well, they reckoned days differently than we do. So that the three days, three nights, for us, is twenty-four-hour cycles. We don't think like they do. Their day began at sundown and ended the next day at sundown. There is a different way of reckoning these days, so that when Jesus says that, He's speaking truthfully from the position of how the Jewish mind-set reckoned time. The simple answer is, on our calendars it's Friday to Sunday, and that's what it was for Jesus, historically. Then according to the Jewish calendars and reckoning of time, those are three days and three nights.
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