Note: The following Post is taken from an upcoming book by Joseph Lenard entitled Mysteries of Jesus’ Life Revealed—His Birth, Death, Resurrection, and Ascensions. For an overview and complete chapter listing of this fascinating study, click here.
As part of my proposed chronology for the crucifixion week (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), I need to address the references in the Gospels to the phrases “three days” and “on the third day” (Luke 24:7) that Christ used in referencing His resurrection. We might call these the Hard Scriptures.
The Roman church, I believe, incorrectly interpreted these references in supporting the Friday, Saturday, Sunday chronology. Properly interpreted, these phrases are shown to fully support not only my adjusted chronology but also the “3 days and 3 nights” spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 12:40, as well as the chronology of the three women who visited the tomb, which I addressed in my Post Chronology of the Women.
We need to look at the following Scripture verses:
Mark 8:31: “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
1 Corinthians 15:4: “. . . and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Luke 24:7: “. . . saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
Within the proposed chronology, these similar but separate statements are suddenly correlated by Christ’s burial at sunset on the division between Wednesday and Thursday and His resurrection at sunset on the division between Saturday and Sunday. This represents both “after three days” as well as “on the third day,” as sundown is on both days, at the division between the days.
Supposedly, one of the “proofs” of the Friday, Saturday, Sunday tradition is the reference to Luke 24:13–21, which includes the verse, “Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.” Christ joined two disciples as they were walking on the road to Emmaus on that first day of the week after the women discovered the empty tomb. The disciples did not recognize Him. The scriptures record the following exchange:
And He said to them, ‘What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?’ Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, ‘Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?’ And He said to them, ‘What things?’ So they said to Him, ‘The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.’ (Luke 24:17–21, NKJV)
The following commentary, from an article in Good News magazine, offers an explanation that agrees with my corrected chronology:
Here, the two disciples referred to Sunday as being the third day since “these things” happened. There were other things the Jews and Romans did after Christ was buried. Notice what Matthew included about their actions:
On the next day . . . , which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, ‘Sir, we remember, when He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’’ ‘So the last deception will be worse that the first,’ Pilate said to them. ‘You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.’ So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard (Matthew 27:62–66).
Christ had already been buried nearly one whole day when these things were done . . . The last things the Romans and Jewish leaders did were to seal the tomb and place soldiers to guard it. This was on Thursday, the day following that Day of Preparation. Apparently, the disciples were including these events in their reference to the things that had taken place. Counting from the securing of the tomb and the setting of the guards, Sunday would have been the ‘third day’ since ‘all these things’ happened.
With this explanation, we find that even the Hard Scriptures harmonize with the proposed chronology. This explanation of the “third day” is also in agreement with the chronology and rationale provided by E. F. Bullinger in Appendix 156 of The Companion Bible, in which he also supports a Wednesday crucifixion.
Note: In my next Post I will further reveal how the church has erred in its interpretation of the chronology of the week of Jesus’ crucifixion.