3 Days and 3 Nights
(The hidden meaning)
After performing many amazing signs and doing many amazing miracles: healing the sick, raising the dead, opening the eyes of the blind and casting out demons, Yahshua/Jesus was asked by his critics to produce “a sign from heaven.” (Luke 11:16)
Not satisfied with the many signs and miracles they had already seen, not surprisingly Yahshua declined to perform on demand. Instead he gave them “a sign” that would have made them scratch their heads and ponder over its meaning.
He said “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign. But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:39)
This was not the sign his critics wanted.
They wanted something to entertain and amaze them. They wanted to see a spectacular miracle coming from the heavens. They wanted the sky above them to split open.
They didn’t want a sign that made them think and something they had to puzzle and ponder over.
Yes they knew the story of Jonah and the whale. But what did Jonah being in the belly of a fish for 3 days and 3 nights (72 hours) have to do with Yahshua/Jesus being “3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth?”
Was the earth going to open up and swallow him alive?
Or was this sign a euphemism? Was there some hidden meaning behind these words?
How were the religious leaders supposed to interpret this sign? Indeed how are we supposed to interpret this sign?
Many believers have concluded it refers to the length of time Yahshua/Jesus would be dead for. The only problem with this theory is that Yahshua was dead for 1 full day and 3 hours not 3 days.
Nor was he dead for 3 nights – only 2.
This sign confounded his listeners 2000 years ago and it is still confounding us today.
So putting all assumptions and theories on hold (for a moment) ask yourself the following questions:
1. The Gospel of Mark says that Yahshua/Jesus was put on the cross
at 9 am on the Passover and died at 3 pm. (Mark 15:25 & 34).
However, the Gospel of John
seems to contradict.
John says that Pilate presented
Yahshua to the crowd at
“midday” “12 noon”.
He was “wearing a purple robe
and a crown of thorns."
(John 19: 5 & 14).
So the question is: How can
Yahshua/Jesus be on the cross
at 9am on the same day Pilate
presents him to the crowd at
2. Do we put this down to a mistake on the part of those who were
eye witnesses? Could the disciple John (who was the only disciple
at the crucifixion) be mistaken in what he witnessed and when he
witnessed it? Or is there an error in the scriptures? Or just maybe
a misunderstanding on our part?
3. Also ask yourself how Yahshua/Jesus can eat the Passover on the
Passover one day then be the Passover on the Passover on another
day? Was there more than one Passover?
4. Lastly, when you read the account of what took place after his arrest,
ask yourself how did so much happen in such a short space of time?
EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE AFTER THE ARREST:
1. Yahshua is bound and taken to the house of Annas (at night) where
he is questioned and assaulted. (John 18:13 & 22)
2. Then he is taken to the High Priest where he is questioned by the
religious leaders, insulted and beaten. (John 18:24)
3. Then he is subject to an early morning trial before the Sanhedrin at
sunrise. (Luke 22:66 & Matthew 27:1 & Mark 15:1)
4. Then dragged off to face another trial before Pilate, who pronounces
him “not guilty of any crime.” (John 18:28, Luke 23:1, Mark 15:1 &
5. Then taken from Pilate’s palace to Herod’s palace. (Luke 23:6 & 7)
6. Then subject to another trial before Herod who also pronounces him
“not guilty.” (Luke 23:14)
7. Herod soldiers mock him, beat him and dress him in a purple robe.
8. Then he is taken back to Pilate who presents him to the crowd, who
are calling for him to be crucified. (Luke 23:11-22)
9. Pilate tries to appease the crowd saying he will have Yahshua
“punished and then released.” (Luke 23:16 & 22)
10. Yahshua is lead away to be “punished" i.e. flogged. (John 19:1)
11. The soldiers flog him and “twist together a crown of thorns” ….
“hit him around the head and ridicule him.” (John 19:2)
12. He is returned to Pilate who presents him to the jeering crowd at "12
noon" wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. (John 19:5 &
13. Pilate’s wife intervenes saying: “have nothing to do with this innocent
man.” (Matt 27:19)
14. Pilate again tries to reason with the crowd to have Yahshua/Jesus
set free. But fearing a riot is about to start he takes water and
washes his hands saying “I am innocent of this man’s blood.” (Matt
15. Yahshua is lead away to be crucified. (Matt 27:26 & Mark 15:20 &
16. He stumbles through the streets carrying the beam on his back.
17. Simon from Cyrene (a passer-by) is conscripted to carry the beam for
him. (Luke 23:26)
18. And all these events and more from 6 am sunrise to 9 am when he is
nailed to the cross?
So ask yourself - how could so much happen in such a short space of time?
So let’s look at all the clues the Bible gives to see whether we can unlock the hidden meaning of the “sign of Jonah” and unravel the mystery surrounding the “3 days and 3 nights”.
CLUE NUMBER 1:
The Bible says Jesus died at 3 pm on Friday the Passover (Mark 15:34) and by early Sunday morning he was alive. So clue number one is: He was not dead for 3 days and 3 nights.
CLUE NUMBER 2:
Psalms 16:10 says “God will not let his Holy One see corruption.”
In other words God will not let the body of his Son decay, decompose, rot, smell or stink.
The Bible tells us that the dead body of Lazarus (whom Yahshua raised from the dead) had been in the tomb for 4 days and “stunk” (John 11:39).
So one might assume that if Yahshua had been dead for 3 days and 3 nights his body would “stink” too. But God said he would not allow this is happen to his Son.
CLUE NUMBER 3:
Jesus said “destroy this temple (meaning his body) and I will raise it again in 3 days.”(John 2:19).
So the question we should ask is: “When did the destruction of his temple/body begin?”
Was it on the night he was arrested, struck in the face, beaten and assaulted?
Or was it when he was flogged? Or when the nails were driven into his hands and feet?
Or was it when he died at 3 pm on the Passover?
How long a period did it actually take to destroy his temple?
Do we count the 3 days and 3 nights from his death to his resurrection?
Or do we start the count from the first assault on his body to his resurrection????
CLUE NUMBER 4 (An error or a misunderstanding?)
Do you know that there were two Passovers the week Yahshua/Jesus died?
In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke there is the account of Yahshua eating the Passover with his disciples in the upper room the night he was arrested. (Matt 26:17 & Mark 14:12 & Luke 22:7)
But in the Gospel of John we have the following verse that speaks of a later Passover:
“Then the Jews led Yahshua/Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace. They wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them……” (John 18:28)
Hmmm …….. In John’s account “they wanted to be able to eat the Passover” but in the other three Gospels Yahshua and the disciples had already eaten the Passover.
Either there are mistakes by those who were eye witnesses or there are things that haven’t been factored in i.e. the two Passovers the week Yahshua died.
CLUE NUMBER 5:
The reason there were two Passovers is simply because the Essenes (a devoutly religious sect living in Jerusalem and Judea) celebrated the Passover on the 14th Nisan according to the solar calendar.
Their 364 day year consisted of exactly 52 x 7 day weeks. Their Passover would always begin Tuesday evening and be eaten at the conclusion of the day at sundown Wednesday.
This is the Passover meal Yahshua eat with his disciples as recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke.
The “Jewish Passover” as John refers to it (John 2:13 & 11:55) was calculated according to the lunar calendar. Which day it fell on varied from year to year.
The year Yahshua was crucified the “Jewish Passover” began Thursday evening and concluded Friday evening at sunset.
CLUE NUMBER 6: (The arrest)
After Yahshua and the disciples have eaten the Passover they retreat to the garden of Gethsemane.
Yahshua spends 3 hours in prayer while his disciples sleep.
“Returning the 3 time he said to them “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough. The hour has come. Look the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”(Mark 14:41)
Luke puts it this way: “But this is your hour when darkness reigns.” (Luke 22:53)
This “hour” is very significant; it marks the beginning of the end. It marks the countdown to his death.
It is the appointed hour from which the Son of God is subject to the powers of darkness and the forces of evil.
The hour from which the sins of the world separate him from his Father.
The hour from which the wrath of God is poured out on him.
This hour marks the beginning of the "3 day and 3 night" period during which he is "punished" for our sins and the destruction of his body, his temple begins.
CLUE NUMBER 7: (Two night trials)
After his arrest he is “bound and taken first to Annas…” Where he is questioned and “struck in the face.” (John 18:22)
“Then Annas sends him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.” (John 18:24)
“They took Yahshua to the high priest and all the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law came together……The whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Yahshua so that they could put him to death but they did not find any……”(Mark 14:55)
After much false evidence and questioning Yahshua gives them the “evidence” they need to convict him of blasphemy:
“Again the high priest asked him ‘are you the Christ the Son of the Blessed One?’” to which Yahshua replies “I am.” “Why do we need any more witnesses…….you have heard the blasphemy……..they all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him, they blindfolded him and struck him with their fists and said ‘Prophesy’. And the guards took him and beat him.” (Mark 14:53-65)
The night is over and the next day (Thursday) is dawning.
CLUE NUMBER 8: (Trial at Sunrise)
Although Yahshua is found guilty of blasphemy during the night trial, only after sunrise could a 'legal' day time trial take place in order for the Sanhedrin to pass the death sentence. “Very early in the morning ……the Sanhedrin reaches a decision. They bound Jesus led him away and handed him over to Pilate”. (Mark 15:1 also Matt 27:1 & Luke 22:63)
CLUE NUMBER 9: (Trial before Pilate)
The trial before Pilate consists of “many false accusations”. (Luke 23:2 & 13)
However, Pilate knows that it is out of “envy” (Matt 27:18) Yahshua has been handed over to him and he says “I find no basis for a charge against him.” (John 18:38 & Luke 23:4)
Pilate then sends Yahshua to Herod. (Luke 23:6 & 7)
CLUE NUMBER 10: (Trial before Herod)
“When Herod saw Yahshua he was greatly pleased……from what he had heard he hoped to see a miracle. He plied him with many questions.” (Luke 23:8)
So Herod conducts the 3 trial for the morning with the “chief priests and the teachers of the law vehemently accusing him.” (Luke 23:10)
Herod finds Yahshua not guilty or deserving of death. (Luke 23:15)
CLUE NUMBER 11: (Return to Pilate)
Herod and his soldiers “dress him in an elegant robe, ridicule and mock him” then “send him back to Pilate.” (Luke 23:11)
Pilate calls together the chief priests, the rulers and the people. He announces: “I have found no basis for your charges against him and neither has Herod….” (Luke 23:13,15)
CLUE NUMBER 12: (Pilate Tries to set Yahshua Free)
“Wanting to release Yahshua, Pilate appealed to them again….For the third time he spoke to them “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” (Luke 23:20 -22)
“Then Pilate took Yahshua and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe …… and they struck him in the face.” (John 19:1-3)
“They spit on him and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.” (Matt 27:30)
“Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews ‘Look I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.’”
Yahshua came out “wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe……at 12 noon” (John 19:4,5,14)
Pilate’s wife pleads with her husband to have “nothing to do with this innocent man.” (Matt 27:19)
“Pilate tried to set Yahshua free but the Jews kept shouting….. ‘Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!’” (John 19:12 & 15)
Pilate “sees that he is getting nowhere but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd saying ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood.’” (Matt 27:24)
CLUE NUMBER 13: (The Preparation Day)
It is very significant that the Gospel of John says that Yahshua was presented to the crowd wearing the crown of thorns at “12 noon on the day of preparation for the Passover” (John 19:14) because the preparation day for the Passover was Thursday.
“It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week about 12 noon. Here is your king Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted ‘Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him! …..Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.” (John 19:14-16)
CLUE NUMBER 14: (Jewish Law).
According to Rabbinical law a man cannot be found guilty of a crime deserving of death and put to death on the same day. There has to be a minimum 24 hour period between the death sentence being passed and the death sentence being executed.
The Sanhedrin (the Jewish law court) could not pronounce the death sentence at sunrise and crucify Yahshua less than 3 hours later.
By law 24 hours had to elapse before putting him to death.
CLUE NUMBER 15: (The National Passover 14th Nisan)
The Gospel of Mark says that Yahshua was put on the cross at 9 am.
Darkness came over the land at 12 noon and Yahshua died at 3 pm. (Mark 15:25 & 34)
We know that this day is the Passover, Friday 14th Nisan. 24 hours have elapsed from his trial before the Sanhedrin and the passing of the death sentence.
Friday the 14th of Nisan is the National Passover. The day the lamb dies for the nation of Israel. The day the Lamb of God dies for the sins of the world.
CLUE NUMBER 16: (Two Sabbath’s on the same day)
Friday is coming to a close. Yahshua is dead. The Gospel of John 19:31 says: “Now it was the day of Preparation and the next day was to be a Special Sabbath.”
His broken body is taken down from the cross and he is laid in the tomb.
Night is falling and the weekly Sabbath is about to begin.
But on this particular Sabbath falls another Sabbath – the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Unleavened Bread begins at night fall just as the Passover ends).
Two Sabbaths falling on the same day.
This is why in the Gospel of John this Sabbath is referred to as a ‘High Sabbath" or "Special Sabbath."
Mary his mother and the other women go home and “rest on the Sabbath according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56) Yahshua “rests” in the tomb “according to the commandment.”
CLUE NUMBER 17: (The Resurrection Day 16th Nisan)
“On the 1st day of the week very early in the morning the women take spices to the tomb……”
They wonder who will roll away the stone for them. When they arrive the angels tell them:
“He has arisen” (Luke 24:6)
Today is the 16th Nisan the Festival of First Fruits. A feast day but NOT a Sabbath.
SEQUENCE OF EVENTS:
- Yahshua was arrested and beaten Wednesday night.
- He was sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin early Thursday morning the “day of Preparation for the Passover.”
- He was flogged and presented to the crowd “midday” on Thursday the “day of Preparation for the Passover.”
- He was nailed to the cross 9 am on the Passover (Friday 14th Nisan). Friday is the “day of Preparation” for the weekly Sabbath and also the Preparation day for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. But Passover itself, is NOT a Sabbath.
- His body rested in the tomb on the “High Sabbath” the 15th Nisan (two Sabbaths falling on the same day).
- He arose early on the 1st day of the week. The 16th Nisan on the Festival of First Fruits.
From the first beating, from the first assault on his temple to his resurrection it has been exactly 3 days and 3 nights.
From his arrest to his resurrection it has been 72 hours.
The same period of time Jonah was confined in the belly of the whale, until he was resurrected from the deep.
From the first strike to his face, to the beatings, the flogging and lastly the nails through his hands and feet until early Sunday morning it has been exactly "3 days and 3 nights."
It took a period of “3 days and 3 nights” for his temple to be destroyed and resurrected.
The countdown began at his arrest. From the “Hour that darkness reigns”
from the moment he was subject to the forces of evil and the powers of darkness. From the moment his "punishment" began and he became “forsaken” by the Father.
Surely Jonah felt "punished" and “forsaken” in the dark belly of a fish for “3 days and 3 nights” the same time period Yahshua was "punished" and “forsaken” for.
Jonah was in darkness but the darkness that Jesus was in was spiritual darkness.
This dark “hour” was the appointed time in which God's anger and his wrath would be poured out on him.
The appointed time in which Yahshua/Jesus would "become sin."
So dark were these hours, that not even Jesus the Light of the World – Yahshua himself could illuminate.
He was punished for our sins. Insulted, ridiculed and humiliated
His beard was plucked, his back lacerated, his face bruised and bloody.
His body was crushed and pierced.
His bones were out of joint, he was spat upon and naked. He went without food and water.
No wonder he said “I thirst” when he hung on the cross.
And no wonder he said those most agonizing of words:
“My Father my Father why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
Jesus was not dead for "3 days and 3 nights." He never said he would be!
His body was not allowed to “corrupt” or “stink”.
He did not go to hell for the non-existent keys to death. No devil or demon has ever held the keys to death.
Jesus rested in the tomb on the Sabbath “according to the Sabbath commandment”. Obedient even in death to his Father’s commands.
Isaiah 53:3-11 puts it this way: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering…..He was despised and we esteemed him not. He was pieced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed…..Yet it was YHWH’s (the Lord’s) will to crush him and cause him to suffer…..YHWH (the Lord) makes his life a guilt offering…he will justify many….and bear their iniquities.”
Yahshua was "punished" for "3 days and 3 nights" for our iniquities. "He became sin for us" He paid the price for our sins in his blood.
The countdown began at his arrest. Three days and three nights later, (once his Father's wrath had been spent and his anger abated) Yahshua/Jesus was resurrected.
Reconciling us in life and death to God the Father.
Maybe the foregoing sheds some light on what took place during the “3 days and 3 nights” in which “darkness reigned.”
Maybe it reveals the hidden meaning behind the “sign of Jonah”. The sign that made Yahshua’s listeners scratch their heads and ponder over its meaning 2000 years ago.
The sign that confounded people then and still confounds us today.
Maybe yes, maybe no. The decision is yours.
Dear Heavenly Father,
You sacrificed your "only begotten Son" as a “guilt offering” for me. It was your will that he be “punished and wounded for my sins” so that I may be “forgiven and healed."
Others may have crucified him but it was my sins he died for.
Please forgive me as you have forgiven those who crucified your Son.
I accept Yahshua/Jesus as my Saviour, Messiah and Passover Lamb.
In his lovely name.