Did He really die on Good Friday and come back to life on Easter Sunday? Jesus Christ said He would be in the grave for three days and three nights. How can you count that from Good Friday afternoon to Easter Sunday morning?
In Matthew 12:38, some of the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign to prove He was the Messiah. But Jesus told them that the only sign He would give was that of the prophet Jonah: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).
But how can we fit “three days and three nights” between a Friday-afternoon crucifixion and a Sunday-morning resurrection? This traditional view allows for Jesus to have been entombed for only a day and a half.
Learn more about The Chronology of Jesus Christ’s Death, Burial and Resurrection .
Some believe that Christ’s “three days and three nights” statement does not require a literal span of 72 hours, reasoning that a part of a day can be reckoned as a whole day. Thus, since Jesus died in the afternoon, they think the remainder of Friday constituted the first day, Saturday the second and part of Sunday the third. However, only two nights—Friday night and Saturday night—are accounted for in this explanation. Something is obviously wrong with the traditional view regarding when Christ was in the tomb.
Jonah 1:17, to which Christ referred, states specifically that “Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” We have no basis for thinking that Jesus meant only two nights and one day, plus parts of two days. If Jesus were in the tomb only from late Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning, then the sign He gave that He was the prophesied Messiah was not fulfilled.
Let’s carefully examine the details from the Gospels. When we do, we uncover the real story of how Jesus’ words were fulfilled precisely.