It’s About Time – Bible Time: Three Days and Three Nights

A question lingering after the celebration of the resurrection relates to time, the time between Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. 

Having visited the Bible Land many times, I have always enjoyed visiting remote regions among the Bedouins who live today very much like first century life. Exact time matters little to them. I once asked the age of a certain child. The answer was: “Who knows? Who counts years, days, and seconds?”

Even in modern times different cultures record time differently. Before the introduction of Standard Time in the 1880s, different countries, states, and even neighboring towns, kept their own time with no attempt at consistency. Even though clocks, and later watches, are widely available, much of the world still today estimated their time by the natural rhythms of the Sun and Moon until late into the 19th Century.

Stonehenge in Britain was probably built to measure time. It measured the year by the sunrise and sunset angle on the horizon. It is possible to use other, easily observed, signs of the passage of days. The annual disappearance and reappearance of the stars has been used by many cultures. Natural signs such as the blossoming or fruiting of particular plants or the migrations of birds have also been used to mark the passing of the seasons.

In counting days and nights in the time of Christ it was done differently than today. In light of all this, it is easy to see why there are questions related to the issue of three days and three nights.

In the time of Christ any part of a day was considered a full day. That is, a “day” was not considered as a full 24 hour interval.

We consider a day as beginning at sunup followed by daylight with night coming after the daylight hours.

In the Jewish tradition a day began with sundown. The night (dark) was counted before the actual daylight.

Thus when the sun set on Thursday that was the night part of a new day, Friday.

Hence, Friday was one night and day, 

Friday night at sundown day two began.

Saturday at sundown day three began.

This accounts as three days and three nights. To try to understand it based on our reckoning of time is not proper. It must be based on how days were reckoned in Bible times.

The important issue is not how long His lifeless body was in the tomb, but in the fact it did not stay there, He arose from the dead to give life, eternal life, to all who engage in a form of trust of Him that involves responding to Him as not only Savior, but Master to whom they are obedient.

Every one of winter’s dead bows that blossoms speaks of resurrection.

The Rose of Sharon arose.