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Jesus Resurrected on Third Day According to the Scriptures
Apostle Paul is crystal clear that his Lord Jesus resurrected on the third day (Sunday, the Lord’s Day) according to the Scriptures.
- 1Cor. 15:1-4: “I remind you of the Gospel I preached to you which you received and on which you stand, by which also you are saved if you keep hold of that message I preached to you unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received – that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he resurrected the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Where did Paul gather this crucial historic truth? Of course, the Holy Spirit charged and propelled him to know and reduce it to God-Spirited Scripture.
But, also, the Ascended Lord Jesus Himself personally tutored him for three years in Arabia upon his conversion in Damascus. The Lord imparted to Paul all the vital Gospel witness and Holy Spirit endowment needed to be commissioned as the newest belated apostle (since he missed out on Pentecost’s anointing of the original apostles).
Just as the Lord opened the minds of his disciples to understand the Scriptures on the first Easter Sunday, Christ also opened Paul’s mind to fully grasp what he already was familiar with as expert Pharisee of Pharisees (like Nicodemus as Israel’s teacher and Gamaliel the master rabbi) – Old Textament Scripture.
As God’s Ultimate Premier Prophet, Christ predicted his foreordained destiny from the Scriptures multiple times:
- Mark 8:31, 9:31 “Jesus taught them that (He) the Son of Man…must be killed and after three days resurrect.”
- Mark 10:34 “Jesus said (He) the Son of Man would be delivered over to be… killed. Three days later He will resurrect.”
- Matt. 17:23 “They will kill the Son of Man (Me), and on the third day He will be resurrected.”
- Matt. 20:19 “Jesus said ‘the Son of Man will be…crucified. On the third day, He will be resurrected.”
- Matt. 27:62-64 “The next day (Saturday), following Preparation Day (Friday), the chief priests and Pharisees said to Pilate, ‘Sir, we remember while Jesus was still alive as a deceiver he claimed ‘after three days I will resurrect’. So now order his tomb to be secured until the third day (tomorrow, Sunday, to prevent graverobbing deception of any phony miracle claim).”
- Luke 9:22 “The Son of Man (Myself) must suffer…be killed and on the third day be resurrected.”
- Luke 24:6-7 “The angels said, ‘Jesus is not here. He has risen! Remember how He told you that the Son of Man must be…crucified and on the third day resurrected. At that moment they remembered.”
- Luke 24:19-27 “Jesus of Nazareth was a prophet powerful in speaking and action before God and all the people. He was crucified, but we had hoped He was the One to redeem Israel. Furthermore, it is the third day (Sunday) since all this happened (Friday). Amazingly we just heard that He is actually alive? Then Jesus said, ‘How foolish you are and slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken (about Myself). How could it be otherwise than the Messiah had to suffer all this and then enter His Glory? And starting with Moses then all the Prophets Christ explained in detail what was said written in all the Scriptures relating to Himself.”
- Luke 24:44-47 “Jesus said to the disciples ‘This is what I told you before repeatedly: everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in Moses’ Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures telling them ‘This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer then resurrect on the third day. Repentance for sin forgiveness will be preached in Messiah’s Name to all nations first from Jerusalem.”
- John 2:18-22 “The crowd challenged Jesus, ‘What sign can you show us proving your authority (to cleanse out the temple area this roughshod way)? Jesus answered, ‘Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days.’ They scoffed at him, ‘It has taken 46 years to build this grand temple; you think you can rebuild it in just three days?!?’ But the temple Jesus referred to was (not Herod’s temple building) His Own body. After He was resurrected, the disciples recalled what He said. Then they finally believed the Scriptures in tandem along with Jesus’ prophetic words/teachings.”
- Acts 10:39-40 “Peter said ‘They killed Jesus by hanging Him on a cross, but God resurrected Him on the third day and caused Him to be physically visibly tangibly seen.”
But what specific sacred texts were cited to support fulfillment of ancient prophecy of Messiah resurrecting on the third day?
- Hosea 6:1-2 “Come let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to shreds, but He will mend and heal us. He has maimed us, but He will bind up our wounds. After two days, the Lord will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up that we may live before Him.”
Although not directly quoted in the New Textament, it qualifies as an emphatic precursor echo, a foreshadowing, a parallel between God’s people Israel needing to be resuscitated and revived after severe sin lapsing nearly to perishing and the Lord raising them up to live in His Presence. Of course, Micah is using prophetic poetry to emphasize a point, using a common expression for brevity (after two days, on the third day) to describe an experience that took hundreds of years but in God’s sight was relatively brief (temporary, not permanent).
It carries Messianic overtones when considered in light of Psalm 22 & 69 and Isaiah 53 which prophecy Christ’s suffering as being stricken and crushed by God in place of transgressors. Israel’s historic experience as ‘God’s son’ from Abraham’s time to Malachi – the promises and perils, punishments and deliverances, exile and restoration as recurring themes – are poignant prototypes pointing to how God’s Only-Begotten Son was treated by both His Father (delivered up as Passover Lamb Sacrifice taking away the world’s sin), His Own people as well as the Gentiles. It isn’t too much of a creative stretch to see more than a coincidence in comparing this text with Paul’s and others above. The definite specific time marker “after two days…on the third day” cannot be just a fortunate fluke that Hosea happened to peg precisely right as if he had prophesied, ‘after Friday and Saturday (Sabbath)…on Sunday”!
- Jonah 1:17 “Now the Lord provided a huge fish (whale shark as largest fish or sperm whale as a mammal, both fully capable of the feat) to swallow Jonah who was in its belly for three days and three nights.” The Lord himself referenced this very scripture to give a sign of being Messiah to his skeptical audience.
- Matt. 12:39-41 “A wicked adulterous (unfaithful cheating on God not giving Him exclusive loving trust and worship from the heart) generation demands a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart (inner recess) of the earth. Nineveh’s people will stand up at the Judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at Jonah’s preaching yet right now Someone greater than Jonah is here (while you refuse to repent)..in fact, One greater than all-wise King Solomon (Royal son of David) stands among you!”
Some scholars try to hold Jesus in the Bible to levels of precision that force both the text and the Lord’s intent. Unless Jesus literally meant 72 hours underground, which means Easter would have been exactly no less than three full calendar days after 3 pm on Good Friday = 3 pm Monday, he must have been mistaken or misrecorded or?
Is Jesus being actually accurate? Are we being really realistic with what Jesus is quoted as avowing as nonfiction fact?
The Bible is just fine taken at plain face value in context with how it consistently references time periods by ancient reckoning. A day is a day is a day, but portions are taken to refer to the whole day itself. For Jesus and His friends and enemies alike, everyone knew what was meant by the Scriptures, His repeated public claims, and the fulfillment. Matthew 27 relates that Jesus’ enemies expected something the disciples hardly expected despite all Jesus’ reiterated prophecies to them. How did they all reckon the three-day timeframe? 3 hours on Friday (3 – 6 pm) was the first day before the Sabbath. Get the corpse down, embalm and bury the dead Jesus before sunset.
Then the full Sabbath day (Friday 6 pm – Saturday 6 pm) was the second day. No work, only waiting. Then the day after Sabbath (Saturday sunset – Sunday dawn) was the third day. For modern ‘Sabbatarians’ who claim Jesus resurrected before 6 pm Saturday, there are two huge problems. One is that Scripture must be fulfilled which is written: “on the THIRD day”. Saturday is impossible if Scripture is not to be broken/unfulfilled. The other problem is Matthew 28:1 “AFTER THE SABBATH at dawn on the first day of the week (Sunday), the women went to visit Jesus’ gravesite.” He obviously resurrected prior to their arrival to find His empty tomb, but it could not have been prior to “AFTER THE SABBATH”. It stretches credulity to suppose God the Father, God the Son of Man Jesus, the Holy Spirit of God set all this up from eternity, set it down prophetically in public Scripture for all the world to witness, but then missed Heaven’s Own perfectly scheduled timing to fulfill it all by minutes, hours or part of a day.
That’s more unbelievable than letting Scripture ride as is to speak for itself, and let Jesus, Matthew, Mark (Peter), Luke, John, Paul, apostles 100% correlate with the Bible and each other in whole and part without flubbing or contradiction.
- Genesis 22:1-5 “God tested Abraham saying, ‘Take your son, your only son whom you love Isaac and go to Moriah sacrificing him there as a burnt offering on the mountain I will show you.’ Early the next morning got up with his servants and provisions and took his son Isaac to set out for Moriah. On the THIRD DAY, Abraham looked up and saw the designated place in the distance. He said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over to that mountain. We will worship up there and then we will return to you.”
- Hebrews 11:17-19 “By faith Abraham when God tested him offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced God’s promises was about to sacrifice his only-begotten (miraculously of the Spirit by promise) son, even though God had earlier assured him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring/Seed will be summoned.’ Abraham reckoned that God could (would if need be to keep this promise) raise the dead, and so by way of living parable he did receive back Isaac ‘resurrected’ as it were so to speak.”
Few Bible commenters consider this Scripture as qualifying for what the Lord or his apostles referred to according to the Scriptures ‘as it is written’ support for being resurrected on the third day. Each Bible student must judge for themselves, but when factoring in the Hebrews 11 apostolic exegetic text adding New Testament detail and interpretation, it is not unwarranted. Again, like the ‘after two days…on the third day’ of Hosea 6 above being most likely not mere coincidence, this too has the ring of prophetic precursor. All the Biblical Messianic parallels and connections have been drawn between the Lord and Abraham (sacrificing father figures), Messiah and Isaac (promised only-begotten miracle sons offered in sacrifice, both carrying the wood to their death) and so on since the early church fathers up to modern commentaries.
But seldom is the THIRD DAY element of the historic narrative factored in with the parallel connections. It correlates nicely with Hosea and Jonah. Although not directly cited by Christ or the Apostles as a one-to-one prophecy-fulfillment, it certainly would be in the realm of qualifying Scripture, at least not disqualified (second day, fourth day, no mention of day at all, or some other account not mentioning a sacrificing father offering up a son and getting him back again. As far as Abraham was concerned, Isaac was as good as slain burnt offering on Moriah’s altar from the moment the Lord commanded the testing ordeal until the third day arriving at the mountain. Isaac was demanded by God to be dead and devoted by Abraham to be dead. That God spared Isaac but did not spare His Only Begotten Son Jesus does not render it any less meaningful, prophetic, symbolic, illustrative, parabled truth experience for the Scripture believer. God was equally serious but handled both offered sacrifices differently – yet similarly. That’s the crucial illuminating surprising epiphany Hebrews makes with a genius-level comparing/contrasting ironic twist involving resurrection, which concept cannot be addressed without considering Christ Himself as risen alive again to the wonderment of all!
- 2 Kings 20:5 “The Lord told Isaiah the Prophet, ‘Go back and tell King Hezekiah the ruler of My people, This is what the Lord the God of your father King David says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you (of fatal disease). On the THIRD DAY from now, you will go up to the Lord’s temple (to sacrifice thank offerings).”
Again, this is not quoted in New Textament supporting Christ’s resurrection. But Hezekiah as a Messianic ancestor and son of King David has some Christ-type parallels as one of Judah’s best most memorable rulers on solid relational footing with the Lord and Isaiah the prophet (one of Scripture’s most vivid foretellers of Messiah’s coming, ministry, suffering – the most quoted prophet in New Textament outside of Moses). Hezekiah was 39, Christ was 33. Both were faithful servants, doing what was right in the Lord’s sight. Both cleansed the temple and sought to turn the hearts of God’s people back to righteousness. Hezekiah’s prayers and tears mirror Christ’s experience, especially in Gethsemane (Hebrews 5:7 “Jesus offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to God Who could save Him from out of death, and He was heard due to reverent submission.”) Finally, Hezekiah was pronounced dying with no cure until the Lord graciously reprieved him with a miracle healing. Like Isaac in Genesis 22, he was spared actual death and had a symbolic resurrection as a living parable very likely pointing ahead to Christ’s resurrection on the THIRD DAY.