It’s sad how our false traditions cause us to not believe God. We become so convinced that our tradition is correct that even when God speaks the truth plainly and clearly, we set at naught God’s word and trust in our own understanding. We refuse to evaluate the evidence God provides us or question our assumptions. The timing of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is a prime example of how we ignore scriptural evidence in order to preserve the traditions we have inherited.
Our tradition tells us that Jesus was crucified on a Friday and resurrected on Sunday morning. But that is impossible if we believe what Jesus said about his own death and resurrection. Not only do we have to disbelieve Jesus to believe our tradition, we also have to disbelieve basic arithmetic!
Jesus gave the scribes and Pharisees just one sign about himself, and told them there would be no other. This one sign was the Sign of Jonah (Jonas is the Greek version of Jonah).
38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Jesus makes it very clear, 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth. We have two other references to this sign in the New Testament:
4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.
29 ¶ And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.
30 For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.
Jesus said he would spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Let’s see how our tradition holds up to that sign.
Mark says that Christ gave up the ghost shortly after the ninth hour (3:00 PM). Matthew writes that evening was approaching when Nicodemus went to petition Pilate to be able to take Christ’s body. It was a mad dash to get Jesus’ body into the tomb before sunset. If we use the scriptural account that the tomb was sealed up basically at sunset, this is what we have:
Not even close to 3 days and 3 nights. Now some modern apologists argue that any part of a day counted as a full day, so just one minute in the tomb on Friday afternoon would count as a full day. Let’s pretend that’s true:
That gets us closer. Let’s apply the same logic to Sunday morning and assume that Christ wasn’t resurrected until one minute after sunrise.
With those leaps of logic, we can finally get to Christ being in the tomb for three “days”. But it is absolutely, positively IMPOSSIBLE for Jesus to spend three nights in the heart of the earth with the timeline we have inherited! There are only two nights between Friday and Sunday, no matter how much you try to fudge it. Yet three nights was the one sign that Jesus gave of himself.
Isn’t is amazing how our traditions can blind us to simple truths? We can’t even count to three when we are blinded by tradition! We’ve even been warned about this:
…the influence of that spirit which hath so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion, and has been growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very mainspring of all corruption, and the whole earth groans under the weight of its iniquity. It is an iron yoke, it is a strong band; they are the very handcuffs, and chains, and shackles, and fetters of hell.
In the next posts I will document other false traditions we have about the last days of Jesus’ life and get us to a much more accurate understanding this timeline.