The Days Jesus Was in the Tomb

5/11/2006 6:57 AM


S: Matthew 28:1-2 NKJV  He Is Risen

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.  (2)  And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door,[1] and sat on it.

O: Looking at this passage, and the previous verses in Matthew 27, it becomes pretty obvious that Jesus was raised from the dead near dawn on what is commonly known as Easter Sunday.  I’m not advocating the use of Easter (Ishtar) as a term, nor am I advocating the use of Easter bunnies, colored eggs.

But I do have some people attending my church that would like to advocate Jesus death on Wednesday to accommodate a full 24 hour period for each of the 3 days and nights prophecy. 

They have the idea that Jesus was in the tomb, Wednesday Night, Thursday Night, and Friday night, and very soon after Sundown on Saturday night (which be very early on the first day of the week (see Luke 24:1) that Jesus was raised.  We would call this Saturday night, but the Bible would call it the first day (Sunday).

But here in Matthew it is very clear that the resurrection happened very early, near dawn.

One of the reasons these folks try to land on Wednesday is because if they move the year of Jesus a couple of years (I forget what year they say right now), then his death falls on the day of a preparation for a Passover sabbath, rather than the weekly Sabbath.  The problem is, when they do this, Jesus is no longer in the tomb for 3 nights, but 4. 

A: I see a problem when people try to take things too literally in the Bible.  To me, Jesus said that he’d be in the tomb three days.  So, he was in there on Friday, Sabbath and Sunday.  Even today we would count that as three days, even though it was only one day with two partial days.  If I have to leave for an appointment two days from now, I say, I’m leaving in two days even though I’m leaving at 7am on the 2nd day….

I don’t see the need to take this too literally.  I see the need to focus on the point.  The major points I see are: Jesus died, he rested in the tomb on Sabbath and he was raised from the dead.  He did all this as our Savior. 

Focusing on the point is the main thing to get out of passages like these in scripture.  The point of the Genesis creation story, the point of the Rich man and Lazarus, the point of Jesus death and tomb.  All these people can get way of track on either side of them and can go down all kinds of rabbit trails.  But the point is, is it changing their lives.

It’s like a guy told me once, I miss sermons with more meat in them.  My question is, did it make a difference in your walk spiritually?  His response was, “Now that’s a good question.”  But he never did answer my question.  I was left assuming, it didn’t, or at least that he could not think of any time it made a real difference for him.

P: Lord, I pray for me as a leader to help people to understand that it’s not good to get off track on spiritual rabbit trails.  But I also pray for my congregation to have an experience with scripture that changes them personally and that it not become a source of arguing.

Lord, I pray for wisdom to know how to lead.  I pray for guidance and I pray that I will listen to scripture and never allegorize it away.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to lead us.  I pray you will fill me with the Holy Spirit and you will guide me and you will keep me close to you. 

I love you, Lord.  I want to follow you.