Faith and Reason – Thoughts on the Resurrection of Jesus


By Steve Nelson 

Are you ready to believe God’s Word more powerfully? Millions already know this, however billions of people don’t. Which group would you like to be part of – those who have accurate knowledge (millions) or those who rely on misinformation from tradition (billions)? 

The topic at issue: which days in the week did Jesus die and get resurrected? People are sometimes mocked when trying to justify that Jesus died on Friday supposedly, then was raised from the dead on Sunday. I was taught this traditional timing of events as a child; weren’t you also? Yet even as a boy I wondered how it was possible since the Bible clearly says “three days AND three nights” (Jonah 1:17, Matthew 12:40), yet from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning you cannot squeeze in all the days and nights. 

Christians who believe this Friday to Sunday narrative are left suggesting the typical religious excuse of “faith” that a piece of a day is reckoned as a full day in counting, although the total time suggested by this does not even span two full days. Hmmm. Such reasoning defies not only math but Scripture too, since that particular phrase is emphatic and truly includes three FULL days, 72 hours. 

God created numbers AND is the one who designed the 7-day week AND is the Author of the Word. God’s Word must make sense somehow; it just needs to be understood. What simple pieces of information are we missing? Decades ago someone taught me with profound simplicity how to solve this intriguing dilemma. Now I will share it with you today. 

  1. What day of the week is the Sabbath?Most people think the word Sabbath only refers to the weekly Saturday. However, it is a word that also refers to a holy day, also known as “high Sabbath” when the holy day does not land on a Saturday in the calendar. (This happens often with Christmas and Independence Day, for example.) John 19:31 points out “for that Sabbath day wasan high day.” It’s that simple. Jesus clearly died the day before the Sabbath as the Bible records. In this instance the “Sabbath” was a non-Saturday. 
  2. When did Jesus actually die?The new day in Judean culture began at sunset. Therefore, in order to die before the high Sabbath, which would begin at sunsetof WEDNESDAY of the week of Jesus’s death, Jesus died before sunset on Wednesday. That’s exactly what happened. It was “about the ninth hour” (of prayer, approximately 3 p.m.). 
  3. When exactly was Jesus raised from the dead?Sunday morning is given creditfor the resurrection only because that is the first time humans noticed the tomb was empty. However, that doesn’t mean he was raised from the dead just five minutes before the women showed up at the tomb, right? 

Summary: Let’s calculate the math to easily figure this out. Joseph of Arimathea first buried the body before sunset Wednesday. Count forward three full days and that time is before sunset on SATURDAY evening. (Interesting insight: maybe now we know why Saturday night is the time for the biggest celebrations in the world.) That’s precisely when Jesus Christ was actually raised from the dead by God Almighty. Then his followers became aware the following morning, called “Easter” or “Resurrection Sunday”. How awesome to piece it together and to know our Easter morning is just hours after! Hooray, we can count days of the week and track 72 hours like normal human beings, not in different ways merely as Christians. And we don’t need to change our holidays either. 

A final thought about the word “Easter”. It only occurs one time in some older Bible versions (Acts 12:4), from the Greek word pascha, translated 28 other times as “passover”, and it should be similarly translated as such there. Thus, the word “Easter” should not be included in the Bible whatsoever. But, go ahead and call it Easter if you wish. I do as well at times (no matter if its word history comes from pagan origins). The whole point is, what does the word mean to you? If you think of Easter as the day we celebrate Jesus being raised from the dead, what a wonderful day it must be, regardless of its title or day of the week! 

God is not confusing nor is His Word. Most of the time it is merely our misunderstanding that causes trouble. And now in this instance we have cleared it up. The most important thing is that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead at all, no matter when in the week. He defeated death in 28 A.D., never to die again, and is still alive today. Upon being resurrected, he was on Earth for 40 days prior to ascending into heaven. God bless you! 


Steve Nelson has been a Bible teacher for over 25 years. This article comes from Segment 82 of “CORE”, a 24-hour course for families on how to read and understand the Bible, now in digital format. See T4FAMILYCENTER.COM or reach Steve at [email protected]. 


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