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Was Jesus Really Dead for Three Days and Three Nights?

By Hugh Ross - August 28, 2020

Question of the week: How do you reconcile Jesus being in the grave three days and three nights with Jesus dying on the cross the day before the Sabbath and being raised from the dead the morning after the Sabbath?

My answer: Jesus was crucified the day after he celebrated Passover with his disciples (Matthew 26:36–27:2, Mark 14:16, 32, 15:25, Luke 22:40–54). During Passover week there can be a second Sabbath. Leviticus 23:5 commands the Jews to celebrate the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month on their calendar and, for the seven days immediately after Passover, to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The first day and the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are special Sabbaths, also known as High Sabbaths. Unlike the weekly Sabbaths that start every Friday evening and end the following Saturday evening, the High Sabbaths can fall on any day of the week. Therefore, if during the year that Jesus was crucified the day after Passover—the High Sabbath—fell on a Thursday, Jesus would have died on Wednesday and been raised from the dead on Sunday. That is, Jesus would have died just before the start of the High Sabbath and been raised from the dead just after the weekly Sabbath. Jesus would have been in the grave three days and three nights just like he had predicted he would (Matthew 12:40, Mark 10:34, Luke 18:33).

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