QUESTIONS & RESPONSES
03/16/19 Was Jesus us in the earth for 3 days and nights? - follow up question
On March 16, 2019, we received the following email (translated into English) from the writer of the March 8, 2019 Question:
I'm not sure that the answer is the right one. Indeed, if a day and a night in the Scriptures are 24 hours, 3 days and 3 nights are therefore 72 Hours. Just read the Genesis (account) to see that it is well said:
5And God called the light day, and the darkness was the night: and it was evening, and it was morning, and it was the first day.
So one day equals 24 hours. In addition, you forgot to count the feast of unleavened bread. Finally, you will be able to see that the hypotheses of the burial on Friday, on Thursday, do not hold in the mouth of Jesus, who made it clear that like Jonah, it is well 3 days and 3 nights or 72 hours that he remained in the grave. See the attached graphs. (The author attached 4 graphs detailing a 72-hour period.)
To the author, thank you for your email. It seems that you believe the Bible is a scientific writing and that every single word meets the absolute definition. This is a mistake. Remember that the Bible writers were ordinary men who were writing to ordinary people. Thus, it is more likely that the words used carried the common meaning of the day.
For example, the Jews used the concept of the "Relative Hour" which means that a day is not necessarily a 12-hour period, and the night is not necessarily a 12-hour period. We explained that in the response to your question that we posted to the site. We stand by that response.
Also, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a 7-day period that follows the Passover. So we are not sure why counting the days after Jesus' death is relevant to this question.
However, please understand that this is an issue of theology, not salvation. Spiritual men and women may differ on matters of theology and remain brothers and sons of God and gain the heavenly inheritance. Notice Paul's counsel in connection with matters of theology:
Such things end up in nothing useful but merely give rise to speculations rather than providing anything from God in connection with faith. Really, the objective of this instruction is love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy. By deviating from these things, some have been turned aside to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of law, but they do not understand either the things they are saying or the things they insist on so strongly.
– 1 Timothy 1:3-7
Keep reminding them of these things, instructing them before God not to fight about words, something of no usefulness at all because it harms those listening.
– 2 Timothy 2:14
Because of this, we usually do not engage in debates on theological matters. We responded to your question because you coupled it with a salvation issue, i.e., the integrity of Jesus. We wanted to show you the difference between Jesus, and the Bible writers who wrote about their personal experiences with Jesus. The writers may or may not have accurately recorded everything. While they were ‘inspired by God,’ they were human and subject to human frailties.
The idea that the Bible is the infallible word of God is unfortunate and has led to the loss of faith by many. This is especially common among former Jehovah's Witnesses who have been trained to believe that every single word in the Bible is infallible and has an absolute meaning and that the absolute words can be used to calculate the end times. When those individuals realize that some of the words are not absolute, they lose faith in God. Again, this is the unfortunate outcome of a people who have faith in a book rather than faith in God.
We hope you have not fallen victim to this mentality. Let's suppose you are right, and the Bible writers were wrong. What is next for you? Will you allow this theological debate erode your faith? We hope not.
03/10/19 Did Jesus Lose Faith on the Torture Stake?
On March 10, 2019, we received the following question:
I have been reading about Jesus death and resurrection for the upcoming Memorial and I came across a scripture that has always baffled me. In Mark 15:33, Jesus asked why God forsook him? I know that God didn’t forsake Jesus, but why would Jesus ask that question? It’s hard to believe that Jesus lacked faith, but I must confess that is how it looks. What do you think about it?
To the author, thank you for your email. This is a common misunderstanding that we believe we can clear up quickly. Here is the scripture you are referring to:
When it became the sixth hour, a darkness fell over all the land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour, Jesus called out with a loud voice: "Eli, Eli, la'ma sabachtha'ni?" which means, when translated: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
– Mark 15:33-34
So your question is well-founded. However, to put this in context, consider how Jesus responded when under severe stress. You are probably aware that Jesus was quite adept at understanding the Hebrew scriptures. In fact, according to Luke 4:1-12, when Jesus was under severe stress and tempted by Satan, he repeatedly responded by quoting the Hebrew scriptures. Recall that while he is indeed the Son of God, he was also a Son of Man – a Jew raised in the manner of respectable Jews of his day. And so it is not out of character for a Jew to quote scriptures to fortify their faith.
Based on this history, and on the fact that Jesus exhibited unwavering faith in the Father his entire life, it is likely that he was doing the same thing when he was undergoing that painful and ignominious death. It appears he may have been quoting from the book of Psalms – specifically, this verse:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you far from saving me,
Far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I keep calling by day, and you do not answer;
And by night there is no silence on my part.
– Psalms 22:1-2
While some may question why Jesus would quote such a scripture at that time, and in fact assert that these verses support the idea that Jesus was losing faith, notice these additional verses in that chapter:
But you are holy,
Surrounded by the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers put their trust;
They trusted, and you kept rescuing them.
To you they cried out, and they were saved;
They trusted in you, and they were not disappointed.
– Psalms 22:3-5
So you can see that these verses would be comforting to the man Jesus at this terrible time, and would also occupy his mind so that he would not have to focus on the painful circumstances. Since he was on that torture stake for several hours, it is likely that he quoted several verses. He may have actually quoted the entire chapter, but because this portion was said “in a loud voice,” it was heard and recorded in the book of Mark.
Also, the book of Luke makes the following record:
And Jesus called out with a loud voice and said: “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.” After he said this, he expired.
– Luke 23:46
These last words, also said in a “loud voice,” were quoted from the book of Psalms:
Into your hand I entrust my spirit.
You have redeemed me, O Jehovah, the God of truth.
– Psalms 31:5
Clearly, Jesus’ reliance on scripture kept him going throughout his life and did not fail him at his death. You may also find that quoting scriptures when you are under stress is comforting and reassuring, and a way to keep your mind occupied and not focused on a terrible circumstance you may find yourself in. So rather than find these outcries of Jesus to be signs of a lack of faith, you can see that they are expressions of great faith that comforted his soul to endure his trials, even to death.
03/08/19 - Could it be that Jesus deceived us, that he made a mistake, that he lied to us, when he said that he would be in he burial tomb for 3 days and 3 nights?
On March 8, 2019, we received the following email:
Could it be that Jesus deceived us, that he made a mistake, that he lied to us, when he said that he would be in he burial tomb for 3 days and 3 nights? Here is the email:
Matthew 12: 39-40: 38 Then some of the lawyers and the Pharisees spoke and said, "Master, we would like to see a miraculous sign from you." 39 He answered them, "A bad generation and adultery calls for a miraculous sign, it will not be given any other sign than that of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and
three nights in the belly of a great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the earth.” Some ask: "Is it possible that He meant only a portion of three days and three nights?”
Why this question: Christianity observes the death of Christ and His subsequent resurrection on "Friday" and "Easter Sunday." For anyone who takes the Bible seriously, it is extremely difficult (and even impossible) to insert three days and three nights - or even a portion of that interval - between sunset on Friday and the time before dawn. next Sunday. Count together: Friday night marks the first night; Saturday is the first day; Saturday night marks the beginning of the second night. And that's all ! This is, in all, two nights and one day!
Is it possible to count partially three days and partially three nights between Friday in the late afternoon and Sunday before dawn? To do this, it should be said that the short period in the late afternoon, Friday, is partially a day; with Friday night, we have a whole night; Saturday, we have a whole day; Saturday night begins a supposedly full night; and Sunday morning would count as a partial day (although, according to the Apostle John, when the women went to the tomb, which they found empty, "it was still dark"). Such a count would still give us diurnal portions on Friday and Saturday, but hardly on Sunday) and only two night time periods (Friday and Saturday).
It becomes clear that it is impossible to talk about three days and three nights when describing the time between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning, and also impossible to talk about nights and partial days. Question: Could it be that Jesus deceived us, that he made a mistake, that he lied to us, that he was a false prophet ???? Or is it we who do not know how to count in the scriptures how to count 3 days and 3 nights ???? Thank you for your response.
To the author, thank you for your email, especially at this time of the year when so many are contemplating the death and resurrection of Jesus. Hopefully we can clear this up for you so that you do not have to question the integrity of our Sovereign Christ Jesus.
First, you’ve made a few erroneous assumptions:
1. Jesus did not write the book of Matthew.
Assuming the scripture you refer to in the book of Matthew is not correct, the error should not be attributed to Jesus. This is a record “according to” Matthew. It is that writer’s account of what occurred. It is helpful to keep this in mind when you are studying the Bible. Remember that you are reading from the writer’s perspective. While each writer was “inspired by God,” it is the writer’s understanding of whatever is recorded. Accordingly, whether what Matthew wrote is true or not, it should not make us challenge the integrity of Jesus.
2. You are basing your reasoning on the wrong calendar.
When considering what is a day and night, we should look to how the Jewish calendar calculated it. On the calendar we use today, the Gregorian calendar, a day begins at midnight and ends the following midnight. On the Jewish calendar, a day begins at sundown and ends at the following sundown. We need to keep that in mind when calculating Biblical days and nights.
3. Jesus was not buried on Friday.
Christians, in general, believe Jesus died on Passover which would have been a Friday. However, the scriptures tell us he died and was buried on Thursday, the day of Preparation – the day before Passover. Notice these scriptures:
Now as it was already late in the afternoon, and since it was Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, there came Joseph of Arimathea, a reputable member of the Council, who also himself was waiting for the Kingdom of God. He took courage and went in before Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
– Mark 15:42-43
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was about to begin. But the women who had come with him from Galilee followed along and took a look at the tomb and saw how his body was laid, and they went back to prepare spices and perfumed oils. But, of course, they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.
– Luke 23:54-56
Since it was the day of Preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the torture stakes on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath day was a great one), the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and those of the other man who was on a stake alongside him. But on coming to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they did not break his legs.
– John 19:31-33
Since we know the Passover was a day of resting from all work and was a commandment. it is highly unlikely that so much of the strict-observing Jewish nation would be involved in a trial and execution during the actual Passover day or night. They would be in solemn commemoration in their homes. Additionally, the reason for breaking the legs of the ‘evildoers’ who were hung alongside Jesus was to hasten their death so that they could be removed before Passover begins.
4. We must count Thursday as the first day.
Another feature of the ancient Jewish calendar is the principle of the “relative hour.” The calendar divides a calendar day into two periods: 12 hours for the day and 12 hours for the night, and they always viewed 12 noon as the 6th hour of the day. An hour is occasionally considered “relative” because the first hour of the day began at the break of dawn which varied from season to season. Accordingly, at times, an hour would be less than the standard 60 minutes in order to make 12:00 noon the 6th hour of the day. So let’s apply that factor to our reasoning:
In the book of Mark, we read:
When it became the sixth hour, a darkness fell over all the land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour, Jesus called out with a loud voice: "E'li, E'li, la'ma sabachtha'ni?" which means, when translated: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" And some of those standing near, on hearing it, began to say: "See! He is calling Eli'jah." Then someone ran, soaked a sponge in sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying: "Let him be! Let us see whether Eli'jah comes to take him down." But Jesus let out a loud cry and expired.
– Mark 15:33-37
So now, after having corrected your erroneous assumptions, here is what we discover: Jesus died and was buried on Thursday, the day of Preparation, in the afternoon before sundown – that is, before Passover on Thursday. He died at the “ninth hour” of the day, making that the first day. Then, from sundown Thursday to sundown Friday, we have an additional day and a night which brings the calculation to 2 days and 1 night. Then from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, we have an additional day and night, bringing our calculation to 3 days and 2 nights. Finally, from sundown Saturday to Sunday “while it was still dark” (John 20:1), that is, before the dawn, we have 1 night, bringing our total to 3 days and 3 nights.
With this information, dear brother, you can see that there is no need to doubt the integrity of Jesus. It appears that Matthew accurately recorded what Jesus said, and the circumstantial evidence supports his account.
We hope this information adequately answers your question, but if you continue to have questions on this account, please do not hesitate to write us again.