In the first mention of His sufferings
the Lord mentions the fact that He would be
"raised again the third day".
He had already mentioned "three days"
as the time after which He would raise up
"the Temple of His body".
The expression occurs eleven
times with reference to His resurrection
We have the expression
"after three days" in Mark
used of the same event.
This shows that the expression
"three days and three nights" of
must include "three days"
and the three preceding "nights".
While it is true that a "third day"
may be a part of three days,
including two nights;
yet "after three days",
and "three nights and three days"
cannot possibly be so reckoned.
This full period admits of the Lord's
resurrection on the third of the three days,
each being preceded by a night,
as shown in
why this particular period?
Why not two, or four,
or any other number of days?
and no more nor less?
1. We notice that
the man who contracted defilement
through contact with a dead body was
to purify himself on the third day
2. The flesh of the peace
offering was not to be kept beyond the third day,
but was then to be burnt
as unfit for food.
3. John Lightfoot
(1602-75) quotes a Talmudic tradition
that the mourning for the dead
culminated on "the third day",
because the spirit was not supposed to
have finally departed till then
(Works, Pitman's ed.,
vol. xii. pp. 351-353).
4. Herodotus testifies that
embalmment did not take place until after three days
(Herod. ii. 86-89).
5. The Jews did not accept
evidence as to the identification of a dead
body after three days.
This period seems,
therefore, to have been chosen
by the Lord (that is to say,
Jehovah, in the type of Jonah)
to associate the fact of resurrection
with the certainty of death,
so as to preclude all doubt that
death had actually taken place,
and shut out all suggestion that
it might have been a trance,
or a mere case of resuscitation.
The fact that Lazarus had been dead
"four days already"
was urged by Martha as a proof
that Lazarus was dead,
for "by this time he stinketh"
We have to remember
that corruption takes place
very quickly in the East,
so that "the third day"
was the proverbial evidence as to the
certainty that death had taken place,
leaving no hope.