Three Days and Nights In The Heart of the Earth


by Mike Ratliff

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Matthew 12:38-41 ESV)

Today is Good Friday. From what we learned in our last post, Do This In Remembrance Of Me, we saw where Passover was a feast instituted by God to be held on Nisan 14 every year. Also, the Jewish day always began at sunset. Therefore, Nisan 14 began at sunset on Thursday and ran until sunset on Friday. At sunset Nisan 15 would begin. The next festival or feast after Passover was Unleavened Bread. This feast was eaten in the afternoon following the Seder, which was the Passover meal. Notice that this feast was held prior to sunset on Nisan 15 so it would still be Nisan 14.

Now, with this in mind let us look at something that is quite troubling to many Christians. In Matthew 12:40 Jesus made this statement, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” However, using our 21st Century methods of calculating time and our Western mindsets we struggle lining up what Jesus said here with the timing of His crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Continue reading