Jesus’ Messiahship sign and 72 hours

Site of Calvary?


In his one of his commentaries, LCG’s Davy Crockett deals with an issue that many have tried to misinterpret:

By Davy Crockett…

For most people, 72 hours is a nice three-day weekend, or maybe a short getaway or vacation. It is enjoyable, but often quickly forgotten. After all, it is only three days and nights. What could be the importance of such a short time in the larger scheme of things? If one has the eyes to see, the significance of 72 hours becomes very clear.

Consider the book of Jonah, a little biblical book that tells the story of a reluctant prophet. God instructed Jonah to warn the people of the great city of Nineveh that if they did not repent of their cruelty and atrocities, their city would be destroyed. But Jonah, a Hebrew, had seen his people become victims of great Assyrian cruelty, so he fled the scene, trying to escape his responsibility.However, the ship on which Jonah had booked passage was caught up in a terrible storm at sea. Jonah ended up being thrown overboard in an effort to save the ship, and God had prepared a great fish to swallow him, which prevented him from drowning. The Bible says that Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights—72 hours.

Think of what that must have been like. Jonah, with seaweed wrapped around his head, endured the smells and the damp darkness not knowing what would happen next. He surely expected to die in this ordeal. And yet, God made the great fish vomit Jonah out onto the seashore! One wonders if Jonah ever again ate fish, having seen the disgusting contents of fish guts from the inside.

As Jonah recovered from this incredible deliverance, wondering “What next?,” God told him to warn Nineveh. Jonah reluctantly obeyed.

You may be wondering, “What could this possibly have to do with me?” Well, you might be amazed to know that Jesus Christ used Jonah’s 72-hour ordeal as a powerful sign to answer the skeptical scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees who demanded that He give a sign proving that He was the Messiah.

Scripture records the event. “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For 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’” (Matthew 12:38-40).

Think of it! The only direct sign Jesus Christ gave of his Messiahship was that He would spend 72 hours in the grave—just as did Jonah, who was as good as dead in the belly of the great fish, were it not for God’s deliverance! The religious leaders who questioned Christ knew the story of Jonah very well, but it seems they never understood its true significance.

Today, most who profess Christianity follow a Good Friday/Easter Sunday tradition that makes a mockery of Jesus Christ’s own words of promise! There is no way to fit Jesus’ 72-hour promise within the mistaken idea of a Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection. The Easter story itself is a product of pre-Christian pagan traditions, and is nowhere found or countenanced in your Bible!

So, how do true Bible-believing Christians acknowledge and observe the memorial of the death of the Savior of mankind? The Church of God observes the Passover with the New Testament symbols of the bread and wine, as Jesus Christ taught His disciples to do.

You need to know about the 72 hours that changed mankind’s destiny forever. If you want to know more about this incredibly important period of time, and how to memorialize it as Christ intended, read our life-changing booklets, What Is a True Christian? and The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan.

Most people do not seem to realize that Jesus’ sign of His Messiahship was being in the grave for 72 hours.  Yet most who profess Christ have rationalized this away.

A common Roman Catholic position seems to be that 3 days and 3 nights is at the most 40 hours. Notice:

Christ lay forty hours in the tomb (Lent. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

However, their celebration of the Good Friday-Easter Sunday time period does not allow for Jesus to have been in the tomb for more than 36 hours as they teach that Jesus was placed in the tomb late Friday (just prior to sunset) and that when Mary Magdalene came to His tomb while it was still dark (John 20:1, hence probably a half hour or so before sunrise), He already was gone.

Even the current pope, Benedict XVI, does not seem to know how long Jonah or Jesus were “swallowed up”. Notice what he stated:

Like Jonah in the belly of the whale, so too Christ crucified was swallowed up into the heart of the earth (cf. Matthew 12:40) for the length of a Sabbath (Benedict XVI. Jesus Is Risen, and He Gives Us Peace. Easter Message, April 16, 2006. © Copyright 2006 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana as reported by

The length of a Sabbath is one day and one night–about 24 hours. It is not three days and three nights. But Jesus and Jonah were “swallowed up” for 72 hours!

Martin Luther, who had been a Roman Catholic, also did not accept that Jesus was in the grave for three days and three nights as he wrote,

How can we say that he rose on the third day, since he lay in the grave only one day and two nights? According to the Jewish calculation it was only a day and a half; how shall we then persist in believing there were three days? To this we reply that be was in the state of death for at least a part of all three days. For he died at about two o’clock on Friday and consequently was dead for about two hours on the first day. After that night he lay in the grave all day, which is the true Sabbath. On the third day, which we commemorate now, he rose from the dead and so remained in the state of death a part of this day, just as if we say that something occurred on Easter-day, although it happens in the evening, only a portion of the day. In this sense Paul and the Evangelists say that be rose on the third day (Luther M. Of Christ’s Resurrection from volume II:238-247 of The Sermons of Martin Luther, published by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI). It was originally published in 1906 in English by Lutherans in All Lands Press (Minneapolis, MN), as The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, vol. 11).

Hence the only way to have a “Good Friday” crucifixion and a pre-dawn Sunday morning resurrection is to twist what Jesus taught and deny that He would be buried for three days AND three nights.

If people rationalize away the only sign of Jesus’ Messiahship, perhaps that suggests that they are not really His followers?

What about you?

Those who wish to learn more should also study the following articles:

Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
What Happened in the Crucifixion Week? How long are three days and three nights? Did Jesus die on “Good Friday”? Was the resurrection on Sunday? Do you really know? Who determined the date of Easter?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? What do scholars and the Bible reveal?
The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong This article clearly shows some of the doctrinal differences between in the two. At this time of doctrinal variety and a tendency by many to accept certain aspects of Protestantism, the article should help clarify why the Living Church of God is NOT Protestant. Do you really know what the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther taught and should you follow his doctrinal example?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

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