11-25-2017 The First Night
The bible says that Jesus tells the Pharisees and scribes, as a sing for who He is, that a wicked and adulterous generation shall be given only the sign of Jonah. What was the sign of Jonah? The Son of man shall be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights (Math. 12:39-40).
I’ve often thought about that and even though, no matter how many times I counted the days and nights I always came up with three and two, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then Friday night and Saturday night. But the bible said three days and three nights, so I always accepted it.
Jesus was crucified and buried on the first day (Friday) , before six P.M. (the end of the Jewish day). Technically He was in the tomb all day Saturday (depending on when you consider that He descended into hell to show himself to all those who had died before His time) but when the two Mary’s went to the tomb Sunday Morning (after six A.M.) the grave was empty. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, three days! Because I figured this part out (“all on my own”) I disregarded the fact that I couldn’t account for a third night.
God DOES NOT lie! Even considering discrepancies in translating from original languages into English, God would not allow translators to make such a stupid mistake in addition. Yet, because “I” couldn’t figure it out, I just accepted it.
Now, don’t start getting concerned and thinking the bible contains a flat out lie. Understand how days and night were counted back then. A day was from six A.M. to six P.M., a night was considered from six P.M. to six A.M. Each day and night consisted of four three hour watches (6-9, 9-12, 12-3 & 3-6). That was how the Romans saw it and in Jesus’ day, and that’s how the Israelites observed it. After all, it WAS the Romans who guarded the tomb, wasn’t it?
Now, let’s take a look at the events beginning with the empty tomb (resurrection of Jesus) on Sunday (day after the Sabbath) back to Friday, the crucifixion and burial of Jesus (day before the Sabbath).
The women went to the grave, even though early (Luke 24:1-3), it was after daybreak (although Matt. 28:1 reads “as it began to dawn’), sometime after six A.M. on Sunday and found the empty tomb. The third day was already in progress. Jesus’ body lay in the tomb all day Saturday, the second day. And of course, Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath, from six P.M. Friday to six P.M. Saturday. The Jews told the Romans that the Jewish dead had to be buried before the Sabbath. So Jesus’s body was buried before six P.M. Friday, when the Jewish Sabbath began. Therefore the day Jesus was crucified and buried was the first day. So Friday is the first day, Saturday the second and Sunday, the first day of week was the third. Any problems? I think that most Christians would flow with this rationale.
Okay, three ‘days’ and ‘three’ nights. I always counted Friday night the first night and Saturday the second. My mistake.
Saturday night was the third night and even though Friday night was the beginning of the Sabbath, it was the second night. I hear all the “Whoa! Whoas!” Give an attentive ear just a little longer.
I mentioned the “nights” and the “watches” for a reason.
When did Jesus and the disciples observe the Passover? Friday? No. Jesus was before the Jewish leadership and Pilate on Friday until they set Him upon the cross. So, they observed thee Passover the day before, Thursday. It was Thursday night (after six P.M.) that Jesus took His disciples up to the mount to pray. It was Thursday night, after (6 PM) during the night watches that Peter swore he would never deny Jesus. It was sometime Thursday night (after 6 PM), during the night watches (sometime between 6 P.M. and 3 A.M.), the disciples couldn’t watch with Jesus for even an hour. It was sometime during the watches Thursday night that Jesus wrestled with going to the cross and fully yielding Himself (in the flesh) to Father. “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.
Nevertheless not as I will, but as You will. (Matt. 26:39)” and again He prayed ”Oh, my Father, if
this cup may not pass away from me, except that I drink it, Your will be done.” (Matt. 26:42). Jesus prayed this prayer a third time (Matt. 26:44) and by this time Judas had returned with the soldiers and the mob to get Jesus, probably sometime during the third or fourth watch of the night. All those scholars may pinpoint this into the fourth watch (3-6 AM).
When Jesus spoke the words “Your will be done”, He had already set His heart to the cross. He had already determined in His heart to do the Father’s will. He had fully determined NOT to renege on why He had come into this world. Jesus was obedient to the Father and we know that as we are obedient, Father will give us our heart’s desire (Psalms 37:4) and Jesus’ desire was to give himself for us (John 10:17-18). Jesus’ desire was to save us from eternal death, so He had already determined to die for us (Rom. 10:9).
David prays to the Lord “You have proved my heart, You have visited me in the night. You have tried me and found nothing. I will not sin against you with my mouth (Psalms 17:3). God looks at our heart. Consider Jesus says if a man looks upon a woman and lusts after her, he has already committed adultery, even though the physical act was not consummated (done) (Matt. 5:28). Father searches our hearts and tries us, then rewards us accordingly (Jer. 17:10) for He knows our hearts (Acts 1:24). When we are tempted, we are drawn away by our own lusts. When lust is conceived (considered, determined to do) it brings sin, then death (James 1:14-15). Even though we mention sin here, this also works when we determine to do good. Once we’ve determined to do something, it’s considered done – in God’s eyes because He sees our hearts. Once Jesus had prayed on the mount, yielding to Father, He had already determined to go to the cross – for our sake. It was a done deal. Technically (if you will), though not physically, Jesus was already in the grave.
It’s still night for they came for Jesus before dawn, before six A.M. Again, probably sometime during the fourth watch (3 AM to 6 AM). So before the first day has even started, before all the trial and crucifixion, Jesus had determined to die for us. Have you heard the expression a man might say when he knows death is impending, “I’m already a dead man”? He wasn’t literally dead at the moment, but that moment was impending.
Though, not literally, Jesus had already died for us, in His heart. Though not literally in the grave, in His heart, He had already gone to the grave - for us.
When I say “this is the first night” that’s only for in this world. Jesus had determined from the foundation of the world to die for our sins, our iniquities, our transgressions. For when Father told the serpent, in the garden “You shall bruise His heel but He shall bruise your head.” Jesus had already determined to go to the cross for us because in shedding His blood there, though Satan might look like he had a victory (at the cross), Jesus would crush Satan’s power and authority over us – forever (Gen. 3:15) through the cross.
When God created time, He first created night and then day. Therefore, a Jewish day begins with the night beforehand ( 6 PM). While a day in the secular calendar begins and ends at midnight, a Jewish day goes from nightfall to nightfall (Gen. 1:1-3 & http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/526873/jewish/The-Jewish-Day.htm).
The first “night” was Thursday night, before the Passover because Jesus (in the natural) had already determined His actions. And remember what Passover was.
The angel of death passed over the houses protected by the blood of the lamb as he took out the first born in all of Egypt.
So for us, three nights would be Thursday night (after 6:00 PM), Jesus had already determined to go to the cross, Friday night and Saturday night until 6:00 AM Sunday, “laying in state in the tomb” (if you will).
So, though I thought there may have been some error, the bible was not in error. My understanding was.
Now some may argue what I’ve just said and that’s their prerogative (choice), but I’m a happy camper because Father has given me an understanding.