Page 19 - A True Gospel Chronology from the Crucifixion to the Resurrection
P. 19

 This sign held a two-fold significance. The first was the resurrection itself. Just as Jonah came out of the great fish alive, so Jesus would come out of the grave alive. Secondly, the emphasis of this sign of Jonah is the time element. Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale(great fish, Jonah 1:17), so the Son of man, Jesus, would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 8
Jesus tells them that the vindicating sign they are looking for is this. After his death, he would stay in the 'heart of the earth' for three days and three nights. After that period, he would come out ALIVE. He is telling them precisely when he will be resurrected from the dead.
By Jesus being very specific about the time of His resurrection, he is placing this statement in the realm of the prophetic. If it is not fulfilled as he said, then he is proven to be a false prophet. Without the time element, the resurrection could have happened at any time, but by stating a specific time, Jesus has painted himself in a corner. He must fulfill it exactly or else His prophecy fails and He is proven a phony messiah.
This period of three days was important for another prophetic reason. In Psalm 16:10 it states, "Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One (Messiah) to see corruption." It was a common belief among the Jews, that after death, the corruption of the body began to occur after three days [Remember that Lazarus was in the grave for 4 days and "he stinks" or his body was beginning to corrupt (John 11:39)]. The Jewish Midrash on this verse (Ps. 16:10) states that "No worm or maggot should have power over him."9
By stating his resurrection would take place on the third day, he is telling the leaders that he will not 'see corruption,' as the psalmist had predicted.
It is plain these men understood Jesus to mean a literal three days and nights. After the death of Jesus, members of the Great Council went to Pilate, saying,
8 You will be hard-pressed to find a commentary on Jonah, that states that the three days and nights Jonah spent in the belly of the great fish, is literal. If Jonah’s time is literal, an actual three full days, then
the three days and three nights of Jesus in the grave must be literal as well. We just can’t have that. 9 Apud Kimchi in v. 9.
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