Page 20 - A True Gospel Chronology from the Crucifixion to the Resurrection
P. 20

 "Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore, that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first." [Matt. 27:63-64]
Why have the tomb secured for such a specific time? Because that is what Jesus said, and that is how they understood him.
They understood three days and three nights to mean three full days. They asked for the sepulchre to be guarded until the third day, meaning up to and including the end of the third day. They wanted a guard posted at the tomb for a full three days, i.e., three days and three nights.
What if the disciples came and stole the body on the fourth day? Could not that be used to pretend a resurrection? Yes, it could, but it would not qualify as fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy. This is why they wanted the guard up to the end of the third day. After the third day, all bets were off, as far as His saying being fulfilled.
Seeing how this sign was given to those who did not believe Him, it must be fulfilled exactly. If not, then he would be proven the liar and fraud they accused him of being. The Scriptures demand its fulfillment [Deut. 18:21-22] when it says,
And if thou shalt say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
Why would the Lord lay down such a guideline for determining a false prophet and then speak a prophetic word, and not fulfill it? It is impossible!
Edersheim states concerning this sign of Jonah,
"And yet to all time this is the sign, and the only sign, which the Christ has given, which he still gives to every 'evil and adulterous generation'. . . This is the 'sign', the evidence, the only 'sign', which the Christ gives his enemies . . .”10
10 Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, p. 375. 16

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