Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: three days

How many days until next Sunday?

Well, that’s a foolish question if there ever was one, everybody knows it’s eight days.

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Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

But I’m writing to English-speaking people and most of you probably don’t know that. You probably count Monday to Sunday and come up with seven days. But today isn’t over with yet, how can you just ignore it, say it doesn’t count?
I used to think that way; it was as obvious as could be that a week is seven days and therefore it is seven days until next Sunday.

Then I learned French and discovered that they think differently. Partial days do count, you need to start with what’s left of today and count up to next Sunday, and voila! it comes to eight days. Once I could get my head around that, I discovered that this is the way that a whole lot of the world thinks.

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Including the people of Jesus’ day. It was no stretch to them to call it three days when Jesus was in the tomb from just before sundown on Friday to just after dawn on Sunday. That was obviously three days.

But I have read carefully thought out dissertations by aspiring Bible scholars who proved to their own satisfaction that Jesus could not possibly have been crucified on a Friday. If He was three days in the tomb, He had to have been crucified on Thursday. I even saw one some years ago that argued for Wednesday. That just goes to show that if you don’t know something, you can’t know that you don’t know it.

One of the gospel accounts says three days and three nights. How does one account for that when it was in fact only Friday night and Saturday night?

Let me answer that question with a few others. At 2:00 am this morning was it Saturday night? But Saturday ended at midnight. Was it Sunday night? We say that night follows day, it doesn’t precede it. Then was it Sunday morning? But it was still night.

The French solution is to say that last night was the night of Saturday to Sunday. No possibility of confusion there.

I think the simplest way to understand three days and three nights is to say that Jesus was in the tomb three days and the portions of night associated with those three days.

How long is three days?

To begin this discussion, let me ask: How long is it from now until the same day next week at this time?  Sounds like a dumb question doesn’t it?  If you are English-speaking, the answer is seven days.  To say anything else would be ludicrous.

But.   If you are French-speaking, the answer is equally obvious, yet different — it is eight days from now to the same day next week at this time.

You see, in English we treat this as a question of mathematics, subtracting one date from another and come up with seven.  A Frenchman counts every day, starting with today and ending with the same day next week.  He is not concerned with whether it is a full day or not, but in his way of thinking one cannot ignore today, because it is not finished yet, and one must also count this day next week, because it will have already begun.

To a Frenchman this is the only sensible way of considering the question, but an English-speaking person finds it almost impossible to wrap his mind around such a concept.

The point of this little mental exercise is that the people in Jesus’ day thought about a period of time in precisely the way that French-speaking people still do today.  Really, it is we English-speaking people who are out of sync with the way people thought in Bible times.

Jesus’ prophecy that he would spend three days in the tomb is a stumbling block to the English mind, giving rise to various fanciful explanations of which day Jesus really died.  People have gone to great effort to find evidence for their speculations; I have encountered seemingly logical arguments for both Wednesday and Thursday.

In this case, the simplest explanation is the best.  Jesus did indeed die on Friday and rise again on Sunday.  The people of His day would have had no problem understanding that being in the tomb from late Friday afternoon to very early Sunday morning perfectly fulfilled the prophecy of three days in the tomb.

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