Three Days and Three Nights: A Spicy Solution

Following the spices will lead us to a very practical and simple solution to the three days and three nights between the burial and resurrection of Jesus, and there really is nothing spicy about it. Although, I must say, resolving the apparent contradictions in the gospel accounts is quite a savory proposition.

In a previous post we looked at a number of Scripture references related to the three days and three nights will relation to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When summarizing the verses, we noticed different statements: “the third day”, “after three days”, and “three days and three nights”. Somehow, all of these statements must coincide.

In yet another post we looked at the Sabbath day connection and were left with the following question: “How is it possible for the women to buy the spices AFTER the Sabbath (Mark 16:1) AND prepare the spices BEFORE the Sabbath (Luke 23:56)?

If you have not already done so, I recommend that you review the Three Days and Three Nights: According to the Scriptures before continuing.

If you have not already done so, I recommend that you review the Three Days and Three Nights: The Women Hold the Key before continuing.

Lining Up from the Right

When looking at the Luke 23 passage, we note that the women went to the tomb on the first day of the week. They brought with them the spices that they had prepared. We also note that that women had rested the Sabbath day after preparing the spices.

  • Luke 23:50 – 24:1 “And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had (this word is in most translations and indicates a past action in preparing) prepared, and certain others with them. “

Using the visit of the women to the tomb as an anchor point in the timeline, and following the sequence of events in Luke 23, we find that the women…

prepared the spices (after they returned from the burial) –> rested the Sabbath day –> went to the tomb on the first day of the week with the spices

Lining Up from the Left

When looking at the Mark 16 passage, we note that the women left the tomb after the burial and rested the Sabbath day. After resting that day, they went to buy the spices.

  • Mark 15:42 – 16:2 “And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid. And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had (this word is not in most translations and indicates a present action in the buying) bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

Using the presence of the women at the burial as an anchor point in the timeline, and following the sequence of events in Mark 16, we find that the women…

attended the burial of Jesus –> rested the Sabbath day –> bought the spices

Finding the Common Ground

As we considered in the post called Three Days and Three Nights: The Women Hold the Key, using the Sabbath day as the common ground for the two scenarios produces a problem in logic.

So, if we look again at the two scenarios, what other option is there for common ground in these accounts? Let us consider that the women bought the spices in the morning, and then prepared those spices in the afternoon of the same day. Does that seem logical? Does that seem doable? Does that make sense?

I think most people can appreciate that every day we do similar things. We make a list of ingredients that we need for a meal, or a list of materials we need for a project. We go to the store and buy the ingredients or materials and go at it. This is certainly doable all in the same day.

If we combine the two scenarios and use the buying and preparing of the spices as the common day, we encounter the following sequence:

  • attended the burial of Jesus –> rested the Sabbath day (which was a high day)
  • –> bought the spices and prepared the spices –> rested the Sabbath day (which was the weekly Sabbath or Saturday)
  • –> went to the tomb on the first day of the week

Not only is this scenario plausible, it also easily addresses the issue of the three days and three nights.

And There They Are: Three Days and Three Nights

When Jesus gave the wicked and adulterous generation the sign of the prophet Jonah, He didn’t give them a vague, hard to understand sign. He gave them, what I would consider, the most direct, and easy to understand sign they could have received.

When Jesus spoke, He emphasized the three days and three nights part of the story. That, in and of itself, should for us, place emphasis on this aspect of the sign. When we look at the sequence of events with regards to the women buying and preparing the spices, we notice that between His burial and His resurrection, there are three days. No partial days, no accommodation of tradition, but a literal three days.

  1. The Sabbath day (which was a high day)
  2. The day they bought and prepared the spices
  3. The Sabbath day (which was the weekly Sabbath or Saturday)

No gymnastics and no contortions, just three days. I will leave you to ponder this. In a subsequent post called Three Days and Three Nights: Every Jot and Tittle, I will look at what this means with regards to the day of the week that corresponds to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and also look at pinpointing the moment of His resurrection.

I don’t think that you will be surprised to find out how accurately the Scriptures prophesied the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, nor how accurately Jesus Christ fulfilled what was prophesied of Him in His death, burial and resurrection.

Action Point: fulfilled prophecy to the jot and tittle

  1. Download and print the Three Days and Three Nights PDF Reading sheet
  2. Download and print the Three Days and Three Nights PDF Chart summary
  3. What do you think? Did Jesus fulfill the Three Days and Three Nights prophecy?
  4. Click here: Three Days and Three Nights: Every Jot and Tittle, to continue with this study.


10 thoughts on “Three Days and Three Nights: A Spicy Solution”

  1. Oh wow, what an eye opener again. while pondering in this article, i wondered what the significance of the spices are to the precise time of resurrection. Is it to give it more clarity as or just a study to help the young in faith grow even more? I believe it will be a fruitless effort if after it all, we do not improve on our faith and belief. Thanks again Mitchguy

    1. The spices that the women prepared and brought to the tomb was an act of worship. As on two other occasions when a woman anointed the Lord Jesus, the were recognizing Him for who He was and worshiping Him.

      As a lesson for us, it is important to remember that worship should be first and foremost in our lives as believers. What we do to serve Him should flow from our appreciation of who He is, and of what He has done for us.

      The details of the story as to the timing of the purchase, and preparation, and taking to the tomb is an added layer of beauty that the Lord included in the text of Scriptures.

  2. One of the attacks against Christianity are the supposed contradictions in the Gospel narratives. As you pointed out, we find the words: the third day, after three days and three days and three nights, depending on who’s telling the story. So we are left wondering if the accusations about the contradictions are true , which in effect invalidates Christianity.

    We read that Jesus was crucified (and died) on a Friday afternoon (Passover) and resurrected on a Sunday (First Fruits). But then the Bible says that Jesus was in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. If we count by the hours, it doesn’t add up. Three days? Yes! And you explained it well. Although Jesus was buried on a Friday evening, that is considered a “full day” in the Jewish calendar. But three nights? How? Didn’t Jesus rise in the early morning of Sunday?

    What is your explanation for this?

    1. Thank you for commenting on this. You are absolutely right about the attacks on the “supposed” contradictions within Scripture. I used to have an adverse reaction when people pointed them out to me. Now, I get excited. Whatever the contradiction may appear to be, I know that there is something interesting to be discovered and the resolution is often quite simple yet rich in its significance.

      I will encourage you to follow the next two posts that deal with this topic. A careful study of the different aspects of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ leads us to the conclusion that Jesus in fact died on a Wednesday afternoon, was buried at sunset on the Wednesday and rose again at sunset on Saturday (at the conclusion of the Sabbath day and the start of the first day of the week). Everything according to the Scriptures.

      He literally fulfilled “to the minute” the prophecy of Jonas about being in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

      Here are the links to the posts that go through the study in more detail with accompanying charts.

      Every jot and every tittle:

      Literally three days and three nights:

  3. This was a nice analogy. I have read this portion of the bible a lot and have also listened to it been preached but it has not really been described and analyzed the way it was in this post.

    Seems really interesting how accurate the bible is. That’s just tell you just how great God is. I look forward to reading your next post. Thanks for sharing

  4. This was a really interesting post. I’d never taken such an in depth look at these particular passages of scripture before, so it was a great learning experience. I like how you advise us to apply the scriptures to ourselves; I’ve found this to be an incredibly powerful technique that has given me much greater understanding and empathy with the content I’m reading. The only thing about going this deep into the content and context is that it can be intimidating for someone like me who’s never gone so in depth before; what would you advise as the best way to start out without being intimidated by just how much there is to learn?

    1. Glad to hear that you are applying Scripture to your life. When it becomes real to us in that way, it has a profound effect on how we live our lives.

      If someone is starting out with the Scriptures, I suggest looking at an overview first. Kind of like looking at a “teaser” for a movie, or reading a book review. It gives you a general idea of what the Bible is all about, without getting bogged down with all the details that they will not understand on their first pass through it.

      The following posts summarize the Bible and the two Testaments. I use a concept that simplifies how we see the Bible that will help reduce the intimidation factor.

      What is the Bible: One BIG book? or A LIBRARY of books?

      What is the Bible: The Old Testament

      What is the Bible: The New Testament

      For a really engaging overview of the Bible I strongly recommend the Bible in 24 hours series video presentation:

  5. Good afternoon Mitch,

    For me personally what is important is that the story in the bible is true. Jesus lived among us and his teachings are still valid today. Sadly many people seem to have forgotten what those teachings are. We are all equal and should treat each other with respect.

    Regards, Taetske

    1. I would absolutely agree with you that the Bible is true. It is God’s living word.

      Hebrews 4:12 (ESV) “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

      The Scriptures touch on every aspect of life is touched on in one way or another. I am doing a study on the book of Proverbs and I am fascinated that even though it was written some 3000 years ago, it still resonates today. It is so up to date.

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