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Was Jesus Christ Three Days and Three Nights In the Heart of the Earth? The story of Jesus Christ crucifixion.

Updated on September 26, 2015
Ronald Bachner profile image

Ronald Bachner has 30 years experience in building inspection, safety, and real estate experience. He enjoys local theater for relaxation.

Jesus Christ and the Cross

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Sample tomb with stone for sealing.The Crucifixion Depicted.The interior of a tomb for the placement of the body.A view of the Garden Tomb.Another view of the Garden Tomb.Thw Crucifixion calendar depicted.
Sample tomb with stone for sealing.
Sample tomb with stone for sealing.
The Crucifixion Depicted.
The Crucifixion Depicted.
The interior of a tomb for the placement of the body.
The interior of a tomb for the placement of the body.
A view of the Garden Tomb.
A view of the Garden Tomb.
Another view of the Garden Tomb.
Another view of the Garden Tomb.
Thw Crucifixion calendar depicted.
Thw Crucifixion calendar depicted.

There is only one truth.

Thanks for looking at this hub. This hub may be unusual as it starts with a survey question of what you may believe. The subject of Jesus Christ and His three days and three nights in the heart of the earth has been interpreted and twisted in many ways but as Christians who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior each of us must answer this question individually. The question is what does it mean when Jesus said, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish. so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." I ask for your participation in the survey below even if you do not actually vote (poll closed from voting). After the survey I will provide my views for you to consider.

Take Our Survey Poll Regarding the Crucifixion of Jesus and His Ressurrection.

Which story do you believe explains Matthew 12:40 and Jesus Christ own statement that the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth?

See results

NOTICE POLL- The poll is no longer taking votes. There were two votes for answer 4 which shall be included in the statistics due to restart of poll for spelling error. I apologize for any inconvenience of the readers. (April 5, 2014) Hub pages closed the poll after a certain period of time. In summary there were 7 total votes. 5 votes for answer 4 and and 2 votes for answer 1.

Three Days and Three Nights In the Heart of the Earth.

I hope you have participated in the above poll. The results will be interesting to both the reader and author as more visitors and readers participate. The interest in this subject is broad and mixed by the Christian community.

As you can tell from the answers provided there are more than one view on the subject of Jesus Christ’s time in the tomb or in the heart of the earth. The views of most people or Christians I believe fall within one of the first six answers.

I think we can ALL agree that there is only one answer to this question. The reader however will be the judge for their own personal reasons as to what the meaning of Mathew 12:40 means.

If you consider the first six answers above you may or may not realized that each has a different time measurement for Jesus Christ death and resurrection.

For example, Answer Number 1 which is the traditional belief of Christians that Jesus Christ died on Good Friday at 3:00 p.m. and rose Easter Sunday morning. You accept this tradition and view as true as this has been what you have been taught. If you use the time period of 24 hours in a day this is only 36 to 40 hours in the grave or tomb.

In Answer Number 2, this is the belief of a well known and respected TV Pastor (and many others) who believes that Jesus Christ came under the death penalty Thursday evening in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion while he was still alive. He was crucified on Good Friday. The Pastor believes Jesus Christ was in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights to include Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night fulfilling Mathew 12:40 followed by a Sunday morning resurrection. If you use the time period of 24 hours in a day this is only 36 to 40 hours in the grave or tomb for a Good Friday crucifixion but approximately 60 hours if you believed he came under the penalty for our sins Thursday evening.

For those of you who chose Answer Number 3 you believe that Matthew 12:40 is fulfilled using the Greek idiom understanding that each day can be counted as one day or a full day for any period of time in that day. You believe answer number 1 with further emphasis or explanation that because the New Testament was written in Greek it is sufficient to explain the three day and three nights in the heart of the earth statement of our Lord Jesus Christ was fulfilled during the days Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Again, if you use the time period of 24 hours in a day this is only 36 to 40 hours in the grave or tomb as in Answer Number 1.

If you chose Answer Number 4 you believe that Jesus Christ was crucified on the preparation day of Wednesday of the Holy Week known as Nisan 14 at approximately 3:00 p.m. in the year 31 A.D. He was buried before sunset or late evening of the same day. (John19:31 regarding bodies not remaining on the cross) You believe that one day means a twenty four hour period of night and day. You believe further that Jesus Christ rose from the dead 72 hours later or late evening of Saturday, the weekly Sabbath for the Jewish at the same time as he was buried, thus fulfilling Matthew 12:40.

If you chose Answer Number 5 you believe that Jesus Christ died on Thursday of the week at the 3:00 p.m. time approximately as the others as this appears to be in agreement with all versions of the crucifixion time that I am aware. It was Nisan 14. You further believe that the resurrection was before sunrise. If you use the time period of 24 hours in a day this is only 60 hours in the grave or tomb approximately.

If you choice was Answer Number 6 then you believe that Jesus Christ died on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. approximately of the Holy Week. You further believe that the 15th of Nisan was an annual high holy day and that the resurrection was BEFORE or AFTER sunrise on Sunday. If you use the time period of 24 hours in a day this is only 60 hours in the grave or tomb approximately.

As you can tell there are many different opinions, beliefs, and understandings of these important events for a professed Christian. It is clear there are differences on the day of crucifixion, time of the resurrection, whether a day and night is a 24 hour time period, how days are counted, whether the Lord’s words are true or what they mean, what in the heart of the earth means, and what is the meaning of Sunday morning. It is clearly a matter that all Christians seriously need to consider or review for their own lives. It is also clear that not all options or views are correct or can be correct. God is not a God of confusion. Whether you accept any of the above options there is only one TRUTH of the matter and the Word of God. I urge you to investigate for your self.

If by now you are beginning to get confused as to why Christianity seems confused perhaps it is time for you to consider the matter further. The bible says at 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to test all things, and hold firmly that which is good.

If there is an answer to be determined (and there is) it should be from the Bible as we should prove all things through the Scriptures. The Bible should interpret itself. The whole question regarding the answer rests on the definition of “day” and “night.” How long was a biblical day? Who is the author of creation? In Genesis 1:5 God called the light day and the darkness night and declared it the first day. In Genesis 1:8 God called the firmament Heaven and declared the evening and the morning the second day. Did the Creator not know or decide what is a day and night at the time of earths creation? I do not think so. God’s plan is a perfect plan or he is not the God the bible speaks of or that I have come to learn and know. In John 11:9 Jesus said to the disciples “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” If anyone walks in the day he does not stumble, because he sees the “light” of this world. In verse 10 Jesus states he who walks in the night stumbles because the light is not in him.

We live in a world with 24 hours in a day (12 hours a.m. and 12 hours p.m.) and it has been that way since the beginning of creation. If not who changed it and where is the proof. Are we to believe that God created the world with 24 hours in a day and changed its meaning as he gave the most important message he was to give for Christians and the only sign of his Messiahship? Again, I personally do not think so. My walk with God, as rocky as it (flesh versus the spirit) has been some days has proven the perfect nature and plan of God. If I have observed anything it is perfect planning and thought that the Scriptures reveal for God plan for your life because he does love you. The Scriptures when properly understood do not contradict themselves.

The story of Jonah plays a very important role in God’s message to Christians. In the New Testament, God states, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. As Jonah was and became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation (Luke 11:29-30). An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here (Matthew 12:39-41). That greater is Jesus Christ. The Pharisee and Sadducees asked Jesus that he would show a sign from heaven. Jesus responded, “When it is evening you say it will be fair weather, for the sky is red; and in the morning, it will be foul weather today for the sky is red and threatening.” Jesus further claims, “Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Then he left them and departed (Matthew 16:1-4).

The world seeks a sign from God according to their own reasons and terms regardless of the miracles performed by Jesus while on earth. The miracles performed were not enough for those who observed them.

However, there is a sign already given and we do not accept it. God gave one sign to demonstrate his place as the Messiah. The sign was that Jesus Christ rose from the dead after three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the big fish, Jesus’ resurrection was the sign all of us must accept to recognize who the true God is that can pay the penalty for their sins. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst and have everlasting life (John 6:32-40).

When you consider the meaning of Matthew 12:40 please note when considering the term “day and night” that the Jewish calendar days went from sunset to sunset. It was a Holy Week that week with more than one Sabbath being observed. These Sabbaths include the weekly Sabbaths and the Annual High Sabbaths. There was the weekly Saturday Sabbath, Passover, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Feast of Unleavened Bread last seven days with the first and last days a holy day of convocation. It pictures the putting out of your sin in your life. Jesus Christ was crucified on the Preparation Day of Passover (John 19:14). A preparation day was a day to prepare for a Sabbath as there was no work on the Sabbath. On this day the Sabbath observers were preparing for the first day of Unleavened Bread the next day. See Leviticus Chapter 23 to learn about's God's Holy Feast Days. The 14th day of the first month is the Lord's Passover (verse 5).

If you read Matthew 28 you will learn the story of any Sunday morning resurrection which is not evidenced by scripture. It was early dawn an a angel of the Lord appeared and rolled back the stone or door of the tomb. The angel said to Mary Magdalene “he (Jesus Christ) is not here for He is risen (verse 5-8). When the two Mary’s (Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James) arrived Jesus Christ was not in the tomb. They did not witness the actual resurrection. They witnessed an empty tomb (verse 6). The tomb was under constant guard by order of Pilate by the request of the chief priests and Pharisee’s (Matthew 27:62-66). They were afraid as he Jesus had said he would rise after three days and nights. They were afraid Jesus supporters would steal his body and claim he arose. The tomb was placed under constant guard and secured (Matthew 27:66).

Jesus Christ is our Passover (1 Cor 5:7). I believe he rose from the dead on the weekly commanded Sabbath day of Saturday before sunset. I believe God’s plan for the redemption of man was formulated and planned before creation (Acts 2:23). Jesus knew his purpose on earth and informed the Apostle's that that the prophets writings of old concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished (Luke 18:31). He informed them that the Son of Man will be killed and on the third day will rise again (Luke 18:32-33). The Apostles did not understand these things (verse 34). The Apostles did not fully understand Jesus Christ mission from God his Father. The Apostles preached the Kingdon of God to the Jews.

God's plan and word must be true or he denies himself and his Kingship. Jesus said he would be in the grave three days and three nights and he was. The gospels reveal Jesus was tried, convicted, crucified, and buried on the Preparation Day. Jesus was our Passover for our sins. He was crucified and I am ever thankful for his sacrifice for my sins. The answer for me is number four.

I hope this hub encourages you to ask questions regarding this subject and any other subject as it helps you in having a relationship with God and understanding his word. Jesus Christ was three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. May peace be with you.

Author's Note: In Genesis 2:3-4 God blessed and sanctified the seventh day of the week (Saturday). After creation of the earth and the heavens he rested on this day. The seventh day Sabbath was a gift to man (not just Jews). In Mark 2:27-28 Jesus said, "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." In verse 28 Jesus declares he is the Lord of the Sabbath. The seventh day is not the Jewish sabbath it is man's sabbath.


You can learn more about the story of Jonah by clicking on my hub story entitled "Jonah and the Big Fish."

The following is a brief summary of the Holy Week leading up to the crucifixion and the Resurrection.

It is extremely important that you study the bible and learn for yourself the events of this week.


Jesus Christ ate an evening Passover meal with His disciples (at the beginning of Nisan 14, Jewish reckoning) and instituted the New Covenant symbols (Mathew 26: 26-28). Jesus was then betrayed by Judas, arrested, and during the night brought before the high priest.


Jesus was crucified and died around 3 p.m. (Matthew 27:46-50). This was the preparation day for the annual, not weekly Sabbath, which began at sunset (Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, John 19:31). Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb just before sunset (Mathew 27:57-60).


This was the high day Sabbath, the first day of Unleavened Bread (John 19:31, Leviticus 23:4-7). It is described as the day after the “Day of Preparation” (Mathew 27:62).


The high-day Sabbath now past, the women bought and prepared spices for the anointing of Jesus body before resting on the weekly Sabbath day, which began at sunset (Mark 16:1, Luke 23:56).


The women rested on the weekly Sabbath, according to the Fourth Commandment (Luke 23:56, Exodus 20:8-11). Jesus rose near sunset, exactly three days and three nights after burial, fulfilling the sign of Jonah and authenticating Jesus’ Messiahship.


The women brought the prepared spices early in the morning while it was still dark (Luke 24:1, John 20:1). Jesus had already risen (Mathew 28:1-6, Mark 16: 2-6, Luke 24: 2-3, John 20:1). He did not rise on Sunday morning but near sunset the day before.

*Idiom comes from the Greek idios, which means personal. Idiom originally meant "speech peculiar or proper to a people or country." It is a word or phrase used figuratively but it separate from its literal meaning. It is often an expression whose meaning cannot be inferred by the meaning of the words or phrase that makes it up. These days we use idiom for a specialized vocabulary or an expression that isn't obvious, like kick the bucket which means "die." If you're studying a foreign language, idioms are the hardest phrases to translate.

If you would like to receive a free booklet entitled “Three Days and Three Nights” to learn more with no obligation then visit and request it FREE.

If you would like to learn more about the Feasts of the Lord please read Leviticus 23 or search the internet.


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