The Third Day Series: Part 1 – Introduction

Jesus was crucified and died on Passover. On the third day after His death, He rose from the dead by His own power. In doing so, Jesus fulfilled the prophecy that He gave prior to His crucifixion, which is recorded in the gospel of Matthew:

…Jesus said to them,“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” (Matthew 17: 22)

So “the third day” in Christianity refers to Resurrection Sunday (which is commonly known as Easter). But why did Jesus rise on the third day? Why didn’t Jesus predict He would be raised on the second or fourth day? Surely anyone rising from the dead by their own power would be an amazing thing, why does it matter what day it happened?

The words of Jesus and Paul tell us that the third day is not arbitrary, and that Jesus could have not risen from the dead on the second day or on the fourth day. Why not? Because of Old Testament prophecy written hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

…and He (Jesus) said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day…” (Luke 24: 46)
For I (Paul) delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…(1 Corinthians 15: 3 – 4)

In the New Testament quotes above, both Jesus and Paul indicate that the Old Testament speaks of a third day resurrection by the Messiah. In other words, before the foundation of the world, God determined that Jesus would rise from the dead three days after His death, and God ensured the event was prophesied in the Old Testament writings. But one of the great mysteries is this – there is no literal predictive prophecy that links the third day to the Messiah. There is nothing in the Old Testament that essentially says “the coming Messiah will die and rise on the third day.” So what were Jesus and Paul talking about, and in what way does the Old Testament foreshadow Jesus’ third day resurrection?

To shed light on this mystery is the hope of this new blog series.

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