The goal of this series was to examine and explain why Jesus rose on the third day, as opposed to the second or fourth days. I feel this has been accomplished, and hopefully you do too. Two main reasons for a third day resurrection were offered, both of which derive from the Bible.
- Jesus predicted it.
- Jesus said that the Old Testament predicted it.
Jesus’ prediction is easy to prove. Simply read Matthew 17: 22. But it is not as easy to prove the way in which the Old Testament predicted a third day resurrection. For as previously mentioned, the Old Testament does not contain a statement akin to “The Messiah will die and be raised on the third day.” Rather than directly predicting such a thing, the Old Testament established and repeated a pattern over and over and over. This repeated pattern serves as a precedent for the Christ’s third day resurrection. Another way to say it is that Jesus’ third day resurrection was the ultimate manifestation and fulfillment of the well-established pattern documented in the Old Testament.
What is this pattern, and how does it establish the precedent for Jesus’ rising from the dead? The pattern we have discerned is as follows:
- There is an account featuring an Old Testament figure.
- In the account is a three-day interval of time.
- The three-day interval of time relates to an extraordinary event in the figure’s life.
To demonstrate the validity of the pattern, we examined Old Testament passages featuring Abraham and Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Israel, Rahab, Samson, David, Solomon, Elijah and Elisha, Jonah, and Esther. These people are not obscure characters. All of these people, and their stories, are well-known to anyone familiar with the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit was not secretive when placing the third day pattern in Scripture. He placed the pattern in the lives of the most well-known Biblical figures, during some of the most crucial times of their lives.
If you have never known how to evangelize a Jew, this is a good place to start. Explain to them the third day pattern. They have probably never heard of it. Sit with them and point out all the three day references in the stories of the major figures. If they ask you how you came across such a thing, tell them that the Messiah pointed it out to you. Tell them that the Messiah taught that such things were pointing to Him and His third day resurrection from the dead.
In the same way you would witness to a Jew, witness to yourself and to other Christians, so that your faith in Jesus Christ would be increased as you increase in your knowledge of His gospel. His death, burial, and resurrection were prophesied in the Old Testament. The Old Testament writings were concluded hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth. This is significant because it gives us the confidence to know that the New Testament is not a bunch of cleverly devised tales, but is rather documenting the activity of the Messiah whom the Old Testament said was coming.