Three Days

For us, Easter Saturday sits between the devastating day of the cross on Good Friday, and the joy of the resurrection to come on Easter Day. I prefer the name “Resurrection Sunday” but perhaps that’s a discussion for another time!

For the friends of Jesus two thousand years ago, many of them were not ready or waiting for the resurrection at all. This day would have been a day of loss and grief for them. All of their hopes and dreams had been smashed. They had expected Jesus to evict the Romans and set Himself up as King. Quite the opposite had happened! Their Messiah had been lost. 

Would they have started to doubt themselves? Would they have been asking one another – was this really the Christ after all? They had seen so many miracles and wonder works, yet they had not expected Him to die like a common criminal. 

It may seem somewhat baffling to us that the disciples had not heard the words Jesus had spoken. In advance of these things, He had told them that it would happen. And even beyond His words, the Scriptures foretold it all. But I think we can forgive them for not seeing that in the prophecies of the Old Testament. 

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Matthew 16:21 (NIVUK)


For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve.

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 (NIVUK)

The verse above from the Gospel of Matthew shows that Jesus taught His disciples that He would die, and three days later rise to new life. Likewise, Paul (in hindsight of course) shares the same thing. Paul says however “according to the Scripture.” So the Old Testament must have predicted this in advance.

But where?

When reading Old Testament prophecies, we must understand that often they do not merely say “The Son of God will come, and His name will be Jesus, and after dying He will come back to life after three days…” That would be convenient for Bible scholars of course, but we must not forget the Old Testament was written by many people over hundreds of years. Despite this, it really is astonishingly coherent, and clearly shows the hand of the divine behind it. 

The first place I want to point to is the lie – or rather death – of Jonah the prophet. Sometimes called “The Reluctant Prophet,” because he ran in the total opposite direction to where God was sending him, Jonah is a fascinating character. 

You probably know his story from Sunday School, if you ever went, and may well be familiar with his being swallowed by a large fish or whale. 

Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah 1:17 (NIVUK)

We see here that Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the fish. Reading on to Jonah 2, I think it is clear that Jonah actually died in the sea or sea creature. He talks about the abode of the dead, or “the pit” so it seems likely he did actually die. If not though, the point remains. 

Bible prophecy is often pattern and not prediction. that means it establishes a pattern of events which will occur again in the future. Jonah’s three days and three nights of “death” are a pointer towards Christ’s own experience of three days in the grave. 

Similarly, Abraham’s sacrificing of Isaac is another picture. I’ve spoken before about this passage from Genesis 22, and personally believe it is a prophecy acted out by Abraham of what God would one day do with His own Son Jesus. 

We read in Genesis 22 that from the time when God gave the command for Isaac to be sacrificed, to the time Abraham arrived at Mount Moriah was precisely three days. 

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.

Genesis 22:3-4 (NIVUK)

In the Jewish mind, and so in Abraham’s mind, Isaac was essentially dead from the moment God had given the command. It was a three day journey, as we read above, until the events unfolded and Issac was returned to Abraham. So another son lost to “death” for three days. 

There is more we could explore, but it would and should take an entire lifetime to examine the Old Testament and unveil the prophecies which spoke of Christ’s death and resurrection centuries in advance. 

Many will tell you that you can’t prove God exists, or there is no evidence that the Bible is true, it’s just a personal matter of faith. Not true. A comprehensive study of God’s Word will show you that there is incontrovertible evidence of biblical truth. The more you study it, the more you will realise it is not only true, but the only real truth we can rely upon. 

Jesus died for you. Three days later He rose from the dead. Many witnesses saw it. You don’t have the luxury to ignore it or deny it. So what will you do with this truth today? 

Seven Sayings of Jesus at the Cross

It is Good Friday and the day we remember Jesus’ crucifixion. I find days like this quite difficult to write on, because so much has already been said. What can I possibly hope to add to the many faithful people who have penned words on this subject over the centuries?

I woke early this morning, and as I lay in bed, I thought about the crucifixion and what I might say about it.My thoughts turned to some of the things that Jesus said while He was nailed to the cross. So we will spend some time today considering His words. 

Jesus spoke seven “Last Words” at the cross, as they are sometimes called, and we will go through each in turn. 

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34 (WEB)

None of us really know who we are until we are put under immense pressure. When all is well, life is good and we go with the flow. But when hard times fall, the weight of worry can reveal who we really are. It can bring out of us the character that lies beneath. That is also true for Jesus, and we see the absolute perfection of His character in this first saying. 

Jesus, in terrible agony and suffering, takes the time to pray for the ones who have done this to Him. He would have had every right to call down legions of angels to destroy those who would even dare to dream of doing such a thing to Him. Yet He prays for them…

I could point out what we could all learn from such an example. I could say that we all should prefer others to ourselves. But today, on this Good Friday, I want to emphasise the unimaginable love of our Saviour. As His very creation turned on Him, He prayed for their forgiveness. Jesus truly deserves our worship!

Jesus said to him, “Assuredly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Luke 23:43 (WEB)

These words of Christ were spoken to one of the criminals crucified with Him. In Matthew’s Gospel, we read that both criminals hurled insults at Jesus (see Matthew 27:44). Yet, one of them now turns to Christ in his dying moments. Facing his death, the criminal realises that there is indeed a God to face on the other side. As he looks to the side and sees the Innocent Christ on the cross, he realises he needs a Saviour. 

Again, we see the quality of Christ here. In pain we cannot imagine, He still offers words of comfort and forgiveness to this lowly robber. 

It shows us also that while we still have breath in our bodies, it is not too late to turn to Jesus. 

Therefore when Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour, the disciple took her to his own home.

John 19:26-27 (WEB)

Once again we read words of Christ not about Him or His suffering, as you might expect from a man nailed to a cross. Instead, we see further selflessness from the Son of God, this time commending His earthly mother to the disciple whom He loved. Knowing the sorrow in His mother’s heart, He took a moment to ensure she was cared for. Jesus entrusted Mary into John’s care, and even now fulfilling the Ten Commandments and honouring His mother. 

About the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lima sabachthani?” That is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”Psalm 22:1

Matthew 27:46 (WEB)

Up until now, the words of Jesus we have studied have been words for the benefit of others. Now we glimpse the degree of pain He must have felt. Jesus here quotes Psalm 22, and I encourage you to read it today. 

Psalm 22 was written a long time before Jesus was born, and even before crucifixion itself was invented. Yet the psalm paints a picture of a horrendous crucifixion. It is a clear prophecy of Christ’s death at the cross. 

There are many reasons to be convinced that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God. For me, the many hundreds of prophecies that He fulfilled are more than enough evidence of this truth. 

After this, Jesus, seeing that all things were now finished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I am thirsty.”

John 19:28 (WEB)

A great thirst is one of the consequences of a crucifixion death. Much has been written on the medical impacts of such a death, and most victims would have died of suffocation. They would hang by their limbs, pushing up to take each breath. Eventually they would weaken and no longer be able to breathe. That is why the Romans would sometimes break the legs, preventing the victim from pushing upwards any longer. 

Jesus, it seems, did not die this way and was already dead when they came to break His legs. This, too was fulfilment of a prophecy which said none of His bones would be broken. 

You might imagine that such a slow and terrible death would leave the victim incredibly thirsty, and so His words are a clear sign of this. 

The words themselves are fulfilment of prophecy too. 

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30 (WEB)

It is finished. Jesus completed His work. The plan that had been instigated the very moment of the Fall in the Garden of Eden, had reached its goal. Sin’s full payment had been made. Every man and woman who now looked to that cross for salvation would find it. 

Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Having said this, he breathed his last.

Luke 23:46 (WEB)

Jesus very last words. Completing His work, He gives up His spirit into His Father’s hands. Those who stood by knew this was no mere man. Even the Centurion confessed that this was indeed the Son of God. 

Jesus, at His death, trusted His spirit to His Father. Every day and in every way, you and I should learn to trust the Father to a greater degree. Every time we worry or fear, we are saying that we do not trust Him. If we do not trust God in the everyday, how can we trust Him with our eternal security? 

One day every one of us will “give up their spirit” and enter eternity. Only those who put their faith and trust in Jesus’ work at the cross will find peace that side. Let this Good Friday be the one where you give yourself wholly to Christ. Don’t live in doubt anymore, put your trust in Him now and forever. 

Jesus died for you. He suffered on your behalf. He paid the full price for your sin. Do not let that go to waste! Accept that gracious gift and be forever free!

Pearl of Wisdom #12

Beating yourself up is a symptom of pride.

In the past, when I made a mistake I would tend to beat myself up about it. The length and severity of my “self-beating” would depend on how serious I perceived the mistake to be.

And let’s call it what it is – not a mistake, but a sin. A falling short of God’s standards.

I’d think to myself, “How could I have done such a thing? I’m supposed to be a Christian! I’m better than that, and I shouldn’t be doing such things! I’m so unworthy. I just can’t do anything right!” And so on and so forth.

Read back what I used to say to myself again. How many times did I use the term “I” or something similar to it?

Answer: a lot.

How could I have done such a thing? Well, because I’m only human, I’m not perfect and I’m still on a journey with Jesus. As long as I live and breath, I’ll never be perfect in and of myself, only in Christ.

It is a symptom of pride. Believing we are above sin or simple mistakes indicates that we have a proud heart.

Often we think that beating ourselves up is a humble thing to do – far from it. In fact, it is suggestive that we don’t think Christ’s punishment was enough, and that we somehow need to add to it.

If you sin this week, don’t spend any time beating yourself up. It’s a waste of time. Just accept Christ’s work and forgiveness and move on.