And the third day passed. After the birth of our Lord Jesus, these are the three most holy days of our Christian faith: Good Friday, Saturday, and Easter Sunday.
The dramatic events of these three days happened in Jerusalem of Judea during the Feast of the Passover, when there was a full moon, all as prophesied in the Holy Bible, exactly as it is written, some one thousand nine hundred eighty years ago.
The First Day: Good Friday. A day of profound sorrow; a day of weeping for the understanding of what ourLord endured for us in the greatest of suffering that could be inflicted upon a man. The sacrificial Lamb of God who was led to the slaughter; who died for our sins. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the whole world.
What man could endure such suffering? It happened in three phases. First, from the time of His arrest by the Jewish Temple guards, to the handing over to the Roman ruler, Pontius Pilate, Jesus was repeatedly kicked, slapped, punched in the face, and spit upon over and over again.
Second, the scourging. He was tied to a post, stripped of His clothes, and whipped with a great number of lashes (enough to kill a man) by the Roman guards. These whips were made of leather with bits of glass and metal attached, designed to inflict the maximum amount of pain due to the tearing away of skin! He was whipped all over His body, and His blood flowed profusely for our sins.
Third, the death sentence: death by crucifixion. And then the Romans roughly pushed hard down upon His head a crown made of large thorns that cause great bleeding. And after that, they made Him carry on His badly torn and battered body a tall, heavy, rough wooden cross, all the way through the city to the place where He would be crucified. He was whipped and beaten if he stopped or fell. There, He was laid upon the cross, His feet placed one on top of the other, and His arms out stretched so violently as to dislocate the shoulder joints. And there He was nailed to the cross: long, thick iron nails, one through His right hand into the hard wood; another nailed through His left hand into the wood; and another nailed through both His feet, into the hard wood. Then the Romans lifted up the cross and slammed it down into a deep hole to anchor it. Fighting for every breath, suffering the most horrific, excruciating pain, our Lord Jesus died hours later, there on a hill outside Jerusalem, nailed to a cross for all to see. And so that all prophecy must be fulfilled as written, affixed above His head at the top of the cross were the immortal words in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” And so He is, and so it shall be.
His body was taken down and conveyed to a tomb for burial. His body was washed, and spices and ointments were applied, and He was wrapped in clean, white linen cloth. A great stone was rolled over the entrance of the tomb to secure the body that no man could enter and steal the body. Good Friday, the First Day.
The Second Day. And on the second day, Saturday, as His body lay in the tomb, His soul or spirit then descended into Hell. Where is this place where the spirits of the dead go? It is a place especially made by God to hold the spirits of all believers up to the time of Christ’s death; and to hold the spirits of all unbelievers up to the time of Christ’s death, and following His death, even to the time of Judgement after His Kingdom rule on the earth.
This place of the unseen spirits was known to the Jews as “Sheol,’ and to the Greeks as “Hades.” Thus translated, “Hell,” the place in the lower parts of the earth where the spirits await the resurrection of their dead bodies unto judgment. Before the death of Jesus, this place had two great compartments: one for the righteous called “Paradise,” or “Abraham’s Bosom,” the other part was where the spirits of the unrighteous went, a place of torment and dread and anguish. There was a great gulf that separated the two; they could see and talk to one another, but could not cross over or ever leave their abode. That is, until Christ died. When He descended into Hell on the second day, He preached to those in “Paradise,” released them as He “took captivity captive,” and ascended on high to the Father in Heaven with the souls-spirits of the believing righteous ones since Creation. Since then, there is no longer anyone in Abraham’s Bosom of Hell, for they are all in Heaven with the Lord. And since that time and forward, even to our time and beyond, all who die in Christ Jesus go immediately up to Heaven to be with the Lord and Father, just as the Apostle Paul wrote, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
But it is not so with the unrighteous unbelievers. For their future is the same lot as those who preceded them: at death they go directly down into Hell with the billions of souls already there, separated from the Lord in death, as they were in life, in darkness and gloom.
The Third Day. “And on the third day He arose from the dead.” With His soul-spirit reunited with His body in the tomb, God resurrected Jesus from the grave with a new, immortal, glorified, incorruptible, imperishable body of flesh and bone. A body that will live forever; a body that can walk through walls; a body that transcends time and distance and space. He was seen and held by His disciples; he ate and drank, and spoke. He cooked for them. He gave them instruction of things to come. And then, after many days and having been seen by many, with His disciples gathered all around Him on the Mount of Olives, He ascended into Heaven; He went up from them in the air, to the clouds and beyond, out of their sight.
You see, Christ (the Messiah) set the pattern and put it in motion His “Plan of the Ages,” which is the plan of all history for the redeemed in Christ Jesus, in life on earth, death, and eternal life through Him and in Him.
By His glorious and powerful resurrection, He became the “First Fruits” of the First Resurrection of all believing people which He has ordained to occur, like all history and historical biblical events, in a chronological, sequential order. First, Christ’s resurrection. Then, sometime in the near future, the resurrection of all Christians, those who believed and believe in Him from the time of His resurrection and Pentecost, across almost two thousand years, and up to the 21st Century of our time, and then just beyond, to the time Scripture tells us of an event next on God’s timetable: the “Rapture” of His Church. This will be a time that could happen at any moment, for there will be no signs heralding this next great event in history.
Listen as these immortal words of God by the Apostle Paul are recorded in I Corinthians, chapter 15, beginning at verse 51:
“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
And, blessed are those in Christ who hold fast to these words of the second phase of the first resurrection (Jesus being the first phase) as written by Paul in I Thessalonians, chapter 4, beginning at verse thirteen:
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
Christ the first phase of the first resurrection of the body; we, the second phase of the first resurrection. During the first half of the seven-year Tribulation on earth, Daniel’s 70th Week, the Two Witnesses who were killed while preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, will be resurrected and taken up to Heaven. After Jesus Christ returns again to earth with His armies of saints and angels, He will then resurrect the martyred Tribulation saints who died for Christ; this is followed by the resurrection of all the Old Testament saints. This is the third, fourth, and fifth stages of the first resurrection. The last stage of the first resurrection of all who are in Christ Jesus, the sixth phase, will be accomplished at the close of the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth.
“This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years”
Then comes the Second Resurrection, the resurrection of all the unbelieving, unrighteous spirits in Sheol (Hell) into an immortal body, where they will immediately be judged by Jesus Christ at His ‘Great White Throne Judgment.’ From there they will be cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity apart from God, where they will be with the Antichrist, and the False Prophet, and Satan, the Devil. All those who were the enemies of God; all those who took the mark of the beast and worshipped the beast and his image.
“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.”
“And they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
The Three Days. It all began in eternity past when God, the Holy Trinity, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit planned all this, and was put in motion in the “Fullness of Time” when Jesus was born a human being, fully man, fully God, died, was buried, and was resurrected from the dead.
May you ever hold deep in your heart the blessed meaning of these three days of Christ’s love and grace for you. Amen.