Holidays/Feast Days

“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”
(Matt. 12:38-40)

Skeptics claim to have discovered an error in the New Testament —claiming Jesus was not in the tomb for three full 24-hour periods like he prophesied.

He was buried Friday afternoon and rose early Sunday morning.That seems to be only one full day and two nights.

Has the skeptic found an error in the Bible? How does one respond?

“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”
(Matt. 12:38?40)

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Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall 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 whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

It is clear that Jesus rejects the call to perform various signs before the Jewish leaders in order to justify his claims and actions. Jesus would not give them signs, however, for he did not come primarily to be a wonder-worker but a Savior. His miracles were performed to display his power and identity and out of mercy to help the poor and sick.

Jesus performed many miracles in private and with a warning not to tell others about them. Yet, one great miracle would be given as a definitive sign. This would be the “sign of Jonah,” his resurrection from the “heart of the earth.”

The main problem encountered in Matthew 12:38-40 involves the temporal designation “three days and three nights.” Interpreting this designation literally, some try to solve the “problem” by arguing that Jesus was really crucified on Thursday rather than Friday. A Friday crucifixion and a Sunday resurrection do not provide sufficient time for three days and three nights.

Authentic Ancient Tomb in Israel

There are numerous ways of figuring out the day-night scheme for this period of time, but it is clear that three separate days and nights cannot be obtained by a Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection scheme. Yet, it is clear from the Gospels that Jesus was crucified on Friday, the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath” (Mark 15:42) and raised on Sunday, the “first day of the week” (Mark 16:2). If the temporal designation of Matthew 12:40 is taken literally, a conflict does exist between the time indicated in this verse and the time indicated in the accounts of the passion story.

But should the expression “three days and three nights” be interpreted literally? Three arguments indicate that it should not.

First, it appears that this expression is another way of stating “on the third day” or “in three days.” This can be illustrated from 1 Samuel 30:12-13. The same Greek expression is found in 1 Samuel 30:12 in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) as in Matthew 12:40.

Verse 13 refers to this three-day and three-night period as “three days ago” or, as the LXX literally states, “the third day today.” If “three days and three nights” can mean “on the third day,” there is no major problem in our passage.

By Jewish reckoning Jesus could have been crucified on Friday and raised on Sunday, the third day. Friday afternoon = day one; Friday 6 PM to Saturday 6 PM = day two; Saturday 6 PM to Sunday 6 PM = day three.’

A second argument against a literal temporal interpretation is the fact that Matthew did not see any conflict between this expression and either a third-day resurrection (Matt. 16:21; 17:23; 20:19) or a Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection scheme (Matt. 27:62; 28:1). For him, as well as for the other Evangelists, expressions such as “three days and three nights,” “after three days,” and “on the third day” could be used interchangeably.

Holy Sepulchre, actual location of crucifixion and burial of Jesus

Finally, it should be pointed out that the main point of Jesus’ analogy in Matthew 12:40 does not involve the temporal designation but the sign of the resurrection. Only one miracle or sign will be given to this evil and adulterous generation. That sign will be Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The temporal designation is much less significant. Perhaps Jesus refers to three days and three nights because this expression is found in the Old Testament passage which he wants to quote (Jonah 1:17).

Understood in the context of biblical Judaism—and knowing the idioms and figures of speech in the designation “three days and three nights”—there is no problem with the Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection scheme described in the passion narratives. Any Jew or Roman would have immediately understood; only those divorced from the historical context fail to understand.

It is only if a twentieth-century reckoning of time is imposed or if the idiomatic nature of this temporal designation is not understood in its context that a problem appears.

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Do the Gospels Conflict?
How Long was Jesus on the Cross?

The question intrigued me sufficiently enough that I spent the best part of a day working on it. On the surface there seems to be a contradiction in the Gospels, mentioning different times for the crucifixion. 

Maybe the Apostles forgot to check their watches!

Mark says Jesus was crucified at the 3rd hour and John tells us the crucifixion took place after the 6th hour. So, what are we to make of this seeming contradiction? And how long was he actually hanging on the cross?

TRAV Crucifix

For the whole story, click here.

By the way, isn’t this a COOL picture? I took it several years ago at the Cross in the Woods Shrine in Indian River Michigan. It is the largest crucifix in the world and right across the street from my wife’s mom’s summer home.

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Two Cool Timelines for Holy Week

by Steve Ray on March 31, 2015

There are a lot of things that happened in Holy Week.

Do you know what was done when?  Where Jesus was each day?  What the sequence of events were?

These are great tools to accompany you through Holy Week and beyond. Print them out and put them on your refrigerator. Talk about it over dinner with the family. Share it with friends.

The outline timeline was developed by my friend Michael Chamblee. He says it is a “work in progress” so if you have any comments or suggestions, please pass them along.

Enjoy!

Click on the image to download PDF file

Click on image to download timeline

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Steve on Lots of Radio Shows this Week

March 30, 2015

Lots of Radio Shows this Week – Join Me!  All times are Eastern Time All of the “Virtual Tours” came out VERY different, since a few of them were pre-recorded. None of them were alike :-) Each interviewer asked, and will ask different questions which take us in many different directions. It is a topic [...]

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Rise AGAIN? When Did Jesus Rise the First Time?

March 28, 2015

Since we will soon be again at the very place where Jesus rose again from the dead, there is an interesting question that is often asked. It’s a fair question — one I’ve been asked numerous times. “If Jesus rose AGAIN, when did he rise the first time? He did not die and rise prior to [...]

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Chair of Moses, Chair of Peter

February 19, 2015

                          St. Cyprian of Carthage (beheaded 257 AD) one hundred and fifty years before the New Testament writings were collected into one book called “The Bible”: “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon [...]

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The Skull is Talking to Me; Lent is Upon Us!

February 18, 2015

THE SKULL TALKS TO ME EVERY MORNING! It says, “As you are now, I once was; as I am now, you soon shall be — remember your mortality!” No better way to approach Ash Wednesday and 40 days of Lent. Artists have painted St. Jerome with a skull on his desk. Popes were known to keep [...]

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Nine Things You Should Know about Lent, by Jimmy Akin

February 17, 2015

Jimmy is one of my good friends and favorite guys, especially when it comes to biblical, Catholic and apologetical issues — and square dancing :-) I also love the looks of his bushy red beard. You can visit him at http://jimmyakin.com. Now, on to the matter of Lent: 1. What is Lent? According to the Universal Norms [...]

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John the Baptist Ate Them…Steve Ate One too!

January 10, 2015

I was just on the radio and mentioned how I ate a grasshopper in the Holy Land, in honor of John the Baptist. Since we just returned from Israel I thought I would repost this blog entry in honor of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus on January 9 and my appearance on Relevant Radio to [...]

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Womb 2 Tomb; Bethlehem 2 Jerusalem; Biking on Christmas thru the Holy Land

December 26, 2014

  We are in Israel with my daughter Charlotte, her husband Wesley and my wife Janet. We are picking up our bus full of people tomorrow at the Tel Aviv airport. We are looking forward to a wonderful pilgrimage through the land of Our Lord. We arrived a day before our group so my son-in-law [...]

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Riddle: What Christmas Carol is This?

December 24, 2014

ABCDEFGHIJKMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ It is a clever riddle, but see if you can figure it out.

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Steve’s Virtual Tour of Bethlehem with Teresa Tomeo

December 23, 2014

I will be on Ave Maria Radio along with Teresa Tomeo to do a “A Virtual Tour of Bethlehem – Then and Now”. You can join us on Ave Maria Radio, EWTN or SIRIUS, or through the Internet at www.AveMariaRadio.net. Archived show HERE for December 24, 2nd Hour. Listen HERE. Listen on iTunes HERE.

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Did the Wise Men Meet the Shepherds?

December 1, 2014

With upon us, I thought I would post my article this Christmas season with bits of interesting information and details about Christmas, the Gospels and Epiphany. Join us in Bethlehem for Christmas this year from December 26-January 4 or any of six times in 2015. Visit www.SteveGoes.com. Did the Wise Men Meet the Shepherds?  A [...]

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Joachim & Anna: The Birth and Presentation of Our Lady, from a 2nd Century Document

November 20, 2014

Join us this year on our Holy Land pilgrimages or St. Paul Mediterranean Cruise or next year on a pilgrimage to Fatima in Portugal, Avila in Spain and Lourdes in France or to see the Italy, Rome and the Holy Shroud of Turin. Visit http://www.footprintsofgodpilgrimages.com/upcoming-pilgrimages ************************* “The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (as it [...]

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“Why do you Catholics believe Mary ascended into heaven?”

August 13, 2014

Nice article from LifeTeen: About twelve years ago a teen named Billy asked me this question, “Why do you Catholics believe that Mary ascended into heaven, when it’s not even in the Bible?” He said “you Catholics” because he went to a local Bible Church but had been coming to a Life Teen Summer Bible [...]

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Here is a YouTube Video of my Show with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN

May 24, 2014

I sure hated the suit and tie – first time in a decade I put those things on, but other than that it was fun. It was a last minute thing. They said, “Quick, get a flight, we have a hotel, take a taxi to the NBC studios in Washington DC and be there by [...]

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