Sermon From the Sidelines: A One Minute Message on Counting To Three (*)

“Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Matthew 12:38-40  KJV

In the beginning (during the 1960’s), we were taught “old” math, usually by doing pages of problems. Ten in a row, 12 rows on a side, both sides with the same function. One day we would do hundreds of addition problems:

\begin{array}{rrrrr}  1 & 1 & 1 & 1 & {} \\  \underline{+1} & \underline{+2} & \underline{+3} & \underline{+4} & \cdots  \end{array}

The next might be subtraction. Over time, we learned how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide numbers (the “times tables” we learned in ancient history went through 12 x 12 = 144… today I’m not sure they even teach to memory but how to use a calculator, but that’s another rant post).

So, today we are expected to accept that 24 + 24 + 24 = 40.

At least that is how the “Easter” holiday is laid out. You have the death of Christ occurring after the “ninth” hour (Mark 15:34-37). In bible times, the clock did not start at midnight like we use today, but was geared to the sunrise and sunset. The ninth hour of the day (presuming sunrise to be about 7:00 AM) would occur about 4:00 PM, the middle of the afternoon. In Jewish time reckoning, the day started at sundown (see Genesis 1:5, 8, 13 for examples). Then you have the account of the women going early the morning of the first day of the week (Sabbath ended a week week, so Friday night and Saturday day was the last day of the week). Having them arrive about 8:00 AM on Sunday morning would be a reasonable time for the account in Mark 16:2.  Transferring the times to our clock would have 8 hours passing on Friday night (4:00 PM to midnight), 24 hours to cover all of Saturday, and another 8 hours on Sunday morning. 8 hours + 24 hours + 8 hours = 3 days and 3 nights.

Except it doesn’t add up. I learned that (using a day and a night as being 24 hours long) 24 hours + 24 hours + 24 hours = 3 days and 3 nights. 72 total hours. So if we want to use a full accounting of time, we can’t have the church holidays aligning with “Good Friday” through “Easter Sunday” because 40 does not equal 72.

Might I suggest another explanation that allows the math to work out? Our calendar has two kinds of holidays: those driven by a specific DATE (like Independence Day always falling on July 4th) and those driven by a specific DAY (like Thanksgiving taking place the last Thursday in November).

The Jewish calendar marks the Sabbath on Fridays, every one. But in their system of holidays the Passover remembrance is another Sabbath, driven by a specific date on the calendar. Exodus chapter 12 sets the date at the 14th day of the first month of their year. I would suggest there were two Sabbaths this week, the Passover followed by a day of preparation, then the usual Sabbath day. This provides a full 72 hours to elapse between death and discovery.

I would suggest we celebrate “Wonderful Wednesday” and “Resurrection Saturday” for our depiction of the death and rising of Jesus and leave the usual “Easter” event timing to the world.

It’s just as believable as a rabbit laying decorated hard-boiled chicken eggs and jelly beans…

Phred the Elder
DC3 Heretic Laureate

(* Disclaimer: 60 Second Sermon guaranteed if you read fast enough)


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