A Few Thoughts From Matthew 12

Every time I read this chapter I can’t help but to give thought to some of our brethren. Just as the Pharisees criticized Jesus about doing something “unauthorized” we have brethren to the right who level accusations against others because there is a fellowship hall, or someone is eating in the building, or, worse yet, money from the church treasury was used to help a non-saint!
There comes a time when a decision must be made. We understand this in just about all areas of life, but for some, in the area of religion, there is much difficulty associated with making a decision. It is not because there is a lack of understanding; it is not because there is a lack of understanding the consequences of being decisive; no, in fact, it is because they know the consequences, and there is no desire to experience them if the decision to be made in the Lord’s favor is made. Yet, the Lord made clear that if one is not for Him, then the one who failed to choose is against Him. A tough spot to be in, wouldn’t you say?
Was Jesus actually three days and three nights in the grave (12:40)? If He was in the grave for 72 hours, wouldn’t that mean there was a fourth day? In 20:19 (cf. 16:21) we learn that Jesus would rise on the third day. Thus, whatever we are to understand about the three days and three nights, it must be understood in relation to Jesus being raised on the third day. Some, however, maintain that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday; if that is so, then the same evening time on Thursday would be 24 hours, the same evening time on Friday would another 24 hours, the same evening time on Saturday would be an additional 24 hours, bringing us to the point that we now have three complete days. If Jesus was not resurrected at this same point on the Sabbath (our Saturday), which would be the 3rd day, then it would necessarily mean that He was resurrected on the 4th day. No conclusion could be made but that Jesus was mistaken when He said on the 3rd day He would rise, wouldn’t it? Yet, Jesus said he would rise on the 3rd day (16:21; 20:19), Mark attests that He did rise on the 3rd day (Mark 16:9; cp. Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1, 7, 21; John 20:1), and so it must be that the phrase in 12:40 is not to be understood as a literal 72 hour period. D.A. Carson writes, “In rabbinical thought, a day and a night make an onah, and a part of an onah is as the whole. Thus according to Jewish tradition, ‘three days and three nights’ need mean no more than ‘three days’ or the combination of any part of three separate days” (EBC-R, p. 342).