||In Luke 23:43, when Jesus tells the criminal hanging next to him "I tell you the truth, TODAY you will be with me in paradise." Then in the Apostles' Creed it says, He descended into hell, the THIRD day he rose again from the dead. Can you explain the difference in time for me? I think about this every year around Easter, so I thought it must be time to ask!|
As a human being is both physical and spiritual (body and soul), Jesus was also physical and spiritual when He took on a human body. While His physical body lay in the tomb from Friday evening to Sunday morning, His spiritual nature was very much alive. And that spiritual nature – being God – would also be omnipresent – with the thief when his soul went to heaven and attending to the other things Jesus did while His physical body lay in the grave (the descent into hell, as we mention in the Apostles’ Creed, for example). That’s one of the questions I’m going to ask when I get to heaven; what did you do during those 40 or so hours in the tomb?
Which, by the way, brings up another possible question… Why, if Jesus said He would rise on the third day, did He spend far less than 72 hours in the tomb?
Our minds think in terms of three whole days, or 72 hours. Yet from Friday evening to early Sunday morning was approximately 40 hours. In the Jewish reckoning, even part of a day was considered a day. So Jesus was in the grave part of Friday, all of Saturday and part of Sunday – 3 days. Years were also counted the same way. For example, you could have three kings whose reigns totaled more than 100 years in a 100 year time frame. Let’s say a king ruled 39 ½ years. Depending on when in the calendar year his reign began and ended, he might be recorded as ruling 40 – counting the parts of his first and last year. The next king, though he only ruled 30 ½, might be recorded as 31. The last king makes up the final thirty calendar years of the century, but total up the years of their reigns and you come up with 101. Misunderstanding that counting system has led some people to believe the Bible has errors in the records of the kings, when it does not.