Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

John 2:19
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: John 2:19
v19 (continued): The words “in three days” should not be overlooked. They are the key to understanding this statement. Jesus had responded to the request for a sign by giving these religious leaders a parable which basically told them, “This will be the sign that God will give you: you will kill Me, but three days later I will come back to life.” In other words, His resurrection would reveal His identity and prove His authority. And He specifically stated that it would take place three days after they executed Him. That period of time gives us an important clue to the meaning of His parable.

Monday: John 2:19
v19 (continued): The term “three days” is very common in the Old Testament. It simply meant “day after tomorrow,” and it can be used the same way in the New Testament (Lk 13:32-33). However, Jesus saw in the Scriptures a prophecy which indicated that He would be dead for three days and then come back to life on the third day. Here are two such statements: “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and 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” (Mt 12:39-40). “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Mt 16:21). He spoke of these three days on several occasions. For example, after His transfiguration (Mt 17:22-23; Mk 9:31) and when He was about to go up to Jerusalem for the final time (Mt 20:17-19; Mk 10:33-34; Lk 18:31-33), the religious leaders heard Him mention these three days, so they asked Pilate to guard the tomb (Mt 27:62-64). An angel reminded some of those who came to the empty tomb that He had said He would rise after three days (Lk 24:7), and the resurrected Jesus reminded His disciples that the Scriptures taught it clearly (Lk 24:46). Peter preached it as a part of his sermon to Cornelius’ household in Caesarea (Ac 10:40), and Paul wrote to the Corinthians “…that He was buried and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1Co 15:4).

Tuesday: John 2:19
v19 (continued): Such statements press us to ask the question: Where do the Scriptures prophesy that the Messiah will be crucified and then raised to life on the third day? As we noted earlier, on one occasion Jesus compared His death to that of Jonah who spent three days in a large fish (Mt 12:39-40), but Jonah’s situation was merely an event which contained some features similar to Jesus’ burial; it was not a strong prophetic promise, so there must be a promise about these three days somewhere else in Scripture, because Jesus and the Apostles were certain there was a prophecy that declared this number of days. I believe it is found in the events surrounding the Passover. It’s significant that Jesus made this statement during the Passover season (Jn 2:13, 23) and that He would fulfill it at a future Passover (Lk 22:13). No place in the gospels does Jesus explain why He must die for three days, but when we look closely at the instructions God gave to Moses concerning the Passover and also the special days which follow it, a prophetic pattern does emerge.

Wednesday: John 2:19
v19 (continued): There can be no doubt that Jesus understood that He had been sent to fulfill the role of the Passover lamb (Jn 1:29, 36; Ac 8:32-35; Isa 53:7): By shedding His blood He knew He would cause the “angel of death” to pass over those who believed in Him (Lk 22:19-20). God had instructed Moses that on the 14th day of the first month of the year (Nissan/Abib) (March-April) the Passover lamb was killed (Lev 23:5); then on the next day, the 15th day, a week-long celebration called the “Feast of Unleavened Bread” began. It was meant to remind Israel of their exodus from Egypt (Ex 12:17, 39). The first day of that celebration (the 15th day) was to take a “Sabbath,” meaning no work was to be done on that day (Lev 23:6-7). Then on the “day after the Sabbath,” the 16th day, the “first fruits” of the new wheat harvest was brought to the priest so that he could wave that sheaf of grain before the Lord (Lev 23:10-11). It was the first cutting of the ripening grain, and therefore it was the very beginning of the larger harvest which would follow. It symbolized the presentation of the entire harvest to God.

Thursday: John 2:19
v19 (continued): So on the 14th of Nissan the Passover lamb was slain; the 15th of Nissan was a day of rest; and the 16th of Nissan was the day the new wheat harvest began. When viewed from this perspective, we can see here a three-day prophetic pattern. And to make the point even more clearly, it was on those exact three days (Nissan 14-16) that Jesus was crucified, remained in the tomb and rose from the dead, which means He died as the Passover Lamb and rose as the “first fruits” of God’s new harvest. He was the first of many that will resurrect from the dead (Ro 8:29-30). Paul, in writing about the resurrection, called Jesus “the first fruits of those who are asleep (dead)” (1Co 15:20), meaning that Jesus is the first human who has been raised from the dead and that His resurrection assures us that a large number of people will be resurrected in the same way.

Friday: John 2:19
v19 (continued): At that moment Jesus’ words meant nothing to these religious leaders, but two years later His words would become a powerful prophetic witness. That group of men would destroy His body, but three days later He would come back to life, and they would have the testimony of their own guard to prove it (Mt 27:62-66; 28:11-15). He had planted a seed in the hearts of His own executioners in an attempt to save any who might have the “eyes to see” or the “ears to hear.” That these leaders still remembered this statement by the time of His crucifixion and resurrection is unquestionable (Mt 26:61; 27:40; Mk 14:58; 15:29). These very words would be quoted as a part of the initial charges made against Jesus at His trial, and by that time they knew exactly what the parable meant (Mt 27:63).

Saturday: John 2:19
v19 (continued): There is one more observation we should make about this statement: By saying about His body “I will raise it up” Jesus was not denying the fact that the Father would be the One who resurrected His corpse (Ro 8:11; 2Co 4:14; Gal 1:1) or that the Holy Spirit would be the agent by which the Father would do this, but He was declaring an authority only God’s divine Son could possess. He would make the same statement when describing Himself as the Good Shepherd. On that occasion He said, “I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (Jn 10:17-18). We have no real knowledge of where Jesus spent those three days while His body lay in the tomb, but as God’s divine Son He was not “asleep” (Lk 23:43; Eph 4:9-10; 1Pe 3:18-20). The point He is making by this statement is to declare that He was not a victim. No one would take His life from Him; He would freely give it. And death had no power to hold Him in its grip. He would choose to submit to death for three days in order to fulfill the prophecies, but then He would simply walk back into His body and by the power of the Holy Spirit that dead body would explode into resurrection-life. 

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