But if Jesus were in the tomb only from late Friday afternoon to sometime early Sunday morning, then the sign He gave that He was the prophesied Messiah was not fulfilled. The claim of His Messiahship rests on the fulfillment of His words.
When we allow the Scriptures to interpret themselves, all four Gospel accounts accurately harmonize and attest to the validity of Jesus’ promise that He would be in the grave a full three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40 Matthew 12:40For 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.
American King James Version×, Luke 11:29 Luke 11:29And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.
American King James Version×)—not just part of that time.
Several Bible translations recognize that more than one Sabbath is discussed in these events. In Matthew 28:1 Matthew 28:1In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.
American King James Version×;some Bible versions, including Green’s Literal Translation, Ferrar Fenton’s Translation and others properly translate a phrase occurring here as “after the sabbaths.”
Some stumble over Mark 16:9 Mark 16:9Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
American King James Version×, not taking into account that there is no punctuation indicated in the original Greek. Therefore, to be in harmony with the material presented in the other Gospels, a better translation of the verse would be: “Now having risen, early the first day of the week He appeared first to Mary Magdalene . . . ” So it’s not saying that Jesus rose early on Sunday morning, but that He appeared early on Sunday morning to Mary Magdalene, having already risen some time earlier.