Later on that first day of the week after the women discovered the empty tomb, two of the disciples were walking together and discussing the events of the past several days when the resurrected Christ joined them. At the time they did not know that it was Him. He asked what they were talking about and why were they so sad.
“Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
“And He said to them, ‘What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?’ Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, ‘Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?’
“And He said to them, ‘What things?’ So they said to Him, ‘The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened’ ” (Luke 24:13-21 Luke 24:13-21 13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about three score furlongs.
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
16 But their eyes were held that they should not know him.
17 And he said to them, What manner of communications are these that you have one to another, as you walk, and are sad?
18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said to him, Are you only a stranger in Jerusalem, and have not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
19 And he said to them, What things? And they said to him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
American King James Version×).
Here, the two disciples referred to Sunday as being the third day since “all these things” happened. There were other things the Jews and Romans did after Christ was buried. Notice what Matthew included about their actions:
“On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, ‘Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ ‘Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.’ Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.’ So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard” (Matthew 27:62-66 Matthew 27:62-66 62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together to Pilate,
63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
64 Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say to the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
65 Pilate said to them, You have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as you can.
66 So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
American King James Version×).
Christ had already been buried nearly one whole day when these things were done.
The last things the Romans and Jewish leaders did were to seal the tomb and place soldiers on guard around it. This was on Thursday, the day following that Day of Preparation. Apparently the disciples were including these events in their reference to the things that had taken place. Counting from the securing of the tomb and the setting of the guard, Sunday would have been the ‘third day’ since “all these things” happened. GN