Today's Devotional

The Third Day (15 April)

I want to remind you, my friends, of the Good News which I preached to you, which you received, and on which your faith stands firm. That is the gospel, the message that I preached to you. You are saved by the gospel if you hold firmly to it-unless it was for nothing that you believed. I passed on to you what I received, which is of the greatest importance: that Christ died for our sins, as written in the Scriptures; that he was buried and that he was raised to life three days later, as written in the Scriptures.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. What a glorious truth! What an affirmation of the perfect completion of God's program of redemption!

For a long time I was puzzled by Paul's declaration that Christ was raised on the third day "as written in the Scriptures." When I see such a statement, I want to know where it is written. But when I went to look for a place where it says the Messiah will rise from the dead on the third day, I do not find it in any direct statement. Yes, Jesus made the comparison to Jonah in the fish for three days (Matthew 12:40), but that is hardly a direct statement about the Messiah, and if Jesus had not said it, we would not have thought of it as a prophecy of his resurrection.

The Old Testament passage that, for me, comes the closest is in (Genesis 22), the story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. We remember that at the last minute God intervened, and Abraham sacrificed a ram instead of his son. Even so, (Hebrews 11:17) states that "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac." Even though Abraham did not physically kill his son in the end, in his heart-and in God's eyes-he actually sacrificed his son. But when did he do that?

I think Abraham sacrificed his son to God when he decided in his heart to obey God's command. That was probably during the hours after God called him. He slept on the decision that night, and got up early the next morning to go obey God.

The same passage in (Hebrews 11:18) tells us that Abraham received Isaac back from the dead, so for Abraham Isaac was actually dead. But when did he get him back from the dead?

Abraham set out with Isaac for the land of Moriah, his son beside him but in his heart already given to God. (Genesis 22:4) tells us, "On the third day Abraham saw the place in the distance." The rest of the story, binding Isaac to the altar, and catching and sacrificing the ram, all happened on that day. Abraham received his son back from the dead on the third day.

In the same way, when God sent his only son to die, he received him back from the dead on the third day.

- 15 APRIL -

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