Creed: Do You Believe In Three?
- Eva Marie Everson Contributing Writer & Author
- 2005 12 Dec
Editor's Note: "Creed" is an ongoing article series that discusses the core beliefs of Christianity as expressed in the Apostle's and Nicene creeds. Links to other installments are listed at the end of this article.
When it comes to the Word of God, certain numbers just keep coming up.
Twelve: the number of Israel’s tribes. The number of Ishmael’s sons. The number of disciples who followed Jesus for three and a half years. Twelve baskets of leftovers(from the feeding of the multitude). The crown of twelve stars. The twelve gates of Heaven.
Ten: Considered God’s number of fulfillment. Forty symbolizes a time of trial or testing.
The list goes on and on.
In the previous Creed installment you may have noticed a number that kept coming up, the number three.
At six o’clock in the morning Jesus was condemned to die. Three hours later he was crucified. Three hours after that the light of day began to fade as darkness descended over the land. This darkness lasted for three hours.
Jesus died at three o’clock in the afternoon. He claimed that in three days He would rise again. But did He?
How Does Friday Plus Three Equal Sunday?
Sometimes our modern minds have difficulty understanding the makeup of the first century Jewish day. Six o’clock in the evening would have ended Friday and Shabbat (the Sabbath) would have begun. It was for this reason that the Romans were so anxious to have Jesus and the condemned thieves die “in a hurry.”
To accomplish this, they would have to break the legs of the condemned, thereby keeping them from pushing up against the foot piece of the cross in an effort to keep from suffocating. Horrifically, death on a cross could take anywhere from two to nine days. Those who stood in attendance didn’t have this kind of time.
It was a “special Sabbath” as John puts it.
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced.” (John 19: 31-37)
It was unique because all this occurred during the Passover, a time of celebration, a time of remembering the days of Moses, when the children of Israel were released from captivity in Egypt and protected by the blood of the lamb. On Thursday evening the special meal, known as the Seder, had been eaten. On Friday it was the day of Preparation (as it is every Friday) and on Saturday it would be Shabbat. Moreover, the Shabbat of the Passover.
And so, with the blood of the Lamb spilled, it was time for burial. Buried on Friday before six in the evening. Day One. In the tomb on Saturday. Day Two. Resurrected from the dead. Day Three.
Just as He had said He would.
Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." (John 2:19)
The Importance of the Piercing
It’s a story you’ve heard since you were a child attending Sunday school. (That is, if you attended Sunday school as a child.) It’s one of the ones the teacher told as she placed figures on the felt board resting on the easel or mounted to the wall.
It’s the story of Adam and Eve.
And, so beautifully, it’s the story of Christ and His bride.
Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 2: 19-24 with emphasis, mine)
I have set in bold print a couple of things for consideration.
Adam’s bride was created for him while he was in a deep sleep.
When the blood and water flowed from the side of Jesus in the act of sacrifice, he was in a state of temporary sleep (for we know and believe that He, in face, rose from the dead). His death was, symbolically, the “mohar” or bride price between the Son and His future bride, the church. The mohar could be any type of offering, including service. Jesus gave the ultimate mohar, for no greater service has ever been given from a bridegroom.
Adam’s bride was taken from his side while he was in a deep sleep.
God took one of Adam’s ribs—which would be from the man’s side, obviously—and from it created the woman. When Jesus died, both blood and water spilled from his pierced side. While there is plenty of spiritual symbolism here, from the physical standpoint, we can figure that the heart and pericardium were also pierced in the process.
For this reason…
Ever ponder why Moses wrote the “for this reason” passage after the telling of woman’s creation and being brought to the man? After all, the words “father and mother” hardly pertain to the FIRST father and mother, do they?
“Bone of my bones,” Adam said.
Not a bone of Jesus’ was broken.
“Flesh of my flesh.”
His body, Jesus said, must be broken (not his bones). His flesh, He said, was (in part) the way to eternal life. (John 6:54)
When Moses wrote these words, could he even have begun to imagine the apostle Paul penning those same words, thousands of years later?
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31)
But look at the next verse: This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Emphasis, mine)
Back to Three
Hmmm…did I just make three points? I believe I did. Allow me to make a final one.
In ancient days, when the bride price was paid, a glass of wine was then poured and presented to the bride. If she accepted the wine, she was—in essence—saying “yes” to the bridegroom. Jesus used wine to represent His blood.
The wine has been poured (out) and presented.
Have you said, “Yes”?