On The Third Day
“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem…and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Matthew 16:21)
Watchmen are to be patient, hopeful, and mindful that God’s plans and timing are always perfect. Can you imagine how the disciples felt the evening Jesus was crucified? Some years ago Don Francisco wrote a song (He’s Alive) which notes the despair the disciples likely experienced. He wrote from Peter’s perspective: “The gates and doors were barred, and all the windows fastened down. I spent the night in sleeplessness and rose at every sound. Half in hopeless sorrow, and half in fear the day, would find the soldiers breaking through to drag us all away.” The Bible does not specifically note the disciples’ emotional state, but it is clear that on Sunday morning, none of the disciples expected to see a risen Lord. My best guess is that Don Francisco had it pretty much right, and that the disciples were miserable for three days—but it did not have to be that way. Jesus told them (Matt. 16:21) that he would die, but that he would return. Hosea prophesied that the Messiah would return on the third day (Hosea 6:2). Believers today must learn to trust in (and lean on) the promises of God. They are plentiful and sure.
Many stories in the Bible profile how God’s blessing comes on the third day. This is a foreshadowing of the resurrection and a reference to God’s perfect timing. Consider the following:
- In the days of Abraham: 2 God said, “Take your son, your only son…go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering…3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac… 4On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here…while the boy and I go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Genesis 22). This story reminds me that God can provide, and does provide, in ways we can not begin to anticipate.
- In the days of Joshua: ”1Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites… went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it” (Joshua 3). This story reminds me that when we stay close to God, we are not far from blessing.
- In the days of Hezekiah: 1“…Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah…went to him and said, ‘…Put your house in order, because you are going to die…’ 2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 ‘Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4 Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: 5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. 6 I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria.” (2 Kings 20). This story reminds me that it is never too late to find grace and forgiveness from God. The Bible notes how in wonderful ways He has made this possible on ‘the Third Day.’
- In the days of Esther: 1On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace… The king was sitting on his royal throne… 2 When he saw… Esther…he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3 Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you” (Esther 5, 7). Few today understand how dangerous it was for Esther to put herself in a position to speak to the king and to make a request on behalf of her people. Yet, with God’s help, she accomplished the impossible, on ‘the Third Day.’ The good news is that God still moves, and still helps His people accomplish the impossible (Phil. 4:13).
- In the days of Jonah: Jonah 1:17“Now the LORD provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days… [Jonah 2] 2 He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. 5 The engulfing waters threatened me; the deep surrounded me… To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit” (Jonah 1-2). This story reminds me that God is mighty to save,” even from death, and proved this on the cross on ‘the Third Day.’
These stories lay a foundation for the resurrection story and encourage believers to have hope and remember that God’s blessings come at the perfect time (on the ‘Third Day’). The Apostle Paul writes: ”Therefore do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap the harvest, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
Dear Lord, help me to be patient, to be perseverant, and to trust you when times are challenging.
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