It is a fact that the Jewish tradition was when counting days, that any part of a day, from sundown to the next sundown, regardless of how small, counted as a day. So calculating by that method, if Jesus died before sundown, and he did, that gave him 24 hours on Friday before the beginning of the next day, which was only minutes away. Then, the other assumption is that he remained in the tomb until Sunday morning on the which would include Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Had this scenario been accurate and it was intended that these partial days were counted as full days, then the accuracy of the Bible would still be intact. However, this is a point where the atheists accuse us of stretching the scripture to make it fit. No, that would still be accurate, if, that was the intent and that was what happened.
But there are other circumstances to be considered and are, for the most part, not known, not recognized, or understood. Let us go back and consider some things: If one will read the 23 chapter of Leviticus they will find an extensive explanation of the establishment of the Passover Feast, the days of unleavened bread and the designating two days as "holy convocation" and they were considered also as sabbaths...not the Holy Sabbath which they were to keep holy but days where one must not do any "servile work". Now notice carefully, this in verses 5 and 6 of the above mentioned chapter, the Passover Feast was to be observed on the fourteenth day of the first month. Be aware that these days do begin on the same day of the month each year, but not necessarily the same day of the week, similarly to those of ours.
Here is a short statement from an official Jewish website, which tells us of the Jewish holydays on which work to be done is forbidden. please notice that the first, second, seventh and eighth days of the fasting of unleavened bread, were sabbath days (days of rest from physical work) yet they were separate days to that of the Holy Sabbath. Notice the last verse also. That sometimes these days may fall on a Sabbath.
"Work is not permitted on Rosh Hashanah, on Yom Kippur, on the first and second days of Sukkot, on Shemini Atzeret, on Simchat Torah, on Shavu'ot, and the first, second, seventh and eighth days of Passover. The "work" prohibited on those holidays is the same as that prohibited on Shabbat, except that cooking, baking, transferring fire and carrying, all of which are forbidden on Shabbat, are permitted on holidays. When a holiday occurs on Shabbat, the full Shabbat restrictions are observed." (Judaism 101) (“Shabbat” is the Jewish word for Sabbath-JHH)
Notice now, Jesus and his apostles partook of the Passover meal (seder) at the very onset of the Passover day (just after sundown). This was on a Wednesday. He was taken by the Roman soldiers later that evening and was questioned by Annas, the father in law of Caiaphas, and Caiaphas himself and then was taken before Pilate. Then he was sentenced to be crucified and taken away for the sentence to be carried out. This all occurred during the same night of the Passover Feast and he was crucified later that same day.
Now comes the wording that has thrown so many people off the true occurrences. Read this sentence:
"The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away." (John 19:31 KJV)
This taken to mean, by almost everyone, the seventh day of the week, the Sabbath. But that is not the only thing, the day following the Passover is always a day of no servile work permitted, a day observed as a sabbath, but with less rigid prohibitions.
Now since Jesus was placed in the tomb only minutes before sundown, he would be credited with a night and day on Thursday, a night and day on Friday and a night and day on Saturday, the Holy Sabbath. Notice also that these days started at sundown and ended at sundown. So after sundown on Saturday, his 3 days and 3 nights were completely fulfilled. It is therefore very likely that he was raised from the grave soon after sundown. We know that he arose before daylight on Sunday, how much before daylight is not specified nor inferred anywhere. So long as it was after sundown the evening before, it fulfills the statement of Jesus himself, "three days and three nights." We know that Jesus had been up long enough to neatly fold the linen cloth and napkin in which he was wrapped and be gone. And still, he was raised on the first day of the week.
"The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre." (John 20:1 KJV)
Another problematic writing is readily dealt with when the Wednesday crucifixion is shown. Read this statement from Luke concerning the women, keeping in mind that it was right after Jesus was entombed at sundown.
"And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment." (Luke 23:50-56 KJV)
There are several verses pertaining to this matter which are difficult to completely understand, however, the Wednesday crucifixion seems to clarify most of the confusion. This places Jesus already in the tomb at the very beginning of Thursday, which was indeed, a sabbath day and ended his time in the tomb at an unknown time after the third full day, Saturday (the True Sabbath) was fulfilled. And he was raised on the first day of the week.
Some sources state that because of some of the writings make the remark that Jesus would rise on the third day, gives indication that he would not have to spend 72 hours in the tomb. However, it is probably best worded in Mark 8:31 where it is written thusly:
“And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” (emphasis added-JHH)
As is the case of all men, this writer is capable of error and misunderstanding. The information above has been taken from a number of scholarly sources, some who profess that the Lord was crucified in the year A.D. 33 and that the Passover Feast was begun on Wednesday of that year. The fact that Jesus and the apostles partook of the Passover ‘seder’ meal on that day, seems to lend credence to this schedule of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is not presumed that the other schedules cannot be true, but only that whichever one is the actual interpretation, it would fulfill the intent of the inspired writers.
There is an incessant effort by many atheists and skeptics, to find error in the Holy Bible. There are a number of mistakes, both minor and major, in the various versions produced by uninspired men, however, there were none in the original manuscripts. Many brilliant men have attempted to find these errors now for some 2,000 years and even longer for the books of the Old Testament. This fact alone, when all have failed to prove one error, is proof enough to convince an honest man of its integrity.