How do we understand the timing of the Great 3 Days?

A wreath and draped cross symbolize the crucifixion of Christ during Good Friday service. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.
A wreath and draped cross symbolize the crucifixion of Christ during Good Friday service. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

If Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday, how do we understand three days?

During the Great Three Days, from sunset Holy Thursday to sunset Easter Day, we celebrate the saving events of Jesus Christ's suffering, death and resurrection.

The vast majority of the world's Christians, including United Methodists, have used the following means to arrive at the timing of our celebrations during Holy Week:

  • Thursday evening: Last Supper and, after sundown, beginning of the first day of the three related days.
  • Friday morning: First day continues, and Jesus is executed, removed from the cross and buried.
  • Friday sundown: Second day begins.
  • Saturday sundown: Third day begins.
  • Sunday morning: Third day continues and Jesus is raised from the dead.

This way of reckoning the time of Holy Week has been consistent in Christian practice, East and West, from at least the third century A.D.

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