The 72 Hours That Changed Everything
Matthew 12:39-40 (39) He responded, “The people of an evil and unfaithful era look for a miraculous sign. But the only sign they will get is the sign of the prophet Jonah. (40) Just as Jonah was in the belly of a huge fish for three days and three nights, so the SON OF MAN WILL BE IN THE HEART OF THE EARTH FOR THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus for a miraculous sign that they could believe, He told that them that the only sign that they would get was the sign of Jonah. Jonah was aboard a ship that was tossed by a heavy storm, the crew inquired and found out that Jonah was the reason the winds were contrary to them so they threw him into the sea. A huge fish swallowed him and he was in the belly of the fish for 3 days and 3 nights (Jonah 1:1-17). After those three nights in the belly of the fish, he went to the city of Nineveh and preached to them and the city received God’s mercy.
Referring to this story, Jesus said that men would bind Him up on a tree and He would be cast into the belly of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights. The events of those three days and nights – 72 hours – would forever change the course of history between God, man and the devil. The bible says in Act 13:38, “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that THROUGH THIS MAN IS PREACHED unto you the FORGIVENESS OF SINS…” Through Jesus’ sacrificial work on the cross, the forgiveness of sins and mercy is preached to mankind the same way that mercy and forgiveness was preached to the city of Nineveh.
Jesus’s sacrifice is the core of the Christian faith. That He (Jesus) died, was buried and that He rose again from the grave is the reason we are Christians. Every part of that sacrifice is hugely significant!
The Ultimate Sacrifice
Right from the fall of man in the beginning, God spoke of the great sacrifice for man’s sin.
Genesis 3:15 15 And I will put enmity between you (the serpent – Satan) and the woman, and between YOUR SEED and HER SEED; He shall BRUISE your HEAD, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Emphases mine)
In his death, burial and resurrection, the seed of the woman, who is Jesus, crushed and bruised the head of the seed of the serpent - the devil. Jesus’ death is the eternal sacrifice offered to free man from the burden of sin and its guilt and curse.
Hebrews 10:3-4 3 But in those SACRIFICES there is A REMINDER OF SINS EVERY YEAR. 4 For it is NOT POSSIBLE that THE BLOOD of BULLS and GOATS COULD TAKE AWAY SINS.
The purpose of the sacrifices offered under the Law of Moses was to deal with sins that came as a result of breaking the Law. In a sacrifice, a life is offered in the place of another in order to take away the effect of sin from that one. Death, therefore, is necessary in dealing with sin because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The bible says that the soul that sins MUST die (Ezekiel 18:4).
If that soul that has sinned cannot pay the price of death, then another life has to be offered in his/her place. In His mercy, God didn’t want those under the Law paying for their sins with their own lives, so He asked for the life of an animal to be offered in their place. The reason is this:
Hebrews 9:22 (Message) 22 Moses said to the people, “This is the blood of the covenant God has established with you.” Practically everything in a will hinges on A DEATH. That’s why BLOOD, the EVIDENCE of DEATH, is USED so much in our tradition, especially regarding FORGIVENESS of SINS.
Notice that the Bible says that everything hinges on ‘A’ death (sacrificial death) and the evidence of that death is blood. That is to say “BLOOD=DEATH”. When it comes to the forgiveness of sins, death which equals blood is the price, because the wages (price) of sin is death – blood.
Now this was how it was done under the Old Covenant:
Leviticus 16:21-22 (Message) 21 lay both hands on the live goat’s head, and confess ALL THE INIQUITIES of the People of Israel, ALL THEIR ACTS of REBELLION, ALL THEIR SINS. He will PUT ALL THE SINS ON THE GOAT'S HEAD and send it off into the wilderness, led out by a man standing by and ready. 22 THE GOAT WILL CARRY ALL THEIR INIQUITIES to an empty wasteland; the man will let him loose out there in the wilderness.
Since God didn’t want the worshippers to pay for their sins with their lives, they used the life (blood) of a goat. They confessed ALL their sins upon ONE goat. Notice, ONE goat took ALL the sins of the nation for ONE year.
The limitation under the Old Covenant was that the blood (life) of the bulls and goats that was offered was not ENOUGH to get the job done permanently. It wasn’t good enough a price for a man’s sins because there was still a consciousness of sin in man. Though ALL their sins were taken away, they knew it was only for one year; they knew it wasn’t permanent!
God didn’t want the worshippers conscious of sins because until the consciousness of sin is removed, man cannot be truly free. The consciousness of sin is what gives birth to fear or the anticipation of punishment. This punishment ultimately is death, which is the price of sin. This is the reason guilt, condemnation and sin consciousness open the door for death – sickness, poverty, lack and defeat – to operate. Sin consciousness is the reason the blood of bulls and goats was ineffective because true freedom in Christ is living free of the fear of the punishment of death because we have crossed from death to life (1 John 3:14).
In order to remove this consciousness (fear) of sin, there was need for a PERMANENT solution.
That permanent solution was, is and will always be Christ Jesus! No amount of good work, charity or sacrifice can suffice.
Isaiah 53:6 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And THE LORD HAS LAID ON HIM THE INIQUITY OF US ALL.
Isaiah is prophetically speaking of Jesus’ suffering and what happened to Him on the cross. Like the high priest in the Old Covenant would do when he laid his hands on that goat, God also took ALL our iniquities and laid it upon Jesus.
He was offered up as a sacrifice i.e. His death, which is His blood. In His death, He became the permanent solution for ALL our sins. Under the Law, ONE goat carried ALL the nation’s sins for ONE year, in this new covenant, ONE man carried ALL the sins of the WHOLE world FOREVER.
Hebrews 10:11-14 (Message) 11 Every priest goes to work at the altar each day, offers the same old sacrifices year in, year out, and never makes a dent in the sin problem. 12 AS A PRIEST, CHRIST MADE A SINGLE SACRIFICE FOR SINS, and THAT WAS IT! Then he sat down right beside God 13 and waited for his enemies to cave in. 14 IT WAS A PERFECT SACRIFICE by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. BY THAT SINGLE OFFERING, HE DID EVERYTHING THAT NEEDED TO BE DONE for everyone who takes part in the purifying process.
As our High Priest and sacrifice, Jesus offered Himself once and for all. This ended the daily work of the priests of the Old Covenant. The perfect sacrifice – Jesus, has been offered. Sin has been dealt with once and for all. By this sacrifice, everything that needs to be done is done. It is Jesus’ life for ours so that we can boldly stand forgiven FOREVER!
Jesus’ death dealt with our sins forever!!!
He was delivered up for you!
Romans 4:25 25 who was DELIVERED UP BECAUSE of OUR OFFENSES, and was RAISED BECAUSE of OUR JUSTIFICATION.
Jesus was delivered up BECAUSE of our offenses. We offended but He was delivered up. He took our place and we go away FREE!
The implication of this is that Satan’s work is defeated in our lives as Christians.
1 John 3:8 says, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this PURPOSE the Son of God WAS MANIFESTED, that He might DESTROY THE WORKS of the DEVIL.”
When was Jesus manifested?
It was on the cross! His sacrifice on the cross was His manifestation. It was in His death that the Romans discovered that truly, this was God’s Son (Matthew 27:54). 1 John 3:5 says, “And you know that He was MANIFESTED to TAKE AWAY OUR SINS, and in Him there is no sin.” On the cross, it became clear that it was our sins that He was paying for. With sin fully paid for, sickness, poverty, lack and defeat have no hold on us. The works of the devil, the works of sin are destroyed forever!
The devil has lost his place in our lives. We are forever free. We owe sin NOTHING. The debt has been paid and we are forever free!
Why He Descended
Ephesians 4:9 9 (Now this, “He ascended”— WHAT DOES IT MEAN but that He also FIRST DESCENDED into THE LOWER PARTS of the earth?
Not only did He die, He also descended into the lower parts of the earth, which is hell (Matthew 12:40). He was buried and went to hell.
Jesus went into hell, defeated the spirit of Death and collected back the authority of man which was lost in the fall. The dominion of death now lies with Him. When John saw Jesus in the book of Revelation, hear what He said:
Revelation 1:18 (Message) 18 I’m Alive. I died, but I came to life, and MY LIFE IS NOW FOREVER. SEE THESE KEYS IN MY HAND? They open and lock Death’s doors, they open and lock Hell’s gates.
Glory to God! The keys that open and lock the doors of death and hell are in His hands. Today the keys are with the church because we are His hands and feet. We are His body (Ephesians 1:22-23). We hold the keys that open death and hell’s gates. They no longer hold sway over us. With these keys, He opened up Hell’s gates and freed all the righteous dead e.g. Abraham, Sarah, Samson, David etc who were held by death waiting for when the ultimate sacrifice would be paid. David said in Psalm 16:9, 10 (Amplified).: “… my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety, For You will not abandon me to Sheol (THE PLACE OF THE DEAD), neither will You suffer Your holy one to see corruption.” David knew that when his body was laid to rest he was going to the place of the dead but he was also confident that when the ultimate sacrifice was paid, he would be freed from the hold of death.
These men and women that were freed from hell went up with Jesus as a cloud at His ascension. Acts 1:9 says, “These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and DISAPPEARED in a CLOUD.” This cloud is the witnesses that cheer us from the grandstands of heaven today (Hebrews 12:1). They are the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. Some day, if we meet the second coming of Jesus, we shall be caught up in those clouds.
1 Corinthians 15:54-55 54 So when this corruptible HAS PUT ON INCORRUPTION, and this mortal has PUT ON IMMORTALITY, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “DEATH is SWALLOWED up in VICTORY.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
When He went to the grave, He swallowed up mortality. Death was swallowed up in victory! What the prophets Isaiah and Hosea spoke about came to pass.
Isaiah 25:8 says, “He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken.”
Hosea 13:14 says, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.”
Eternal life is now a reality. God’s life now dwells in mortal men. Death is swallowed up. The grave couldn’t hold Him back. The Spirit of God quickened His mortal body and gave Him life. Oh, death is defeated! The Goodnews is that we have that same quickening Holy Ghost in us today as believers.
Romans 8:11 says, “It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With His Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!” Glooooory to God!!!
His Resurrection – My Victory Receipt
1 Corinthians 15:17 17 And if Christ is not risen, YOUR FAITH IS FUTILE; you are STILL in your SINS!
His death was a payment for sin, His burial defeated hell and restored man’s dominion and His RESURRECTION ESTABLISHES MY FAITH. If He did all these and didn’t resurrect, I would still be in doubt as to what happened and be lost in my sins. But He rose to justify me. His resurrection is my justification. It is my victory receipt. Every tongue can now be quiet. He rose to let me know that He has fully paid for sin. If He didn’t fully pay my debt, He would still be in the grave. Thank God He paid all!
Many good men and women have fought and died for people, for truth, for justice and even for what they believe but their fight and death wasn’t sufficient to pay for sin and death because they are still in the grave, but Jesus paid in full and resurrected. This is why resurrection is exclusive to Christianity.
His resurrection is my proof that all my sins are paid for!
Colossians 2:15 15 Having DISARMED PRINCIPALITIES and POWERS, He made a PUBLIC SPECTACLE of them, TRIUMPHING over them in it.
In His resurrection, He defeated and disgraced Satan.
The devil wasn’t in hell when Jesus went there! He has always been here on earth. He told God in Job 1:7 when asked, “From where do you come?” he said, “From going TO and FRO on THE EARTH, and from walking back and forth on it.” In Matthew 8:29, the demons cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us BEFORE THE TIME?” The devil and demons are not yet in hell. God is still preparing where they will end - their eternal home (Revelation 20:19).
Having collected the keys of death and hell in His resurrection on Sunday morning, Jesus stripped the devil and his demons of all their authority. He disarmed principalities and powers and made a public spectacle of them. In this earth realm, the devil is defeated. We have the authority over the devil and his demons.
Child of God, I want you to know that Jesus’ death paid for your sins. You stand forgiven! His burial and resurrection dealt with hell, the grave and the devil. You have authority over them in this life. His resurrection is proof that you are eternally justified and victorious.
Today we can rejoice because those 72 hours forever changed everything!