If Jesus rose on the “third day,” why is Easter only two days after Good Friday?

Nowadays we mark holidays and anniversaries with modern grid-style calendars, but in ancient times people marked time in other ways: length of days, moon cycles, weather patterns, etc. Today we acknowledge midnight as the beginning of a new day, but in Jesus’s time a new day began at sunset. This is why our Easter Vigil is held on Saturday night, after sunset – technically, for ancient Jews, Saturday’s Vigil is the beginning of Sunday! But this doesn’t answer the question: why are there only two days between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? Or even one day, if we consider that the Good Friday and Easter Vigil services are only 25 hours apart?

According to the synoptic gospels (Mark 15:34, Matthew 27:46, Luke 23:44), Jesus died around 3pm. This is considered “the first day.” We mark the first day as the day of the passion, so when morning breaks on Saturday we are in “the second day,” the day that Jesus descended to the dead. Finally, Jesus is resurrected on “the third day,” which begins at sunset. – Vicar Aaron Musser