The seven day Bible week consists of Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Preparation, and Sabbath, with Day 1 corresponding to Sunday and Sabbath corresponding with Saturday. The concept of a "Sunday Sabbath" is not Biblical and will not be considered here. That to be considered here is the week in which our Lord was crucified and, more specifically, the particular day of the week in which Christ was crucified.
That day, of course, was Preparation or Friday. That day was established by the most powerful of arguments: History.
Today, there are those who argue that the crucifixion was on Wednesday or Thursday. Their arguments are based on matters such as the need for 72 hours in the grave and the occurrence of a special Sabbath that week, for instance. But, one need only place himself at the crucifixion to understand that such matters are not to be considered. You were there. You saw all that occurred on that day. It was Preparation. It was the day before Sabbath.
Consider the days following the resurrection. Those who were there discussed the crucifixion among themselves. They told those who had not been there. How many days, how many weeks, how many years would have to pass before a significant number of witnesses could be dissuaded as to the day of the week?
The tradition of a Friday crucifixion was quickly established. It is only comparatively recently that there have been those who dared to challenge tradition.
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
This, according to some, proves that our Lord had to remain in His tomb for 72 hours. The phrase "three days and three nights" appears elsewhere in God's Word:
And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights.
First Samuel 30:12
Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
And, with a slight variation, it appears in the book of Esther:
Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.
Are these all references to 72 hour periods? Consider the following verse in Esther:
Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.
If the directions on the can say the paint is to dry for "three days and three nights," we know it is to dry for 72 hours. If your alarm clock "goes off" at 5 AM, the meaning is clear. These two expressions are easily understood, though, in the second example, the words are not used in their normal sense. This is because "the alarm clock goes off" is an accepted United States idiom, while "three days and three nights" is NOT an accepted United States idiom, but is, instead, an accepted Bible idiom.
It should be understood that idioms must always be taken literally. The words in the idiom simply do not bear their common meanings. The problem arises when the reader does not understand that he has encountered an idiom and then attempts to provide the common meanings for each of the words in the idiom. Although some refuse to recognize the clear evidence in Esther that "three days and three nights" is an idiom, we must simply not allow their false teaching to distract us from the simplicity of the passages involved.