The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken from prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
Many times the Lord said he would rise on the third day. " For as Jonas was in the whale's belly three days and three nights, so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights." (Matt, xii 40) "The Son of man shall be betrayed to the chief priests, and to the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to be mocked, and to be scourged, and to be crucified, and the third day he shall rise again." (Matt. xx. 18,19) "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the ancients and by the high priests, and the Scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again." (Mark viii. 31 Luke ix. 22.) " From that time forth Jesus began to show to his disciples, that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things, from the ancients, and the Scribes, and the chief priests, and be put to death, and the third day rise again." (Matt. xvi. 21.) "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (John ii. 19.)
Even the Jewish leaders knew his prophecy of the resurrection and that was why they asked Pilate for the guard. According to the Jewish way of speaking a part of three days meant three days, and in figurative language the third day. He was in the tomb a part of that Friday, the whole of Sabbath, and part of the First day now called Sunday. While the Jews counted their religious days from sunset, they learned from the Romans to reckon their civil days from midnight. Sts. Augustine, (De Trinitate, Book IV., C. 6, and De Consensu Evangil. L. iii. c. 6.) Thomas Aquin (3 pars, qu 51, Art 4, Ad Primum.) and other writers quote many texts of the Old Testament to show that parts of days are taken for whole days.
After Pilate recovered a little from fear caused by the wonders he saw, he went into the Temple, called the chief priests together, and said he had heard they had a large collection of sacred books, called for them, and four officers of the Temple brought the Scrolls of the Law and Prophets, " adorned with gold and precious gems." Pilate ordered them to tell him if it were true that these writings foretold that Jesus, crucified that day, was the Son of God, the Messiah foretold to come for the salvation of mankind.
Annas and Caiphas ordered all the others out, shut the gates, and told him that they had examined all the Books of the Old Testament, and found that the patriarchs and the prophecies pointed to him as the Messiah. It had been their custom, they said, each year for the great synagogue, to examine that collection of holy books and seek out the testimony of God. A long account follows of the prophecies, which we give not now, and they finish with these words to Pilate: " And now thou hast adjured us, O good judge, by this holy book of the testimonies of God, and we make it manifest to thee, and now we adjure thee by thy life and safety to make manifest these words to no one in Jerusalem." (Gospel of Nicodemus, Christ s Descent into Hell, n. 12, 28.)
If this account be true, these two men deceived the whole Jewish nation, to save themselves from death at the hands of the infuriated people, who would rise against them, if they knew they had been led by these priests to put their Messiah to death.