John Shelby Spong receives a question about the idea that Jesus was resuscitated from the dead in three days. Here is the gist of his answer, which illustrates at least in part why the resurrection stories cannot be taken literally:
The three day designation comes, as you suggest, from the gospels themselves even though if one counts the time in the gospel narratives there is actually only a period of thirty-six hours that elapses between Friday at sundown to Sunday at sunrise. In my way of counting that gives us not three days, but a day and a half.
I think the three-day symbol is just that, a symbol. On three occasions, Mark has Jesus predict his resurrection "after three days." Matthew and Luke, both of whom have Mark in front of them as they write, change Mark's word "after" to "on." "After three days" and "on the third day" do not give us the same day. So there is a dancing, not firm, quality to the use of the phrase "three days" even in the gospels themselves.
Mark tells us no story of the raised Christ appearing to anyone, but he does suggest that they will see him in some manner in Galilee. Galilee is, however, a 7-to-10-day journey from Jerusalem, so that projected appearance in Galilee could not have occurred within the three-day boundary.
Luke stretches out the appearances of the raised Christ for forty days and John, if one treats Chapter 21 as an authentic part of John's gospel, hints that appearances continued for perhaps months.