These are the Lord’s appointed times, holy assemblies, which you must proclaim at their appointed time. (Leviticus 23:4 NET)
In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, is a Passover offering to the Lord. (Leviticus 23:5 NET)
“‘On the fourteenth day of the first month is the Lord’s Passover. (Numbers 28:16 NET)
The first holy assembly, the spring Feast of Passover, is the most frequently mentioned festival of all Israel’s feasts in both testaments. It is mentioned over fifty times in the Old Testament and twenty-seven times in the New Testament. Within the framework of Judaism, this is the most important festival of the entire Jewish religious calendar. (2)
Passover was the first of each new religious year and the first of the three feast seasons (1) or Pilgrimage Festivals. All Jewish males were required to travel to Jerusalem for a memorable encounter with and visitation from God. The Passover was to be a memorial to the Hebrews’ deliverance from Egypt. This deliverance happened on the 15th during the month of Nisan when the Moon is always full and represented God’s first encounter with His covenant people. (Exodus 12:1-14; 43-48.) (3)
There are two different names for this feast. The first name, Pesach (PAY-sakh), is the Hebrew name, which means “Passover,” originating from the Angel of Death event found in Exodus 12. (2) Also, Pesach may also mean “protective sacrifice.” The second Hebrew name for this festival is Zeman Heruteinu, which means “season of our freedom” (10). This name emphasizes the result of the first Passover: freedom from Egyptian slavery.” (2)
Recall, God chose Moses as His instrument of judgment against the nation of Egypt to lead the Hebrews out of bondage. Working through Moses, God initially sent nine plagues against Egypt to debunk its false Gods (8). This was God’s way of convincing Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go. But each time God sent a new plague, Pharaoh’s heart hardened, and he would not let the Israelites go (Exodus chapters 3-10).
But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey him by releasing Israel? I do not know the Lord, and I will not release Israel!” (Exodus 5:2 NET)
God then declared a tenth and final plague, which was the death of the firstborn of every family of men and animals via the Angel of Death (cf. a company of destroying angels (Psalms 78:49-51)) (Exodus 11. cf. Exodus 4:21-23). (3)
Then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I extend my hand over Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them. (Exodus 7:5 NET)
|Plague||Egyptian False god(s) Debunked|
|1||Nile River flowing with blood||Khnum, the guardian god of the Nile; Hapi, the spirit of the Nile; Osiris who had the Nile as his bloodstream (the Nile, the place where Egypt murdered Hebrew baby boys, Exodus 1:22)|
|2||Infestations of frogs||Heqt, the frog-headed goddess of resurrection and the wife of Khnum|
|3||Lice||The gods of Egypt would not receive the sacrifice of lice-infested animals, so this stopped their sacrificial system of all the false Gods|
|4||Flies||Beelzebub, prince of the air (because flies were always flying around his ears)|
|5||Cattle disease||Apis the sacred bull and Hathor the mother goddess cow|
|6||Boils||Imhotep, the god of medical cures|
|7||Hail & Fire||Nut, the sky goddess|
|8||Locusts||Nepri, the grain god|
|9||Darkness||Re, the sun god|
|10||Death of Firstborn of man and animal||All the false gods of Egypt (27,28)|
He let loose on them his burning anger, wrath, indignation, and distress, a company of destroying angels. He made a path for his anger; he did not spare them from death, but gave their lives over to the plague. He struck down every firstborn in Egypt, the firstfruits of their strength in the tents of Ham. (Psalm 78:49–51 ESV)
He struck down the firstborn of Egypt, including both men and animals. (Psalm 135:8 NET)
Along with this judgment, God gave specific instructions on being delivered or saved from this death. This was through a Passover sacrifice that had similarities with the Peace offering (3).
The Passover Observed for the First Time in the Old Covenant (circa 1446 B.C.) (13)
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,“This month is to be your beginning of months; it will be your first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel, ‘In the tenth day of this month they each must take a lamb for themselves according to their families—a lamb for each household. If any household is too small for a lamb, the man and his next-door neighbor are to take a lamb according to the number of people—you will make your count for the lamb according to how much each one can eat. Your lamb must be perfect, a male, one year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You must care for it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then the whole community of Israel will kill it around sundown. They will take some of the blood and put it on the two side posts and top of the doorframe of the houses where they will eat it. They will eat the meat the same night; they will eat it roasted over the fire with bread made without yeast and with bitter herbs. Do not eat it raw or boiled in water, but roast it over the fire with its head, its legs, and its entrails. You must leave nothing until morning, but you must burn with fire whatever remains of it until morning. This is how you are to eat it—dressed to travel, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. I will pass through the land of Egypt in the same night, and I will attack all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both of humans and of animals, and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, so that when I see the blood I will pass over you, and this plague will not fall on you to destroy you when I attack the land of Egypt. This day will become a memorial for you, and you will celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—you will celebrate it perpetually as a lasting ordinance. (Exodus 12:1–14 NET)
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. (Exodus 12:21–24 NET)
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover. No foreigner may share in eating it. But everyone’s servant who is bought for money, after you have circumcised him, may eat it. A foreigner and a hired worker must not eat it. It must be eaten in one house; you must not bring any of the meat outside the house, and you must not break a bone of it. The whole community of Israel must observe it. “When a foreigner lives with you and wants to observe the Passover to the Lord, all his males must be circumcised, and then he may approach and observe it, and he will be like one who is born in the land—but no uncircumcised person may eat of it. The same law will apply to the person who is native-born and to the foreigner who lives among you.” (Exodus 12:43–49 NET)
By faith [Moses] he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the one who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. (Hebrews 11:28 NET)
There are eight unique features of this Passover Offering:
- If a family was too small to consume a whole lamb or kid, then arrangements were made to eat with another family to minimize waste (i.e., God wastes nothing, even our suffering (1).) (Exodus 12:3,4),
- the sacrifice for the paschal meal was to be selected and set aside on the tenth day of the first month, Nisan (Abib/Aviv). From the tenth day to the fourteenth day (five days), the lamb was to be tested to make sure it is “without spot and without blemish” (i.e., without fault). (Exodus 12:6)
- each family, or families that are sharing, must eat the Passover meal in one house. No meat could be taken outside of the house (Exodus 12:46),
- no bones were to be broken in eating the meat (Exodus 12:46),
- any leftovers from the lamb were burned before morning without breaking any bones (Exodus 12:10),
- all Israelite males entering a blood protected house to partake of the Passover meal must be circumcised. Meaning they are covered by the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant with God. (Exodus 12:43,44,48,49). (Failure to satisfy this requirement nearly got Moses’ firstborn son killed by God (1)).
- no traveling foreigners or hired servants could partake of the Passover. An owned servant or foreigners that lived with the Israelites and both were circumcised could partake of the Passover (Exodus 12:43,44, 48,49), and
- the individuals eating the Passover meal must do so in haste, dressed to travel, with sandals on, and their staff in their hand but could not leave the house until the morning. (Exodus 12:11,19)
The animal to be sacrificed had to have the following four general characteristics. The animal had to be:
- ceremonially clean,
- utilitarian, meaning “usable for food” or sustenance,
- domesticated (i.e., those that obeyed their master’s will and more or less endeared to the offerer), and
- Sheep or Goat (i.e., Lamb or Kid)
In addition, the animal to be sacrificed had to meet the following three criteria:
- Condition – perfect without spot, blemish, disease, or deformity (Exodus 12:5. cf. Malachi 1:8 NET),
- Gender – Male (6), and
- Age – the sheep or goat had to be one year old (i.e., a lamb or kid at the peak of life and health) (7).
There were eight sequential steps of the First Passover Offering ritual performed in Egypt:
- on Nisan 10, each male head of the household obtained a sacrificial animal for his family (or sharing families) to be observed for five days to ensure it was without fault (refer back to Required Sacrifices immediately above for details),
- on Nisan 14 (the fifth day) at approximately 3:00 PM, the members of the household gathered outside the door of the house (3),
- the male head of the household, in the role of a priest (Exodus 19:6), made a presentation of the faultless sacrifice to God at the threshold of the door to the house and then killed the sacrifice allowing its blood to drain into the basin in the threshold (11)(14)(30),
- the male of the household, would take a bunch of hyssop (1) leaves, dip them into the basin filled with blood, slap (11) the blood on both sides of the doorpost, and above the doorpost. Consequently, the entire entry into the house was covered by the blood of the sacrifice. (3) The hyssop bush holds water in its stem. When the blood was applied, water would flow out of the stem and cover the blood. The entire entrance into the house was covered with blood and water. The blood represents a life given while the water represents a life received. (4)(When the people applied the blood to the threshold and the doorway, they were inviting God to cross over the threshold into their home as their protector from the angel of death. That is, God did not pass over; he crossed over! Furthermore, God entered into a threshold-blood covenant with them. (3) It was a marriage covenant between Yahweh and the nation of Israel with God becoming their Husband! (Jeremiah 31:31,32) (14) God crossed the bloodstained threshold and stood in the door to keep the executioner from entering the home. Death could not claim them. God, Himself was the door (John 10:2,7). The executioner could only enter the homes of those who did not have blood.) (3),
- the family (or families) then entered the house through the blood-stained door by stepping over the threshold so as not to “trample underfoot” the blood of the sacrifice (cf. Hebrews 10:29). (To step over the threshold was to accept the Passover sacrifice and the protection offered by it from God. To trample underfoot, the blood was to show contempt and rejection of the Passover sacrifice and the protection offered by God (3). When the males that were circumcised and the females crossed the bloody threshold and entered the house through the door (cf. John 10:2,7), they were entitled to the protections provided by the Passover sacrifice. If someone entered the home any other way except by crossing over the bloodstained threshold, it meant they were an enemy who came to steal, kill, and destroy (cf. John 10:1,10). The protection and provisions of the Passover sacrifice were not provided to them as there was no blood covenant with God other than by the door (4)),
- once inside the family (or families) could not go out the door of the house until the following morning. (While the family (families) were inside the house, they could not see the blood covering, but they had faith that God would save them because of it. It did not matter what they had done or not done in their lives. It only mattered that they were in the house with the Lamb’s blood on the door. That is, they were saved by grace through faith in the blood of the sacrifice, which they could not see and not by works. (cf. Ephesians 2:8,9. Hebrews 11:1)) (4),
- the sacrifice was cooked without any bones being broken. This instruction required that it be roasted by fire on a spit shaped like a crossbar so that its body could be spread open. The sacrifice was roasted with its head, legs, and entrails intact. (The smoke from the roasting sacrifice was NOT mentioned to produce a soothing aroma to God due to the unwashed entrails remaining inside that contained excrement (i.e., burning excrement, metaphorically our sin, smells awful to God!)) (3), and
- on Nisan 15, sometime after 6:00 PM, the Passover supper began consisting of eating of the roasted sacrifice, unleavened bread (matzah), and bitter herbs (maror) and was completed before midnight. At midnight God allowed the angel of death to pass through the land (Exodus 11:4; 12:29). (As he passed from door to door, he sought to enter every household. If the entrance was covered by blood, the angel of death could not enter but had to “pass over” that house. If the entrance was not covered by blood, the angel would “pass-through” that house and judgment would come upon that household; the firstborn males of humans and animals would die. This was the Lord’s Passover, where He used the blood of the sacrifice to save His people from death. That is, the blood of the sacrifice was their covering and protection.) (3)(9)
The Passover Observed for the Second Time in the Old Covenant (circa 1445 B.C.) (13)
The Israelites observed the Passover one year after leaving Egypt while under the leadership of Moses. This was the first official Passover that functioned as a commemoration of the exodus event. God reminds Moses that Israel should observe the Passover on the 14th day of the first month as prescribed, Moses tells the people to observe the Passover, and the people comply.
The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt: “The Israelites are to observe the Passover at its appointed time. In the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you are to observe it at its appointed time; you must keep it in accordance with all its statutes and all its customs. ”So Moses instructed the Israelites to observe the Passover. And they observed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight in the wilderness of Sinai; in accordance with all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so the Israelites did. (Numbers 9:1–5 NET)
The Passover Rules Amended (circa 1445 B.C)
A few individuals desired to participate in the Passover but were found to be unclean, having touched the dead body of a man. Consequently, Moses asked God what to do, and God allowed a “make-up” observance on the 14th of the second month (i.e., the month of Iyyar (1)). However, the only people eligible for the make-up Passover are those who had been unclean, having touched a dead body of a man or away on a journey; all others who neglect the Passover have sinned and were to be “cut off.” (12)
It happened that some men who were ceremonially defiled by the dead body of a man could not keep the Passover on that day, so they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day. And those men said to him, “We are ceremonially defiled by the dead body of a man; why are we kept back from offering the Lord’s offering at its appointed time among the Israelites?” So Moses said to them, “Remain here and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you.” The Lord spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites, ‘If any of you or of your posterity become ceremonially defiled by touching a dead body, or are on a journey far away, then he may observe the Passover to the Lord. They may observe it on the fourteenth day of the second month at twilight; they are to eat it with bread made without yeast and with bitter herbs. They must not leave any of it until morning, nor break any of its bones; they must observe it in accordance with every statute of the Passover. But the man who is ceremonially clean, and was not on a journey, and fails to keep the Passover, that person must be cut off from his people. Because he did not bring the Lord’s offering at its appointed time, that man must bear his sin. If a resident foreigner lives among you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, he must do so according to the statute of the Passover, and according to its custom. You must have the same statute for the resident foreigner and for the one who was born in the land.’ ” On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle — the tent of the testimony — and from evening until morning there was a fiery appearance over the tabernacle. (Numbers 9:6–15 NET)
The Passover Requirements are Modified (circa 1407 B.C.) (13)
Passover rules are slightly modified to allow sacrificial animals to be from the herd (e.g., bulls) and the flock. This was likely done since they will be leaving the wilderness going into the Promised Land, where cattle will be more abundant from the conquered lands. Since this will now be a communal meal, more food is needed with reduced concern for wasted leftovers.
The altar for sacrificing the Passover animal changes from the threshold (14) of the doors of their houses (i.e., their tents during the 40-year wilderness journey) to the place where God has “placed His name.” According to events recorded in the scripture, the animals were slaughtered within the Outer Court of the mobile Tabernacle. Its Brazen Altar was used for the blood ritual since it was now available (circa 1444 B.C.) (13). The Outer Court of the Temple at Jerusalem and its Brazen Altar were utilized once they were constructed by King Solomon (circa 959) (1 Kings 9:3;11:36) and others Temples of the Lord (i.e., Zerubbabel, and Herod). Ultimately, the Cross of Calvary was utilized for the last Passover Lamb’s slaughter and blood ritual. Blessed be the Holy Name of Jesus, the Messiah (Yeshua Hamashiach)!
The blood ritual of stomping sacrificial blood on the door lintel and jams is eliminated and replaced with the splashing of blood on the insides of the Brazen Altar (1) similar to other fire sacrifices (e.g., The Peace Offering) (1).
The Levites would be lined up in two long rows stretching from the Brazen Altar all the way out to the people. Each Levite has a basin in his hand to catch the blood, just as the threshold caught the blood back in Egypt. The basin is not flat but rather pointed at the bottom to keep the Levite from setting it down and allowing the blood to congeal. As each male head of the household would cut their lamb’s throat, the warm blood would flow through their fingers. Although this lamb was purchased at the tabernacle, so not like a pet lamb back home, they still identified with the animal. The Levite standing before the male head of the household catches the blood in the basin. Quickly he passes it up the line to the Levite nearest the Altar. Very methodically, he takes the basin and throws the blood against the sides of the altar. Then he passes the empty basin back down the line of Levites to catch the blood of another lamb. They would then rejoice and sing the great Psalms of praise to God as they prepared for their Passover meal. (4)
The location of the Passover meal was changed from the individual houses (i.e., their tents during the 40-year wilderness journey) to “in the place the Lord your God chooses.” According to events recorded in the scripture, this open-ended location was first the mobile Tabernacle, then the Temples of the Lord (i.e., Solomon’s, Zerubbabel’s, and Herod’s), and last but not least, the Upper Room!
Initially, the Passover was a local observance centered on the nuclear family and their home. However, since Passover became a pilgrimage festival centered on the Tabernacle (or later the Temple), it was merged with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was already a pilgrimage festival. That is, two separate yet contiguous feasts are now clarified to be a combined pilgrimage Feast. (12) Consequently, the two were treated together as a single commemoration, with the result that either festival name could designate the entire eight days. (30)
Observe the month Abib and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in that month he brought you out of Egypt by night. You must sacrifice the Passover animal (from the flock or the herd) to the Lord your God in the place where he chooses to locate his name. You must not eat any yeast with it; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast, symbolic of affliction, for you came out of Egypt hurriedly. You must do this so you will remember for the rest of your life the day you came out of the land of Egypt. There must not be a scrap of yeast within your land for seven days, nor can any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until the next morning. You may not sacrifice the Passover in just any of your villages that the Lord your God is giving you, but you must sacrifice it in the evening in the place where he chooses to locate his name, at sunset, the time of day you came out of Egypt. You must cook and eat it in the place the Lord your God chooses; you may return the next morning to your tents. You must eat bread made without yeast for six days. The seventh day you are to hold an assembly for the Lord your God; you must not do any work on that day. (Deuteronomy 16:1–8 NET)
The Third Recorded Passover Observation in the Old Covenant (circa 1406 B.C.) (13)
Israel observed the Passover on Nisan 14 after entering the Promised land under the leadership of Joshua. However, they first had to circumcise all males born during the forty years of wilderness wandering. (Joshua 5:2-9 NET). Recall, circumcision was a prerequisite for males participating in the Passover Meal (Exodus 12:43,44,48,49), and the parents of the children born in the wilderness had not practiced circumcision.
So the Israelites camped in Gilgal and celebrated the Passover in the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the plains of Jericho. They ate some of the produce of the land the day after the Passover, including unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped appearing the day they ate some of the produce of the land; the Israelites never ate manna again. (Joshua 5:10–12 NET)
It was after this Passover when they ate of the produce of the Promised Land on Nisan 15, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, that the manna stopped appearing.
The Fourth Recorded Passover Observation in the Old Covenant (circa 1045 – 1035 B.C) (13)
There is indirect evidence that Passovers were observed under Samuel’s leadership, the Prophet, Priest, and Judge (1 Samuel 7:6; 7:15-17. Acts 13:20). Samuel is believed to have lived from 1075 – 1035 B.C. (13)
So the Israelites who were present observed the Passover at that time, as well as the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days. A Passover like this had not been observed in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had observed a Passover like the one celebrated by Josiah, the priests, the Levites, all the people of Judah and Israel who were there, and the residents of Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 35:17–18 NET)
The king ordered all the people, “Observe the Passover of the Lord your God, as prescribed in this scroll of the covenant.” He issued this edict because a Passover like this had not been observed since the days of the judges; it was neglected for the entire period of the kings of Israel and Judah. (2 Kings 23:21–22 NET)
The Fifth Recorded Passover Observation in the Old Covenant (circa 715 B.C.) (13)
Israel observed the Passover on the 14th of the month of Iyyar (1) under King Hezekiah’s leadership. The Passover was celebrated in the second month instead of the first month. Which apparently was based on the allowance for having Passover in the second month was considered precedence. However, that exception was only made for observing Passover in the second month and not the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It was specifically for those who were ceremonially unclean, having touched the dead body of a man (Numbers 9:6-12). Nevertheless, the people, the temple, and the priests were either not sanctified in time to observe it in the first month, and they were not yet assembled (2 Chronicles 30:3). This because Hezekiah’s reforms had begun in the first month, and the Israelites did not finish cleaning the temple until the 16th day of the first month (2 Chronicles 29:17,18). (3)
Noteworthy is that this festival combines the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover since the account begins stating they held “the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month” (2 Chronicles 30:13). The narrative does little to describe how the Passover was observed since the only detail it reports is the slaughter of the Passover lamb on the 14th. However, the narrative does make it clear that there was confusion over how to celebrate the Passover. That is, some of the Israelites had not properly consecrated themselves and so were still unclean when they ate the sacrifice. These people did not eat “as it was written” (ככתוב, kktwb), suggesting there were written instructions that were not widely known. Hezekiah prayed for God to accept those whose hearts were in the right place in seeking God, even if they had outwardly failed to complete the proper purification, perhaps in ignorance. (12) Furthermore, the Passover was such a wonderful festival of praise, that they continued it for seven more days. (2 Chronicles 30:23,24.) (4)
Hezekiah sent messages throughout Israel and Judah; he even wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, summoning them to come to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem and observe a Passover celebration for the Lord God of Israel. The king, his officials, and the entire assembly in Jerusalem decided to observe the Passover in the second month. They were unable to observe it at the regular time because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem. The proposal seemed appropriate to the king and the entire assembly. So they sent an edict throughout Israel from Beer Sheba to Dan, summoning the people to come and observe a Passover for the Lord God of Israel in Jerusalem, for they had not observed it on a nationwide scale as prescribed in the law. Messengers delivered the letters from the king and his officials throughout Israel and Judah. This royal edict read: “O Israelites, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so he may return to you who have been spared from the kings of Assyria. Don’t be like your fathers and brothers who were unfaithful to the Lord God of their ancestors, provoking him to destroy them, as you can see. Now, don’t be stubborn like your fathers! Submit to the Lord and come to his sanctuary which he has permanently consecrated. Serve the Lord your God so that he might relent from his raging anger. For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and sons will be shown mercy by their captors and return to this land. The Lord your God is merciful and compassionate; he will not reject you if you return to him.” The messengers journeyed from city to city through the land of Ephraim and Manasseh as far as Zebulun [i.e., the Northern Kingdom of Israel], but people mocked and ridiculed them. But some men from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. In Judah [i.e., the Southern Kingdom of Judah] God moved the people to unite and carry out the edict the king and the officers had issued at the Lord’s command. A huge crowd assembled in Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month. They removed the altars in Jerusalem; they also removed all the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley. They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and Levites were ashamed, so they consecrated themselves and brought burnt sacrifices to the Lord’s temple. They stood at their posts according to the regulations outlined in the law of Moses, the man of God. The priests were splashing the blood as the Levites handed it to them. Because many in the assembly had not consecrated themselves, the Levites slaughtered the Passover lambs of all who were ceremonially unclean and could not consecrate their sacrifice to the Lord. The majority of the many people from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun were ceremonially unclean, yet they ate the Passover in violation of what is prescribed in the law. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying: “May the Lord, who is good, forgive everyone who has determined to follow God, the Lord God of his ancestors, even if he is not ceremonially clean according to the standards of the temple.”The Lord responded favorably to Hezekiah and forgave the people. The Israelites who were in Jerusalem observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great joy. The Levites and priests were praising the Lord every day with all their might. Hezekiah expressed his appreciation to all the Levites, who demonstrated great skill in serving the Lord. They feasted for the seven days of the festival, and were making peace offerings and giving thanks to the Lord God of their ancestors. The entire assembly then decided to celebrate for seven more days; so they joyfully celebrated for seven more days. King Hezekiah of Judah supplied 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep for the assembly, while the officials supplied them with 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep. Many priests consecrated themselves. The celebration included the entire assembly of Judah, the priests, the Levites, the entire assembly of those who came from Israel, the resident foreigners who came from the land of Israel, and the residents of Judah. There was a great celebration in Jerusalem, unlike anything that had occurred in Jerusalem since the time of King Solomon son of David of Israel. The priests and Levites got up and pronounced blessings on the people. The Lord responded favorably to them as their prayers reached his holy dwelling place in heaven. When all this was over, the Israelites who were in the cities of Judah went out and smashed the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherah poles, and demolished all the high places and altars throughout Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. Then all the Israelites returned to their own homes in their cities. (2 Chronicles 30:1–31:1 NET)
The Sixth Recorded Passover Observation in the Old Covenant (circa 640 B.C.) (13)
Israel observed the Passover on the 14th of the month of Nisan (1) under King Josiah’s leadership. King Josiah and his officials donated many animals to provide Passover sacrifices for all the people. The mix of animals for sacrifice included sheep, lambs, young goats, and bulls.
Josiah observed a Passover festival for the Lord in Jerusalem. They slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the first month. He appointed the priests to fulfill their duties and encouraged them to carry out their service in the Lord’s temple. He told the Levites, who instructed all Israel about things consecrated to the Lord, “Place the holy ark in the temple which King Solomon son of David of Israel built. Don’t carry it on your shoulders. Now serve the Lord your God and his people Israel! Prepare yourselves by your families according to your divisions, as instructed by King David of Israel and his son Solomon. Stand in the sanctuary and, together with the Levites, represent the family divisions of your countrymen. Slaughter the Passover lambs, consecrate yourselves, and make preparations for your countrymen to do what the Lord commanded through Moses.” From his own royal flocks and herds, Josiah supplied the people with 30,000 lambs and goats for the Passover sacrifice, as well as 3,000 cattle. His officials also willingly contributed to the people, priests, and Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, the leaders of God’s temple, supplied 2,600 Passover sacrifices and 300 cattle. Konaniah and his brothers Shemaiah and Nethanel, along with Hashabiah, Jeiel, and Jozabad, the officials of the Levites, supplied the Levites with 5,000 Passover sacrifices and 500 cattle. Preparations were made, and the priests stood at their posts and the Levites in their divisions as prescribed by the king. They slaughtered the Passover lambs and the priests splashed the blood, while the Levites skinned the animals. They reserved the burnt offerings and the cattle for the family divisions of the people to present to the Lord, as prescribed in the scroll of Moses. They cooked the Passover sacrifices over the open fire as prescribed and cooked the consecrated offerings in pots, kettles, and pans. They quickly served them to all the people. Afterward they made preparations for themselves and for the priests, because the priests, the descendants of Aaron, were offering burnt sacrifices and fat portions until evening. The Levites made preparations for themselves and for the priests, the descendants of Aaron. The musicians, the descendants of Asaph, manned their posts, as prescribed by David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s prophet. The guards at the various gates did not need to leave their posts, for their fellow Levites made preparations for them. So all the preparations for the Lord’s service were made that day, as the Passover was observed and the burnt sacrifices were offered on the altar of the Lord, as prescribed by King Josiah. So the Israelites who were present observed the Passover at that time, as well as the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days. A Passover like this had not been observed in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had observed a Passover like the one celebrated by Josiah, the priests, the Levites, all the people of Judah and Israel who were there, and the residents of Jerusalem. This Passover was observed in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign. (2 Chronicles 35:1–19 NET)
The people kept the Passover and then observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The narrator ends by praising Josiah’s Passover, noting “there was no Passover like it kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet.”
The king ordered all the people, “Observe the Passover of the Lord your God, as prescribed in this scroll of the covenant.” He issued this edict because a Passover like this had not been observed since the days of the judges; it was neglected for the entire period of the kings of Israel and Judah. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, such a Passover of the Lord was observed in Jerusalem. (2 Kings 23:21–23 NET)
Note the apparent contradiction in the preceding verses. King Hezekiah of Judah had observed a Passover in approximately 715 B.C. (discussed previously in this article); however, this passage states that the one under Josiah was the first Passover during the reign of the kings of Israel. The solution to this apparent contradiction is found in the phrase “a Passover like this,” meaning in strict compliance with the scriptural protocol. Again, Josiah’s Passover was observed strictly by the scriptural guidance juxtaposed to Hezekiah’s Passover, which was:
- conducted in the second month as allowed for those unclean due to touching a dead body or traveling and out of the area, which was not the case in this situation,
- the Levites had to offer sacrifices for the unclean Israelites instead of the male head of the household,
- unclean Israelites partook of the Passover meal, and
- not all Israelites partook of the Passover meal.
While our God is full of grace, mercy, and compassion, there are always consequences to violations of His word. However, God will rescue us in the consequences and restore us as we turn to Him in repentance.
Judah in Babylonian Exile for 70 Years (circa 586 B.C. – 516 B.C.)
The date of 586 B.C. is when the First Temple (Soloman’s) was destroyed and when the third of four deportations of Judah to Babylon occurred. The date of 516 B.C. is when the Second Temple (Zerubbabel’s) was completed by the first exiles that returned under the leadership of Sheshbazzar. This deportation was due to not observing the Sabbath for the land every seventh year for 490 years. Consequently, God had Judah deported to Babylon to rest the land for the 70 unobserved “Sabbath for the Land” years. (Exodus 23:10,11. Leviticus 25:1-7. Leviticus 26:33-35;26:40-46. 2 Chronicles 36:15-21. Jeremiah 24:6. Jeremiah 25:11,12. Jeremiah 29:10,11. Jeremiah 29:17-19)
On the tenth day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard who served the king of Babylon, arrived in Jerusalem. He burned down the Lord’s temple, the royal palace, and all the houses in Jerusalem, including every large house. (Jeremiah 52:12–13 NET)
They finished this temple on the third day of the month Adar, which is the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.(Ezra 6:15)
The Seventh and Last Recorded Passover Observation in the Old Covenant (circa 516 B.C.) (13)
The last mention of a Passover observance in the Old Testament is the celebration of Passover that followed the dedication of the second temple after the Jews returned from exile in Babylon (Ezra 6:19–22). (12)
The exiles observed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. The priests and the Levites had purified themselves, every last one, and they all were ceremonially pure. They sacrificed the Passover lamb for all the exiles, for their colleagues the priests, and for themselves. The Israelites who were returning from the exile ate it, along with all those who had joined them in separating themselves from the uncleanness of the nations of the land to seek the Lord God of Israel. They observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with joy, for the Lord had given them joy and had changed the opinion of the king of Assyria toward them, so that he assisted them in the work on the temple of God, the God of Israel. (Ezra 6:19–22 NET)
The First Recorded Passover Observation in the New Covenant (circa 7 A.D.) (13)
Now Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem every year for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. But when the feast was over, as they were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but (because they assumed that he was in their group of travelers) they went a day’s journey. Then they began to look for him among their relatives and acquaintances. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Jesus were astonished at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were overwhelmed. His mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.”But he replied, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:41–49 NET)
The Second Recorded Passover Observation in the New Covenant and First Temple Cleansing (circa 27 A.D.) (32)
During this visit to Jerusalem, Jesus performs the first of three Temple cleansings. This Temple cleansing occurred very early in the public ministry of Jesus.
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there a few days. Now the Jewish feast of Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple courts those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables. So he made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the temple courts, with the sheep and the oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold the doves he said, “Take these things away from here! Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace!”His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will devour me.” So then the Jewish leaders responded, “What sign can you show us, since you are doing these things?”Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” Then the Jewish leaders said to him, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and are you going to raise it up in three days?” But Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. So after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the saying that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:13–17 NET) Now while Jesus was in Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover, many people believed in his name because they saw the miraculous signs he was doing. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people. He did not need anyone to testify about man, for he knew what was in man. (John 2:23–25 NET)
The Third Recorded Passover Observation in the New Covenant (circa 28 A.D.) (32)
A large crowd was following him because they were observing the miraculous signs he was performing on the sick. So Jesus went on up the mountainside and sat down there with his disciples. (Now the Jewish feast of the Passover was near.) Then Jesus, when he looked up and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread so that these people may eat?” (Now Jesus said this to test him, for he knew what he was going to do.) (John 6:2–6 NET)
The Fourth Recorded Passover Observation in the New Covenant (circa 30 A.D.) (32)
Now the Jewish feast of Passover was near, and many people went up to Jerusalem from the rural areas before the Passover to cleanse themselves ritually. Thus they were looking for Jesus, and saying to one another as they stood in the temple courts, “What do you think? That he won’t come to the feast?” (Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should report it, so that they could arrest him.) (John 11:55–57 NET)
Jesus the Fulfillment of the Passover Feast
“For 1,500 years, the Jewish people had been celebrating the Feast of Passover by killing a lamb and offering it as a sacrifice to God. They knew about lambs. But the blood of an animal could only cover their sins; it could not take them away. Because of this, God sent prophets to explain to the people that, one day in the future, a human lamb would come who would deal with the problem of sin and death once and for all.” The prophet Isaiah spoke of the suffering this human lamb would experience. He wrote an unambiguous, graphic description, which is recorded in Isaiah chapter 53.” (3) (Isaiah 53:1-12)
Within the framework of the Old Testament, the messianic significance is found in Isaiah 52:13–53:12. The coming Messiah is pictured in terms of a lamb in that statements made of Yahweh’s Servant in Isaiah 53 are similar to statements used of the paschal lamb. In this passage, Isaiah teaches that the Messiah would be the final Passover Lamb.
The point of this very famous messianic passage is that the Messiah would be the final paschal sacrifice, the final sacrifice for sin. The promise was that someday the sacrificial system, in general, would end, but even more so, the Passover sacrifice would end. The reason is that the Messiah will become that final paschal sacrifice.
“As the time came for this human lamb to be sacrificed, God crossed over time and space and became one of us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. God sent one last prophet to help the people recognize Him. This prophet was John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. John introduced Jesus with these words: “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). John identified Jesus as the human lamb Isaiah spoke of who would give His life for the world’s sins. Jesus was born for this purpose (Acts 2:22,23). Because of their religious sacrifices, the Jewish people immediately understood the significance of John’s statements concerning Jesus.” (3)
The New Testament sees the death of the Messiah as the fulfillment of the Passover motif: the slaying of the lamb. For example, four New Testament passages clearly connect the Messiah with the Passover Lamb:
- John the Baptist introduced Yeshua to the Jewish people in John 1:29, 35, and 36 as the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world. In this way, John identified Yeshua in terms of the paschal lamb of Exodus 12 and with the Messianic Lamb of Isaiah 53.
- the Messiah is also pictured as a lamb in 1 Peter 1:18–19.
- He is seen as the Lamb that has been slain in Revelation 5:12,
- and not only is Jesus identified with the lamb itself, but Paul identifies Him with the entire Feast of Passover in 1 Corinthians 5:7: Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened. For our passover also has been sacrificed, even Christ. (20)
Also, Yeshua called it His exodus that he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. (29)
They appeared in glorious splendor and spoke about his departure [Grk. His exodus] that he was about to carry out at Jerusalem. (Luke 9:31 NET)
The Pre-Burial Anointing of the Feet of Jesus (Friday the 9th of Nisan – Galilean Time)
John writes, “Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany…” (John 12:1). Since the Passover’s Feast of Unleavened Bread was celebrated on the 15th of Nisan, this would mean that Jesus came to Bethany on the 9th of Nisan. Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus anointed the feet of Jesus (3)
Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom he had raised from the dead. So they prepared a dinner for Jesus there. Martha was serving, and Lazarus was among those present at the table with him. Then Mary took three quarters of a pound of expensive aromatic oil from pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus. She then wiped his feet dry with her hair. (Now the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfumed oil.)But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was going to betray him) said, “Why wasn’t this oil sold for three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor?” (Now Judas said this not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief. As keeper of the money box, he used to steal what was put into it.) So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She has kept it for the day of my burial. For you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me!” (John 12:1–8 NET)
The First Jerusalem Entry (Saturday the 10th of Nisan – Galilean Time / Friday the 9th of Nisan Judaean Time)
John writes, “The next day…” meaning the next day after “the six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany…” (John 12:1). This means Jesus came to Jerusalem on Saturday between 6 A.M. and 6 P.M. the 10th of Nisan – Galilean Time, which corresponds to Friday the 9th of Nisan – Judaean Time. Realize, the Jews had two different methods of reckoning days. Ancient Jewish sources suggest that Jews from the northern part of Israel (including Galilee, where Jesus and most of the Twelve were from) counted days from sunrise to sunrise. John chose to utilize Galilean Time in his Gospel, which will be further explained later in this article under the heading: Two Different Jewish Time Reckoning Methodologies.
The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him. They began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Do not be afraid, people of Zion; look, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt!” (His disciples did not understand these things when they first happened, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about him and that these things had happened to him.) So the crowd who had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead were continuing to testify about it. Because they had heard that Jesus had performed this miraculous sign, the crowd went out to meet him. Thus the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you can do nothing. Look, the world has run off after him!” (John 12:12–18 NET)
Consequently, Jesus entered Jerusalem to reveal Himself as the human Lamb of God on Nisan 10 – Galilean Time, the exact date that God had told the Jews to set aside their lambs when in Egypt.
Most assume that because each Gospel records the entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, four accounts must be identical because they are similar. Consequently, it is concluded that because they differ in certain particulars, there are “discrepancies.” However, if we treat them in their chronological sequences and have regard to the antecedent and consequent circumstances, the supposed discrepancies will disappear, and similar but diverse expressions will be seen to require two different events. (37)
Again, the first Jerusalem entry recorded in John 12:12–15 occurs on Saturday, Nisan 10 – Galilean Time. Many interpret this first entry as being the Messiah’s final offer to be Israel’s Messiah. But that is not the significance of this entry. Again, its true significance was that on this occasion, Jesus set Himself aside as the Passover Lamb of God. (21)
Some facts supporting this position:
- In the Gospel of John, the “King is coming” prophecy of Zechariah. 9:9, which required the two animals, was not said to be fulfilled, and only a portion of it was quoted in John 12:15. However, it was said to be fulfilled in the Gospel of Matthew’s second Jerusalem entry account.
- In John the Jerusalem entry was prepared for many people in the city “heard that He was coming,” and “went forth to meet Him” (John 12:12,13).”
- The arrival of Jesus in Matthew seems unexpected, for “all the city was moved, saying, ‘Who is this?’ ” (Matthew 21:10, 11). If there was only one entry, the two accounts are inexplicable. (37)
The Second Entry into Jerusalem and Second Temple Cleansing (“Palm” Sunday the 11th of Nisan)
This was the great formal entry of the Lord Jesus as King, called “the Triumphal Entry,” which took place on Sunday, Nisan 11 – Judaean time, historically called “Palm Sunday.” (37) Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling a 400-year-old prophecy by the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah was speaking of this occasion when he said: (4)
Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your king is coming to you: he is legitimate and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey— on a young donkey, the foal of a female donkey. (Zechariah 9:9 NET)
The significance of the two animals, and the one, seems to be this: The first had special reference to His mission’s whole work. He came with the Ass ridding on its colt that had never been ridden (a special honor, Deuteronomy 21:3. 1 Samuel 6-7), the clothes being put some on one and some on the other, and the Lord sitting on “them”—the clothes (not on both beasts). He came to cleanse the Temple (Matthew 21:12-16. Luke 19:45,46) and pronounce judgment and the doom on the city and the nation (Luke 19:41-44). (37)
Notice that he did not ride upon a horse which Jews always associated with war, but upon an ass which to them was a goodly creature, highly esteemed, and ridden by princes on peaceful missions. (17) Jesus came to make a final presentation of the King and the Kingdom and was received at some level by the people but rejected by the religious leaders.
When Jesus appears again, it will be to a nation which will then say (as the result of Zechariah 12:10): “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39). (37)
Now when they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, telling them, “Go to the village ahead of you. Right away you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you are to say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “Tell the people of Zion, ‘Look, your king is coming to you, unassuming and seated on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” So the disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those following kept shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” As he entered Jerusalem the whole city was thrown into an uproar, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” Then Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those who were selling and buying in the temple courts, and turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. And he said to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are turning it into a den of robbers!” The blind and lame came to him in the temple courts, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the experts in the law saw the wonderful things he did and heard the children crying out in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant and said to him, “Do you hear what they are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of children and nursing infants you have prepared praise for yourself’?”And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and spent the night there. (Matthew 21:1–17 NET)
Now as they approached Jerusalem, near Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go to the village ahead of you. As soon as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here soon.’ ” So they went and found a colt tied at a door, outside in the street, and untied it. Some people standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They replied as Jesus had told them, and the bystanders let them go. Then they brought the colt to Jesus, threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. Many spread their cloaks on the road and others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Both those who went ahead and those who followed kept shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” Then Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. And after looking around at everything, he went out to Bethany with the twelve since it was already late. (Mark 11:1–11 NET)
Note that Mark’s account does not record a Temple cleansing on Palm Sunday but rather on the following day.
After Jesus had said this, he continued on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. Now when he approached Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, telling them, “Go to the village ahead of you. When you enter it, you will find a colt tied there that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ” So those who were sent ahead found it exactly as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying that colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt, and had Jesus get on it. As he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he approached the road leading down from the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen:“ Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” But some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples. ”He answered, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the very stones will cry out!” Now when Jesus approached and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you had only known on this day, even you, the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and surround you and close in on you from every side. They will demolish you—you and your children within your walls—and they will not leave within you one stone on top of another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.” Then Jesus entered the temple courts and began to drive out those who were selling things there, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of robbers!” Jesus was teaching daily in the temple courts. The chief priests and the experts in the law and the prominent leaders among the people were seeking to assassinate him, but they could not find a way to do it, for all the people hung on his words. (Luke 19:28–48 NET)
The Third Entry into Jerusalem and Third Temple Cleansing (Monday the 12th of Nisan)
This is the third entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and it occurred without a celebration of the people as He walked into the city juxtaposed to riding a donkey’s colt.
Now the next day, as they went out from Bethany, he was hungry. After noticing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it. When he came to it he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. Then they came to Jerusalem. Jesus entered the temple area and began to drive out those who were selling and buying in the temple courts. He turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. Then he began to teach them and said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have turned it into a den of robbers!”The chief priests and the experts in the law heard it and they considered how they could assassinate him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed by his teaching. When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city. (Mark 11:12–19 NET)
The Plot to Kill Jesus (Tuesday the 13th of Nisan)
The Sadducees were the liberal religious leaders that desired to kill Jesus. They saw Jesus as a threat to their comfortable political alliance with the Roman Government that gave them position, power, and influence. While there were some influential Pharisees at the highest level, the Jewish establishment consisted primarily of the Sadducees. The Sadducees represented a tiny group of influential religious leaders. They were the priests who oversaw the temple’s activities and greatly profited from the merchandising at the temple (Luke 16:14).
When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he told his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”Then the chief priests and the elders of the people met together in the palace of the high priest, who was named Caiaphas. They planned to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, so that there won’t be a riot among the people.” (Matthew 26:1–5 NET)
Two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the chief priests and the experts in the law were trying to find a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. For they said, “Not during the feast, so there won’t be a riot among the people.” (Mark 14:1–2 NET)
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. The chief priests and the experts in the law were trying to find some way to execute Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve. He went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers of the temple guard how he might betray Jesus, handing him over to them. They were delighted and arranged to give him money. So Judas agreed and began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus when no crowd was present. (Luke 22:1–6 NET)
Then many of the people, who had come with Mary and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and reported to them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called the council together and said, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many miraculous signs. If we allow him to go on in this way, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away our sanctuary and our nation.” Then one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is more to your advantage to have one man die for the people than for the whole nation to perish.”(Now he did not say this on his own, but because he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the Jewish nation, and not for the Jewish nation only, but to gather together into one the children of God who are scattered.) So from that day they planned together to kill him. (John 11:45–53 NET)
However, they did not desire to kill Jesus during the Passover, with approximately 2.5 million people attending this Jerusalem celebration because they feared the people since they considered Him to be a prophet and teacher (Matthew 21:11,45,46. Mark 11:18;12:12. Luke 7:16;19:47,48;20:19).
However, recall Jesus had recently cleansed the Temple on the 11th of Nisan – Judaean Time (Matthew 21:12-16. Luke 19:45,46) and again on the 12th of Nisan – Judaean Time (Mark 11:15-19). This certainly would not have sat well with the Sadducees and served to motivate them to arrest and kill Jesus on Passover, the 14th of Nisan. That is, Jesus was taking control of the events so that prophecy would be fulfilled, crucifying Him as God’s Passover Lamb. Also, the temple cleansings provided a group of disgruntled money exchangers and sacrifice sellers that would later form the crowd that demanded Barabas to be released and Jesus to be crucified.
So after they had assembled, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ?”(For he knew that they had handed him over because of envy.) As he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent a message to him: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man; I have suffered greatly as a result of a dream about him today.” But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor asked them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas!” Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?” They all said, “Crucify him!”He asked, “Why? What wrong has he done?” But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!” (Matthew 27:17–23 NET)
Realize, it was not all the Jews that desired the crucifixion of Jesus but rather a smaller group composed of religious leaders and those they were in league with them in the lucrative “Temple market.” They had turned the Court of the Gentiles into a profitable marketplace and thus had eliminated the only place in the Temple where Gentiles could approach God! Now you understand Jesus’s righteous anger that leads to His cleansing of the Temple on three occasions.
Certainly zeal for your house consumes me; I endure the insults of those who insult you. (Psalm 69:9 NET)
My zeal consumes me, for my enemies forget your instructions. (Psalm 119:139 NET)
Furthermore, realize that during Passover at this period, approximately 250,000 lambs would be sacrificed, with the majority of those purchased by those traveling to Jerusalem. Consequently, Jesus was causing no small stir in the Court of the Gentiles each time He cleansed it!
In addition, these religious leaders and this small group, likely a “rent-a-crowd,” desired to crucify Jesus because they were jealous of His fame and were afraid He would upset their comfortable relationship with the Roman government ruling over them. Consequently, the envious high priest and his followers handed Him over to Pilate because it was the “politically correct” thing for them to do. (3)
“When Pilate pretended to absolve himself from being responsible for the death of Jesus, the “rent-a-crowd,” said, “…His blood be on us and our children” (Matthew 27:25). Because of this statement, Church leaders have erroneously believed that the Jews, as a collective group of people, pronounced a curse on themselves forever. Therefore, they are the “Christ-killers.” But as we have just learned, this was the Sadducees and a small mob crowd they assembled to influence Pilate. Their self curse was fulfilled 40 years later when Titus burned the temple and destroyed Jerusalem. Since the Sadducees were the priests administering the temple, they and their families and their power, position, privilege, and fortune came to an end at that time.” (3)
“Most Jews did not live in Israel during the time of Jesus. They were scattered throughout the Roman Empire. They had never heard of Jesus, so they were certainly not guilty of killing Him. Furthermore, as we have just read [in the two Colt entries of Jesus into Jerusalem], most of the Jews in Jerusalem believed in Jesus; they certainly did not kill Him. Jesus suffered and died for our sins. God could have used any ethnic group to carry out the execution. In His redemptive plans and purposes and time, it was a petty Roman bureaucrat and a small handful of priests who actually put Jesus to death. Christians should continuously thank God for His redemptive love demonstrated through the death of Jesus as our Passover Lamb. We should also ask forgiveness from our Jewish friends for blaming them for His death.” (3)
The Fifth Recorded Passover Observation in the New Covenant (circa 30 A.D.) (13)
The Five Day, Five Inspections of Jesus, God’s Passover Lamb (10th through 14th of Nisan)
Jesus, God’s Passover Lamb, was inspected for five days (Nisan 10 through Nisan 14) and was determined to be “without spot and blemish.” His authority was questioned, and they asked Him trick questions, hoping He would somehow give a wrong answer that they could use against Him. The Sanhedrin, a group of students from the Pharisees, Sadducees, an experienced Pharisee lawyer, and a Roman Governor did everything they could to point an accusing finger at Him. Satan wanted to discredit Jesus so that He would not be an acceptable sacrifice. But Jesus always responded to them perfectly. They could not find anything wrong with Him. (3)
Now after Jesus entered the temple courts, the chief priests and elders of the people [i.e., the Sanhedrin] came up to him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered them, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Where did John’s baptism come from? From heaven or from people?” They discussed this among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From people,’ we fear the crowd, for they all consider John to be a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. (Matthew 21:23–27 NET)
Then the Pharisees went out and planned together to entrap him with his own words. They sent to him their disciples along with the Herodians [i.e., a group of students], saying, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful, and teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You do not court anyone’s favor because you show no partiality. Tell us then, what do you think? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” But Jesus realized their evil intentions and said, “Hypocrites! Why are you testing me? Show me the coin used for the tax.” So they brought him a denarius. Jesus said to them, “Whose image is this, and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” He said to them, “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”Now when they heard this they were stunned, and they left him and went away. (Matthew 22:15–22 NET)
The same day Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to him and asked him, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and father children for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children he left his wife to his brother. The second did the same, and the third, down to the seventh. Last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.”Jesus answered them, “You are deceived, because you don’t know the scriptures or the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. Now as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God,‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living!”When the crowds heard this, they were amazed at his teaching. (Matthew 22:23–33 NET)
Now when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. And one of them, an expert in religious law [i.e., an experienced Pharisee lawyer], asked him a question to test him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”Jesus said to him, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34–40 NET)
“Finally, in desperation, they delegate the determination of being “without spot or blemish” to the Roman governor Pilate, hoping he could find something wrong with Jesus. But after interrogating and beating Jesus, Pilate said of Him, “I find no fault in Him.” (3)
Then Pilate said, “So you are a king!” Jesus replied, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world—to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked, “What is truth?” When he had said this he went back outside to the Jewish leaders and announced, “I find no basis for an accusation against him. But it is your custom that I release one prisoner for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release for you the king of the Jews?” Then they shouted back, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” (Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.)(John 18:37–39 NET)
Again, this all happened in the five-day period from the 10th to the 14th of Nisan when the Jews were inspecting the lambs for sacrifice. (3)
On the next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 NET)
You know that from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors you were ransomed—not by perishable things like silver or gold, but by precious blood like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, namely Christ. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was manifested in these last times for your sake. (1 Peter 1:18–20 NET)
And you know that Jesus was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. (1 John 3:5 NET)
Who among you can prove me guilty of any sin? If I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? (John 8:46 NET)
The Pre-Burial Anointing of the Head (Body) of Jesus (Tuesday the 13th of Nisan)
Mark writes, “Two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleaved Bread… Now while Jesus was in Bethany…” (Mark 14:1,3). Since the Passover’s Feast of Unleavened Bread was celebrated on the 15th of Nisan, this would mean that Jesus came to Bethany on the 13th of Nisan. (3) Jesus states that “she anointed my body beforehand for burial.”
Two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the chief priests and the experts in the law were trying to find a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. For they said, “Not during the feast, so there won’t be a riot among the people.” Now while Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, reclining at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of costly aromatic oil from pure nard. After breaking open the jar, she poured it on his head. But some who were present indignantly said to one another, “Why this waste of expensive ointment? It could have been sold for more than three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor!” So they spoke angrily to her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a good service for me. For you will always have the poor with you, and you can do good for them whenever you want. But you will not always have me! She did what she could. She anointed my body beforehand for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” (Mark 14:1–9 NET)
The Last Supper is the Lord’s Passover (Wednesday the 14th of Nisan – Galilean Time)
“This Passover would be the last divinely authorized one. From this point on, there would be a new memorial—not one recalling the lambs’ blood on the doorposts but the blood of the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36; Revelation 5:6; 6:9; 7:10, 17; 14:4, 10; 15:3; 19:9; 22:1, 3) “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).
The Last Supper celebrated by the Lord with His disciples allowed Him to use the elements of the Passover meal to form a transition from the old covenant Passover to the new covenant Lord’s Supper” (1 Corinthians 11:23–26).” (15)
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23–26 NET)
The Last Supper in the Framework of the Passover Meal
The first element is the preparation for the Passover. This was a special Passover because, on this Passover, Yeshua fulfilled the Feast of Passover. This was the Passover when the Messiah was destined to die. The Passover meal had to be eaten within the walls of Jerusalem (21)
Now on the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover? ”He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near. I will observe the Passover with my disciples at your house.” ’ ” So the disciples did as Jesus had instructed them, and they prepared the Passover. (Matthew 26:17–19 NET)
Now on the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?”He sent two of his disciples and told them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Wherever he enters, tell the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” ’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” So the disciples left, went into the city, and found things just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. (Mark 14:12–16 NET)
Then the day for the feast of Unleavened Bread came, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us to eat.”They said to him, “Where do you want us to prepare it?” He said to them, “Listen, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters, and tell the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” ’ Then he will show you a large furnished room upstairs. Make preparations there.” So they went and found things just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. (Luke 22:7–13 NET)
Therefore, it is no accident that the conspiracy against Him included the strong desire to not have Him killed during Passover’s Feast. While Satan wanted Yeshua to die, he did not want Him to die at the Passover. So, included in the leaders’ conspiracy was the direction to not kill Him during Passover’s Feast.
Nevertheless, by the Temple Cleansings, He made sure that they would desire to act on the very night they did not want to act. In addition, Yeshua had already made special preparations for this Passover, as these passages clearly reveal. (21)
When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he told his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”Then the chief priests and the elders of the people met together in the palace of the high priest, who was named Caiaphas. They planned to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, so that there won’t be a riot among the people.” (Matthew 26:1–5 NET)
Two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the chief priests and the experts in the law were trying to find a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. For they said, “Not during the feast, so there won’t be a riot among the people.” (Mark 14:1–2 NET)
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. The chief priests and the experts in the law were trying to find some way to execute Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. (Luke 22:1–2 NET)
The Passover Seder (i.e., “Ordered” Service or Ceremony) Begins
It was Wednesday, Nisan 14 (Galilean Time), just before the setting of the sun. Jesus and the apostles had gathered in a large upper room on Mount Zion in Jerusalem’s upper city. Having an upper room implies that it was a wealthy home.
When it was evening, he took his place at the table with the twelve. (Matthew 26:20 NET)
Then, when it was evening, he came to the house with the twelve. (Mark 14:17 NET)
Now when the hour came, Jesus took his place at the table and the apostles joined him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:14–16 NET)
The room’s most prominent feature would have been a low table in the shape of a “U” called a triclinium. A triclinium was a Roman styled table of various sizes and styles adopted by the Jews of the first century. The table had large couches or cushions placed on each of the three sides, allowing the middle to be open for entertainment and servers.
The guests would lay on their left side facing the table, leaving their right hand free to eat the meal. In fact, reclining to eat the Passover was a first-century requirement of the Mishnah. (22) Consequently, each guest could lean on the bosom of the person to their left. Their legs would be facing away from the table, allowing servants to wash their feet as they ate the feast.
The feast’s host would not sit in the middle but instead second to the left, with the guest of honor on his left and a trusted friend to his right. The seating then continued around the triclinium, the most important guests seated on the left, then going around the table, with the least important sitting on the far right. If seated at the table, the servant would occupy the last position, closest to the door, so they could go and obtain more food as the evening progressed.
Starting from the horseshoe-shaped left side, we find that John the beloved is seated first, with Jesus to John’s left and Jesus’ right at the second seat (John 13:23). This arrangement would allow John to lean on the bosom of Jesus to ask of the betrayer’s identity (John 13:25). Judas was seated to the left of Christ, in the seat of honor, as both Jesus and Judas were able to eat from the same bowl (Matthew 26:23). Thereby Jesus demonstrated that He loved Judas even to the end by placing him in the seat of honor. Perhaps a throwback to Lucifer (1) was the anointed and highly honored angel who chose to betray God. For Peter to signal John to ask Jesus who would betray Him, he needed to be across from John, on the right side (John 13:24).
Resultingly, Jesus had placed the youngest apostle John on the side of prominence and putting Peter, the chief apostle, in the seat of the servant. Jesus, the consummate teacher, was taking this opportunity to provide an object lesson knowing that the group was in strife concerning who was the greatest of the Apostles.
A dispute also started among them over which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. So Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’Not so with you; instead the one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is seated at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. (Luke 22:24-27 NET)
An apparent discrepancy exists at this point between John’s chronology and that of the Synoptic Gospels. The latter clearly state that the Last Supper was a Passover meal (Matt. 26:17–19; Mark 14:12–16; Luke 22:7–15). John 18:28, however, records that the Jewish leaders “led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early [Judaean Wednesday morning; the day of the crucifixion]; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled by entering into a Gentile’s dwelling house (34), but might eat the Passover.” Further, according to John 19:14, Jesus’ trial and crucifixion took place on “the day of preparation for the Passover,” not the day after the eating of the Passover meal.
It was the day of Preparation for the Passover, about six o’clock in the morning. Then he said to the Jews, “There is your king!” (John 19:14 (NTMS:ITEETRGT)
Thus the Lord was crucified at the same time that the Passover lambs were being killed (cf. John 19:36; Exodus. 12:46; Numbers 9:12). The challenge, then, is to explain how Jesus and the disciples could have eaten the Passover meal on Thursday evening if the Jewish leaders had not yet eaten it on Friday morning. (15)
Two Different Jewish Time Reckoning Methodologies
The answer lies in understanding that the Jews had two different methods of reckoning days. Ancient Jewish sources suggest that Jews from the northern part of Israel (including Galilee, where Jesus and most of the Twelve were from) counted days from sunrise to sunrise. Most of the Pharisees apparently also used that method. On the other hand, the Jews in Israel’s southern region counted days from sunset to sunset. That would include the Sadducees (who of necessity lived in Jerusalem’s vicinity because of their connection with the temple). Though no doubt confusing at times, that dual method of reckoning days would have had practical benefits at Passover, allowing the feast to be celebrated on two consecutive days. That would have eased Jerusalem’s crowded conditions, especially in the temple, where all the lambs would not have had to be killed on the same day. (15)(16)
Being Galileans, Jesus and the Twelve (also the Pharisee’s) would have viewed Passover day as running from sunrise to sunrise. They would have eaten their Passover meal near the start of the Sadducees Wednesday. However, the Jewish leaders (the Sadducees) would have viewed Passover as beginning at sunset to sunset. They would have eaten their Passover meal near the end of their (the Sadducees) Wednesday. Resultingly, there is no conflict between the Gospel of John (Galilean Time) and the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Judaean Time).
As He began the seder (i.e., “order” of the service), Jesus pointed out in His sanctification that He had desired to eat this Passover with them before He suffered, emphasizing that this was indeed a special Passover. (2)
The Preliminary Course of the Passover Meal
Yeshua was following the Jewish observance of the Passover. While not all of the various elements are mentioned in the Gospels, several of them are.
The First Cup, The Cup of Sanctification or Blessing
1. The word of dedication—the blessing of the feast day (qidduš, kiddush) and of the cup—is spoken by the paterfamilias [i.e., the male head of the household] over the first cup (the qidduš [i.e., set apart as sacred and consecrated] cup). How appropriate to sanctify, or set apart, this service as special to the Lord. This is when the blessing over the Passover is recited and is followed by the drinking of the first cup. On this occasion, Jesus takes the place of the male head of the household (there is no one more head of a household than Jesus, who is God!). Red wine was required for this and the other three cups because the redemption from Egypt was accomplished by the shedding of blood. Only Luke speaks of this first cup (20)
Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves. (Luke 22:17 NET)
The Washing of the Hands
2. The normal procedure is that the hands are washed (Urchatz) by a servant. To further teach Peter, and the others, of the importance of servant-leadership, Jesus then washed the feet, instead of the hands, of the twelve disciples, including the feet of Judas who would betray Him.
Just before the Passover feast, Jesus knew that his time had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that he should betray Jesus. (John 13:1–2 NET)
He does not love you because you are valuable;
you are valuable because He loves you.
Jesus is getting ready to go back to heaven. He knows that He has come from heaven. He knows that He is going to heaven. And having loved His disciples while He was in the world, He loved them right up to the end. He never stopped loving them, including Judas that will betray Him, and He never stops loving you. There is nothing you can do to make Him love you any less, and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you anymore.
He does not change you so He can love you;
He loves you so He can change you.
Because Jesus knew that the Father had handed all things over to him, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, he got up from the meal, removed his outer clothes, took a towel and tied it around himself. He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel he had wrapped around himself. (John 13:3–5 NET)
The grace of God will humble a man without debasing him and will exalt a man without inflating him.
Peter, who Jesus had placed in the servant’s seat, was most likely responsible for washing the feet of the guests, yet Jesus, the host, and the greatest of them all, now acted as a servant and washed their feet.
Humility is not humility when it is put on show.
Real humility is not thinking lowly of yourself. It is not thinking of yourself. Why do you not have to think of yourself? Because you know who you are in the Lord Jesus. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about what people are going to think about you. It really does not make any difference. (19)
Salvation is Essential
Remember, Peter is seated in the seat reserved for the servant, and Jesus, the host of the supper, is preparing to wash his feet. This may help us understand Peter’s protest:
Then he came to Simon Peter. Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not understand what I am doing now, but you will understand after these things.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” (John 13:6–8 NET)
When our Lord Jesus Christ is talking about being clean, He is not talking about physical dirt. He is talking about spiritual dirt. Our Lord is saying that salvation is like a bath. When you get saved, it is like bathing. It is like having the defilement, the filth of sin washed away from us. (19)
Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious—not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25–27 NET)
But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4–7 NET)
Security is Eternal
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head!” Jesus replied, “The one who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not every one of you.” (For Jesus knew the one who was going to betray him. For this reason he said, “Not every one of you is clean.”) (John 13:9–11 NET)
Once you have a bath, you don’t have to keep on getting a spiritual bath. However, you have to keep on getting your feet washed. Now, what does Jesus mean by this? That once you get saved, once you are born again, once you have that spiritual bath, once there is the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit and washed in the Word that once is enough. However, you still get your feet dirty as you go about in this defiled world. There is no possible way that you are going to walk through this world without sometimes getting your spiritual feet defiled. Now, remember, He’s not talking about literal dirt; He’s talking about spiritual dirt. (19)
A Christian may sin, as we read in the Bible:
- Noah sinned
- Abraham sinned
- David sinned
- Peter sinned, and
- Paul sinned, etc.
If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8 NET)
Jesus spoke of Judas, who was not clean, not saved, due to the defilement of sin in his heart. Yet, He still loved him and washed his physical feet.
Sanctification is Expected
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” (John 13:8 NET)
Our Lord is saying is, “Look, Peter, salvation is essential, security is eternal, but sanctification is expected. If you do not let Me wash your feet, you are going to lose your fellowship with me.” If you have dirty feet, what can you do? Well, you can ignore them, and they will just get dirtier. You can deny that you have dirty feet, and that will make you a Pharisee. Or you can confess them and bring them to Jesus and let Him cleanse you. (19)
But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us. (My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.) But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One,and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world. (1 John 1:9–2:2 NET)
It is of profound importance that we understand what Jesus said to Peter, “Peter, what I’m doing now you won’t understand, but you’ll understand later.” Do you know when that later was for Simon Peter? Simon Peter cursed and swore and denied the Lord Jesus three times. Jesus looked at him with a look that broke his heart, and Jesus later washed Peter’s feet spiritually three times. Realize, Peter did not have to get saved all over again as He was saved. Jesus had said to him, “Peter, I’ve prayed for you, that your faith fails not.” And we know that every prayer that Jesus has ever prayed has been answered. Jesus said, “Father, I thank You that you always hear Me.” Peter’s faith couldn’t fail because Jesus was interceding for him, just like He’s interceding for me, just like He’s interceding for you. But Peter needed his feet washed. And, dear heart, so do you and I. (19)
Service is Enjoyable
So when Jesus had washed their feet and put his outer clothing back on, he took his place at the table again and said to them, “Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and do so correctly, for that is what I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you too ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example—you should do just as I have done for you. I tell you the solemn truth, the slave is not greater than his master, nor is the one who is sent as a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17 NET)
Question: What things is Jesus referring to doing?
Answer: God, the Lord Jesus humbling Himself and serving His disciples as a servant.
Typically only Gentile servants, not even Jewish servants, washed the feet of Jews. However, the Lord Jesus, a Jew, laid aside His garments and washed their feet. That just pictures the Lord Jesus and all that He did. He left glory. He laid aside that realm of glory. He was born in a manger. He said, “The birds have nests, and, and the foxes have holes; the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20) When He wanted to pay His taxes, He had to get a coin out of a fish’s mouth. (Matthew 17:27) When He was buried, He had to be buried in a borrowed tomb. (John 19:38) Oh, the humility of the Lord Jesus. And Jesus here is saying, “Look, I know that I’ve come from the Father. I know that I am going to the Father. And yet I am washing your feet. If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you ought also to wash one another’s feet.” (19)
The Dipping of the Parsley (The first announcement of betrayal)
3. It is at that point, that Yeshua apparently took His green vegetable and dipped it into the saltwater. At that same point, Judas dipped it with Yeshua in the same dish of saltwater. This act of Judas identified him as the betrayer for the first of two times.
When it was evening, he took his place at the table with the twelve. And while they were eating he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” They became greatly distressed and each one began to say to him, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for him if he had never been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus replied, “You have said it yourself.” (Matthew 26:20–25 NET)
Then, when it was evening, he came to the house with the twelve. While they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me will betray me.”They were distressed, and one by one said to him, “Surely not I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips his hand with me into the bowl. For the Son of Man will go as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for him if he had never been born.” (Mark 14:17–21 NET)
“But look, the hand of the one who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man is to go just as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” So they began to question one another as to which of them it could possibly be who would do this. (Luke 22:21–23 NET))
The Making of the Sandwich (The second announcement of betrayal)
4. The ceremony of the coreich, the making of the sandwich of the horseradish and the apple-nut mixture, which is a sauce made of fruit purée called the kharoset. (20) Jesus used this ceremony to identify the betrayer for the second time. For the second time, He announced that someone would betray Him, and, for the second time, they wanted to know who it was. For the second time, He did not name anyone but gave a clue. (2)
Jesus replied, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread after I have dipped it in the dish.” Then he dipped the piece of bread in the dish and gave it to Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son. (John 13:26 NET)
To dip the sop was to take a small piece of the unleavened bread and dip it into the horseradish and the apple-nut mixture. The one who dips is the one who officiates, and he does this for everyone, including himself. In this case, Yeshua officiated. He was to do this a total of thirteen times: once for Himself, and once for each of the Twelve. The answer to their question was that the first one to receive the dipped sop was the betrayer. When He dipped the first sop, He gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Just as the horseradish is bitter, so was the betrayal by Judas. (2)
The kharoset and bitter herbs represent bondage and suffering, with the betrayal being the delivering of the Messiah over to bondage and suffering. The sign revealed that it would be Judas who would deliver Him to His suffering. Furthermore, the Messiah also dipped into the cup, so the sign also revealed that it would be the Messiah who freely gave Himself over to suffering and death. The word dipping in Greek is linked to the word baptism, which means to submerge or overwhelm. That is, the Messiah’s life would be submerged in suffering, in our suffering, submerged in the cup of our judgment. And in the process, He would be overwhelmed. So He submerged Himself in the cup of our judgment, in the cup of suffering and bitterness, so that our judgment, tears, and hell would be taken away. (23)
As already mentioned, everyone reclines at certain times toward a left-hand position during the Feast of Passover meal. John also mentioned that they were reclining, and John was leaning against Yeshua’s breast. (2)
“What I am saying does not refer to all of you. I know the ones I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who eats my bread has turned against me.’I am telling you this now, before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I am he. I tell you the solemn truth, whoever accepts the one I send accepts me, and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” When he had said these things, Jesus was greatly distressed in spirit, and testified, “I tell you the solemn truth, one of you will betray me.” The disciples began to look at one another, worried and perplexed to know which of them he was talking about. One of his disciples, the one Jesus loved, was at the table to the right of Jesus in a place of honor. So Simon Peter gestured to this disciple to ask Jesus who it was he was referring to. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved leaned back against Jesus’ chest and asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus replied, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread after I have dipped it in the dish.” Then he dipped the piece of bread in the dish and gave it to Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son. (John 13:18–26 NET)
Even my close friend whom I trusted, he who shared meals with me, has turned against me. (Psalm 41:9 NET)
And after Judas took the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” (Now none of those present at the table understood why Jesus said this to Judas. Some thought that, because Judas had the money box, Jesus was telling him to buy whatever they needed for the feast, or to give something to the poor.)Judas took the piece of bread and went out immediately. (Now it was night.) (John 13:27–30 NET)
At that point, Judas left the seder. After Judas departed, the mood of the evening changed. Starting from this point, Jesus shares some of the most critical teachings contained in all scripture. While it was night and dark outside both physically and spiritually, now that Judas has left, the room is filled with the light of Jesus!
Also, the object lesson embedded in the seating arrangement communicated a study of servant-leadership and the love of God towards even the most lost of sheep.
The Main Meal is Served
5. The main meal is served but not yet eaten. The second cup is mixed and put in place but not yet drunk. (20)
The Passover Liturgy
1. The Passover Haggadah [means to tell or make know the meaning of the Passover] is spoken by the male head of the household, in Aramaic. (20)
You are to tell [higgadtā] your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ (Exodus 13:8 NET)
2. The first part of the Passover hallel, Psalms 113 (possibly also Psalms 114) is sung, in Hebrew. (20)
The Second Cup, The Cup of Passover or Plagues
3. Participants now drink the second cup (the haggadah cup).
The second cup, the Cup of Passover, Plagues, Suffering, Curse, or God’s wrath, is a reminder that ten plagues fell upon Egypt because of the Pharaoh’s stubbornness; therefore, many innocent people died as Israel was rescued. (8)
No New Testament account relates that Jesus prayed over this cup, or that he and his disciples drank it at this Passover meal. It is the cup that figuratively represents God’s wrath against all of our sin and subsequent sins. In fact, we have evidence that Jesus was later praying to His Heavenly Father in the Garden of Gethsemene to not drink from this cup if there was another way.
Going a little farther, he threw himself down with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me! Yet not what I will, but what you will.” ...He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will must be done.” (Matthew 26:39,42 NET)
Going a little farther, he threw himself to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour would pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:35–36 NET)
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Yet not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42 NET)
During his earthly life Christ offered both requests and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his devotion. (Hebrews 5:7 NET)
then he says, “Here I am: I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first to establish the second. (Hebrews 10:9 NET)
But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath! Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11 NET)
That is, drinking from this cup was not going to be the action of an insane, masochistic, or suicidal person, but rather the deliberate act of someone that was consumed by love for the race of man that He had created (John 3:16. Romans 5:8).
Later on the cross, Jesus will drink sour wine (i.e., wine sour or vin-e-gar), symbolically drinking of this Second Cup, the cup of God’s wrath for us sinners. (Matthew 27:48. Mark 15:36. Luke 23:36. John 19:29,30).
This vinegar was without any spices added to numb the pain, unlike the first drink offered to Him that Jesus refused (cf. Mathew 27:34. Mark 15:23. Psalms 69:21)
A jar full of sour wine was there, so they put a sponge soaked in sour wine on a branch of hyssop and lifted it to his mouth. When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:29–30 NET)
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 53:6 ESV)
God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NET)
He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death —even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:8 NET)
The Main Meal Begins
1. The host prays over the unleavened bread blessing God.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26 NET)
While they were eating, he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it. This is my body.” (Mark 14:22 NET)
Then he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19 NET)
Is not the bread that we break a sharing in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16 b NET)
“Yeshua referred to that bread as representing His body. The body of the Messiah is related to unleavened bread. When Jesus said, “This is my body,” He did not say it of wafers or other types of bread. He specifically said it of the Jewish Passover bread. The key theme of eating the bread is remembrance.
The three requirements for unleavened bread in the Jewish observance of Passover are true of the Messiah’s body. (2)
First, the bread had to be unleavened, which gives it the flat cracker-like appearance, because leaven is the symbol of sin; His body was also unleavened in that it was sinless. If He had committed only one sin, He would have been disqualified from becoming the Passover sacrifice. But Yeshua was the only Jew who ever lived that kept the Mosaic Law perfectly. Therefore, having an “unleavened” body, He was qualified to make the sacrifice for sin. (2)
Secondly, the unleavened bread had to be striped; the body of the Messiah was also striped by way of the Roman whip at the scourging. Isaiah 53:5 states: with his stripes we are healed. (2)
Thirdly, the bread also had to be pierced; the Messiah’s body was also pierced by the nails in His hands and feet and by the spear thrust into His side. Zechariah 12:10 states: they shall look unto me whom they have pierced. The matzah bread is baked so that it is pierced with tiny holes in rows, resulting in a striped appearance with brown spots resembling bruises. By being stripped, pierced, and unleavened, the Jewish Passover bread is a unique picture of the body of the Messiah.” (2)
The breaking of the Middle Matzah
A particularly intriguing element incorporated by rabbis is called the matzah tash. This is a linen pouch or plate with three different sections placed in the center of the Passover table. A piece of matzah (i.e., a loaf or cake of unleavened bread) is placed within each section, individually set apart yet united in the one container. Rabbinic commentaries do not give the exact origin of this custom. They speculate that the matzah tash represents unity—perhaps the unity of the people of Israel through the forefathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) or the unity of Israel’s families (Aaron, the Levites, the common people). (24)
The bag with three compartments in the Afikomen [Greek meaning “that which comes after or last”] ceremony portrays the One God who exists in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (2) This special bag called the “matzah tash” and is placed in the center of the Passover table. (24)
Again, the bag with three compartments in the Afikomen ceremony portrays the One God who exists in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” In this ceremony, the middle loaf is removed, which is a picture of the Incarnation when the Second Person of the Trinity became man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The loaf is broken in two [Yachatz], which is a picture of His death. When the Messiah came to this part of the ceremony, Jesus stated: This is my body which is given for you. Half of the loaf [called the Afikomen] is wrapped in linen cloth. Afikomen is a Greek word meaning “that which comes last.” Others have suggested the translation, “he will come again.” The other half of the matzah is placed back in the matzah tash. (2)
The Gospels make it clear that the body of Jesus was also wrapped in linen cloth when He was removed from the cross (John 19:40). The broken loaf [Afikomen] is then hidden for a time; this is a picture of His burial. Later, it is removed from its hiding place and unwrapped; this is a picture of His Resurrection. Lastly, pieces are broken off and distributed to everyone around the table, a picture of John 6:48-58, where he stated that all must partake of His body to have eternal life and have a relationship of mutual indwelling. Furthermore, Jesus clearly interprets the “eating” of His body as believing that He is the Messiah. Rabbis say it alludes to the fact that the afikomen is the last thing tasted at the seder, the dessert. The Passover meal cannot end until the Afikomen is eaten by each of those attending. (2)
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:51 NET)
Although Jesus broke the bread to serve it to the apostles, His body was never broken (John 19:31-37. Psalms 34:20). Certainly, His body was bruised beyond recognition but not one bone of his body was broken even as the Passover lamb, which was a type of Jesus God’s Lamb (John 1:29,36), was not to have any broken bones (Exodus 12:45-51. 1 Corinthians 5:7). Furthermore, this was true of all Old Testament sacrifices of Levitically clean animals, which were required to be killed by the shedding of blood and not like unclean animals killed by the breaking of their bones (Exodus 13:13).
2. The meal commences. It consisted of a Passover lamb with no broken bones, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs (see Exodus 12:8), together with the fruit purée and wine. (20)
They will eat the meat the same night; they will eat it roasted over the fire with bread made without yeast and with bitter herbs. (Exodus 12:8 NET)
The Third Cup, The Cup of Redemption or Blessing
3. The host prays over the third cup, the Cup of Blessing [for Redemption], at the close of the meal. (8)
Is not the cup of blessing that we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16 a NET)
It was once a memorial cup of physical redemption for the Jews from Egypt, but for believers in Yeshua, this cup symbolizes the spiritual redemption found in Messiah’s sacrificial blood. (8)
That is, it was a symbol of the redemption that came due to the shedding of the blood of the lamb in Egypt. That symbol of physical redemption was now to become a symbol of the spiritual redemption through the Messiah. Again, the key theme is remembrance. (2)
In Jesus’ day this prayer of thanks probably was as follows:
“Blessed art thou, O Lord, our God, king of the universe, who feedest the whole world with goodness, with grace, and with mercy. We thank thee, O Lord, our God, that thou hast caused us to inherit a goodly and pleasant land. Have mercy, O Lord, our God, on Israel, thy people, and on Jerusalem, thy city, and upon Zion, the dwelling place of thy glory, and upon thy altar and upon thy temple. Blessed art thou, O Lord, thou who buildest Jerusalem.” (20)
And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:27–28 NET)
And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many. (Mark 14:23–24 NET)
And in the same way he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:20 NET)
The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood resides in me, and I in him. (John 6:54–56 NET)
In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:25 NET)
The key theme of the meal has been remembrance: remember, through the sacrifice of my body and blood and your acceptance of the laying downing of my life instead of yours, represented by your eating the bread and drinking the wine (or grape juice) during the Lord’s Supper (1), I will remember your sins no more. In the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus, there is the end of God’s remembrance of our sins, the power to end remembrance of our own sins, and the power to end remembrance of the sins of others.
REMEMBER, I will NOT remember your sins!
I, I am the one who blots out your rebellious deeds for my sake; your sins I do not remember. (Isaiah 43:25 NET)
“For I will be merciful toward their evil deeds, and their sins I will remember no longer.” (Hebrews 8:12 NET)
“But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the Lord. “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God and they will be my people. “People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.” (Jeremiah 31:33–34 NET)
“This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws on their hearts and I will inscribe them on their minds,”then he says, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no longer. ”Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:16–18 NET)
“A protector comes to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their rebellious deeds,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 59:20 NET)
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:26–27 NET)
“Indeed, a time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt. For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:31,32 NET)
The New Covenant
“There at the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the New covenant, replacing Mount Sinai’s Old Covenant. At the Old Covenant institution, Moses, Aaron, Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel had gone up to the top of Mount Sinai, where they saw God and shared a meal together with Him (Exodus 24:9–11). Which person of the Trinity did they see and eat with? It was the Word, the pre-incarnate Son of God whose role is to represent the Godhead visibly to humanity (John 1:1,2,18).” (13)
“Thus, the Old Covenant was instituted at a meal between God the Son and the elders of Israel. In the upper room, the New Covenant was instituted at a meal between God the Son and the disciples, the elders of the church (cf. 1 Peter 5:1; 2 John 1; 3 John 1). At the Last Supper, when Jesus said, “This is my blood, which seals the covenant” (Matthew 26–28), the words (except for my) were identical to the Greek Septuagint’s translation of Moses’ words at the institution of the Old Covenant (Exodus 24:8). Jesus was instituting a New Covenant to replace the Old Covenant.” (13)
Jesus was the Mediator making a covenant between God the Father (represented by Jesus the God/Man) and humanity (represented by the 11 Hebrew Apostles). Realize that both the Old and New Covenants were made with Israel for the benefit of all humanity.
“The covenants of the Bible were treaties between God and his people. Thus it is significant that Jesus says, “This wine is the token of God’s new covenant to save you—an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you” (Luke 22:20). Since the time of Homer, the pouring out of a cup of wine was the normal way of sealing a treaty between nations. This ritual was so central to treaty-making that the Greek word for “libation” became the word for “treaty.” Thus Jesus used this contemporary treaty symbolism to make sure everyone understood that he was instituting a New covenant or treaty with his people.” (13)
“The words “covenant” or “testament” refers to one thing, the act of God providing for the salvation of the believing sinner through the blood atonement offered on Calvary’s Cross by the Lord Jesus. It is a covenant in the sense that it is an agreement on God’s part that He will give salvation to the sinner who will receive it by faith in the High Priest He has appointed. It is a last will or testament in the sense that God bequeaths salvation to the sinner who will receive it on the terms of the will, faith in the blood of Jesus. God, the divine Testator, dies to make the will effective. The words “covenant” and “testament” are used of one thing (1), viewed from two angles.” (18)
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. And so he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, since he died to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant. For where there is a will, the death of the one who made it must be proven. For a will takes effect only at death, since it carries no force while the one who made it is alive. (Hebrews 9:13–17 NET)
“Indeed, a time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt. For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the Lord. “But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the Lord. “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God and they will be my people. “People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.” (Jeremiah 31:31–34 NET)
In Hebrew, the word for “make” in the verses above is “karat.” “One of the best-known uses of this verb is “to make” a covenant. The process by which God made a covenant with Abraham is called “cutting”: “In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram …” (Gen. 15:18). The word “covenant” appears nine times before this in Genesis, but it is not connected with karat… Furthermore, hereafter in Genesis and throughout the Bible, karat is frequently associated with making a covenant… In Genesis, it often alludes to how animals were cut in two, and the party taking the oath passed between the pieces. This act was not created by God especially to deal with Abraham but was a well-known practice among many men at that time… In such a covenant, the one passing through the pieces pledged his faithfulness to the covenant. If that faithfulness was broken, he called death upon himself, or the same fate which befell the animals.” (26)
“[Jeremiah] literally says, ‘I will cut a covenant’ or ‘I will make a new covenant through the cutting of a sacrifice.’ So, according to the Hebrew prophecies, the new covenant can only begin with a sacrifice. Only then can sin be forgiven.” (23)
Prophecy – Fulfilled
While I [Daniel] was still speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and presenting my request before the LORD my God concerning his holy mountain—yes, while I was still praying, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen previously in a vision, was approaching me in my state of extreme weariness, around the time of the evening offering. He spoke with me, instructing me as follows: “Daniel, I have now come to impart understanding to you. At the beginning of your requests a message went out, and I have come to convey it to you, for you are of great value in God’s sight. Therefore consider the message and understand the vision: “Seventy weeks have been determined concerning your people and your holy city to put an end to rebellion, to bring sin to completion, to atone for iniquity, to bring in perpetual righteousness, to seal up the prophetic vision, and to anoint a most holy place. (Daniel 9:20–24 NET)
In 539 B.C., the Messenger Archangel Gabriel, who would later announce the births of both John the Baptizer and Jesus the final sacrifice, came to Daniel at the time that the evening sacrifice (3 P.M.) would have been held in the temple. He explained to Daniel that there were seventy weeks of years of prophetic history that would be divided into three sections or periods:
7 weeks of years (7 x 7 = 49 years)
So know and understand: From the issuing of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince arrives, there will be a period of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will again be built, with plaza and moat, but in distressful times. (Daniel 9:25 NET)
The seven weeks (or sevens) of years in which Jerusalem’s city was to be restored and rebuilt, which was decreed in 457 B.C. by Artaxerxes to Ezra and completed with much distress in 408 B.C., forty-nine years later. (Ezra 7:11-26. Ezra 9:1. Isaiah 58:12) (35)
62 weeks of years (62 x 7 = 434 years)
So know and understand: From the issuing of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince arrives, there will be a period of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. It will again be built, with plaza and moat, but in distressful times.
The sixty-two weeks (or sevens) of years began with completing Jerusalem’s restoration and rebuilding in 408 B.C. However, for simplicity, the first contiguous seven years are added back to the sixty-two years. Then, we calculate the end date of the sixty-nine weeks (483 years) time period from the order to rebuild the temple (457 B.C.) to determine when the Anointed Prince (Luke 4:18. Acts 4:27;10:38. Isaiah 9:6) was predicted to appear on the scene.
483 years – 457 B.C. + 1 (offset for no year zero) = 27 A.D.
The Anointed Prince is Yeshua Hamashiach (Jesus the Christ, Anointed, or Messiah)! Therefore, Jesus began His public ministry after being baptized by John the Baptist and anointed with the Holy Spirit by God His Father. This occurred in 27 A.D. when Jesus’ human body was 32 years old (Luke 3:23), thus satisfying the legal requirement of being at least 30 years old prior to entering into the priestly service (Numbers 4:3).
Now in those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan River. And just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my one dear Son; in you I take great delight.” (Mark 1:9–11 NET)
The anointed Prince of Peace had arrived! Also, the water baptism was the moment when Jesus becomes our High Priest establishing a new order of priesthood not of Aaron but like Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:10). John the Baptist, who was of the order of the priesthood of Aaron, officiated in the priesthood ordination ceremony by washing Jesus in water (i.e., baptized Him) and then God the Father anointed Him with the Holy Spirit (which the oil of the Old Testament represented, Leviticus 8:1-12). Jesus becomes our High Priest (1) so that He can later offer Himself as our sacrifice for sin on the cross of Calvary! (Hebrews 7).
Thus one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time the Lord Jesus associated with us, beginning from his baptism by John until the day he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness of his resurrection together with us.” (Acts 1:21–22 NET)
A selection criterion for the replacement of Judas was that they had witnessed the entire ministry of Jesus, which started with His baptism.
Now after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one will be cut off and have nothing. As for the city and the sanctuary, the people of the coming prince will destroy them. But his end will come speedily like a flood. Until the end of the war that has been decreed there will be destruction. (Daniel 9:26 NET)
“The expression be cut off means “to be killed.” After the sixty-two weeks or 483 years, but before the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, Jesus was to be killed. (36)
Jesus conducted three years of public ministry (Luke 13:7), which started with the first Passover Temple Cleansing (John 2:13-17), as the Son of Man on Earth, and ended on Wednesday, March 22, 30 A.D. (Hebrew – Wednesday, Nisan 14, 3790) at His crucifixion. However, several months did elapse between the baptism of Jesus and the start of His public ministry (John 2:3,4). If added, it would total approximately three and a half years from baptism to crucifixion.
Jesus’ death was approximately thirty-five years after His birth (1), which occurred on Saturday, March 20, 6 B.C. (Hebrew – Saturday, Nisan 1, 3755). Therefore, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit most likely on June 7, 7 B.C. (Hebrew – Sivan (1) 3754), which was Pentecost (Shavuot – the Feast of Weeks). How appropriate for the Lord of the Harvest to be conceived during the Feast that celebrates the wheat harvest.
“The Lord of the harvest is the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom the Father has committed all judgment (John 5:22, 27–29; cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:5–10). The compassionate Lord seeks to rescue people from His wrath and judgment through the prayers of believers. This is the paradox and wonder of the gospel. The judge commands His people to pray that more sinners be saved from His judgment; more than that, that more evangels be sent to those sinners, because the judge and executioner was Himself executed to save others from being executed by Him.” (44)
Basis for the March 20, 6 B.C. birth of Jesus (Yeshua)
The following graph indicates the various events that can estimate the most likely period of time that Jesus was born.
The various events point to the time period from 8 B.C. to 4 B.C.
The Shepherds in the Fields
Now there were shepherds nearby living out in the field, keeping guard over their flock at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were absolutely terrified.But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”Suddenly a vast, heavenly army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:8–14 NET)
“During the rainy season—particularly the cold months (December through February)—shepherds typically brought their sheep in from the fields. Shepherds often watched over their flocks in lambing season—March through April (Hebrew, Nisan) —making a spring birthdate (1) most likely.” (43) Realize, the Lambs born during Nisan would be at the required age of one-year-old by Passover the following year.
The Wise Men’s Question
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him... Then Herod privately summoned the wise men and determined from them when the star had appeared... When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he became enraged. He sent men to kill all the children in Bethlehem and throughout the surrounding region from the age of two and under, according to the time he had learned from the wise men. (Matthew 2:1,2,7,16 NET)
Herod the Great killed all children two years old and younger, which alludes to the wise men communicating to him that the star appeared two years earlier. According to the general consensus of research, Herod the Great died in the spring of 4 B.C. after a lunar eclipse that occurred on March 13, 4 B.C., and was buried before Passover on April 11, 4 B.C. This date is based on the Jewish historian Josephus’s work, who recounts the death of Herod the Great in two of his works, Jewish War I.665 and Jewish Antiquities XVII.191 and XVII.167. (40)(41)
In addition, since the thirty-fourth year of his reign would have begun on Nisa 1, 4 B.C. (March 29, 4 B.C.), his death would have occurred sometime between March 29 and April 11, 4 B.C. Therefore, Jesus could not have been born later than March/April of 4 B.C. (16)
Since the wise men visited Herod before his death in March of 4 B.C., the star appeared two years earlier, which puts the star’s appearance on or before April of 6 B.C.
The Wise Men’s Astronomy and Astrology
For the record, I do not endorse astrology, horoscopes, and anything associated with these demonic practices.
God put the stars and constellations in the heavens to indicate seasons, time, and to declare His glory.
God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them be signs to indicate seasons and days and years, (Genesis 1:14 NET)
Can you tie the bands of the Pleiades, or release the cords of Orion? Can you lead out the constellations in their seasons, or guide the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens, or can you set up their rule over the earth? (Job 38:31–33 NET)
The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky displays his handiwork. Day after day it speaks out; night after night it reveals his greatness. There is no actual speech or word, nor is its voice literally heard. Yet its voice echoes throughout the earth; its words carry to the distant horizon. In the sky he has pitched a tent for the sun. Like a bridegroom it emerges from its chamber; like a strong man it enjoys running its course. It emerges from the distant horizon, and goes from one end of the sky to the other; nothing can escape its heat. (Psalm 19:1–6 NET)
However, Satan perverted this system, starting with Nimrod at the Tower of Babel to become a system to worship false gods. Unfortunately, the nation of Israel, including Judah, fell into this trap of worshipping the heavenly objects.
The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the high-ranking priests, and the guards to bring out of the Lord’s temple all the items that were used in the worship of Baal, Asherah, and all the stars of the sky. The king burned them outside of Jerusalem in the terraces of Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. He eliminated the pagan priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed to offer sacrifices on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the area right around Jerusalem. (They offered sacrifices to Baal, the sun god, the moon god, the constellations, and all the stars in the sky.) (2 Kings 23:4–5 NET)
Ancient Persia (i.e., Babylon) had a priestly caste of wise men called magi. Astrology was prevalent in the ancient Near East, and the magi were both astrologers, astronomers, and mathematicians that relied on calculations to predict signs in the stars. These signs included the birth of leaders, which was of great interest to ruling monarchs. (13)
“Early Jews also were interested in astrology. One of their messianic prophecies said, “A star will rise from Jacob” (Numbers 24:17). To them, Jupiter was “the King’s planet” and Saturn was Israel’s “defender.” An old Jewish proverb said, “God created Saturn to shield Israel.”” (13)
‘I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not close at hand. A star will march forth out of Jacob, and a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the skulls of Moab, and the heads of all the sons of Sheth. (Numbers 24:17 NET)
“Early astrologers observed that planets move in a belt in the heavens that they termed the zodiac. They divided the zodiac into twelve equal blocks or signs. According to Chaldean (Babylonian) astrology, each sign represented a different nation… Since many of the Jews did not return from the Babylonian captivity and continued to live in Persia, the magi would have been familiar with Jewish astrological beliefs.” (13)
Also, Daniel staring in 604 B.C., was in charge of the magi and may have communicated to them the prophecy of a coming king in Judah. Probably this is why the magi knew to look for the signs in the stars and came to find the king born during the reign of “Herod the Great” many years later.
Then the king elevated Daniel to high position and bestowed on him many marvelous gifts. He granted him authority over the entire province of Babylon and made him the main prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. (Daniel 2:48 NET)
The Magi considered Aries the Ram to be the constellation sign for Judea. Unknown to them, the ram represented God’s lamb (Genesis 22:8,13). On March 20, 6 B.C., the Magi calculated and observed that the Sun was in Aries the Ram, its sign of exaltation. Also, Jupiter and Saturn were in Aries on that day, with Jupiter helically rising (i.e., rising before the Sun). Just before sunset in Judea, the moon occulted (i.e., completed obscured) Jupiter while in Aries. According to the canons of the time, this was a significant sign to the Magi, a combination worthy of kings, emperors, and deities! This conveyed to the Magi that a king was born in the land ruled by Aries – Judea!
On the Hebrew religious calendar, March 20 is Saturday, Nisan 1, the religious year’s first day. Therefore, Jesus was born on the night of the new year, in the Passover month, and on a Sabbath! He would later start and end His earthly ministry on Passovers!
Interestingly, being born on a Sabbath meant the infant Jesus would also be circumcised on the following Sabbath, which adds context to what Jesus said to the religious leaders and the Jews (Genesis 17:10-14. John 7:22-24).
However, because Moses gave you the practice of circumcision (not that it came from Moses, but from the forefathers), you circumcise a male child on the Sabbath. But if a male child is circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses is not broken, why are you angry with me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to external appearance, but judge with proper judgment.” (John 7:22–24 NET)
Messiah Cut Off
He was led away after an unjust trial— but who even cared? Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded. (Isaiah 53:8 NET)
“It says ‘Messiah shall be cut off [Karat]. …in Hebrew, it is the same word. It means the new covenant will begin with the cutting of a sacrifice. So Messiah will be the sacrifice that is offered up to begin the new covenant.” (23)
Now after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one will be cut off and have nothing. As for the city and the sanctuary, the people of the coming prince will destroy them. But his end will come speedily like a flood. Until the end of the war that has been decreed there will be destruction. (Daniel 9:26 NET)
Furthermore, it says: and shall have nothing. The noun may mean “nothingness,” to explain His state at death, or the Hebrew term may also mean “but not for Himself,” meaning He did not die for Himself, but for others. That is probably the intent of the passage.” (36)
And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. (Daniel 9:26 ESV)
“The word people in the Hebrew text has a definite article. It is the people, specific people, who are the subject of the action. In other words, it is not the prince that shall come who will destroy the city and the Temple, but rather, the people of the prince that shall come. The point of that second phrase in verse 26 is that the people’s nationality and the prince that shall come are one and the same. The prince that shall come in this context is the Antichrist, of whom Daniel has already spoken in chapters 7 and 8. By saying the prince, Daniel uses the article of the previous reference because he has spoken of him in the previous chapters. The prince that shall come, which is still the future, is of the same nationality as the people who will destroy the city and the Temple. After the Messiah is cut off, the city and the Temple will be destroyed.” (36)
“This occurred in A.D. 70, forty years after the death of the Messiah. It is known from history who the people were. The people who destroyed the city and the Temple in A.D. 70 were the Gentiles of Rome, the Romans. Since the Antichrist must be of the same nationality as the people who destroyed the city and the Temple, it is this verse that shows that the Antichrist will be a Gentile of Roman origin.” (36)
Again, Daniel’s prophecy revealed the timing that the Messiah would arrive and be anointed, and after that, then Jerusalem would be destroyed.
Since Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70, that means the Messiah has definitely come, the sacrifice has definitely been offered up, the new covenant has been cut [karat], and has definitely begun. (23)
“Then he states: and the end thereof shall be with a flood, meaning that the end of Jerusalem and the Temple shall be the result of a flood. Whenever the figure of a flood is used symbolically, it always is a symbol of a military invasion. Jerusalem was destroyed by a Roman military invasion, first under Vespasian and then under Titus.” (36)
And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. (Daniel 9:26 ESV)
“For the remainder of the interval before the start of the seventieth seven [i.e., The Times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24) that started with the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 A.D.], the Land will be characterized by war. This has certainly been true throughout the history of the Middle East. As a result of the wars, desolations are determined, a reference to the state of the Land as determined or decreed by God.” (36)
1 week of years (1 x 7 = 7 years)
This future prophetic week occurs after the “Times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) and will be addressed in a Fall Festival blog.
A New Commandment
“Since the Old covenant contained commandments, one would expect that the New covenant would contain a new commandment. Thus at the Last Supper Jesus says,” (13)
“I give you a new commandment—to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34,35 NET)
The Fourth Cup, The Cup of Praise
1. Traditionally, praise over the fourth cup (the Hallel cup) [i.e., the cup of praise to God] or the Cup of the Kingdom is offered. No New Testament account relates that Jesus prayed over this cup or that he and his disciples drank it. On the contrary, there is evidence that Jesus deliberately refrains from it: (20)
I tell you, from now on I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29 NET)
Jesus did not want to drink of the fourth cup because everything He did was to fulfill prophecy. Since the kingdom was not yet to be established, He skipped that cup, sang a hymn, and left. (27)
Another reason that Jesus did not drink of the fourth cup had to do with the Jewish wedding tradition. When a Jewish groom would propose marriage to a prospective bride, he would offer her a cup of wine. If she drank it, she was accepting the betrothal. He would then inform her that he would go to his father’s house to prepare a place for her. She would typically respond, “When are you coming back?” (cf. Matthew 24:3) The prospective groom would reply by saying, “Only my father knows!” (cf. Matthew 24:36) (27)
Jesus and His disciples had this very same discussion the night of the Last Supper. After the disciples drank the third cup of Redemption, which was symbolically the “Cup of Betrothal,” Jesus told them that He was going to His Father’s house to prepare a place for them. (27)
“Do not let your hearts be distressed. You believe in God; believe also in me. There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you.And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too. And you know the way where I am going.” (John 14:1–4 NET)
Jesus was talking to His future bride, the Church. When the place or chamber that the bridegroom spent time preparing was complete, his father would tell him that it was time for him to retrieve his bride. The bride and groom would then celebrate their togetherness at the father’s house for seven days. After the seven days, the bride and groom would come out of the chamber to observe a wedding feast in their honor. The bride and groom would start the feast by drinking together a cup of wine called the “Cup of Consummation.” This cup is symbolically the Seder’s fourth “Cup of the Kingdom!” (27)
When Christians take the Cup of Redemption in the communion service, we are actually accepting our betrothal to the Lord. Eventually, in the Kingdom, we will drink the “Cup of Consummation” with our Lord at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. That will be the fourth cup, the Kingdom Cup of the Last Supper. In reality, the Last Supper was unfinished. So after a long break, it will resume again with all believers present in the kingdom to complete it. (27)
2. The second part of the Passover hallel, Psalms 114–118 (possibly Psalms 115–118) is sung, in Hebrew. (20) They end their Seder the way all Jews do: they sang praise to God. (8)
After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:30 NET)
After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Mark 14:26 NET)
This verse about Jesus the Cornerstone (1) would have been sung:
The stone which the builders discarded has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s work. We consider it amazing! (Psalm 118:22,23 NET)
“After Jesus had identified Judas Iscariot as the one who would betray him and Simon Peter as the one who would deny him (John 13:18–38), he and the disciples crossed the Kidron Valley and went to the garden of Gethsemane (John 18:1; Matthew 26:36).” (13)
The Death of Jesus our Passover Lamb
Yeshua died on the Nisan 14 (Judaean Time), the first day of the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread combined celebration. He was crucified at nine o’clock in the morning at the time of the daily morning burnt offering (1) in the Temple. And it was at three 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon that the special Passover sacrifice was offered in the Temple Compound when He died. (9)
Just as the Jews were meticulous in making sure that not a single bone of the Passover lamb was broken, not a single bone of Yeshua was broken either, not during the course of the beatings or the Crucifixion itself, or by the Roman soldiers who broke the legs of the other men at the end of it all (John 19:31-37). (13)
God had specifically instructed the Jews to consume the whole lamb with nothing left over for the next day (Exodus 12:10). Not realizing they were carrying out God’s plan, the Jewish religious leaders hurriedly had Jesus’ body taken down before six o’clock. Jesus, the Sacrificial Lamb, was not left on the cross the next day but gave His all (i.e., was fully consumed) on Nisan 14 as the final Passover sacrifice. (2)
Then, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not stay on the crosses on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was an especially important one), the Jewish leaders asked Pilate to have the victims’ legs broken and the bodies taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men who had been crucified with Jesus, first the one and then the other. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out immediately. And the person who saw it has testified (and his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth), so that you also may believe. For these things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled, "Not a bone of his will be broken.” And again another scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.” (John 19:31–37 NET)
“After Three Days” is the “Third Day“
Jesus’ body was buried on Wednesday, Nisan 14 (Judaean Time) after 3:00 P.M., but before 6:00 P.M. Thursday is the zeroth day, Friday is the first day, Saturday is the second day, and Sunday is the third day when Jesus was resurrected (1) (Matthew 12:40;16:21;17:23;20:19. Mark 8:31. Luke 9:22;18:33;24:7;24:7,46. John 2:19,21. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Acts 10:34-41). Realize, the phrase “after three days” is equivalent to the phrase “on the third day.” (Matthew 27:62-66) (38)
In the West are more accustomed to starting our counting with one; however, similar to scientific communities today, when this was written, they started the count with zero. The result is the third day of scripture would be what we would typically call day four by starting the count with one instead of zero—just a matter of perspective, NOT an error in scripture. Another example of this from the scripture:
The tomb of Jesus was sealed, and the Roman guard was set on Thursday, the 15th of Nisan (Matthew 27:62-66). On Sunday morning, the 18th of Nisan, the guards were still present when angels appeared and rolled the stone away, breaking the Roman seal (Matthew 28:2-7) “on the third day” after “three days and nights” of guarding the tomb. (38)
The next day (which is after the day of preparation) the chief priests and the Pharisees assembled before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that while that deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give orders to secure the tomb until the third day. Otherwise his disciples may come and steal his body and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “Take a guard of soldiers. Go and make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the soldiers of the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone. (Matthew 27:62–66 NET)
“The fact that “three days” is used by Hebrew idiom for any part of three days and three nights is not disputed; because that was the common way of reckoning, just as it was when used of years. Three or any number of years was used inclusively of any part of those years, as may be seen in the reckoning of the reigns of any of the kings of Israel and Judah. But, when the number of “nights” is stated as well as the number of “days”, then the expression ceases to be an idiom, and becomes a literal statement of fact. Moreover, as the [Judaean] Hebrew day began at sunset the day was reckoned from one sunset to another, the “twelve hours in the day” (John 11:9) being reckoned from sunrise, and the twelve hours of the night from sunset. An evening-morning was thus used for a whole day of twenty-four hours, as in the first chapter of Genesis. Hence the expression “a night and a day” in 2 Cor. 11:25 denotes a complete day (Gr. nuchthēmeron).” (39)
Another scriptural example of “after three days” being the “third day.”
|Scripture Passage||On the ___ Day||After ___ Day(s)|
|On the next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is greater than I am, because he existed before me.’ (John 1:29–30 NET)||0th||1|
|Again the next day John was standing there with two of his disciples. Gazing at Jesus as he walked by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35–36 NET)||1st||2|
|On the next day Jesus wanted to set out for Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” (John 1:43 NET)||2nd||3|
|Now on the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. (John 2:1–2 NET)||3rd||4|
Therefore after three (1) of the seven days and nights of the Feast of Unleavened Bread have elapsed, Jesus is resurrected on the day that the Feast of First Fruits is celebrated, becoming the First Fruit of those that sleep (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). This would have occurred after 6 P.M on Saturday – Judean Time and before it was light (John 20:1) on Sunday morning (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-18; Luke 24:1-49; John 20:1-23)(cf. Luke 12:38).
Now, Jesus is our eternal Great High Priest (1) mediating the New Covenant made between God the Father and God the Son for all believers! (1)
and from Jesus Christ—the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood (Revelation 1:5 NET)
Just as the Passover lamb’s blood was shed for the Israelites in Egypt, so Jesus, our Passover Lamb’s blood was shed for the world. But to be effective, the shed blood must be applied. Just as the blood of the animal was applied to the doorposts in Egypt, even so, when one believes upon Jesus, he has the Messiah’s blood, the blood of the Lamb of God, sprinkled upon the “doorposts of his heart.” In both cases, the application of the blood meant deliverance from divine judgment. Salvation (1) is now freely offered to all that repent, believe, and receive.
because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation... For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:9,10,13 NET)
That is, Jesus gave His life for us at the Cross. There His blood was poured out on our behalf. When Jesus was crucified, they pierced Him in the side, and out flowed blood and water (John 19:34).
The blood represents a life given while the water represents a life received.
But we get no benefit from Him giving His life unless we personally receive it for ourselves. You see, the blood of Jesus alone will not save you unless you appropriate it for your own life. You appropriate it for your own life by asking Him to come into your life and be your Savior. You accept Him into your heart as the “Lamb of God” who died for your sins. Jesus then comes into your life through the person of the Holy Spirit. This is the meaning of the water that sealed every place where the blood was applied. It looked forward to us receiving the Holy Spirit. Whoever applies the blood of Jesus to their life is sealed with the Holy Spirit (1). (see Ephesians 1:13; 4:30; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 1 Peter 1:5.)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage. (John 14:27 NET)
...In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33 b NET)
The Sixth Recorded Passover Observation in the New Covenant (circa 44 A.D.) (33)
Although Jesus fulfilled the Passover through His death, burial, and resurrection, the Jews will continue to observe it until Jerusalem and its Temple are destroyed in 70 A.D.
About that time King Herod laid hands on some from the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, executed with a sword. When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too. (This took place during the feast of Unleavened Bread.) When he had seized him, he put him in prison, handing him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him. Herod planned to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. (Acts 12:1–4 NET)
The Seventh and Last Passover in the New Covenant (circa ???? A.D.)
In the future Tribulation, individuals will have the judgment of various plagues “Passed Over” them if they are marked with the seal of the living God on their forehead.
Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, who had the seal of the living God. He shouted out with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given permission to damage the earth and the sea: “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees until we have put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” (Revelation 7:2,3)
(1) Select the link to open another article in a new tab with additional information.
(2) Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (1983). The Messianic Bible Study Collection (Vol. 62, pp. 5–10). Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries.
(3) Booker, R. (2016). Celebrating jesus in the biblical feasts expanded edition: discovering their significance to you as a christian. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.
(4) Booker, R. (2017). The miracle of the scarlet thread expanded edition: revealing the power of the blood of jesus from genesis to revelation. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.
(6) The male animal represents this sacrifice is for God’s benefit. Recall, Adam, a male, was made for God’s benefit.
“It follows that I show for what purpose God made man himself. As He contrived the world for the sake of man, so He formed man himself on His own account, as it were a priest of a divine temple, a spectator of His works and of heavenly objects. For he is the only being who, since he is intelligent and capable of reason, is able to understand God, to admire His works, and perceive His energy and power; for on this account he is furnished with judgment, intelligence, and prudence. On this account he alone, beyond the other living creatures, has been made with an upright body and attitude, so that he seems to have been raised up for the contemplation of his Parent. On this account he alone has received language, and a tongue the interpreter of his thought, that he may be able to declare the majesty of his Lord. Lastly, for this cause all things were placed under his control, that he himself might be under the control of God, their Maker and Creator. If God, therefore, designed man to be a worshipper of Himself, and on this account gave him so much honour, that he might rule over all things; it is plainly most just that he should worship Him who bestowed upon him such great gifts, and love man, who is united with us in the participation of the divine justice.”
Lactantius. (1886). A Treatise on the Anger of God. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson, & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), W. Fletcher (Trans.), Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily, and Liturgies (Vol. 7, p. 271). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.
Eve, a female, was made for the man Adam’s benefit and hence when female animals are prescribed in other sacrifices then it is for mankind’s benefit.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.” (Genesis 2:18 NET)
(7) An animal is considered a lamb or kid if it is still a yearling [one year old or less]; once it reaches the age of 13 months and a day, it is considered a ram. In between those ages it is a palgas, an “adolescent” sheep.
Sheep get two teeth in at one year of age. These teeth are permanent. Each year until the animal is four, it will get two more teeth, so by her fourth birthday, a ewe will have a total of 8 teeth. The only way to accurately determine the age of a sheep is by looking in its mouth. Most lambs reach market weight at 6 months of age. The weight depends upon breed and feeding conditions, so anywhere from 80-110 pounds live weight. Once again this depends greatly upon breed and the conditions in which the lambs are raised. https://familyfarmlivestock.com/what-are-the-differences-between-sheep-and-lambs/
(8) Rubin, B. (Ed.). (2016). The Complete Jewish Study Bible: Notes (p. 86, 1510). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Bibles; Messianic Jewish Publishers & Resources.
(9) 5:1 A The daily whole offering [of the afternoon] [generally] was slaughtered at half after the eighth hour [after dawn, about 2:30 P.M.] and offered up at half after the ninth hour [about 3:30 P.M.].
B On the eve of Passover, [the daily whole offering] was slaughtered at half after the seventh hour and offered up at half after the eighth hour.
C whether on an ordinary day or on the Sabbath.
D [If, however,] the eve of Passover coincided with the eve of the Sabbath [Friday], it was slaughtered at half after the sixth hour [12:30 P.M.] and offered up at half after the seventh hour [1:30 P.M.],
E and [then] the Passover offering [was slaughtered] after it.
Neusner, J. (1988). The Mishnah : A new translation (pp. 236–237). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
(10) Eisenberg, R. L. (2004). The JPS guide to Jewish traditions (1st ed., p. 264). Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society.
(11) The LXX, Vulgate, and other passages translate סַף (sap̱, “basin”) as “threshold.” Rylaarsdam (p. 923) reports that Armenian miniatures depict the slaying of the lamb on the threshold and the blood spilled in a hollow place, perhaps especially made for this purpose.
(12) Mangum, D. (2016). Passover. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
(13) Rusten, S. with E. Michael. (2005). The complete book of when & where in the Bible and throughout history (p. 10,71). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
(15) MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2008). John 12–21 (p. 63). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
(16) Harold W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977], 74–90
(17) Hester, H. I. (1963). The Heart of the New Testament (p. 190). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
(18) Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 10, p. 145). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
(19) Rogers, A. (2017). Foot Washing. In Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive (Jn 13:1–17). Signal Hill, CA: Rogers Family Trust.
(20) Chamblin, J. K. (2010). Matthew: A Mentor Commentary (pp. 1283–1285). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.
(21) Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (1983). The Messianic Bible Study Collection (Vol. 114, pp. 27–33). Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries.
(22) 10:1 A On the eve of Passover from just before the afternoon’s daily whole offering, a person should not eat, until it gets dark.
B And even the poorest Israelite should not eat until he reclines at his table.
C And they should provide him with no fewer than four cups of wine,
D and even if [the funds] come from public charity.
Neusner, J. (1988). The Mishnah : A new translation (p. 249). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
(23) Cahn, J. (2016). The book of mysteries. Lake Mary, FL: Frontline.
(24) Kasdan, B. (2007). God’s appointed times: a practical guide for understanding and celebrating the Biblical holidays (2nd ed., pp. 27–28). Clarksville, MD: Messianic Jewish Publishers.
(25) MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (p. 235). Chicago: Moody Press.(25)
(26) Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Vol. 1, p. 146). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.
(27) Norten, M. (2015). Unlocking the secrets of the feasts. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
(28) Guzik, D. (2013). Exodus (Ex 11:9–10). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.
(29) Wenham, G. J. (1981). Numbers: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 4, p. 225). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
(30) Kaiser, W. C., Jr. (1990). Exodus. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers (Vol. 2, p. 376). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
(32) Sharpe, S. (Trans.). (1883). The Holy Bible: Being a Revision of the Authorised English Version (p. 768). Edinburgh; London: Williams and Norgate.
(33) Foxe, J. (2000). Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
(34) Crannell, P. W. (1979–1988). Defile; Defilement. In G. W. Bromiley (Ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Vol. 1, p. 912). Wm. B. Eerdmans.
“The scope of defilement in its various degrees (direct, or primary, as from the person or thing defiled; indirect, or secondary, tertiary, or even further, by contact with the defiled) had been greatly widened by rabbinism into a complex and burdensome system whose shadow falls over the whole NT life. Ceremonial defilement is mentioned in the NT, but not approved: by eating with unwashed, “common,” not ceremonially cleansed hands (Mk. 7:2, 5); by eating unclean, “common” food (Acts 10:14, Peter’s vision); by intimate association with Gentiles, such as eating with them (not expressly forbidden in Mosaic law, Acts 11:3), or entering into their houses (Jn. 18:28, the Pharisees refusing to enter the praetorium); by the presence of Gentiles in the temple (Acts 21:28).”
(35) Jeremiah, D. (2015). Agents of babylon: what the prophecies of daniel tell us about the end of days (pp. 270–271). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale.
(36) Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (2003). The footsteps of the Messiah : a study of the sequence of prophetic events (Rev. ed., p. 194). Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries.
(37) Bullinger, E. W. (2018). The Companion Bible: Being the Authorized Version of 1611 with the Structures and Notes, Critical, Explanatory and Suggestive and with 198 Appendixes (Vol. 2, p. 177). Bellingham, WA: Faithlife.
(38) The modern concept of zero as a number was introduced by Indian scholars only in the fifth century AD. (i) For example, the Gregorian calendar never had a year “AD 0” and instead begins with the year AD 1, which is immediately preceded by 1 BC. Applied to the reckoning of days, in the absence of a day “zero,” that is, using inclusive counting, many modern languages (e.g., Greek, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Welsh) continue referring to two weeks as “fifteen days,” (ii) whereas in English, which does observe zero and thus uses exclusive counting, this space of time is referred to as a fortnight. (iii) Following general practice at the time, the Gospels employed inclusive counting. (iv)
(i) Ifrah, Georges (2000). The Universal History of Numbers: From Prehistory to the Invention of the Computer. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-39340-5.
(ii) James Evans, The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy. Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 019987445X. Chapter 4, page 164.
(iii) “Fortnight”. The Concise Oxford Dictionary (5th ed.). 1964. p. 480.
(39) Bullinger, E. W. (2018). The Companion Bible: Being the Authorized Version of 1611 with the Structures and Notes, Critical, Explanatory and Suggestive and with 198 Appendixes (Vol. 2, p. 170). Bellingham, WA: Faithlife.
(40) Pettem, M. A. (2018). The Star of Bethlehem: Science, History, and Meaning. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
(41) Josephus, F., & Whiston, W. (1987). The works of Josephus: complete and unabridged (p. 462). Peabody: Hendrickson.
(42) Michael R. Molnar, The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1999).
(43) Ramos, A. (2016). Infancy Narratives in the New Testament Gospels. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
(44) MacArthur, J. (2011). Luke 6–10 (p. 328). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.