THE PASSOVER FEAST and CHRIST'S PASSION
Three Old Covenant Holy Feast Days fell within a one-week period: Passover, Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits. In the 1st Century this entire 8-day period was know as the Passover Feast or the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:1 & John 18:28). The celebrations of these Old Covenant Holy Days were prescribed by the Laws of the Sinai Covenant and are found in Exodus chapter 12, in Leviticus chapter 23 and Numbers 28. For more information please see the chart on "The Seven Sacred Annual Feasts Days of the Old Covenant" in the charts section of www.agapebiblestudy.com . Please note that the Jewish day began at sundown.
The Week Preceding the Resurrection of Jesus Christ:
10th of Nisan (also known as the month of Abib/Aviv): fell on a Sunday, what we call Palm or Passion Sunday: This is the day the male lambs or kids are chosen (Exodus 12:3-6) for the Passover sacrifice. This is the day Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem (see Matthew 21; Mark 11; Luke 19:28ff; John 12). John 12:1 identifies the day before Jesus rode into Jerusalem [Saturday] as 6 days before the Passover. In the ancient world when one counted a sequence, one counted from the day that started the sequence as #1'the ancients had no concept of a 0-place value. This is why it is said Jesus was in the tomb 3 days = Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as the ancients counted but this would be only two days as we count today. Therefore, counting as the ancients counted six days from Saturday Nisan the 9th would be Thursday, Nisan the 14th and the same day the Synoptic Gospels identify as the day of the Passover Sacrifice. The lambs chosen for sacrifice by each family on the 10th of Nisan must be visible for 5 days (4 days as we count) before the Passover Feast in order for everyone to observe the selected lamb's perfection. For 5 days Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God preached at the Temple in Jerusalem, where everyone could see Him.
14th of Nisan (Thursday): Jesus sends Peter and John into Jerusalem to see that the room He has selected for the feast is prepared. Everything is ready. This is the day the lambs are sacrificed at the Temple (Exodus 12:6). The lambs were sacrificed at the hour of the second daily sacrifice (the Tamyid Sacrifice) at 3pm. The ceremony began at 12 noon when the second Tamid lamb of the daily sacrifice was brought out and tied to the altar. Exodus 12:6 should read "between the twilights" which is 12 noon. (see the chart on the Tamyid daily Sacrifice at www.agapebiblestudy.com). At the end of the ceremony the lambs or kids that each family brought to be sacrificed are taken home and prepared for the feast that night. The sacrificial animal was to be roasted whole, no bones broken. The next day began at sundown. At sundown it became the 15th of Nisan.
15th of Nisan: At sundown, the beginning of the day (Friday Jewish time but Thursday night our time), Jesus and His disciples gathered at the Upper Room in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast. Everything that took place in the Old Covenant sacrificial meal of the Feast of Unleavened Bread prefigured the Passion of the Christ. After the meal, very late that night or sometime after midnight, Jesus is arrested while praying on the Mt. of Olives. At dawn He is condemned by the Jewish court and sent to the Roman governor, Pilate, Jesus is essentially "selected" for sacrifice by the High Priest Joseph Caiaphas just as Caiaphas selected the perfect male lambs for the Tamid (daily) sacrifice. At dawn the first lamb of the daily sacrifice is tied to the altar. This is the 6th day of the week: the day man was created.
When Jesus is sent to Pilate in John 18:28, in the New American Bible translation this text reads: "...They did not enter the Praetorium themselves, for they had to avoid ritual impurity if they were to eat the Passover supper." The modern translators have inserted the word "supper" into the text; it is not in the original Greek. The Greek reads: "And they entered not into the Praetorium that they might not be defiled but that they might eat the Passover." This passage cannot be referring to the ritual Passover meal eaten on the night that began the Feast of Unleavened Bread since ritual uncleanness would only last until the end of the day which was sundown and the feast didn't begin until after sundown:
[Note: the requirements were different for someone who physically touched a dead body. That person had to undergo the 7-day period of ritual purification. See Numbers 9:9-11 and 19:11].
The Passover meal began immediately after sundown, which according to the Jewish calendar was the beginning of the next day. But there was a Feast offering on the 15th of Nisan (the morning after the Passover Supper) at the Temple in a service that began at 9AM and they would not have been able to attend this required Temple service having been made ritually unclean in the presence of gentiles. The important point here is that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke do agree with John's Gospel account!
St. John's Gospel also records that it was the 6th hour when Jesus was taken to Pilate. This is 12 noon Hebrew time, which does not agree with the Synoptic Gospels. But the 6th hours Roman time is dawn. If Jesus is before Pilate at the 6th hour Roman time John's account is in agreement with the Synoptic Gospels. Writing his Gospel years after the events of the Crucifixion in the third most important city in the Roman Empire and as bishop of a largely gentile Christian community, why would John use Hebrew time?
Pilate pronounces this man Jesus without fault. It is a gentile pagan Roman who pronounces the sacrifice selected by the High Priest Caiaphas as a "perfect" sacrifice.
At 9AM (the 3rd hour) Jesus is crucified on the cross (Mark 15:25), just as the first lamb of the daily sacrifice is offered up on the altar in the Temple and the people attend the Feast of Unleavened Bread ceremonies at the Temple and eat the Chagigah offering. At the hour of the first daily sacrifice, 12 noon, the sun goes dark (Mark 15:33). A total eclipse at this time of the month is not according to the laws of astronomy, a total eclipse cannot not take place during a full moon: And this feast is begun on the fifteenth day of the month in the middle of the month, on the day on which the moon is full of light, in consequence of the providence of God taking care that there shall be no darkness on that day [Philo, Special Laws II, 155]. The festival calendar was a lunar calendar. At the 9th hour, or 3PM, the hour of the second daily sacrifice Jesus gives up His life on the cross (Mark 15:33-34).
16th of Nisan: Saturday: The Jewish Sabbath. Jesus "rests" in the tomb.
17TH of Nisan: Sunday: The Feast of Firstfruits [the first day after the Sabbath of Passover week] = Resurrection Sunday.
According to the Law this feast was celebrated the day after the first Sabbath of Passover week (Leviticus 23:11). It signaled the beginning of the harvest when the people present the firstfruits of the barley harvest at the Temple. God prescribed that this feast would always fall on a Sunday! The day we call Sunday was the first day of the week and the first day of Creation in Genesis [the Sabbath, Saturday being the 7th day]. The day of Jesus' Resurrection was the day of the New Creation when all of creation was renewed in the Resurrection of the Son of God, the King of Kings, and the great harvest of souls into heaven begins with Christ the firstfruits of the great harvest: But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. [I Corinthians 15:20].
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 1991, revised 2007 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.