The New Testament Passover in Chronological Harmony
Since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the passage of centuries, there has been much confusion as to the exact time and date when Jesus and his disciple kept the Passover. Because Jesus instructed his followers to observe the Passover with its new rituals and symbolism, it is important to observe it on the same day that Jesus did.
Should the elect of God observe the Passover, after sunset at the beginning of the 14th of Nisan or at the beginning of 15th Nisan? There is no doubt that, if we observe it on the same day that Jesus did, we would be observing it on the correct date.
Some say that the only scriptures which specifically discuss the Passover observance of the early Church are found in 1.Corinthians 11:17-34, and these scriptures tell us precisely how and when to keep the New Testament Passover as instituted by Christ. But is this true?
A COMMON THREAD
We know from the scriptures and history that the Passover lamb was killed at the end of the 14th day of Nisan and the Passover meal was eaten after sunset at the beginning of the 15th day. We also know that God made a provision for an alternate Passover observance (Num.9:6-12) for those who could not, for various reasons, observe it in the month of Nisan.
A common thread binding the Passover that Jesus Christ and his disciples observed to the one observed by the Jews is the fact that they are both documented in scripture as being the Passover.
Is there scriptural authorization for two consecutive days of the Passover? The answer is Yes. See Journal of Philology, Vol. XXIX, 1903, p.104; Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. XII, Oct. 1910, p.126).
The fact that there can be two consecutive days of Passover is the only logical solution and explanation that will reconcile and harmonize the chronology of events which surround the death and resurrection of Jesus.
TWO DAYS UNTIL THE PASSOVER
"And it happened when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, You know that the Passover is after two days, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified" (Matt.26:1-2 Para.).
These scriptures set the stage for the Passover that Jesus observed and the Passover that the Jews observed.
The two significant things to understand from these scriptures are that the festival is acknowledged as the Passover observance and Jesus knew that he would be betrayed and crucified on the Passover.
THE CONSPIRACY TO KILL JESUS
"Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, to the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people" (Matt.26:3-5 KJV).
"After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people" (Mk.14:1-2 KJV).
"Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people" (Lk.22:1-2 KJV).
Two days before the Passover, the chief priests and the scribes conspired to kill Jesus. Again, the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are acknowledged as occurring concurrently and are in fact acknowledged as the same festival.
The conspirators did not want to kill Jesus on the first or last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because these days were considered holy time (Jn.11:55-57). According to their tradition, if they killed Jesus on any of these days, they would have been guilty of defiling these days.
However, when Judas came forward to betray him, they seized the opportunity and made plans to capture him. This is an extremely important point, because Jesus was in fact killed on the preparation day of one of the two Passovers that were observed that year. Moreover, he was killed during the Passover ceremonial process, which was prophesied. Jesus' sacrifice had to occur in exact detail (Matt.5:18) in order for him to fulfill the symbolism of the Passover lamb and be slain for the sins of humanity.
JUDAS CONTRACTS TO BETRAY JESUS
"Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, and said to them, What will you give me, and I will deliver him to you? and they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him" (Matt.26: 14-16 KJV).
"And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him" (Mk.14:9-11 KJV).
"Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of the multitude" (Lk.22:3-6 KJV).
THE DISCIPLES INSTRUCTED TO PREPARE THE PASSOVER
"Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread [Greek: azomos, the 1st of unleavens, that includes the time of sacrificing as well as the seven days of the feast following the evening of the Passover] the disciples came to Jesus, saying to him, Where will you that we prepare [Greek: hetoimazo, to make ready] for you to eat [Greek, phago, the act of eating] the Passover [Greek: pascha, the Passover]? And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say to him, The master says, my time is at hand; I will keep [Greek: poieo, to make, do, or act] the Passover ['pascha'] at your house with my disciples" (Matt.26:17-18 KJV).
"And the first day of unleavened bread [the 1st of unleavens when the lambs were killed], when they killed [Greek: thuo, to sacrifice] the Passover, his disciples said to him, Where will you that we go and prepare that you may eat the Passover? And he sent forth two of his disciples, and said to them, Go you into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say you to the goodman of the house, The master said, Where is the guest-chamber, where I shall eat the Passover with my disciples? And he will show you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us" (Mk.14: 12-15 KJV).
"Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover [Greek: Pascha, from the Aramaic for 'the Passover'] must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the Passover, that we may eat. And they said to him, Where will you that we prepare? And he said to them, Behold, when you are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he enters in. And you shall say to the goodman of the house, The master says to you, Where is the guest-chamber, where I shall eat the Passover with my disciples? And he shall show you a large upper room furnished: there make ready" (Lk.22:7-12 KJV).
Notice the abundant use of descriptive Greek words azomos, unleavened; hetoimazo, to make ready; phago, to eat meat; pascha, the Passover; poieo, to make, do, or act; thus, to sacrifice. The 'azyma' were the seven days following the evening of the Passover. The day of sacrifice was sometimes called a part of the 'azyma', 'unleavens.'
These scriptures show beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus and his twelve disciples thought they were making preparation to keep the Passover ceremony, which included the killing and eating of the sacrificial lamb (Matt.26:18; Mk.14:13-14; Lk.22:8,10,12). To claim that Jesus who was the Creator and lawgiver did not know which day to observe the Passover is illogical and denies the clear meaning of these scriptures.
FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD OR PASSOVER?
"Now on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying to him, Where will you that we prepare for you to eat the passover?" (Matt.26:17 KJV).
This scripture seems to say that the feast had already begun when the disciples came to Jesus with this question. And this is true; however, this day was not the 15th of Nisan—the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Feast of Unleavened Bread comes after the Passover sacrifice. Therefore, they could not have come to him on the first festival day. However, both Mark and Luke say the same thing as Matthew.
The answer to this seeming scriptural contradiction is simple, when we understand that the Jews considered the Passover preparation day to be a part of the spring festival. Historically the Jews stopped eating unleavened bread at noon on the preparation day (Ex.12:18).
The Jews reasoned that, because the lambs were killed before sunset prior to the first day of Unleavened Bread, the afternoon of the killing of the lamb and the sprinkling of its blood on the altar should be considered a part of the feast. However, in a purely legal sense it was not, because the first festival day did not officially begin until sunset after the lambs were sacrificed.
It is important to remember at this point that the Passover is a ceremony, not a 24-hour day from sunset to sunset. This ceremony has a progression of events, which includes the end of one day and the beginning of another. Mark is even more clear on this point:
"And the first day of unleavened bread [unleavens], when they killed [Greek: thus, to sacrifice] the Passover, his disciples said to him, Where will you that we go and prepare that you may eat the Passover?" (Mk.14:12 KJV).
Mark states that, on the first day of 'unleavens', the Passover was killed. There can be no doubt that Mark is referring to the day before the Passover meal, because this was the day that the Passover lamb must be killed according to the law (Ex.12:6; Lk.22:7). So, the day the disciples came to Jesus had to be the day before the beginning of the first festival day in order for it to be called the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The following are three important facts to note in these scriptures:
- Jesus and his disciples accepted and acknowledged this day as being before the Passover meal and the first day of the feast (Matt.26:17; Mk.14:12; Lk.22:7).
- Jesus and his disciples understood that this was the preparation day for the ceremonial Passover meal (Matt.26:17; Mk.14:12; Lk.22:9).
- Jesus and his disciples knew that the Passover lamb must be killed before the evening of the first day of the festival (Mk.14:12; Lk.22:7).
THE DISCIPLES PREPARE THE PASSOVER
"And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover" (Matt.26:20 KJV).
"And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said to them: and they made ready the Passover" (Mk.14:16 KJV).
"And they went, and found as he had said to them: and they made ready the Passover" (Lk.22:13 KJV).
Here, the disciples prepared for the Passover as they were instructed by Jesus. But, what did it mean to prepare the Passover, what preparation was necessary, and what did they have to do before eating the Passover meal?
The preparation for the Passover consisted of the following things:
- A lamb had to be selected for the sacrifice (Ex.12:3-5).
- The lamb had to be taken to the temple where it was killed (Lev.1:1-9;17:1-9; Num.18:1-9; Deut.16:1-2).
- The priest had to sprinkle the lamb's blood on the altar in compliance with the sacrificial law (Lev.17:6-9; 2.Chron.30: 15-16; 35:11-19).
- The lamb had to be roasted in the prescribed manner (Ex.12: 8-11).
Would the Levites have accepted the sacrificial lamb's blood, and would the priests have sprinkled this blood on the altar if the day was not an authorized Passover? Absolutely not! Therefore, if Jesus and his disciples prepared and ate the Passover as they said they did, the sacrificing of the lamb and all other arrangements would have had to have been performed according to and in harmony with the law of the Passover.
JESUS AND THE DISCIPLES EAT THE PASSOVER
"Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat . . . " (Matt.26:21-22 KJV).
"And in the evening he comes with the twelve. And as they sat and did eat, . . ." (Mk.14:17).
"And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said to them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: For I say to you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God" (Lk.22: 14-16 KJV).
With the preparation completed, the lamb roasted, the bitter herbs and unleavened bread set in their place, the Passover was ready to be eaten. And this is exactly what Jesus and his disciples did; they ate the Passover.
Both Matthew and Mark say that they ate the Passover when it was nightfall (Greek: opsios, evening/nightfall). Luke is even more exact in his narration of the event. He uses the Greek word 'hors', which means 'the instant' or 'the hour', to describe the timing of the Passover ceremonial meal. All three authors give basically the same account of when the Passover was eaten. They all say it was eaten when it was time to eat it, and this time period was after sunset in the evening that began the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
When making an analysis of these verses it is important to understand the two different Greek words used to describe the act of eating. These two words are rich in meaning and help clarify the event taking place.
The Greek word 'phago' means literally or figuratively 'to eat meat' (Matt.16:17-26; Mk.14:12; Jn.18:28). 'Phago' is the word used most often to describe the eating of the Passover by Jesus, the disciples, and the rest of the Jews. The Greek word 'esthio' means the act of eating and it indicates a fellowship meal, but it is mostly used in the context of the religious rituals, which were also a part of the Passover ceremony (Mk.14:18; Lk.17:26-28).
Many have assumed that the killing of the lamb was all that God required the Israelites to do; however, the eating of the Passover sacrifice was also a vital part of keeping the Passover. The disciples asked Jesus the following:
"Where do you desire that we should prepare the Passover, that we may eat . . . where is the guest chamber, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? With desire I have desired to eat the Passover with you before I suffer. For I say to you that I will not eat of it any more at all, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God" (Lk.22:8,11,15-16 KJV).
It is clear from the biblical record that keeping the Passover also meant eating the Passover.
NO REFERENCE TO THE PASSOVER DATE
In view of the plain scriptures noted, there should be no question that Jesus and his disciples did eat the Passover the evening before some of the Jews ate the Passover.
There are some who say the Passover that Jesus and his disciples observed could not have been a legal Passover with a legal sacrifice, nor could the blood have been sprinkled on the altar according to the law because Jesus observed it one day before the Jews' Passover. Therefore, they believe that Jesus' observance was not the Passover, but the Lord's Supper. But, is this true?
We know that the Exodus account shows that the Passover had to be killed at the end of the 14th day and eaten just after sunset on the 15th day of the first month of the Sacred Calendar. We also know that Israel went out of Egypt the same night that they ate the Passover.
A major point which seems to escape most people who research the dates surrounding the particular Passover season in which Jesus was crucified is that nowhere in the entire New Testament account are the 13th, 14th, or 15th days of the month mentioned in reference to the Passover or the days of Unleavened Bread. In fact, there are no dates for any of the annual festivals mentioned in the New Testament, even though their observance is noted many times. However, in almost all of the Old Testament accounts pertaining to the Passover the 14th and 15th are mentioned.
A logical question to ask is, Why are these dates not mentioned in the New Testament accounts?
Because these dates are not mentioned, many people have assumed that Jesus observed the Passover on the 13th/14th and the rest of the Jews observed it on the 14th/15th. Without an understanding of how the Sacred Calendar is structured and who was responsible for its calculation, this assumption seems to have merit.
However, the Sacred Calendar given to Israel through Moses is very different from the calendar we use today. The Sacred Calendar has rules which allow months and dates to be adjusted in order to balance the entire calendar. These adjustments are necessary in order to ensure that the annual festivals are always observed in their proper harvest seasons and months.
Who Was Responsible for Calculating the Sacred Calendar?
It is extremely important to understand that a Calendar Court was responsible for calculating the Sacred Calendar and determining the proper days on which to observe the New Moons and the annual festivals in accordance with the instructions God gave to Moses.
Because of special circumstances the beginning month (Nisan/Abib) of the sacred year had been adjusted to fit the spring season, or the Passover day had been adjusted within the month, the numerical date of the month would have little relationship to a calendar in use today.
Therefore, what seems to be an obvious progression of consecutive events, (using our current calendar system) such as a 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th Passover observance, with the attending festival days, becomes more complicated and not so obvious when viewed in the light of the Sacred Calendar.
BEFORE THE PASSOVER, AND SUPPER BEING ENDED
"Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him" (Jn.13:1-2 KJV).
How did Jesus know the exact time of his death? The answer is that he knew and understood the scriptures which contain the plan of God as outlined in the annual festivals, offerings, and sacrifices.
Many cite verse 1 as proof that Jesus did not observe a Passover, because John says, "Now before the feast of the Passover. . .." Was John making reference to the Passover that was held after Christ's crucifixion or was he referring to all of the things Jesus said about his impending death before the Passover meal which the rest of the verse indicates?
When we consider the other Gospel accounts of the Passover meal that Jesus and his disciples observed, there should be no doubt that John is introducing a new subject with verse two, and that verse 1 is referring to things before the Passover observance of Jesus and his disciples.
Even if in verse one, John was referring to the Passover observed after Christ's death (which seems highly unlikely as noted), and the ceremony they had just finished observing was before the rest of the Jews' Passover, John's statement still does not do away with the other clear scriptures that state that Jesus and his disciples observed a legal Passover. This statement by John can easily be reconciled, because there were two legal days of Passover in the year of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. And this is exactly what the chronology of events and scriptures reveal.
Some people also believe that the meal Jesus and his disciples ate could not have been the Passover, because John uses the Greek word 'deipnon' which means supper, instead of the Greek word 'pascha' which means Passover to describe the meal they had just completed. Indeed, the Greek word here is not Passover ('pascha'), it is 'deipnon', which can mean 'meal', 'chief meal' or 'feast.' However, John's usage of the word 'deipnon' is not inconsistent with the eating of the Passover meal when viewed in the context of his description of the events of this very special and unique Passover meal and ceremony.
The information we have reviewed so far shows that Jesus and his disciples observed a legal and ceremonially correct Passover. Even Jesus said that he had observed the Passover (Lk.22:15).
HAGIGAH OR SEDER?
Some people believe that the event celebrated by Jesus and his apostles was the Hagigah or the Seder ceremony. However, there is little or no proof that these later observances of the Jews were practiced at the time of Jesus, and absolutely no scriptural proof that either of these ceremonies is what Jesus and his disciples observed. The earliest description of these Jewish observances is found in the Mishnah, which was not edited until around 200 A.D.
The Mishnah is the only source for most of the practices known at that time. It is a compilation of practices from the Temple period with those of the immediate post Temple period mixed in.
Recent studies have shown that many of the rabbinic practices actually began after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and do not reflect practices during Jesus' lifetime (see Jacob Neusner, The Rabbinic Traditions about the Pharisees before 70 A.D.).
THE FIRST OF TWO CONSECUTIVE PASSOVER DAYS
It should be obvious that Jesus and his disciples observed a legal Passover. Both he and his disciples said several times that the event they were going to celebrate, and that they had eaten was the Passover. Luke quotes Jesus as saying the following:
"With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: For I say to you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God" (Lk.22:15-16 KJV).
Jesus had a special desire to keep this particular Passover with the Twelve with whom he had shared so much. This evidence alone should be enough to establish that Jesus observed a legal and ceremonially correct Passover.
However, there are still two more items of evidence to be noted at this point in order to establish the legality of the Passover Jesus observed.
- The scriptures clearly state that Jesus never sinned. This would include telling the truth when he said that the ceremony he observed was in fact the Passover.
- Would Jesus, the Creator and lawgiver, break the law of God concerning the Passover? The answer should be obvious—he would not break the law of God, because doing so would have disqualified him from becoming our savior.
John 13:3-17 KJV
"Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; he rose from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
"Then came he to Simon Peter: and Peter said to him, Lord, do you wash my feet? Jesus answered and said to him, What I do you know not now; but you shall know hereafter. Peter said to him, You shall never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash you not, you have no part with me. Simon Peter said to him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus said to him, he that is washed need not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: And you are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; Therefore said he, You are not all clean.
"So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said to them, Know you what I have done to you? You call me master and Lord: and you say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say to you, the servant is not greater than his Lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them."
JUDAS THE TRAITOR
"Verily I say to you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say to him, Lord, is it I? And he answered and said, He that dips his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The son of man goes as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? he said to him, You have said" (Matt.26:22-25 KJV).
"Jesus said, Verily I say to you, one of you which eats with me shall betray me. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? And he answered and said to them, It is one of the twelve, that dips with me in the dish. The son of man indeed goes, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the son of man is betrayed! Good were it for that man if he had never been born" (Mk.14:17-20 KJV).
NEW PASSOVER RITUALS AND SYMBOLISM INSTITUTED
"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my father's kingdom. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives" (Matt.26:26-30 KJV).
"And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said to them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say to you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives" (Mk.14:22-26 KJV).
"And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you" (Lk.22:17-20 KJV).
DID THE JEWS MISCALCULATE THE PASSOVER DATE?
Some question the Passover date, because Jesus and his disciples prepared, observed, and ate what they considered as the Passover one day earlier than some of the Jews (Jn.18:28; 19:14; Lk.22:13-15). One popular argument is that, either Jesus was doing something different on the day of his observance, or that the Jews miscalculated the date of the Passover. However, this argument has no merit when it is understood that there were two legal days to observe the Passover the year Christ was crucified.
The events surrounding Christ's crucifixion become very clear once we recognize that two consecutive days of Passover were sanctioned by the Calendar Court that year because of the difficulty in confirming the exact day on which the new moon was visible in Israel or for some other reason. With two consecutive days of Passover, the priest could accept the blood for sprinkling on either day after 12 noon, which history and the scriptures clearly show.
It is important to remember that a Calendar Court had the responsibility and authority to calculate the Sacred Year and fix the New Moons and annual festivals within the months.
DID JESUS HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO CHANGE THE DATE OF THE PASSOVER OBSERVANCE?
Some people assume that, because Jesus was the Creator God, he had the authority to advance the observance of the Passover one day in order to keep it before his crucifixion; thus, he effectively changed its observance from the 14th to the 13th of Nisan. The basis for this assumption is that, when Jesus instituted new Passover rituals and symbols, he also changed the date of its observance. However, the assumption that Jesus changed the Passover date is not true for the following reasons:
- It is very important to remember that Jesus was the Creator God who came to be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of humanity and therefore he had to keep the law perfectly, which he did, in order to be a sinless sacrifice. For Jesus to have kept the law perfectly he would have had to observe the Passover in complete compliance with every detail concerning that law. Jesus Christ, as the Creator of the world and the One who gave the law to ancient Israel, could not violate the law and remain sinless.
- Jesus did not change the original rituals and symbols of the Passover. After observing the Old Covenant Passover with his disciples, the next day on another legal Passover, he fulfilled in exact detail the prophetic meaning of the Passover symbolism—"Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" (1.Cor.5:17). See also Heb.10:1-19.
- During his last Passover observance, Jesus instituted new rituals and symbols to be observed and performed by his followers after his death and resurrection. These new rituals and symbols are not prophetic patterns for future fulfillment; they are to be observed with contemporary meaning, as well as serving as reminders of Jesus' sacrifice for the redemption of humanity, the institution of the new covenant, and the servant status of his followers.
THE BETRAYAL OF JESUS
"Behold, the hour is at hand, and the son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that does betray me. And while he yet spoke, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, Master; and kissed him" (Matt.26:45-49 KJV).
"It is enough, the hour is come; behold, the son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrays me is at hand. And immediately, while he yet spoke, came Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely. And as soon as he was come, he goes straightway to him, and said, Master, Master; and kissed him" (Mk.14:43-45 KJV).
"And while he yet spoke, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near to Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said to him, Judas, betray you the son of man with a kiss?" (Lk.22:47-48 KJV).
"When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus oftentimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said to them, Whom seek you? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said to them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them" (Jn.18:1-5 KJV).
JESUS TAKEN PRISONER
"Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to Annas first; for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year" (Jn.18:12-13 KJV).
"Now Annas had sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest" (Jn.18:24 KJV).
"And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled" (Matt.26:57 KJV).
"And they laid their hands on him, and took him" (Mk.14:46 KJV).
"And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire. And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none" (Mk.14:53-55 KJV).
"Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off" (Lk.22:54 KJV).
JESUS CONDEMNED TO DEATH BY THE HIGH PRIEST
"Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; And the high priest arose, and said to him, Answer you nothing? what is it which these witness against you? But Jesus held his peace, and the high priest answered and said to him, I adjure you by the living God, that you tell us whether you be the Christ, the son of God. Jesus said to him, You have said: Nevertheless I say to you, Hereafter shall you see the son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, he has spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now you have heard his blasphemy. What think you? They answered and said, he is guilty of death" (Matt.26:59-66 KJV).
"And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answer you nothing? what is it which these witness against you? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said to him, Are you the Christ, the son of the blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and you shall see the son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and said, What need we any further witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy: what think you? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death" (Mk.14:55-64 KJV).
"And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, Are you the Christ? tell us. And he said to them, If I tell you, you will not believe: And if I also ask you, you will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all, Are you then the Son of God? and he said to them, You say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth" (Lk.22:66-71 KJV).
JESUS TAKEN TO PILATE THE FIRST TIME
"When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor" (Matt.27:1-2 KJV).
"And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, Are you the king of the Jews? and he answering said to them, You say it. And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answer you nothing? behold how many things they witness against you. But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marveled" (Mk.15:1-5 KJV).
"And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. And Pilate asked him, saying, Are you the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, You say it. Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce, saying, he stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place" (Lk.23:1-5 KJV).
THE JEWS STAND OUTSIDE THE JUDGMENT HALL
"Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas to the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover [see Num.9:6-13]. Pilate then went out to them, and said, What accusation bring you against this man? They answered and said to him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to you. Then said Pilate to them, Take you him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said to him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spoke, signifying what death he should die" (Jn.18:28-32 KJV). See also Jn.11:55; 2.Chron.30:3.
Here is another very important statement which clearly shows that these Jews had not yet eaten the Passover. Notice their unwillingness to enter the judgment hall and risk ceremonial defilement that would prevent them from partaking of the Passover (2.Chron.30:1-26; Jn.19: 14). Also notice that Pilate honors their religious custom by going outside of the Praetorium to talk to them.
This passage clearly documents another Passover observance in addition to the one observed by Jesus by showing that this day was a preparation day for a legal Passover meal. The scriptures clearly document that Jesus and his disciples had already observed the Passover the prior evening. Moreover, because many Jews had not yet eaten the Passover, the only logical explanation is that there must have been two consecutive days of Passover that year.
JESUS SENT TO HEROD
"When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him, and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at naught, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves" (Lk.23:6-12 KJV).
JESUS COMES BEFORE PILATE AGAIN
"When Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said to him, Are you the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Say you this thing of yourself, or did others tell it you of me? Pilate answered, am I a Jew? your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you to me: what have you done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: But now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said to him, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice. Pilate said to him, What is truth? and when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, I find in him no fault at all" (Jn.18:33-40 KJV).
"And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Are you the King of the Jews? And Jesus said to him, You say. And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate to him, Hear you not how many things they witness against you? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marveled greatly" (Matt.27:11-14 KJV).
THE JEWS REJECT JESUS AND DEMAND HIS DEATH
"Now at that feast the governor was wont to release to the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, Whom will you that I release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? for he knew that for envy they had delivered him" (Matt.27:15-17 KJV).
"And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done to them. But Pilate answered them, saying, Will you that I release to you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas to them. And Pilate answered and said again to them, What will you then that I shall do to him whom you call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate said to them, Why, what evil has he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him" (Mk.15:7-20 KJV).
"But you have a custom, that I should release to you one at the passover: Will you therefore that I release to you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber" (Jn.18:39-40 KJV).
THE RELEASE OF THE PRISONER ON A FEAST DAY
During the Roman occupation of Judea, a custom had arisen that allowed the Roman governor to release a prisoner of the Jews' choice at the Passover feast. It is interesting that this release is mentioned by all four Gospel writers. In the accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the Greek preposition 'kata' (at) is used before the Greek word 'heorte' (feast) instead of the preposition 'pro' (before). The word 'kata' can mean 'at', 'during' or 'on.' In John's account, the preposition 'en' (at) is used before 'pascha' (Passover). Both prepositions 'kata' and 'en', which are used in these scriptures, clearly show and document the fact that the day of Jesus' trial and the prisoner release was in the middle of two consecutive days of Passover.
"Now at [kata] that feast the governor was wont to release to the people a prisoner, whom they would" (Matt.27:15 KJV).
"Now at [kata] that feast he [Pilate] released to them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired" (Mk.15:6 KJV).
"For of a necessity he [Pilate] must release one to them at [kata] the feast" (LK.23:17 KJV).
"But you have a custom, that I should release to you one at [en] the Passover: will you therefore that I release to you the King of the Jews?" (Jn.18:39 KJV).
The Release of Barabbas
The subsequent release of Barabbas on the feast day raises the following question. How could Pilate release Barabbas before the Jews' Passover and still release him on a feast day, which was the custom? The facts from scripture clearly show that Barabbas was released after a Passover ceremony and prior to a legal Passover ceremony and on what the Jews considered the first day to begin eating unleavened bread. But, how could this happen? It could not happen unless there were two consecutive days of Passover that year.
Jesus and his disciples had prepared for and eaten the Passover the night before this event. Therefore, this day would have been the daylight portion of the second consecutive day of the Passover that both the Jews and Pilate would have recognized, because it had been sanctioned by the Calendar Court. As documented by many historical writings, it was not uncommon for the Calendar Court to sanctify two days of observance for an annual festival day when some uncertainty existed as to the exact time of the New Moon or other circumstances made it necessary to do so.
PILATE FAILS IN HIS ATTEMPT TO RELEASE JESUS
"Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spoke again to them. But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. And he said to them the third time, Why, what evil has he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed" (Lk.23: 20-23 KJV).
"And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: But the Jews cried out, saying, If you let this man go, you are not Caesar's friend: whosoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: And he [Pilate] said to the Jews, Behold your King! . . .. The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar" (Jn.19:12-13 KJV).
Pilate attempts three times to release Jesus by appealing to logic and fairness, but he fails each time.
PILATE ISSUES THE DEATH SENTENCE
"And they [the people] cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate said to them, Why, what evil has he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas to them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they called together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshiped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him" (Mk.15:13-20 KJV).
"And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released to them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will" (Lk.23:24-25 KJV).
"Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and said to them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that you may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate said to them, Take you him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him" (Jn.19:1-6 KJV).
CHRIST SENT TO BE CRUCIFIED
"And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he [Pilate] said to the Jews, Behold your King! The
chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him [Jesus] therefore to them [the Priests] to be crucified. And they [the soldiers and the Priests] took Jesus and led him away" (Jn.19:14-16 KJV).
Among the many questions associated with the events surrounding our Savior's last Passover are the ones concerning the preparation which is mentioned as being on the crucifixion day. Was this preparation day a Wednesday, a Thursday or a Friday? When this preparation day is established, the rest of the chronology of these events can easily be understood in context.
"And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do . . ." ( k.23:33-34 KJV).
CHRIST DIED ABOUT 3:00 P.M. FRIDAY
"Now from the sixth hour [noon] there was darkness over all the land to the ninth hour [3 p.m.]. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calls for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost" (Matt.27:45-50 KJV).
"And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. And it was the third hour, and they crucified him" (Mk.15:23-25 KJV).
Mark says that it was the third hour (9 a.m.) when Jesus was crucified; while John says that it was the sixth hour (also 9 a.m.) when Pilate condemned Jesus (Jn.19:14). We know that there is no inconsistency within the scriptures. There must be a logical explanation for this seemingly discrepancy of facts. Research into how time was counted during the life of Christ shows that both Mark and John are correct in the hour that they each recorded as the time of the crucifixion, because each used an accepted but different method and terminology to fix the same time period [see Numbers, Hours and Dates by Ramsay, Hasting's Dict. of the Bible, Vol. V, pp.745-760].
Also note that Mark is the only one of the four gospel writers who gives a complete chronological time sequence of the crucifixion:
- Mk.15:25—third hour, 9 a.m., Jesus crucified
- Mk.15:33—sixth hour, noon, beginning of darkness
- Mk.15:34-37—ninth hour, 3 p.m., death of Jesus
"And when the sixth hour [noon] was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour [3 p.m.]. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calls Elias. And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom" (Mk.15:33-38 KJV).
"And it was about the sixth hour [noon], and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour [3 p.m.]. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost" (Lk.23:44-46 KJV).
"After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost" (Jn.19:28-29 KJV).
"But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knows that he says true, that you might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture says, They shall look on him whom they pierced" (Jn.19:34-36 KJV).
Consider the enormous significance of this historical moment. Picture Jesus' painful and loud cry, 'It is finished,' as the Roman soldier plunges his spear deep into his side spilling the Saviors' lifeblood on the ground. At the same instant, the throats of Passover lambs were being cut and the temple veil rips apart as a powerful earthquake shakes Jerusalem.
Furthermore, consider that this same high priest who the night before had condemned Jesus to death had to sprinkle the Passover lamb's blood on the altar, which symbolizes the sacrifice of a life as payment for the forgiveness of sin.
THE BURIAL OF JESUS
"When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: he went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed" (Matt.27:57-60 KJV).
"And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honorable counselor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly to Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marveled if he were already dead: and calling to him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulcher which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone to the door of the sepulcher" (Mk.15:42-46 KJV).
"And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counselor; and he was a good man, and a just: (the same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on" (Lk.23:50-54 KJV).
"And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury" (Jn.19:38-40 KJV).
Joseph and Nicodemus who were both members of the Sanhedrin performed the burial of Jesus. In doing this, these men would become ceremonially defiled (Num.9:6-11). This defilement would prevent them from observing the Passover with the rest of the Jews. This meant that they would have to observe the alternate Passover the next month, unless they had observed it the night before as did Jesus.
The Burial Spices
Some believe that it was a time consuming task to obtain and prepare the spices and other materials used for Jesus' burial. Some also assume that it took the two Marys (Mk.16:1-2; Lk.23:55-56; 24:1) a whole day to purchase and prepare spices to finish the embalming process of Jesus' body. And because this preparation took a whole day, the day after Christ's death must have been a Thursday or a Friday. However, this belief and assumption is not true, which the scriptures clearly show.
In John 19:39-40, we see that, while Joseph of Arimathaea was going through the process of acquiring authorization to remove Jesus' body from the tree and bury it, Nicodemus who was also a member of the Sanhedrin had purchased the necessary spices and other materials to prepare the body for burial.
The assumption that it took many hours to obtain and prepare the materials for the burial process has little merit, because Nicodemus had already obtained the bulk of the spices before meeting Joseph at or near the tomb (Jn.19:38-40). As soon as Pilate gave the order to allow the crucifixion of Jesus, those who loved him undoubtedly began the preparation for his burial. Because the death sentence was given about 9
a.m. (Jn.19:14-16), they would have had about six hours before Jesus' death to purchase the burial materials and about three hours after his death to bury the body. This is a total of at least nine hours to do preparation and burial.
THE TWO MARYS
"And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how the body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment Now upon the first
day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them" (Lk.23:55-56; 24:1 KJV).
The following are important points to note in the above scriptures:
- People saw Jesus' body after it had been wrapped in linen and spices by Joseph and Nicodemus.
- There is no mention of purchasing of spices and ointments before or after Christ's death.
- The inference clearly shows that they prepared the spices and ointments the same day of the crucifixion before sunset on Friday, which begins the weekly Sabbath.
- They rested the Sabbath according to the commandment.
- There is no mention of how long it took to prepare the spices and ointments.
Many people quote Mark 16:1 as proof that the preparation of the spices and ointments was a time consuming process. But, does it say this?
"And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him."
The following things are important to note about this account:
- There is no indication of the amount of material purchased.
- There is no mention of the hour or the day when these materials were purchased.
- There is no mention of how long it took to prepare these materials.
To use these scriptures as evidence to support the existence of a whole day between Christ's burial and the Sabbath is impossible.
One of the major misconceptions that many people have concerning the times in which Jesus lived is that these people were only one step removed from the stone age. However, this was not the case. The whole of Palestine was one of the most productive areas of the world. Jerusalem was a major trade and commercial center of the Roman Middle East, having arts, crafts, manufacturing, and industry in abundance.
During the annual festivals, when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from the outlying countryside and foreign nations came to worship, there was always an abundance of goods for sale. All of the spices and other material for a burial were readily available from the many shops and commercial establishments that were in full operation during the festivals.
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS THE CHRIST
Friday Afternoon and the Sabbath
"And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how the body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment" (Lk.23:55-56 KJV). See also Matt.27:61.
The following events occurred at the end of the sixth day of the week:
- Jesus was placed in the tomb
- The women prepared spices and ointments
- The women rested on the weekly Sabbath
The following events took place early in the morning on the first day of the week:
"In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said to the women, Fear not you: for I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay" (Matt.28:1-6 KJV).
The phrase 'In the end of the Sabbath' is an idiomatic expression that means 'after the Sabbath.' See the N.I.V. Translation of Matt.28:1.
"And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came to the sepulcher at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were afraid. And he said to them, Be not afraid: you seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him" (Mk.16:1-6 KJV).
"Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said to them, Why seek you the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spoke to you when he was yet in galilee,. . ." (Lk.24:1-6 KJV).
"The first day of the week comes Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, to the sepulcher, and sees the stone taken away from the sepulcher" (Jn.20:1 KJV).
In the three scriptures cited above, the reference to the first day of the week is specifically referring to the first day of the weekly cycle, which is noted in any good Greek language work.
The accounts of all four gospel writers clearly show that Jesus rose from the dead after sunset Saturday and before sunrise Sunday morning while it was still dark.
Jesus also fulfilled the symbolism of the Lift Offering by being resurrected from the dead at the same time the elders cut the sheaves of grain loose from the earth shortly after sunset as the weekly Sabbath ended and the first day of the week began. The sheaves of grain that represented the first-fruits of the first harvest were presented to God in the early morning of the first day of the week about 9 a.m. (Christ is the first-fruits of the sons of God). See 1.Cor.15:20, 23.
When Jesus met Mary early Sunday morning, he told her he had not ascended to the Father:
"Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils" (Mk.16:9 KJV).
"Jesus said to her, touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God" (Jn.20:17 KJV).
The phrase 'touch me not' really means 'don't hold on to me' or 'let go!'
Why would Jesus wait to ascend to his Father after being resurrected? The answer is simple. In order to fulfill the symbolism of the Lift Offering in every detail and in the proper chronological order, he had to wait until the high priest lifted the offering of first-fruits in symbolic presentation to God. Only then could Jesus ascend to heaven to present himself to his Father to be accepted as the first-fruits of humanity to be made immortal. See chapter 38.
Are the servants of Christ to observe the Passover after sunset at the beginning of the 14th of Nisan or on the 15th of Nisan?
- The biblical and historical records show the Passover being observed from approximately noon on the 14th of Nisan to midnight on the 15th.
- The biblical record shows Jesus and his disciples observing a legal Passover by preparing for it at the end of one day and eating the sacrificial lamb at the beginning of another day in exact conformity to the legal requirements of the Law.
- No dates are given in the New Testament for the Passover.
- There are no direct or insinuated instructions to observe the Passover at any other time than the time originally commanded.
- Jesus instructed all who would follow him to observe the Passover as he had done.
There can be no other logical conclusion than this: A follower of Christ who observes the Passover should do so in accordance with the latest instructions given by Jesus.
Many important truths have been revealed in this study. However, the greatest of these truths is that the Creator God of all humanity loved his creation more than his own life. This Being who had existed throughout eternity willingly gave his life that we may escape punishment for our lawlessness.
May you have the wisdom to accept the salvation offered to you by his unselfish sacrifice. The choice is yours.
By B.L. Cocherell and Vernon O. Jones b5w31