“And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem” (John 2:13). Here it is called “the Jews’ Passover”—not “the Lord’s Passover.” Why were the Jews now keeping it a day later? The Palestinian Jews were under Egyptian control from 301 to 198 b.c. (Do not confuse this Egyptian control with that during the days of Moses, which occurred many centuries earlier.)Israelite Doctrine developed more fully over time and that included change in Doctrine.
This isn't a difficult concept to grasp unless you have some sort of strange doctrine to protect.
Here is what happened, according to the April 1963 Good News: “While the Egyptians allowed the Jews to retain their ancient calendar, there was a change made in the beginning of the day—it became common to begin the day at sunrise. This custom was adopted, and persisted among the Jews even down to New Testament times (see the Jewish Quarterly Review, April 1946). We … have had personal information from the Hebrew Union College admitting this fact. (The proof of this is also given in The Expository Times, June 1948, pages 250-251.)”
Most people are in agreement when Christ was killed. It was in the afternoon of the 14th. But when did Christ keep the Passover? It was in the night portion of the 14th—that is, the night before the day Christ was crucified. Some have reasoned that Christ kept the Passover correctly every year until the last year, when He kept it on the wrong day. Others insist that because John mentions the Passover as occurring on the evening after Christ’s sacrifice, that the Passover Christ kept the previous evening was just a Last Supper or some kind of “love feast.” But Christ makes it very clear in Matthew, Mark and Luke that the disciples were to prepare the Passover.
“Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified” (Matthew 26:2). Clarke’s Commentary states regarding this verse: “This feast began on the fourteenth day of the first moon, in the first month, Nisan, and it lasted only one day; but it was immediately followed by the days of unleavened bread, which were seven, so that the whole lasted eight days, and all the eight days are sometimes called the feast of the passover, and sometimes the feast or days of unleavened bread.”
It’s interesting to note that even Clarke’s Commentary says the two are separate. But the point is that these days were generally called the Passover or the feast of Unleavened Bread, meaning the whole eight days, including the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Matthew says, “after two days is the feast of the passover.” In Mark 14:1 it says, “After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread.” And in Luke 22:1 it says, “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.” All three use slightly different terminologies, but the meaning is the same.
The same is true for John 19:14. On the day Christ was crucified, John wrote that the “preparation of the passover” was at hand. It is true that this was just before Christ died on the afternoon of the 14th; but in verse 31, John makes it clear what this preparation was for. “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” At sunset, after Christ died, the “high day,” or holy day (the first day of Unleavened Bread), began. The Jews were preparing for their passover, not “the Lord’s” (Leviticus 23:5).
Now let’s continue with the story. Matthew 26:17-18 read: “Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.” The Greek word for “passover” in these two verses is pascha. Strong’s Concordance defines this word as, “the Passover, the meal, the festival.” Any lexicon verifies this definition.
Verse 19 continues, “And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.” They made ready the Passover—same Greek word. If this event was only referring to a final meal or last supper, certainly the word pascha would not have been inspired.
Notice Mark’s account: “And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?” (Mark 14:14). Same Greek word—pascha. This same word is also used in Luke’s account. Notice: “And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).
Let’s again notice Matthew 26:18: “And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.” Those who advocate a 15th-of-Nisan Passover and say this was just some kind of final dinner are actually saying Jesus Christ did not know what He was talking about! Jesus said, “I will keep the Passover … with my disciples.”
This makes it plain that when Jesus gathered with His disciples the night He was betrayed by Judas, it was indeed the Passover!
The next morning, after the betrayal, the Jews brought Jesus before the Sanhedrin. “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto 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” (John 18:28).
This was before the Jews’ Passover. The holy day was to start at sunset of that evening. Remember, the Jews did not want to kill Him on a feast day for fear of what the people might do (Matthew 26:5). They also wanted to be sure that the bodies did not remain on the cross during the holy day (John 19:31). Then around 3 o’clock in the afternoon on the 14th, Christ died (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). The Passover meal and sacrifice all occurred on the 14th of Nisan.
When we read that the Jews’ Passover was at hand, that is exactly what it was—the Jews’ Passover!
Had Jesus Christ kept the Passover on the wrong day, how could He still be our Savior? Could He be a Lamb without blemish? Years after He died, this same Christ instructed the Apostle Paul about the symbols that had been changed on that last Passover before His crucifixion (Matthew 26:26-30; Luke 22:15-20). Paul explained to the Corinthians that Christ was our Passover. Notice 1 Corinthians 5:7: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.”
Paul further explains the Passover in 1 Corinthians 11:23. “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread.”
Paul and God’s people at that time were to eat the bread and drink the wine. When? On “the same night in which he [Christ] was betrayed” (verse 23): the evening of the 14th.
Again, the time setting is the evening of the 14th—the night Jesus was betrayed by Judas. Paul goes on to explain the changed symbols. “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (verses 24-25).
There can be no doubt that what Paul is talking about is the Passover Christ kept with His disciples. Paul instructed God’s Church to keep the Passover at the same time and the same way that Christ kept it. It was to be kept in remembrance of Christ.
Now notice the next verse which makes it very plain. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (verse 26).
to be continued...