The                                              
Christian Pilgrim

 

152. The Passover



The Passover was originally given in Exodus 12. Even here, at the original Passover, there were instructions to keep it as a memorial every year.

vv.5,6 - “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: and ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.”

Notice that on the fourteenth day of the first month the lamb is to be killed and eaten in the evening.

vv. 14-20 - “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.”

Notice here that the Passover is meant to be kept every year. It is a seven day festival where unleavened bread only is to be eaten. The first and the seventh days are to be “holy convocations” in which no manner of work except that which every man must eat is to be done.

In Leviticus 23 we also have instructions on the Passover.

vv.5-8 - “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

Here we see that the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month is designated “the Lord’s Passover.” And the fifteenth day of the month for seven days (i.e. from the evening of the fourteenth day onwards to the twenty-first day) is the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Notice that “no manner of work” “save that which every man must eat” is here designated as “no servile work,” which is different from “no work.” “No servile work” was for the festival days, “no work” was only for the weekly Sabbath and the Day of Atonement. So the first and seventh days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread were NOT special Sabbaths.

That is the background. Now let us look at the Gospel narratives.

Firstly the disciples prepared the Passover meal on:

Matthew 26:17 - “The first day of the feast of unleavened bread.”
Mark 14:12 - “ The first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover.”
Luke 22:7 - “The day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.”

This was obviously the fourteenth day of the first month, as the passover was going to be eaten that evening.

Christ was tried overnight and crucified on the fifteenth day of the first month, the first full day of the feast of unleavened bread.

But we have some passages which talk of the “day of preparation.”

None of these are talking about the preparation of the Passover. That was the fourteenth of the month, when they killed the passover lamb. All these verses talk about the day after, the fifteenth, as being the “day of preparation.” What they must mean is that it was the preparation day for the weekly Sabbath, i.e. Friday.

Matthew 27:62 - “Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate

The day that followed the day of preparation was the weekly Sabbath, when they went to Pilate to ask for a guard on the tomb. (The Pharisees were happy to break the Sabbath when it suited them!).

Mark 15:42 - “And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath

This verse clearly states that the “preparation” was the preparation day before the Sabbath. This was the day Christ had just died and Joseph of Aramathea asked for the body to bury it.

Luke 23:54 - “And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.

This also speaks of the burial of Christ on the Friday.

John 19:14 - “And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!”

This verse might be a little confusing as it talks about the “preparation of the passover.” But this was the next morning after the passover, at Christ’s trial. What is meant is that it was the Sabbath preparation day of passover week, i.e. the Friday.

John 19:31 - “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.”

They did not want the bodies to be on the cross on the Sabbath, so they broke the legs. Here the day is again called the “preparation.”

John 19:42 - “There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”

They buried Jesus quickly before sundown, as it was the “Jews’ preparation day” for the weekly Sabbath.

John 18:28 - “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.”

This verse might be a little confusing, because it seems to say that the passover is still future. This was actually the early morning after the passover meal, as Christ is on trial here. What it means is that they did not want to defile themselves for the whole of the passover week.