Did Jesus celebrate the Passover the night before he died or did he die on Passover? – Kay
Thank you for your question and it’s a very good one. The confusion starts by not understanding the Hebrew reckoning of time. As modern Americans we are accustomed to the Gregorian calendar, which starts the day at 12:00 midnight. The Bible however, states in
Genesis 1:5b “So there was evening, and there was morning, one day”.
The Hebrews have stayed true to the ancient Biblical format for counting the evening first in a full day. The new “day” starts in the evening, when the sun goes down and then ends just as the sun goes completely down again 24 hours later.
To answer your question the Bible tells exactly the day and time of Yeshua’s death.
According to the gospels the time is recorded:
Luke 23: 44 It was now about noon, and darkness covered the whole Land until three o’clock in the afternoon; 45 the sun did not shine. Also the parokhet in the Temple was split down the middle. 46 Crying out with a loud voice, Yeshua said, “Father! Into your hands I commit my spirit.”[f] With these words he gave up his spirit.
We also know the day he died;
John19 30 After Yeshua had taken the wine, he said, “It is accomplished!” And, letting his head droop, he delivered up his spirit.31 It was Preparation Day, and the Judeans did not want the bodies to remain on the stake on Shabbat, since it was an especially important Shabbat. (CJB)
These scriptures give us three criteria:
- It was 3:00 in the afternoon.
- It was still Preparation Day (the first day of Passover) when Yeshua died.
- He needed to be off the cross and buried before the special Sabbath (the second day of Passover) was to start at sundown.
Therefore we can conclude that the Bible tells us Yeshua died Aviv 14 at 3:00pm.
Lets delve into other proof texts.
According to Lev. 23, the day after the first day of Passover is a High Holy Day or a Special Sabbath. This day after or second day of the Passover Season is called the Feast of Unleavened Bread occurring on the 15th day of Aviv or Nissan. This special Sabbath can occur any day of the week and may or may not have been on a Friday (a regular weekly Sabbath) at the time of Yeshua’s death.
Leviticus records the 14th and 15th day of Aviv (the first month of a Hebrew year) in this way:
Lev. 235 “‘In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between sundown and complete darkness, comes Pesach for Adonai. 6 On the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of matzah; for seven days you are to eat matzah.
The fourteenth day of Aviv is known as the first day of Pesach (Passover). It is also known as Preparation Day and the First Day of Unleavened Bread (Matzah). The latter is a kind of misnomer because even though no leaven is eaten on the first day (eve) of Passover, families are taking leaven out of their homes in time for the next sundown, the actual High Sabbath Feast of Unleavened Bread (the 15th of Aviv or the second day of the Passover Feast).
Using the Biblical calculation of when a day starts (at sundown) lets consider that the lambs are slaughtered at dusk and cooked for dinner. They must be eaten that very same night as none of it can be left over for the morning. (Ex. 10:8-12)
We see Yeshua and the disciples getting prepared for the eve of Passover:
Mark 14 12 On the first day for matzah, when they slaughtered the lamb for Pesach, Yeshua’s talmidim asked him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare your Seder?” 13 He sent two of his talmidim with these instructions: “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him; 14 and whichever house he enters, tell him that the Rabbi says, ‘Where is the guest room for me, where I am to eat the Pesach meal with my talmidim?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make the preparations there.” 16 The talmidim went off, came to the city and found things just as he had told them they would be; and they prepared the Seder. (CJB)
This command had to be around sunset, which marks the beginning of the first day of Passover (Aviv 14). Someone had already anticipated the arrival of the guests but the disciples needed to finish the necessary things that should be included in their Seder meal. Seder means “order” so there is a traditional order of events that happens at every Passover meal. Erev Passover (Passover eve) was a long celebration and still is to this day. There are traditional prayers and the story of the Exodus that is told every year in obedience to God’s command to remember to teach it. Various food elements such as bitter herbs are also used as teaching tools. And there are several cups of wine and matzah consumed through out the evening. Sometime after the second cup of wine, the participants would eat the main meal. It is then the lamb would be served and is called “supper”. 1 Cor. 11:25 tells us that it was the cup after supper that Yeshua said “This is my blood”. So this clue tells us it was late in the evening when He revealed the meaning of the “cup after supper”.
Another scripture to verify Yeshua died on the first day of Passover (Preparation Day), and needed to be off the cross and buried before the High Sabbath that would occur the next day is also recorded in John.
John 13 41 In the vicinity of where he had been executed was a garden, and in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been buried. 42 So, because it was Preparation Day for the Judeans, and because the tomb was close by, that is where they buried Yeshua. (CJB)
It’s amazing that God provided His own Passover Lamb, Yeshua, to be sacrificed on the day that the Hebrew people were commemorating the Exodus from bondage. Yeshua, God’s salvation, is the atoning blood that delivers us from the bondage of sin that holds us captive as slaves. When we apply the blood that He, the perfect Lamb shed to the doorways to our hearts we enter in to the blood covenant that makes us one in Him. He pays the penalty for our sin and transforms us into His likeness. We now have the power of God in us to help us walk in His righteousness, leaving our sinful nature behind.
Yeshua, He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.