We are examining the final week of Jesus’ earthly life, and have seen his entry into Jerusalem and then, at the start of the day of Nisan 14, Thursday, Passover day, the Galilean “last supper” commemorating firstborns is eaten. (In our minds, this was probably around 6:00 PM or so, on Wednesday, but it is actually the beginning of Thursday. I hope you can understand this part), Right after they ate, Jesus and His disciple went to the Garden and it is in the wee hours before daylight, when the disciples had a difficult time staying awake, Jesus prays with drops of blood dripping from his face. Then Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss and shortly after midnight Wednesday night, early Thursday morning, our Lord is arrested.
It is still Passover day (early Thursday morning). He is tried and convicted of blasphemy. And after his sentence is confirmed by Pontius Pilate, Jesus is abused, beaten, spat upon, scourged and in the late morning he is nailed to a Roman cross by Roman soldiers. It is still Passover Day, in late morning of Thursday, Nisan 14.
What is significant, at about the moment Jesus expires (3:00 PM in the afternoon on Passover Day — Thursday) the slaughter of the Passover Lambs begins on the Temple grounds. Somewhere around a ¼ million sheep were killed and their blood collected between the hours of 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm, stopping as the sun drops to the horizon.
Before the sun sets, the women rush around trying to get the Roman soldiers to remove Jesus’ corpse from the cross; I’m sure you remember that they are required to get Him buried immediately because otherwise He would just lay exposed for at least 2-days. Why? I will show you in a minute. They achieve their goal and Yeshua is entombed before the sun sets and it is still Thursday, Passover Day!
While Jesus was placed in the tomb. the butchered lambs are placed in the thousands of ovens located all around Jerusalem so the hundreds of thousands of visiting pilgrims can cook their Passover Lambs. It is still Passover Day. Shortly after the 3 stars become visible (when it is dark enough to appear in the night sky), Passover Day (Thursday) ends and Friday, the first day of Matza, begins. (Ooh, hang on to your butts, because this is where it gets even better). It is now Nisan 15, Friday, the first day of Matza or Unleavened Bread (leaven symbolizing sin).
Ah, but where did the Passover meal go? Weren’t they supposed to eat it on Passover day? NO! Much to the surprise to many people, the Biblical injunction is that the Passover meal is to be eaten after dark. This means the day has changed. It also means Nisan 14 has changed to Nisan 15 — the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. That’s right: the Passover meal is not eaten on Passover Day; it is the first meal of the new day on Matza. Why? Because that is exactly as it was in Egypt. They were still eating the Passover meal at around midnight on Nisan 15 when Yahweh killed all the unprotected firstborns throughout Egypt!
It was Jerome in the 5th century AD who translated the Hebrew words Zevah Pesach and made it “Pass-over.” So we always have this mental picture (along with millions of sermons to back it up) that on Pesach the Lord “passed-over” the Hebrew firstborns killing only the Egyptian firstborns. Wrong! As I explained, Zevah Pesach does not mean “pass over” — it means “protective sacrifice.” Ooh, I saw you raise your eyebrows on that one.
I should remind you that there are seven Feasts of The Lord. Each is described in Torah, the first five books of the Bible. These “feasts” are The Lord’s appointed holidays. Now this word “feast” is a bit confusing because the actual Hebrew word is “Moed” which means “appointments” just like any appointment you put on your calendar. But the thing is, they are on your Creator’s calendar! As a matter of fact, our Father appointed these times and seasons since the seven days of creation. They are the specific days He set to meet with mankind in His plan of salvation for the world. And not to put too fine of a point on this, but these are not optional if you really want to please Him. Oh sure you can miss them, but if you do, you might miss God’s blessings. Yahweh, the Creator, has made these set-apart appointments for you. These Feasts are not actually Jewish, what you may have been taught. They are God’s days. And the Scriptures make it clear that Yahweh declares a 100% claim to His appointments with mankind:
“Tell the people of Isra’el: ‘The designated times of Adonai which you are to proclaim as holy convocations are my designated times.” (Leviticus 23:2)
Just remember that Pesach is only a one-day feast that occurs every year on Nisan 14th. The following day, Nisan 15th begins a seven-day biblical feast called The Feast of Unleavened Bread, or in Hebrew the feast of Matza. Then, during this feast, yet another festival occurs, Bikkurim — Firstfruits — which happens on the 16th of Nisan! So, in a rapid succession we have Passover on Nisan the 14th (Thursday) , then the start of Matza on the 15th (Friday, which runs for seven days), and then Firstfruits on the 17th (Sunday). Oh, you can start dancing now . . .
[Another dramatic pause . . .]
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