Today, I want to look at Wednesday of Jesus’ final week [notice the day], three days after Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Growing up, I was always confused why the Scriptures tell us that Jesus would be dead for three days and three nights, and would then arise. Yet, the traditional teaching states that Jesus celebrated the “Last Supper,” on Thursday and then Crucified on “Good Friday,” but then, only two days later, on Sunday, Easter — we will celebrate His Resurrection. I do not care how you look at that, even if you use Common Core mathematics, it does not equal three days and three nights. So what is the correct timeline for Jesus’ last supper, arrest, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection? Well, that is a good question, so let’s go over it.
[Dramatic Pause . . .]
It may take some explanation for you to understand this, so give me a chance to lay it out for you. The day before Passover, which in the year Jesus died would have been a Wednesday, the disciples had the special meal prepared that we call The Last Supper. We are all familiar with that. However, what many of us may not know, is that during the times that Jesus lived, Rome had divided the Holy Lands into several districts. The ones we are most familiar with are Judea (Judah) to the south where Jerusalem was, Galilee up north, and Samaria between the two.
Now don’t start throwing stones at Rome, because they were not the only culprit. Judaism was also fractured just like our modern churches. The Judean Jews, Galilean Jews, and Samaritan Jews had each developed different traditions on many religious issues, including, by the way, how they observed feasts.
The Galilean Jews (remember, Jesus and His disciples were Galileans) established an additional celebration, which in Hebrew is called “seudah maphsehket” (translated is Last Supper), but the Judean Jews did not recognize this celebration. Much similar to what evangelical Protestants have done to many of the mainline church’s celebrations. It is rather interesting how human attitudes repeat themselves, don’t you think? I guess Solomon was right; there is nothing new under the sun.
This last supper that only the Galilean Jews celebrated was about remembering that it was not all Hebrews who were in danger of death at Yahweh’s hand in Egypt, but only the firstborn sons. So, they adopted a special nighttime meal they would eat and then, followed by a 24-hour fast — which is why it is called the “Last Supper.” What I am saying is that it was not Jesus’ last supper, it was the seudah maphsehket (or last supper), before their time of fasting! The next meal they would eat would be the Passover meal! That is important to remember!
Now I admit there have been all kinds of essays and books explaining that there were two Passover Seders: one on Passover eve, Aviv 13th, (the day before Passover) and the official Passover meal on Aviv 14. The problem is that it misses the point rather significantly. These so-called two Passover Seders were, in fact, the combination of the last supper (celebrated only by Galilean Jews), and then the next night the actual Passover meal (which, because of the events that day, Jesus and his disciples were never able to eat). This confusion over two Seder meals obscures what occurred with Jesus and His disciples on those fateful few days.
So let’s look at this carefully. On Aviv 13, Wednesday, the seudah maphsehket was prepared; however, and this is important, they did not eat it on Aviv 13! They ate it after sundown, at the end of the day of Aviv 13, possibly around 6:00 pm. What I mean is that yes, in our Western minds, it was the last meal of Wednesday, Aviv 13. But in truth, it was eaten as the first meal of the day of Thursday Aviv 14th! Where this confuses us is remembering that the beginning of a new day is just after sundown and not at Midnight! So, they ate this special meal honoring the firstborn (called seudah maphsehket or last supper) on Passover, but, and this is significant, as the beginning meal of the day. Are you with me so far? OK, now follow me closely.
The meal called the “Last Supper” is eaten in the first hour of Passover. It is during this meal that Jesus instructed them to commemorate this day by drinking wine that symbolized His blood that established the New Covenant, and by eating unleavened bread that symbolized His body where we become united. Notice: this was not the traditional Passover Seder; that was yet to come at the end of Passover day, late Thursday evening.
So at the start of the day of Aviv 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, in the wee hours before daylight, Jesus and His disciple travel to the Garden and the disciples have 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, they arrest our Lord.
It is still Passover day (late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning). He is tried and convicted of blasphemy. Remember, it is still early Thursday morning. After Pontius Pilate confirms his sentence, Jesus is abused, beaten, spit on, whipped and in the late morning nailed to a Roman cross by Roman soldiers. It is still late morning, Passover Day, Thursday, Aviv 14.
He hung on that cross for several hours and at about the moment Jesus expires (3:00 p.m. on Passover Day — Thursday) the slaughter of the Passover Lambs began on the Temple grounds. Somewhere around 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. It is still Passover Day.
While this is occurring, the women are rushing around trying to get the Roman soldiers to remove Jesus’ corpse from the cross; 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!
They place the butchered lambs in the thousands of ovens located all around Jerusalem so the hundreds of thousands of visiting pilgrims could cook their Passover Lambs. It was still Passover Day. Shortly after the three stars became visible (when it was 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 Aviv 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 many peoples’ surprise, the Biblical injunction is that they are to eat the Passover meal after dark! This means the day has changed! This means Aviv 14 has changed to Aviv 15 — the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. That’s right! They do not eat the Passover meal on Passover Day; it is the first meal of the new day on Matza. Why? Because that is precisely as it was in Egypt! They were still eating the Passover meal at around midnight on Aviv 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! Zevah Pesach does not mean “pass over” — it means “protective sacrifice.”
We also need to understand that, Pesach (Passover) is just a one-day feast that occurs every year on Aviv 14th. The following day, Aviv 15th begins a seven-day biblical feast called The Feast of Unleavened Bread, or in Hebrew The Feast of Matza. Then, during the Feast of Matza, yet another festival occurs, Bikkurim — Firstfruits — which happens on the 16th of Aviv! So, in a rapid succession we have Passover on Aviv the 14th (Thursday), then the start of Matza on the 15th (Friday, which runs for seven days), and then Firstfruits on the 16th (Sunday). Oh, you can start dancing now . . .
[Another dramatic pause . . .]
What occurred on Aviv 14 in Egypt was that the slaughtered Pesach Lamb, then brushed its blood onto the doorways of homes. It was the day the “protective sacrifice” of the lamb, as ordered by God, took place. But, it was not until after dark — when the day changed to Aviv 15 — that late at night (around midnight), the Lord passed through Egypt killing all unprotected firstborns, whether the first born was Egyptian or Hebrew or some other nationality that happened to be visiting Egypt at the time. If they did not cover the door post in the blood of the protective sacrifice . . . death came to the house.
This is also brought forward to the sacrifice of Jesus. The “protective sacrifice” in the Egyptian story is a sign regarding the final “protective sacrifice”: Yeshua (Jesus), Yahweh’s first born. If you are not covered by the blood of the protective sacrifice, you will experience the judgment.
So Pesach, which is only the protective sacrifice of the lambs, happened on Aviv 14, but the Lord did not pass over the protected firstborn until the first hours of the next day, Aviv 15. When night turned into daytime (still the same day), the Hebrews left Egypt, and that is the day celebrated as the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread!
Now, how does this tie into the story of Jesus’ death? Well, the first day of Matza was a festival Sabbath day! Friday Aviv 15th was a Sabbath day, a festival Sabbath day. It had some of the same requirements as the 7th Day Sabbath in that it was prohibited to handle a dead human corpse on any Sabbath. That is why the Gospels tell us that there was a frenzy to get Jesus buried before dark when the day changed from Pesach (a regular day) to the First day of Matza, which was a festival Sabbath day — because they could not handle a dead body.
We still have more to cover, so hang in there with me!
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