Friday, July 19, 2013

Was Jesus arrested before Passover?

According to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus partook of the famous, "Last Supper", before He was arrested later that night in the Garden of Gethsemane. If you read John's Gospel, you will not find any mention of the Last Supper. What you will find instead are the following three passages: 

John 18:28 (NKJV) Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium [hall of judgement], and it was early morning. But they [the Pharisees] themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.

John 19:14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, "Behold your King!"

John 19:31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

These verses seem to indicate that the Passover had not been eaten yet. The other three Gospels seem to contradict John. The following passage is from the Gospel of Mark: 

Mark 14:12-16 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, "Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?" And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, "Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?" ' Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us." So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover. (See also Mt 26:17-19 & Lk 22:7-13)

Tradition has agreed with Matthew, Mark and Luke, and has overlooked what John had to say about it. Several people do not agree with tradition. One theory says Jesus and the disciples ate the meal early. They suggest that over the 1,500 years since the original Passover, some details were ignored. Another group suggests that John was an eyewitness, whereas, Mathew, Mark and Luke were not. This means John's details would be accurate and the others would be generalizations.

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine." Did God mess up in His Word? Of course not!

The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek languages and later translated to other languages. The Old Testament was translated from Hebrew and the New Testament was Greek. It is not unusual to find that different English Translations contradict each other. So how do we know what the original Scripture taught? By the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says in John 14:26, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."

When I pondered this, the Holy Spirit made it all make sense. The first verse, John 18:28 says the Pharisees did not want to be defiled. The Passover was a burnt offering to the lord. It provided a clothing of innocence for the partaker. It would make sense that they would not want to be defiled after the meal. The words that seem to mix this up are the three words, "they might eat". These words seem to indicate a future tense. However, these words come from one Greek word. The word simply means, "eat"*. The translator would have been more correct to translate this in the past tense. It does not make sense to be concerned about defilement before eating the meal.

The next verse at the top, John 19:14, has two issues with translation. First it says it was the sixth hour. This is when they took Jesus to the cross. Translators believe this to be a reference to the time of day. The Jewish daytime began at 6:00am using today's time system. This would mean that the sixth hour would be six hours after 6:00am. This would mean it was 12:00 noon. Many translations actually say it was noon. This disagrees with Mark. Mark said it was the third hour (9:00am) when they took Jesus out to crucify Him (Mk 15:25). So who is right? Our answer is in the book of Exodus.

The Bible says in Matthew 5:17, "Do not think that I [Jesus] came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill." In Exodus, chapters 7 through 12, we learn of ten plagues released in Egypt. The first Passover is recorded in chapter 12. The Passover was prophetic of Jesus and the cross. The ten plagues were a picture of the Ten Commandments. The Bible says in Romans 8:2, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." The Bible says the Ten Commandments were the law of sin and death. Each law was like a plague, producing sin and death.

The tenth and final plague was released at midnight after the Passover meal took place. This plague was the death angel, released to kill the firstborn (Ex 12:29). After Jesus ate the Passover meal with the disciples, they went to Gethsemane to pray (Mt 26, Mk 14, Lu 22). The Bible tells us in Luke 22:42-44, "[Jesus] saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground." When Jesus began to pray, the agony began. The angel of death had been released onto the firstborn just like the first Passover. The Bible says in Colossians 1:15, "He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

The Bible says in Matthew 26:44, "So He [Jesus] left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words." Jesus prayed the same prayer three times.

We read in Mark 14:37, "Then He [Jesus] came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour?" This says His prayer was about an hour long, and He prayed the same prayer three times. Then He was arrested (Mt 26:46-47, Mk 14:42-43). This would mean that Jesus was arrested at about 3:00am using today's clock. If Jesus was crucified at about 9:00am, as it says in Mark 15:25, then Jesus was in their custody for six hours before the crucifixion. John 19:14 says, "Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour." This refers to the six hours since the arrest---not the time of day.

As for it being Preparation day of the Passover, this more correctly reads Preparation day during Passover. The Passover meal was the kickoff for a week long feast. The feast of unleavened bread (see Ex 12:14,15), was all part of the Passover celebration. Luke 22:1 says, "Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover." Much like Christmas time today---it is more than just a day.

The last Scripture that seems to disagree,  John 19:31 says, "Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day) ..." This verse clearly says it was preparation day for a special Sabbath. People have understood this to be a Sabbath other than the seventh day of the week.

A Sabbath was a day to be set apart for rest. Besides every seventh day being a Sabbath, there were other holy days when no work was to be done. One of them was Passover. You will notice in Mark 14:12-16 above, the room had already been furnished and prepared.

Some people have believed that the day Jesus was crucified was preparation day for the Passover meal because it was a special Sabbath (a high day). It was a high day---it was a Sabbath that took place during a Holy Feast. It was Saturday. It was special because it was during Passover celebrations.

Be blessed! 
*Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, copyright 1890 by James Strong, MADISON, NJ. Strong’s number, G5315.

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