“LET MY PEOPLE GO so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.” 3500 years ago under a full moon during the spring season, The Almighty announced His presence to a world power that had a stranglehold over the people who worshipped Him. God announced His intention to free them through a series of plagues which rearranged their daily lives, decimated their national economy, wracked them with disease, disrupted their weather patterns, devastated their food supply, increased insects to unbearable swarms, and plunged them into darkness for days. Finally, with the 10th plague of death, even people who didn’t worship Him were brought to their knees.
The 10th Plague of the Firstborn resulted in the deliverance known for millennia as Passover. God spared His people from the death of their firstborn, and “passed over” them when He saw their doorway blood markings of the sacrificial lamb. The cosmic irony is that He would accomplish that once-and-for-all 1500 years later by NOT sparing the life of His Own Firstborn Son.
“On the 14th day of the month when all the community of Israel must slaughter them (lambs) at twilight…I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt…This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast…Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.” Exodus 12:6,12-15,17
From this scripture we understand why this festival to the Almighty came to be known as Passover and the following 7 days as Unleavened Bread, collectively recognized as the Passover season. “Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”1 Corinthians 5:7-8
The old, leavened bread of religious actions and posturing has been replaced by that which can never be leavened: the Only Begotten Son of the Almighty. But a little leaven can hinder our ability to see the truth. So when the timeline for Holy Week seems to be contradicted within the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus OBSERVING the Passover Sacrifice becomes the focus instead of Jesus BECOMING the Passover Sacrifice, which was God’s appointment all along.
We need to start at ground zero with God’s admonition for future generations in Exodus 12:26-27 “And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” The word “Passover” describing the sacrifice is the Hebrew word “Pesach”, actually refers to both the Lamb (the price paid for protection) and the day itself.
The day of Passover is known biblically as the Fast of the Firstborn. The Jewish tradition of the Galileans and Samaritans was to have a meal together on the evening of the 13th before the fast. Known as “Seudah Mafseket”, it is literally translated "Last Supper". (This tradition was moved later to the 3-hour period beginning at midnight on the 14th, when God preserved the firstborn of Israel.)
For many reasons, this supper, or an intimate evening meal other than Passover, is most likely the one Jesus shared with His disciples. John refers to the Last Supper as an evening meal that occurred just before the Passover Feast. (John 13:1-2) Also, at a Passover meal, the focus is on the paschal lamb. But Jesus said, “This bread is my body”, which was certainly true enough. But still, there is no mention of the lamb in ANY of the disciples’ accounts of the Last Supper.
According to the Book of Jubilees written before 150AD, the timeline for Passover included Preparation Day on the 13th beginning between noon-1pm, until 6pm. The lamb would be slain and prepared for the Passover meal, eaten around 7pm on the evening beginning the 14th. (After the Temple fell in 70 AD, there was no altar for a sacrifice, the timing of eating the meal changed to sunset-midnight on the 15th day.)
PASSOVER WEEK TIMELINE likely began with the Last Supper on the evening as the 13th day began. Jesus went to the cross the next morning. During the designated Preparation Day hours, he was “prepared” as the Passover Lamb Sacrifice. His death at unexplained 3pm darkness hastened the evening twilight of Exodus 12, which appropriates the beginning of a new day. Using this timeline and reckoning, Jesus hung on the cross on Preparation Day, and also died as the sacrificial lamb at even on the 14th of God's first month, Passover, as God appointed it. And it was accomplished through the supernatural hand of Almighty God!
The disciple John, who was present at Jesus’ death, writes in John 19:31: “Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath.” Also, Luke 23:52-54 reports “This man went unto Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.”
Super-imposing God’s calendar over our 2022 Gregorian calendar, His first month and first day began at sunset April 2.
The 13th day, April 15, began at sunset with Jesus’ Last Supper, and continued until the next sunset, the beginning of the 14th day, our April 16 evening, when God’s timing of Jesus’ crucifixion death at early afternoon darkness fulfilled God’s Genesis Word defined the day as “evening and morning”.
Passover was a “special” Sabbath. The 15th day, beginning on our April 16 evening, was a regularly appointed monthly Sabbath and the 1st Sabbath of Unleavened Bread. (God’s lunar calendar for Sabbaths begins again every month with Sabbaths falling on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th, and Festival Days falling on the same dates every year, too.)
The 16th day began at sunset April 17, the day after a weekly Sabbath. Jesus was resurrected from death during the early morning hours on April 18, and the 16th day continued to sunset that day.
JESUS was the Passover Lamb in every way when the Passover Meal began shortly after sunset on the 14th. He stayed in the tomb 3 days and 3 nights, just as He said in Matthew 12:20 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” He rose from the dead by the morning of the 16th, the Day of Firstfruits, appointed in Leviticus 23 as the day following the Sabbath (the 15th). “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:20
God’s calendar is perfect. It was never about us celebrating a religious festival or a Sabbath day just to please Him. It’s always been about the revelation of Jesus, the Christ, the Deliverer, the Anointed One, come to set His people free!
“LET MY PEOPLE GO that they may hold a Festival to me in the desert…”