Was the Last Supper the Passover?
Gary: Here is this week’s question: “I’m confused. I know you do not believe that the Lord was crucified on Friday, and your reasoning seems reasonable. However, what bothers me is you seem to be implying that at the Last Supper, the Lord did not celebrate the Passover with His disciples. How can that be, when the Lord says, “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,” Luke:22:15. If words have meaning, it seems to me He ate the Passover with His disciples before He went to the cross.
Tom: Dave, this is something that we all wrestle with, and, you know, our position is that the Lord was not crucified on Friday. We have our reasons, but he brings up a good point. Did the Lord keep the Passover? Was the Last Supper the keeping of the Passover?
Dave: No, it was not. It couldn’t have been. They are making ready, Luke:22:13. They find the room. Jesus said, “Follow this man bearing a pitcher of water. He will show you a room. There make ready.”
They begin to make ready the Passover. That involves being sure that there’s no unleavened bread and so forth. Finally, you have to kill the Passover Lamb, and roast it, and so forth. Jesus did have a supper with them—the Last Supper. We read of that in John 13. I'm not denying that it may not be somewhat confusing, because the disciples were preparing for the Passover. They thought the Passover was going to be kept.
On the other hand, the Bible calls Jesus “our Passover,” and He was initiating a new Passover, if you could say it that way, for…not just for Jews, the descendants of those who were delivered from Egypt, but for believers in Him who were delivered by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, from their sins and who would thereafter remember Him in this way: “This do in remembrance of Me.”
But that it was not the Passover is very clear. John 13, verse 1: “Now before the feast of the Passover [this is telling us of the Last Supper. This is before the Feast of the Passover],” and verse 27: “After the sop, Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him [that’s Judas], That thou doest, do quickly. And nobody knew with what intent he spake this, and some thought that Judas was going out to buy something against the feast,” it says. Well, that’s the Feast of Unleavened Bread coming up, which begins the evening when you eat the Passover. So, if this had been the Passover Supper, everything is closed. The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which begins when you eat the Passover, is a High Sabbath. It’s a High Holy Day. No stores are open.
So, they wouldn’t imagine that Judas was going out to buy anything. Furthermore, when you get over to chapter 18…
Tom: Right. John 18, verse 28.
Tom: “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the Hall of Judgment, and it was early, and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.”
Dave: These are the rabbis.
Dave: So obviously, they have not eaten the Passover yet. Furthermore—and this is the morning after the Last Supper, Jesus has been betrayed by Judas. He’s been taken captive, and He’s been interrogated all night, part of it, you know, with Caiaphas and so forth. And now they’ve brought Him to Pilate…
Tom: Yeah, Dave, some have said, “Well, this verse here talks about continuing to eat the meals—other meals of the Passover, that they would have been defiling themselves for other meals after…”
Dave: Well, it’s never called that. Eating the Passover is very specific. That marks the beginning of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, and you were not to let any of it remain until the morning. Therefore, they wouldn’t have been “continuing” to be eating the Passover.
Chapter 19, verse 14, Jesus is on the cross now, and it says, “And it was the preparation of the Passover.” You’re not preparing for the Passover after it has been eaten. Verse 31 is quite conclusive: “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation that the body should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath Day, for that Sabbath Day was an high day.”
There was a Sabbath that was coming up. It was a high Sabbath. A special Sabbath. And that was the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. So, the Passover lambs were slain the evening, that is, just before sunset that night, which would mark the beginning of the next day, then—the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread—having been roasted, they would be eaten, and that is a high Sabbath.
So, from Thursday evening until Friday evening was the High Sabbath. From Friday evening until Saturday evening, was the regular Saturday Sabbath. Once every seven years, these two days would come together. So there were literally two Sabbaths: a high Sabbath and a regular Sabbath, that kept the women from getting to the grave until Sunday morning.
Now, we have what Jesus said, and we have the scriptures that He had to be in the grave three days and three nights! And you cannot get three days and three nights from a Friday afternoon…
Tom: Particularly the nights. They make a case for the three days…
Dave: That’s right.
Tom: You can’t…
Dave: So He was crucified on Thursday, and in 32 AD, that was exactly when Nissan 14, when the Passover lambs were slain, it fell on that day. Now, we’re not, Tom—we’re not trying to split…
Tom: Well, that’s I was going to ask. This is a shocker for some! I mean, you just turn…open your Bible, particularly if you have a Bible with a lot of commentary and a lot of headings, they would contradict not only when the Passover was, or Jesus eating the Passover, but also the day of His crucifixion.
Tom: Are we laying this out on people that they have to believe this because you’re saying it…?
Dave: No. We’re not trying to split theological hairs, but the Bible says, “All things must be fulfilled.” Jesus said that. That “all things concerning Him that were written in the Law, the Prophets, the Psalms, and so forth, had to be fulfilled.” And in fact, He is the Passover Lamb, the fulfillment of the Passover: “Behold the Lamb of God who bears away the sin of the world.” And He was on the cross at the very time when the Passover lambs were being slain. It all has to fit together, and I’m, you know, not making a big thing out of it, except this is the Word of God, and just go back and check it out.