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Passover

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Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. The passover meal, called a seder, is a ritualized feast to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover with storytelling of how ancient Israelites were liberated from slavery in ancient Egypt. While generally many Jewish holidays revolve around the Temple, the seder is conducted within the family home.

The Passover has extraordinary significance and meaning around the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Seder Components

  1. Kadeish – recital of Kiddush blessing and drinking of the first cup of wine
  2. Urchatz – washing of the hands
  3. Karpas – dipping of the karpas in salt water
  4. Yachatz – breaking the middle matzo; the larger piece becomes the afikoman
  5. Maggid – retelling the Passover story, including the recital of "the four questions" and drinking of the second cup of wine
  6. Rachtzah – second washing of the hands
  7. Motzi, Matzo מצה – blessing before eating matzo and Maror, eating of a sandwich made of matzo and maror
  8. Shulchan oreich – literally "set table". The serving of the holiday meal
  9. Tzafun – eating of the afikoman
  10. Bareich – blessing after the meal and drinking of the third cup of wine
  11. Hallel – recital of the Hallel, traditionally recited on festivals; drinking of the fourth cup of wine
  12. Nirtzah – say "See you in Jerusalem again!"[1]

Old Testament

The Tenth Plague

The tenth plague was the death of the firstborn of Egypt,[2] but not of Israel because of the blood of the lamb on the door posts of their dwellings.[3] (According to James Ussher, this occurred in 2513c AM, 3223 JP, 1491 BC)[4]

New Testament

Last Supper of Christ and Crucifixion

Isaiah prophesied of Christ as being as a lamb,[5] Jesus was crucified on Passover,[6][7] and in many places in the New Testament Christ is referred to as the Passover Lamb or Lamb of God.[8][9][10]

Skeptics attempt to show contradiction between the Gospels because when read they seem to not allow enough time for the Last Supper and Crucifixion events to happen as written. Skeptical readings of the text tend to contend that Matthew, Mark and Luke has the Last Supper on the "first day of Passover (Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:7)." While in the Gospel of John, "it takes place a day earlier and Jesus is crucified on the first day of the Passover."[11] It amounts to an alleged contradiction because there couldn't of been a Last Supper both on the first day of Passover or during Passover and a day earlier. It has been considered a troubling spot requiring gospel harmony that many important biblical scholars of the 20th century were aware of as well. According to Colin J. Humphreys, a noted scholar on the subject;

The eminent biblical scholar, F. F. Bruce, once described this problem as "the thorniest problem in the New Testament."[12]

There is also another issue that emerges due to the constraining chronology because;

Scholars have literally rushed around Jerusalem with a stop-watch to see how the large number of events recorded in the Gospels could have occurred between the Last Supper on Thursday night and the Crucifixion on Friday morning.[12]

However, a new synthesis or harmony of the Gospel narrative of the Last Supper of Christ has been shown to posit that the events though talking about the same narrative, are using different calenders that lead to certain chronological assumptions not explicitly written about. This view proposed by Colin Humphreys, although not the first type to be expounded upon, relies on the evidence found from the community that wrote what is called the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran.

The Dead Sea Scrolls reveal that there were a number of different Jewish calendars in use in Israel in the first century AD, and so different Jewish groups celebrated Passover on different days. We have a similar situation today with the date of Easter: Catholics and Protestants celebrate Easter on a different date from Greek and Russian Orthodox Christians, because they calculate the date of Easter using different calendars (Gregorian and Julian, respectively). In his description of the Last Supper, John uses the official Jewish calendar, in which the Last Supper was before the date of the official Passover. However, I suggest that Jesus chose to hold his Last Supper on the date of Passover in a different Jewish calendar, which is what Matthew, Mark and Luke report. So all four Gospels in fact agree![12]

The Lamb Slain from the Foundation of the World (Rev 13:8)

The relevance of the Passover to CreationWiki cannot be understated. Jesus is called the Lamb of God. The Passover Lamb is a centerpiece of God's attention from the time of the Exodus forward. The elements of the Passover foreshadow Christ's death and resurrection. That he is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8) makes the Crucifixion, and its foundation in the Passover, critical to the subject of origins and the architecture of the creation itself.

Some have taught that when man sinned, God had to invoke "Plan B", and that this Plan B included the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. However, Revelation 13:8 clearly refutes this. The Crucifixion was built-in to the creation as part of a Master Plan. There is no Plan B. Moreover, those who believe in a God who resorts to secondary plans, also purports God to be a "tinkering God" or the "frantic director" described by HG Wells. A tinkering-God is no better than the capricious pantheon of Greek deities using humans as fodder for sport.

The Scripture provides what can be described as nearly a moment-by-moment description of Christ's passion. It is no accident that this takes place the week of Passover.

Passover in the Old Testament

The Passover is comprised of several primary components (Leviticus 23:4-12). These are listed as "feasts" in the following progression, all based on the first month of the religious calendar:

  • Day 14 Passover, called "the day of preparation"
  • Day 15 Feast of Unleavened Bread, a "holy convocation" or "high Sabbath" treated as a normal Sabbath no matter what day it falls on
  • The "day on the morrow after the Sabbath", that is the first day of the week after the regular Sabbath following the Passover - The Feast of First Fruits, or Day of First Fruits

Evening and Morning Measure a Day

In the book of Genesis chapter 1, the days of creation are marked in evening-plus-morning terms. Each day begins at sundown and ends at sundown on the following day.

Today the regular Sabbath is still observed as beginning on sundown of Friday to sundown of Saturday.

The Passover week as chronicled in the Gospels presumes this context. The day of Passover begins in the evening prior to the Crucifixion. Christ and the disciples meet that evening for their final meal. The following day, the Jewish leaders accelerated Christ's trial and execution to have him off the Cross before the Sabbath began. But according to the above Passover timeline, this Sabbath was not a regular Sabbath, but a High Sabbath, the Feast of Unleavened Bread (this is important and developed in the following sections).

Christ claimed he would be in the belly of the earth "three days and three nights". A literal interpretation of this claim means that Christ has to be in the tomb for three days and nights, each of which can be measured in terms of evening-and-morning, sundown-to-sundown. How can we find three full days and nights on the Passion week if we use the traditional Crucifixion day (Good Friday)?

Events and Context

During the timeline progression of Christ's passion, we have the following events and actions, as described across the Gospels but in great detail Luke, chapters 22-24. Jesus met the disciples in the upper room in the evening after sundown, the start of the Passover (Luke 22:7 and following). The following day, Jesus is betrayed, tried and executed, dead on the Cross by 3pm (Luke 23:44).

John now tells us that they wanted the body off the cross because the Sabbath was approaching. He notes that it is the high Sabbath day. We already know this (from Leviticus) because Jesus is crucified on the day of Passover and the next day is a high Sabbath day:

John 19:31 "The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away."

The owner of the designated tomb, the religious leader Joseph of Arimathea, pleads to Pilate for the body, noting the same concern, to get Jesus off the cross and into the tomb before sundown:

Luke 23:50-54 "And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. 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 sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on."

In the above, we are again reminded that the priority was to get Jesus into the tomb before sundown to honor the Sabbath. Jews could not work on the Sabbath, so this had to be squared away before sundown.

Women and the Spices

So here we have the first reference to the spices necessary to dress Christ's body. They placed him into the tomb quickly and were unable to properly dress his body with spices.

Mark 16:1 "And when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him."

But note that it says "when the Sabbath was over". Which Sabbath are we talking about here?

Luke 23:55 - 24:1 "Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed after, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. And they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared."

In the above, we read that they prepared the spices and then rested on the Sabbath. But didn't the prior reference claim that they didn't even purchase the spices until after the Sabbath was over? How can they prepare spices the day before the Sabbath, rest on the Sabbath and then after the Sabbath is over, purchase the spices they purportedly prepared the day before?

Consilience of the Gospels

The answer is in the presence of two Sabbaths. It is clear in this timeline that the women purchased the spices after the first of the two Sabbaths had passed. This first Sabbath was the high Sabbath that John had mentioned, the Feast of Unleavened Bread that follows the Passover. The second Sabbath is the regular Sabbath. We simply need time between these two Sabbaths for the women to purchase and prepare the spices. In those days, spice preparation for an entire body took quite a bit of time without any automated tools to help them.

Another more significant assertion of Christ is this:

Matthew 12:39-40 "But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

If Christ was killed on Friday, as tradition holds per Good Friday, then we cannot find three full days and three full nights between a Friday Crucifixion and Sunday morning Resurrection. However, if we follow the trail left by the testimony of the women and their preparation of spices, we can find everything that reconciles with Scripture, the context of the Jewish culture and the necessary prophetic fulfillments.

Timeline of the Passion

  • Tue sundown - Passover begins - Christ and disciples share final meal
  • Wed early morning - Christ betrayed, arrested, convicted
  • Wed afternoon - Christ dead by 3pm, in tomb before sundown. Passover ends at sundown
  • Wed sundown - Sabbath begins, high Sabbath of Feast of Unleavened Bread
  • Thu sundown - High Sabbath ends, Christ in tomb one day/one night
  • Fri morning - women purchase spices (after the Sabbath) and prepare spices all day
  • Fri sundown - regular Sabbath begins. Women rest after spice preparation. Christ in tomb two days/two nights
  • Sat sundown - regular Sabbath ends. Christ is in tomb three days/three nights
  • Sat sundown - Day of firstfruits begins. Christ is resurrected on Day of First Fruits. He is called "the first fruits of them that slept" (1 Corinthians 15:20) (James 1:8) (Revelation 14:4) and the first resurrection is the resurrection of the saints (Revelation 20:5)
  • Sun sunrise - women arrive to apply spices, find grave empty

After three days / In three days / On the third day

Many theologians would rather 'stay put' on the Friday Crucifixion because it is easier to explain Christ having arisen on "the third day". In the complete context however, we must reconcile the meaning of all verses that reference this.

In the following Scriptures, Jesus claims he will rise after three days, and even the Pharisees based their fears on this claim:

  • Mark 8:31 "And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again."
  • Matthew 12:40 "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
  • John 2:19 "Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
  • Matthew 27:63 "Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again."

In Genesis, we read that the entire day of the "third day" is the evening-and-morning. Genesis 1:13 "And the evening and the morning were the third day."

In a number of places in the New Testament, Jesus is noted as having risen "on the third day":

  • Matthew 16:21 "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day."
  • Matthew 17:22-23 "And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry."
  • Luke 24:21 "But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done."

Is it possible to rise again "after three days" and still be "third day since" these things had happened? In Scripture a common counting protocol is to determine whether the days are specific, a range, a future event etc. In the above cases, the context is "the third day after". Clearly we need to know when the days commenced counting. On the day of the Crucifixion, this was not "one day after" but "the day of". If this is a Wednesday Crucifixion model, Thursday is "first day after", Friday is "second day after" and Saturday is "third day after". Keeping with the same loose interpretation of "third day" as with the Friday model, Christ can be raised anytime on Saturday until midnight and still be within the boundaries of the same "third day" standards applied to the Friday model. The Friday model is not wrong for it's loose interpretation, however, it is wrong because not enough days are provided to accommodate the other documented timeline events and claims.

To determine "three days" or "after three days", it is imperative to remain within the Jewish protocol of counting "one day" from sunset to sunset. For determining "on the third day" however, is a different terminology that often means daylight hours only. This differentiates between a timeframe and a designation. A timeframe is a start/stop box of time. A designation is a given point-in-time. The terminology for the two often varies. Scripture can clarify these things if we regard all of the testimony holistically. This provides the proper boundaries to capture the entire meaning. That is, if one or more verses provide clarity where another might not, the preponderance goes to the clarifying verses.

  • Proverbs 8:8-9 "All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge."

The Models Compared

  • A plain state-of-mind of most creationists is a strong suspicion of tradition. Many aspect of the evolutionary narrative fall into this realm such that the creationist is constantly exposed to the bane of traditional thinking. It is therefore easy to take a Friday Crucifixion, label it as "tradition" and toss it in the trash. However, it is incumbent upon said creationist to be able to articulate why this is necessary. Hopefully the above discussion provides a springboard.
  • A Friday Crucifixion does not intersect nor reconcile with any of the assertions of Christ ("three days and three nights", "after three days"). It also sets aside the testimony of the women in their spice preparation, clearly sandwiched between two Sabbath days. A wide range of theologians have attempted to bend these hours to a breaking point. It is simply easier to forsake the Friday Crucifixion as an unfortunate mistake in institutionalized tradition. The question remains: If Scripture does not directly assert it, why defend it?
  • A Thursday Crucifixion does not provide "three days and three nights" from sunset-to-sunset. Nor does it provide a means to reconcile "after three days", nor accommodate a day for the women and the spice purchase/preparation.
  • The Wednesday Crucifixion places Christ in the tomb on sunset, where the close of "three days" is sunset on Saturday. We then reconcile both "three days and three nights" as well as "after three days". It accommodates the women and the spices. It is undisputed that Christ was resurrected within the timeframe of sunset Saturday and sunrise Sunday. Anyone using the phrase "third day since" is alluding to events at least three days in the past.
  • "On the third day" is still accommodated by a Wednesday Crucifixion. The first day after Wednesday is Thursday. The second day after Wednesday is Friday. The third day after Wednesday is Saturday. Christ being raised anytime prior to midnight on Saturday is the same loose interpretation of "third day" as applied to the Friday model.
  • "On the third day" enjoys a very loose interpretation of the phrase "third day" when it comes to the Friday model. However, the proponents of the Friday model, when reviewing the Wednesday model, will suddenly invoke "tight" interpretation of the "third day" in order to dismiss it. If however, we use the same loose interpretation of "third day" for the Wednesday model as applied to the Friday model, then Christ arose "on the third day".

It is important not to use these verses and explanations as a test of fellowship or basis of argumentation. The Passover and Christ's Passover week are provided to believers in very intimate detail for one reason: to invite us to study it deeply and grasp its core truths. For the believer who is confronted by a nay-sayer who uses a Friday Crucifixion as a justification to disbelieve, these facts can be used to disarm them and possibly remove a stumbling-block or stronghold in their minds that has pushed them away from Scripture without cause. We are still commanded to give a reason "with meekness and fear", so our responsibility is to be graceful in sharing these truths, even if shared with conviction.

Testimony of the Women

The very inclusion of women in the story, and their pivotal influence in the timeline, cannot be understated. Critics of the narrative claim that Peter and the others were trying to manufacture a religion, capitalizing on Christ's death.

Not only do the women provide an anchor for the timeline prior to the Resurrection, it is this backdrop that provides the reason for their presence on the scene as the first to encounter the missing body at the tomb. The first to be notified by Christ himself that he had risen. Peter and John ran to the tomb based on the testimony of the women.

If Peter and the disciples had intended to build a narrative for rapid cultural assimilation, including the testimony or participation of the women would have been a considerable cultural roadblock. In this culture, women were not allowed to testify in court or have any official standing in the society. The inclusion of the testimony and participation of the women is a simple evidence that they wanted to relay the historical account with no legendary embellishments or hidden agenda.

Conclusions

The unfortunate adherence to a Friday Crucifixion has opened the church up to criticism. In this case, the women have the opportunity to buy spices after-the-Sabbath while yet preparing them before-the-Sabbath, stretching the timeline and places Jesus Christ firmly in the grave for three whole days and three whole nights (as Christ had predicted). Moreover, he is raised from the dead on the day of firstfruits, an important connotation since we are later told that Jesus is the "first fruits of them that slept" (I Corinthians 15:20). A the day of first fruits is means to elicit God's promise that the coming harvest will be like the first fruits of the growing-season, so Christ's resurrection is a form of promise to all believers of the body that they will receive upon their own resurrection.

References

  1. Passover Meal By Wikipedia
  2. Exodus 11:4-7
  3. Exodus 12:3-13
  4. James Ussher, The Annals Of The World, paragraph 191
  5. Isaiah 53:7
  6. Matthew 26:2
  7. John 18:28
  8. 1 Corinthians 5:7
  9. John 1:29
  10. 1Peter 1:19
  11. NT Contradictions Paul Carlson
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 The Mystery of the Last Supper: Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus By Colin J. Humphreys

External Links