HOUSMAIL HM#130                                                                                                                           25 March 2008
Palm Sunday to Passover
Gospel Timetable

This timetable is derived from the Gospel records. It shows how the events leading up to the crucifixion harmonise with the Old Testament Jewish timetable for the Passover. Take particular care to note that the Jewish day is not identical with ours. It runs from  sunset to sunset.

                |         |         |         |          |         |        |Resurr- |
 Palm   |         |         |         |          | Good    |        |ection  |
 Sunday | Monday  | Tuesday |Wednesday| Thursday | Friday  |Saturday|Sunday  |
    |         |         |        |         |          |        |         |
    |10 Nisan |11 Nisan||12 Nisan|13 Nisan |14 Nisan  |15 Nisan| 16 Nisan |
    |         |         |        |         |          |        |         |
    |Lamb     |         |        |         |Prepare   |Passover|First    |
    |Chosen   |         |        |         |Passover  |  Meal  |Fruits   |
    |         |         |        |         |          |        |         |
    |         |         |        |         | Last     |        |         |
    |         |         |        |         | Supper   |        |         |
    |         |         |        |         |          |        |         |
    |         |         |        |         | Lamb     |        |         }
    |         |         |        |         | Killed   |        |         |

Note: This timetable is valid for the year Jesus was crucified. The Church and the Jews each use different methods to calculate the respective dates for the annual celebration of Easter and Passover. The method used by the Church to calculate the date of Easter is based on the Gregorian Calendar using solar years. The Jewish calculation of the date of Passover is based on the Jewish Calendar Year, which uses Lunar months and years over a 19 year cycle. Because of that the two events seldom coincide.

Interesting points to Notice
1. When Jesus entered Jerusalem on the Sunday evening 10 Abib He received a tumultuous welcome from "a very great multitude". When they acknowledged Him as "the son of David" they were recognising Him as their Messiah. (Matt 21:9) And they had unwittingly chosen him as their "Passover Lamb"!

2. When Jesus died at the 9th hour on 14 Nisan, it was at the precise moment when the sacrifice of the Passover lambs commenced in the temple! (Source - Josephus, War, 6.9.3)

3. Imagine the consternation amongst the priests in the temple when, just as they were beginning the sacrifice, there was a great earthquake, and the veil at the entrance to the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom! (Matt 27:51)

4. The Pharisees and Sadducees had different methods of calculating the date for the Feast of the Firstfruits (Levit 23:10-12) Sadducees interpreted it as the day after the seventh day Sabbath which occurred during the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Thus from year to year, the Sadducean Firstfruits was ALWAYS on a first day of the week. (but not on the same day of the month). On the other hand, Pharisees understood the "sabbath" to mean the actual Passover Feast Day - The First Day of Unleavened Bread, which is the 15th Nisan. Thus for the Pharisees, Firstfruits was ALWAYS on 16th Nisan. This latter interpretation is found in Josephus Ant. III, 10, 5. The truly amazing thing about this is that GOD had arranged things so that in the year Jesus died, the "Firstfruits" date set by BOTH the Sadducees and Pharisees was the same -- it COINCIDED on a SUNDAY! In most other years it would have fallen on different dates, and different days of the week -- but this year, God FOUND a way to make sure that, there was no ambiguity about which day He meant! He simply arranged things so that, in the year in which Jesus was crucified, the "normal" seventh day Sabbath, and the Passover "High Day", coincided on both 16 Nisan and on a first day of the week. Christ,says Paul, "is risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."  (1 Cor 15:20,23)

Harmonising the Gospel Records of the Last Supper

John says quite plainly that Jesus died on the Preparation Day of the Passover. (John 19:14) This is our starting point.

Matthew 26:2-5, and Mark 14:1-2 both tell us that the chief priests and scribes went to some effort to ensure that Jesus was NOT killed "on the feast day".

Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:7, all say that the "Last Supper" was the "first day of unleavened bread" which was 14 Nisan, the day on which leaven was removed from homes to prepare for the main feast the next day Nisan 15.

This means that the "Last Supper" was on the night of 14 Nisan.

What then do we do with those synoptic references in which Jesus said he was "eating the passover".

The Passover was one day of the seven day "feast of unleavened bread". It would seem that the idiom of the day also sometimes referred to the whole seven day period as "the Passover". (Luke 22:1)

All of this leads to the conclusion Jesus was not eating the main feast. He was eating the evening meal of the preparation day. He used the term "Passover" in a GENERIC sense to refer to the whole seven day period which was just beginning that night.

This enables us to read the other three Gospels without contradicting John.

See Also