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Mark xiv, 17
And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. Jerusalem.
“ Now this was the same night and same supper,” says Dr. Wall, “ which the three do call the passover,' and ' Christ's eating the passover;' I mean, it was the night on which Christ was (a few hours after supper) apprehended, as is plain by the last verse of that thirteenth chapter. But the next day (Friday, on which Christ was crucified,) St. John makes to be the passover-day. He says, (chap. xviii. 28.) the Jews would not go into the judgment-hall on Friday morning, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the passover, viz. that evening. And chap. xix. 14, speaking of Friday noon, he says, it was the preparation of the passover. Upon the whole, John speaks not of eating the passover at all; nor indeed do the three speak of his eating any lamb. Among all the expressions which they use, of ‘ making ready the passover; prepare for me to eat the passover ; with desire have I desired to eat this passover with you,' &c. there is no mention of any lamb carried to the temple to be slain by the Levites, and then brought to the house and roasted: there is no mention of any food at the supper besides bread and wine; perhaps there might be some bitter herbs. So that this seems to have been a commemorative supper, used by our Saviour instead of the proper paschal supper, the eating of a lamb, which should have been the next night; but that he himself was to be sacrificed before that time would come. And the difference between St. John and the others, is only a difference in words, and in the names of things. They call that the passover which Christ used instead of it. If you say, why then does Mark xiv. 12. call Thursday the first day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed ? we must note their day (or vuxOnpepov) was from evening to evening. This Thursday evening was the beginning of that natural day of twenty-four hours, towards the end of which the lamb was to be killed ; so it is proper, in the Jews' way of calling days, to call it that day."
The second opinion is, that he did eat the passover that year, and at the same time with the Jews.
The late Dr. Newcome, Archbishop of Armagh, is of a very different opinion from Dr. Wall; and, from a careful collation of the passages in the Evangelists, concludes, " that our Lord did not anticipate this feast, but partook of it with the Jews, on the usual and national day.”
“ It appears,” says he, “ from the Gospel history, (see Mark xv. 42. xvi. 9.) that our Lord was crucified on Friday. But the night before his crucifixion, on which he was betrayed, (1 Cor xi. 23.) he kept the Passover, and that he kept it at the legal time is thus determined. In Matt. xxvi. 2, and in Mark xvi. 1, 1 set it is said that the Passover, kai tà asupa, were after two days; or on the day following that on which Jesus foretold his sufferings and resurrection to his disciples, Matt. xvi. 21, &c. Mark viii. 31, &c. and Luke ix. 22, &c.
“ The Evangelists, proceeding regularly in their history, (Matt. xxvi. 17.) and in the parallel places, (Mark xiv. 12, &c. Luke xxii. 7, &c.) mention is made of this day, and it is called the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, i. e. by general custom: and St. Luke says, that the day came, which, ver. 1, was approaching, when the passover must be killed ; i. e. by the law of Moses. The 14th of Nisan is therefore meant; which is called a purj álówv, the first of unleavened bread.
“ During the week, therefore, of our Lord's passion, the law of Moses re
And when the hour was come;
quired that the passover should be slain on Thursday afternoon; but our Lord partook of it on the night immediately succeeding; Matt. xxvi. 19, 20; and the parallel places, Luke xxii. 14, 15; and therefore he partook of it at the legal time.
“ Mark xiv. 12. Luke xxii. 7. equally prove that the Jews kept the passover at the same time with Jesus.
“ To the objection (John xviii. 22.) that the Jews avoided defilement, that they might eat the passover, the bishop answers, that they meant the paschal sacrifices offered for seven days; and they spoke particularly in reference to the 15th of Nisan, which was a day of holy convocation.
“ To the objection taken from John xix. 14, that the day on which our Lord was crucified, is called TapaokevN TOŨ Táoxa, 'the preparation of the passover,' he replies, that in Mark xv. 42, napaokev”), preparation, is the same as
pooábbarov, the day before the sabbath ; and so in Luke xxiii. 54 ; therefore by παρασκευή του πάσχα, we may understand the preparation before that sabbath which happened during the paschal festival.” This is the substance of Archbishop Newcome's reasoning, in his Harmony and Notes. See the latter, p. 42–45.
To this it is answered, that the opinion which states that our Lord ate the passover the same day and hour with the Jews, seems scarcely supportable. If he ate it the same hour in which the Jews ate theirs, he certainly could not have died that day, as they ate the passover on Friday, out six o'clock in the evening; if he did not, he must have been crucified on Saturday, the Jewish sabbath, and could not have risen again on the first day of the week, as all the Evangelists testify, but on the second, or Monday, which I suppose few will attempt to support. On this, and other considerations, I think this point should be given up. But others argue thus :
“ That Christ intended to eat a passover with his disciples on this occasion, and that he intensely desired it too, we have the fullest proof from the three first Evangelists. See Matt. xxvi. 1–3. 17–20. Mark xiv. 1. 12–16. Luke xxii. 1. 7–13. And that he actually did eat one with them, must appear most evidently to those who shall carefully collate the preceding Scriptures, and especially what St. Luke says, chap. xxii. 7—18; for when Peter and John had received their Lord's command to go and prepare the passover, it is said, ver. 13, they went and found as he had said unto them; and they made ready the passover,' 'i. e. got a lamb, and prepared it for the purpose, according to the law. Ver. 14, • And when the hour was come (to eat it) he sat down, ÅVÉTEOE, and the twelve Apostles with him.' Ver. 15. And be said unto them, With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer;' where, it is to be noted, that they had now sat down to eat that passover which had been before prepared, and that every word which is spoken is peculiarly proper to the occasion. With desire (says our Lord) have 1 desired TOŪTO TO Táo xa payciv, to eat this very passover;' not todielv Tò tráoxa, to eat the passover, or something commemorative of it, but toŰTO TÒ táoxa, “this very passover :' and it is no mean proof that they were then in the act of eating the flesh of the paschal lamb, from the use of the verb paytiv, which is most proper to the eating of flesh; as łobiety, signifies' eating in general,' or eating bread, pulse,' &c. The same word, in Matt, xxvi.20.' when the even was come,
reference to the same act of eating the passover, not to the bread and wine of the holy supper, is used, ver. 16. •For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, ou pri páyw autoū, I will not eat of him or it,' viz. the paschal lamb, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God; i.e. this shall be the last passover I shall celebrate on earth, as I am now about to suffer, and the kingdom of God, the plenitude of the Gospel dispensation, shall immediately take place. And then, according to this Evangelist, having finished the eating of the paschal lamb, he instituted the bread of the Holy Supper, ver. 19. and afterwards the cup, ver. 20, though he and they had partaken of the cup of blessing (usual on such occasions,) with the paschal lamb, immediately before. See ver. 17. Whoever carefully considers the whole of this account, must be convinced that, whatever may come of the question concerning the time of eating the passover, that our Lord did actually eat one with his disciples before he suffered."
The third opinion which we have to examine is this-Our Lord did eat a passover of his own instituting, but widely differing from that eaten by the Jews.
Mr. Toinard, in his Greek harmony of the Gospels, strongly contends that our Lord did not eat what is commonly called the passover this year, but another of a mystical kind. His chief arguments are the following:
It is indubitably evident, from the text of St. John, that the night on the beginning of which our Lord supped with his disciples, and instituted the holy sacrament, was not that on which the Jews celebrated the passover ; but the preceding evening, on which the passover could not be legally offered. The conclusion is evident from the following passages. John xiii. 1. “ Now before the feast of the passover, Jesus knowing," &c. Ver. 21. “ And supper (not the paschal, but an ordinary supper) being ended,” &c. Ver. 27. “That thou doest, do quickly.” Ver. 28. “ Now no one at the table knew for what intent he spake this.” Ver. 29. “ For some thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy what we have need of against the feast," &c. Chap. xviii. 28. " Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas to the hall of judga ment, 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." Chap. xix. 14. “ And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour." Now, as it appears, that at this time the disciples thought our Lord had ordered Judas to go and bring what was necessary for the passover, and they were then supping together, it is evident that it was not the paschal lamb on which they were supping; and it is as evident, from the unwillingness of the Jews to go into the hall of judgment, that they had not as yet eaten the passover. These words are plain, and can be taken in no other sense, without offering them the greatest violence.
Mr. Toinard having found that our Lord was crucified on the sixth day of the week (Friday,) during the paschal solemnity, in the thirty-third year of the vulgar æra, and that the paschal moon of that year was not in conjunction with the sun till the afternoon of Thursday, the 19th of March, and that the new moon could not be seen in Judæa until the following day (Friday,) concluded that the intelligence of the páous, or appearance of the new moon, could not be made by the witnesses to the Beth Din, or senate, sooner than Saturday morning, the 21st of March.
Jerusalem. he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.
Luke xxii, 14.
Mr. Toinard therefore supposes, that our Lord substituted a passover, for the passover ; and instituted the Holy Eucharist, in place of the paschal lanıb; and thus it will appear, he ate a passover with his disciples the evening before his death, the mystical passover or sacrament of his body and blood : and that this was the passover mentioned by St. Luke, which he so ardently longed to eat with his disciples before he suffered. On this hypothesis, the preparation of the passover must be considered as implying uo more than, Ist, providing a convenient room; 2ndly, bringing water for the baking on the following day; which would not have been then lawful; 3rdly, making diligent search for the leaven, that none might remain in the house, according to the strict law of God. Exod. xii. 15—20. xxiii. 15. and xxiv. 15. These, it is probable, were the acts of preparation the disciples were commanded to perform, Matt. xxvi. 18. Mark xiv. 12, 14. Luke xxii. 8—11. and whichi, on their arrival at the city, they punctually executed, Matt. xxvi. 19. Mark xiv. 16. Luke xxii. 13. Thus every thing was prepared, and our Saviour was offered up-the sacrifice of the real paschal lamb was attended in every respect with the very same ceremonies as had been appointed in the old covenant to precede the sacrifice of the typical victim, thereby fulfilling every tittle of the law, and bringing in a new and more perfect dispensation, wherein should be no more shedding of blood. Lightfoot agrees with Toinard in his hypothesis ; his words are, speaking of the third cup, or the cup of blessing—" And now was the time when Christ, taking bread, instituted the Eucharist; but whether was it after eating those farewell morsels, as I may call them, of the lamb, or instead of them? It seems to be in their stead, because it is said by St. Matthew and St. Mark, dobióvrwv aúrūv, &c. As they were eating, Jesus took bread. Now, without doubt, they speak according to the known and common custom of that supper, that they might be understood by their own people. For all Jews know well enough, that after the eating of those morsels of the lamb it cannot be said, as they were eating, for the eating ended with those morsels. It seems therefore more likely, that Christ, when they were now ready to take those morsels, changed the custom, and gave about morsels of bread in their stead, and instituted the Sacrament."
The fourth opinion is, that our Lord did eat the passover this year, but not at the same time with the Jews. This opinion appears to be that which is most consistent with Scripture. I can only say, with Mr. Benson, “I have with great care examined the arguments produced on both sides in this controversy, and my ultimate conviction is, that whilst the words of St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke necessarily compel us to believe that the majority of the Jews sacrificed the paschal lamb on the same day with our Saviour, the expressions of St. John lead us irresistibly to the conclusion, that many of the Scribes and Pharisees, and other leading characters amongst them, did not sacrifice it until the evening of the following day—until after our Saviour himself had been crucified. Two passages produced from this Evangelist may, and perhaps ought, to be otherwise interpreted; but a third is, I think, qurite conclusive. I allow that the phrase apo rñs éoprns tô ráoxa, in chap. xiii. 1. means that it was the preparation of the paschal Sabbath, or that Sabbath which occurred in the paschal week. But no critical distortion appears to me capable of giving to chap. xviii. 28. kai αυτοί ουκ εισήλθον εις το πραιτώριον, ίνα μη μιανθώσιν, άλλ' ίνα φάγωσι Luke xxii. 15. And he said unto them, * With desire I have Jerusalem.
desired to eat this Passover with you before I hearing desuffer :
td fráoxa—any other meaning or translation than this, ' And they themselves went not into the judgment-hall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the paschal offering,' the sacrifice of the passover. The word ráoxa, when alone, is not always used exclusively for the paschal lamb, but often in a more enlarged and extended sense, for the whole feast of unleavened bread; but the phrase payeiv tò táoxa, though used by each of the first three Evangelists, and more than once, is never applied except to the eating of the paschal offering itself, at the time appointed in remembrance of the Lord's passover in Egypt. The inference, therefore, from the words of St. John above quoted is, that the Priests and Pharisees did not eat this passover at the same time with the rest of the Jews ; and this difference may be accounted for on the supposition that our Lord was crucified Julian Period 4742.
The passover was commanded to be celebrated in the first month, Nisan, or Abib, which corresponds to the months of March and April in the Christian year. It was to be killed “ in the fourteenth day of the first month ; at even is the Lord's passover," Levit. xxii. 5. “ the whole congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.” If our Saviour then ate of the paschal lamb with his disciples, he would eat it on the day when the passover ought to be killed, on the evening after the fourteenth.
It will be admitted, that if our Lord had determined upon observing the passover, and if there is in truth any difference between the Jews and our Saviour on the day on which it was to be eaten, the error would be not on the part of Jesus himself, but of the Jews who differed from him. Neither his character, conduct, nor sentiments, will for a moment permit us to believe that he disobeyed, in the slightest degree, the ordinances of the Mosaic law, in deference to any traditions which existed among the Scribes and Pharisees. If he refused to follow, upon this occasion, the practice of the High Priests, and others among the Jews, his refusal must be referred to some deviation in their practice from that which had been formerly prescribed to their forefathers. Our Lord was right, and they were wrong. Whatever rules might have guided them, He at least would have eaten the passover on the day, “when the passover ought to be killed," kv "EAEI Oveodal tò máoxa, (Luke xxii. 7.)
It is well known that the months of the Jews were lunar months, but in what manner they were measured and dated, whether from the phasis or appearance of art illuminated portion of the moon's disk, or from tables in which her mean motion was calculated, and adapted to the purpose; or by some faulty and inaccurate cycle of their own, or by some other method altogether different from these, is a point upon which the most learned have disputed in every age ; and which, I apprehend, can never be settled with any degree of satisfaction, from the remaining scanty and inadequate hints, which form the only materials for our judgment.
Mr. Mann, De Ann. Christ. cap. xx. 23. argues very strongly for the antiquity of the astronomical method of computation at present in use amongst the Jews, and contends that it was the method adopted so early as the times of our Saviour.