Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.” ‘ ” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. (Matthew 26:17-19)
The Final Passover Of Jesus
It is impossible to know the emotions of Jesus as he faced the cross. Great emphasis is placed upon His suffering of crucifixion and the incredible pain inflicted by the executioners and rightfully so as it was intense. What must not be lost are the events leading up to Golgotha. The entry into Jerusalem the week before was highlighted by the people spreading their clothes on the road and many cutting down branches from the trees and spreading them across the road. As Jesus rode a donkey into the city of David, the people cried out, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” On Thursday, the day before His death, Jesus tells Peter and John to prepare for the Passover. He instructs them to go into the city and they will find a man carrying a pitcher of water. They were to follow him and tell the master of the house to prepare the large room for Jesus and His disciples. Jesus knew He was preparing for His final Passover.
The Passover was one of three principal feasts of the Law of Moses. Passover took place on the 14th day of the first month (Abib or Nisan), followed by the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread. The feast hearkened back to the final night the Hebrews were in Egypt and the night of the death of the firstborn in Egypt. It was a night of death and salvation. God told the Hebrews to sacrifice a lamb and put his blood on the doorpost and lintel of their homes. When the Lord passed over and He saw the blood, He would “pass” “over” and not bring death to that home. The homes of the Egyptians did not have blood on a slain lamb on their door, including the house of Pharaoh. Every firstborn (including animals) died in a home where there was no blood.
God instructed the Hebrews to take a lamb without blemish, kill it, put its blood on the door and the flesh was to be roasted and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. No bone of the animal was to be broken. Jesus had seen for many years the sacrificial lamb sacrificed during the feast of the Passover. It is probable Jesus would have helped Joseph prepare the offering for their family and, after Joseph died, carry on the work as the older brother. Now Jesus prepared to take on His final Passover and He knew it. The lamb killed that night was unsuspecting. Jesus was not. He was fully aware of what was to take place in less than 24 hours. He would become the lamb sacrificed for the sins of all humanity.
The Passover was a very emotional feast with the singing of the Hallel psalms, eating the unleavened bread and drinking the fruit of the vine. No alcoholic wine was used as all leaven had been removed from the feast. Jesus would later refuse the drink offered by the soldiers to deaden the pain. When Jesus tasted the bitter herbs, did His mind leap forward to the bitterness of the cross He was about to bear? As the lamb was prepared, could Jesus see Himself as the lamb offered by His Father? Could He have comfort knowing none of His bones were to be broken? It would be little consolation considering the horror one faced in crucifixion. The Passover was the last time the Lord would celebrate on earth before becoming the Passover for all men.
It seemed almost idle words for Jesus to tell Peter and John to prepare for the Passover. The disciples did not know what was to occur that night in Gethsemane. Did they see Jesus become reflective during the feast and wonder why? Jesus washed their feet and there can be little doubt the emotion on Jesus’ face was unmistakable. After the resurrection and Jesus ascending to the Father, did Peter and John reflect upon that day Jesus told them to prepare for the Passover and see the glory of Jesus in a clearer light? How often did the eleven share with fellow disciples during the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper the story of Jesus and the Passover? Jesus went to the upper room and shared the Passover with His disciples – including Judas. Sadly, Judas would never tell the story of Jesus. The Lord knew it was His last Passover, and He learned obedience by accepting the will of His Father. With the thoughts of His final Passover on His mind, Jesus breathed His last and died. The Lamb of God slain. Passover.