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What the Bible says about Preparing for Passover
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 12:12-14

Why should a Christian keep the Passover? We should keep the Passover because God commands us to. This, of itself, is good enough reason, but there is much more!

God has us keep the Passover because it forces us to consider the deaths of the firstborn Egyptians and how that miraculous and terrible event led to the freeing of Israelites from Pharaoh and from Egypt. It should lead us to think deeply about what these events symbolize.

Yet, is not Passover just an Old Testament, Jewish ritual? No! God's commands are never merely empty rituals. His commands always contain rich and meaningful purposes, including spiritual, New Testament applications that we can learn from today.

Keeping the Passover also forces us to think about the death of God's firstborn Son and how that momentous event will lead to the eventual freeing of all mankind from Satan and from sin:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. (I Corinthians 11:23-26)

Notice that this reminder to keep the Passover was recorded by the apostle Paul some years after the close of the Old Testament era. It is most decidedly a Christian observance.

He adds that our preparation for Passover should cause us to take a close look at ourselves in solemn self-examination, to see how far we have grown and how much we still need to overcome: "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup" (verse 28). In the days preceding the Passover each year, we think about the past year and how imperfect we still are, and we ask God to continue to cover our sins and imperfections with the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Each of God's people makes a practice of looking back at the years that have flown by since his baptism, considering how far we have left our lives of sin behind. Self-examination shows us areas in which we still need to overcome and should motivate us to rededicate ourselves to the covenant we have made with God.

Staff
What Is the Passover Anyway?

Exodus 16:4-5

Clearly, God allows the people to gather manna on the first through sixth days of the week. However, on the sixth day He tells them to gather twice as much, as well as to prepare what they would eat on the seventh day. Historically, then, the day before a Sabbath (Friday) was a preparation day.

But is the preparation day only for weekly Sabbaths? No! From the example of the holy days (see the notes at Exodus 12:15-18), a preparation day can fall on any day except Saturday! The Passover itself occurs the day before the first day of Unleavened Bread, a Sabbath, making it a preparation day.

Staff
Was Jesus Resurrected on Easter Sunday?

Mark 14:12

The word first can also mean "before" or "the beginning." The word translated as "day," heeméra, can refer to a literal 24-hour period of time, but it can also indicate a general period of time or a season (see Luke 9:51; 17:24; 19:42; 23:7; John 8:56; Acts 2:20; 8:1; 17:31; Romans 2:5; I Corinthians 3:13; II Corinthians 6:2; Ephesians 6:13; Hebrews 3:8). So the first part of Mark 14:12 could also be translated, "Now at the beginning of the season of Unleavened Bread . . ." or "Now at the beginning of the time of Unleavened Bread . . ." Nothing dictates that in this case heeméra designates a specific 24-hour period, and much argues against it.

As the notes for Matthew 26:17 show, the disciples asked this question before the Feast of Unleavened Bread and before they had kept the Passover. But how are we to understand the explanation, "when they killed the Passover lamb"? In the Greek, the word translated as "killed" is éthuon. It can indeed refer to the singular act of slaying an animal (Acts 11:7), but also to a religious sacrifice (Acts 14:13) or to the entire occasion of which a slaughtered animal was paramount, such as the fatted calf being killed for the prodigal son (Luke 15:23, 27, 30). In addition, in the sentence in question, the verb tense indicates an action in progress but not yet completed.

In other words, the sacrificing of the Passover lamb—or preparations for doing so—was taking place at the time the disciples asked their question! Remember, most of the people did not observe a Temple-kept Passover; in Mark 14:12, the common people were sacrificing lambs throughout the city, not the priests. The priests would not slay the Temple Passover lambs until the following afternoon. But as Abib 14 was drawing near, the disciples observed people around them on the outskirts of Jerusalem in the process of sacrificing—at least engaging in the necessary preparations, even if they did not perform the sacrifice itself until after sunset—prompting them to ask Jesus where He wanted them to likewise prepare for Passover.

David C. Grabbe



 




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