As with Mark, Luke's account emphasizes that Jesus would eat the Passover with His disciples, not merely prepare for it. In verse 15, He declares how great His desire had been to eat that Passover with them. His focus that evening as He sat with His disciples was on eating the Passover, not on being the Passover. He spoke of what He was doing then, not on what He would be doing later on the 14th.
His words also reveal that the eating of the Passover was to be before He suffered (verse 15). His crucifixion began at “the third hour” (Mark 15:25), about nine o'clock the following morning, and ended after “the ninth hour” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus obviously knew when Passover was to be observed, and “with fervent desire [He had] desired” to eat it with His disciples before He suffered. There is no indication He said this in reference to a meal the following afternoon or that He longed wistfully for the crucifixion to be put off until He could eat a late Abib 14 Passover.
The only conclusion is that He did in fact eat the Passover with His disciples that evening after the 14th had begun, prior to His arrest later that night and His appalling suffering, which began the next morning. These three accounts should leave no doubt that Jesus intended to, and in fact did, eat the Passover with His disciples at the beginning of the 14th day.
David C. Grabbe
Why Was Jesus Not Crucified as Passover Began? (Part One)
Hidden in the Greek of Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:1, 12; and Luke 22:7 is a reference to Passover as "the first of the unleaveneds." This is because unleavened bread is indeed used on the 14th as part of the Passover service. A comparison with the Old Testament, however, discloses this to be only the popular usage of some during New Testament times. In the Old Testament, something akin to this is found in Deuteronomy 16, where the first day of Unleavened Bread is called "Passover," while the context clearly describes the first day of Unleavened Bread. People popularly used Passover and Unleavened Bread interchangeably, and the Bible notes this practice, though "Passover" was the term most generally used for the whole period.
Doing things like this is not uncommon. Today, we commonly refer to the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day as either the "Feast" or "Tabernacles," even though we clearly understand that the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day are separate festivals. So it was with Passover in the time of Christ and the apostles. Neither our use of "Tabernacles" nor the Jews use of "Passover" alters the authority of God's intent in the Scriptures.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001
God instructed Israel to kill the Passover on Abib 14, not on the first day of Unleavened Bread, which falls on Abib 15. Yet here we have something called "the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed," and it is taking place even before the Passover!
This is easily resolved when we remember that "day" in Greek, heeméra, does not have to refer to a specific span of 24 hours, but may indicate a general period of time or a season. The Passover sacrifice was certainly made within the time or season of unleavened bread—not the specific feast but the food itself. In fact, Abib 13—the day before Passover—was the day that the Jews disposed of all leavening, and they prepared unleavened bread for the Passover meal.
According to the Mishna, on Abib 13 the Jews would burn the leaven by 10:00 am, and they were not allowed to eat anything leavened after 11:00 am. The unleavened bread was baked and ready for the Passover by 3:00 pm. Abib 13 was the beginning of the time of unleavened bread, and the Passover was sacrificed during this time, even though the Feast of Unleavened Bread did not begin until Abib 15.
Thus, Mark 14:12 and Luke 22:7 are about, not the holy day that begins the weeklong Feast, but the season of unleavened bread, which begins on Abib 13. As that day was ending, the disciples asked Jesus about their own preparations for the Passover, which would begin just after sunset, at the beginning of Abib 14. With these alleged contradictions answered, we see that the Gospels do not support the idea that Passover falls on the first day of Unleavened Bread.
David C. Grabbe