Bottom line up front:
- Y'shua could not have been our Passover Lamb until after He died which, in itself, renders moot whether the meal He ate with His disciples was a "Passover" meal or not! Fact is, Y'shua had to carry out an early "Passover meal" with His disciples as He had told them He was about to die! See Matthew 26:2, Mark 14:21, and Luke 22:15.
- Scriptures say that the Passover lambs were to be kept until 14 Nisan and that the "appointed time" was twilight/dusk on the 14th day of the month:
Leviticus 23:5 "'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between sundown and complete darkness, comes Pesach for ADONAI.
Numbers 9:1 The LORD spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai in the first month of the second year after they came out of Egypt. He said, 2 "Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time. 3 Celebrate it at the appointed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of this month, in accordance with all its rules and regulations." 4 So Moses told the Israelites to celebrate the Passover, 5 and they did so in the Desert of Sinai at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. The Israelites did everything just as the LORD commanded Moses.
Though "twilight" happens twice per day - before sunrise, and again after sunset, "dusk" is the end of the day - after sunset - and Leviticus 23:5 makes it very clear that Passover comes after sunset. So "dusk the 14th day of the month" is as the sun sets on the 14th - not on some other day! Since God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, He would not allow the Passover Lamb to be killed at any other time, which would, in effect, change God's appointed Passover time! And if it HAD been allowed, wouldn't Y'shua have said, "From now on, Passover is to be on the eve of 13th of Nisan"? Y'shua NEVER went against His Father's Torah!
Scriptures indicate that since Y'shua was our Passover Lamb who, according to the Torah had to die on Nisan 14 when the traditional Passover lambs were slain on the same evening (as outlined in Exodus 12:5-8 and Numbers 28:16-17), then He would not and could not have partaken of Passover after sunset the evening of 14-15 Nisan that particular year because He could not do both the same evening! That is, He could not be crucified before the Yahweh-commanded 14 Nisan "twilight/dusk" Passover meal, and partake in the meal! This leaves us only 2 possibilities: He either had "a" meal with his Talmidim early, after sunset on the 13th, or He held Passover after sunset on the 14th, and died before sunset on the 15th.
To figure this out, we need only to study the Bible in context and do a little arithmetic. The Bible tells us that Passover is always on Nisan 14. Numbers 28:16-17 says: "In the first month on the 14th day of the month is ADONAI's Pesach (Passover). On the 15th day of the month is to be a feast." The Scriptures verify this several times. On the 14th, as Yahweh instructed, His people were to slaughter the lamb toward twilight/dusk toward the evening and eat it "that same night" - because the 15th was to be a feast:
Exodus 12:5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 You are to keep it until the fourteenth day of the month, and then the entire assembly of the community of Isra'el will slaughter it at dusk ("Dusk" of the 14th doesn't happen until sunset, just before the 14th turns into the 15th!). 7 They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the two sides and top of the door-frame at the entrance of the house in which they eat it. (Remember, this is the original Passover - this activity never happens again) 8 That night, (of the 14th to the 15th) they are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire; they are to eat it with matzah and maror.
Note again that we are told to slaughter the lambs at twilight on the "fourteenth day of the month". The Scripture does not say, "at twilight on the thirteenth day going in to the 14th day of the month". (It bears repeating: On the Biblical calendar, a "day" begins at sunset/twilight and ends at sunset/twilight 24 hours later.) To clarify this further, Yahweh said that the 15th day is to be a feast:
Numbers 28:16 Then on the fourteenth day of the first month shall be the LORD'S Passover. 17 On the fifteenth day of this month shall be a feast, unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days.
Please study this for yourselves, but it seems somehow we are misunderstanding the Gospels because, at first glance, there seems to be an inconsistency in the passage of time between "the first day of Passover" and the time that Y'shua was actually crucified. One must pay very close attention in order to see that the Jews were in the process of preparing for the Passover, and that Y'shua was THE Passover Lamb who had to be killed on 14 Nisan as the Bible indicates - and therefore:
- He could not have shared "the" Passover meal with His disciples on 13 Nisan, because it was not yet Passover. The Passover Seder meal is the evening of the 14th.
- He could not have had the Passover meal with His Talmidim (disciples) on the evening of the 14th, because He was dead and in the tomb.
For instance, in both Luke 22:1-13 and Mark 14:12-18 we are told it was "the day of Passover" when Y'shua shared his meal with the the Talmidim - but when checking closely, we realize something is "off" because if it was "the day of Passover", then Y'shua would have died that same day! But, at the time he ate with his Talmidim, He hadn't yet been arrested, much less tried, convicted and executed....
Upon closer examination, we see that these Scriptures do NOT actually say that Y'shua and His disciples ate the Passover meal, but rather that they "prepared" for the Passover. And nowhere do we see that for this one year, Y'shua held the traditional, remembrance Passover Seder meal of the Exodus, performing any of the 15 traditional symbolic steps. Though we know Y'shua observed Passover all his life, this year, we are told that He reclined with His disciples on the evening of the day He had ordered them to prepare for the Passover and at that time He explained to them the symbolism of the wine and matzah. This was a memorial meal - not the Passover meal!
Luke 22:15. And he said to them, I have greatly desired that I eat this Paskha with you before I suffer. 16. I say to you for that from now on I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of Elohim.
In this scripture we can see that Y'shua stated that, despite His desire to eat the Passover (Pashka) meal with them, the Father had other plans - which included that Y'shua suffer what He had to endure. Therefore, He wouldn't be celebrating the Passover with them again until He celebrates it with them in the coming Millenium or the kingdom. We know He referred to this meal as a Passover preparation, or else the disciples wouldn't have known what He wanted prepared! (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:8). Preparation Day is always on the 14th, when matzah is prepared and with the lambs' slaughter followed by the meal later - at twilight - just as the 14th turns into the 15th. Y'shua who was to be THE Passover Lamb therefore had a "Memorial Meal" earlier, on the 14th just after sunset of the 13th as the date changed to the 14th. In fact, look at the way John puts it: "Now before the feast of the Paskha, Y’shua had known that the time that he would depart this world to his Father had arrived. And he loved his own who were in this world, and he loved them up until the end. And when supper was done, Satan placed it into the heart of Yehuda, the son of Shimon, Skaryota that he would betray him." (John 13:1-2). This is pretty clear! John is reporting that the annual feast of Paskha had not yet happened, but Y'shua and his talmidim had their meal!
John 18 and 19 tells us that Y'shua was sentenced, tried, convicted and crucified on the "day of Passover" which the Bible tells us is always 14 Nisan as sunset that night becomes 15 Nisan! See for yourselves:
John 18:28 They led Y'shua from Kayafa to the governor's headquarters. By now it was early morning. They did not enter the headquarters building because they didn't want to become ritually defiled and thus unable to eat the Pesach meal. (Remember, those who had touched a corpse could not observe Pesach. They would become "unclean" and have to observe Pesach the next month. See Numbers 9.) So here, in John 18, Passover had not yet happened!
John 19:14 ...it was about noon on Preparation Day of Pesach. He said to the Judeans, "Here's your king!" 15 They shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Put him to death on the stake!" Pilate said to them, "You want me to execute your king on a stake?" The head cohanim answered, "We have no king but the Emperor." 16 Then Pilate handed Y'shua over to them to have him put to death on the stake. "Preparation day" is the 14th, so here we know it is about noon on the 14th, and we also know Y'shua had His meal with the talmidim the preceding night!
To help us understand this properly, we need to examine the timeline in scripture backwards from the time Mary Magdalene found that Y'shua was missing from His grave early on the first day of the week (what we call "Sunday"). According to the account in all the Gospels, the timeline from that Sunday morning, back to when Y'shua was arrested, tried, convicted and executed, would have fallen on a Wednesday, which John 18:28 and 19:14 confirm was on Nisan 14. Thus Y'shua's final meal with the Talmidim must have been the evening before, as the evening transitioned from the 13th to the 14th.
Y'shua was in the grave three days and three nights. As the Passover Lamb, He had to die on Nisan 14 (Passover) and not during the High Holy Day, 15 Nisan (see Leviticus 23:6). That means He was in the grave just before sunset on Wednesday night, according to Scripture (John 19:31); all day Thursday and Thursday night; all day Friday and Friday night, and all day Saturday (as Jonah was in the whale three days and three nights) until just before sunset on Saturday when He was resurrected. (For a complete indepth explanation on this, please see our article Settling the dispute over the day of Y'shua's death)