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Did Jesus eat the

traditional Passover
meal with His disciples
or was it a diffrent
meal?
Short paper that examines all four Gospels as to their reliability and historicity of
the last 24 hours and the resurrection in the Life of Jesus, beginning with the
supper and ending with the empty tomb.

Michał Gomułka
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Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)

Many liberal scholars of our day point to the contradictions in the Gospels especially to
the date when Jesus was crucified due to different dates in the Gospels provided for the Passover.
At first glance if you compare the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) to John you
would notice what would seem to be a contradiction. The synoptic gospels say that on the first
day of the unleavened bread when they sacrificed the Passover lamb Jesus ate the passover
(Mark 14:12, Matthew 26:17, Luke 22:7-8). Gospel of John on the other hand says that before
the Feats of the Passover Jesus had the supper (John 13:1). Also from the gospel of John we
know that the Pharisees and the priests did not eat their lamb yet because they would not enter
Pilate’s headquarters so as not to defile themselves, so in fact they could eat their lamb! (John
18:28). Simon of Cyrene came to Jerusalem out from the country probably for the feast to
sacrifice the lamb in the temple (Mark 15:21). Is there a contradiction in the gospels, is there an
obvious mistake, would that make the Gospels as historically unreliable? Before what seems to
be a contradiction is answered, one needs to look at what rather is obvious in all four accounts. If
you could please join me on a detective’s quest while we examine the Gospels themselves.
It would be fair to begin with what rather is obvious and is true in all four accounts which would
be the actual day that Jesus was crucified and the actual day on which He rose from the dead.
All four gospels clearly agree that Jesus died during the day of Preparation:
And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new
tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and
went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered
before Pilate (Matthew 27:59-62).

And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the
Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, who was also himself looking
for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.(Mark
15:42-43).

Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of
the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and
he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where
no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.
(Luke 23:50-54).

when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a
place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation
of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!"
They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I
crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." (John 19:13-15)
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Thus all four Gospels say that Jesus was crucified (died) during the Day of Preparation which
was the time when the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the temple. Another obvious
fact that needs to be pointed out is that all four Gospels say that Jesus rose from the dead the
first day of the week:

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the
other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the
Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance
was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and
became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you
seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place
where he lay. (Matthew 28:1-6)

And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And
they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the
tomb?" And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back--it was very large.
And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe,
and they were alarmed. And he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth,
who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. (Mark 16:2-
6)

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had
prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did
not find the body of the Lord Jesus. (Luke 24:1-3).

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still
dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon
Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the
Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him. (John 20:1-2).

All four Gospels do say that Jesus did rise from the dead on the First Day of the Week. All four
Gospels also say that Jesus died during the Day of Preparation. They all agree on the day of his
death and the day of his resurrection. There is no disunity but rather a harmonious sound that is
flowing through all the four Gospels. So why does John say “Before the feast of Passover” and
the Synoptic Gospels say “on the first day of unleavened bread when the passover lamb was
sacrificed” ?

In a Hebrew calendar a day begins at sundown (sunset) and ends at sunset, roughly from 6pm to
6pm. Thus the night during which Jesus ate the “passover” and the late afternoon (3pm) during
which He died, according to the Jewish calendar is still considered as the same day! It is even
more clear if one understands the Passover (pascha) itself. Passover was not a one day event but
a 7-8 day event depending whether you lived in Jerusalem or in diaspora. Thus the whole feast
during the 7-8 days was called The Passover. Passover(the specific day during the 7 day long
feast, where a meal that included the slain lamb would be eaten) usually begun on on the first
day of the week of Unleavened bread which would be 14Th of Nisan in the evening, at the 12Th
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hour which would be roughly 6pm and would end at the 12Th hour (6pm) according to our time
next day, thus at 6pm and the the 15Th of Nisan would begin (a new day for the Jews) since the
Jewish day is from sunset to sunset.

The word Passover (pascha) can stand for the sacrificed lamb itself, it could stand for any meal
that was eaten during the Passover week, and it could mean the 7-8 day feast itself from 14Th of
Nisan to 21st of Nisan. Thus when John say “before the feast of the passover” he is talking about
a specific time and event that takes place during the day, meaning the time when the lambs
were being actually slaughtered in the temple and then they were to be eaten. Knowing all
of the above we can conclude that all four Gospels are talking about the same day! When
Synoptics talk about the first day of unleavened bread when the lamb was sacrificed they are
correct because it is the day, it runs from 6pm to 6pm! Yet during that day at a specific time(John
13:1) the sacrificial lamb was to be killed according to Exodus 12:6 and eaten the same day,
specifically between the two evenings. Jesus dies at 3pm three hours before the 15Th of Nissan
would begin, He is taken off the cross right before the 15Th of Nissan would begin (Luke 23:50-
54).

Jesus did not eat the traditional “Passover Lamb meal” with His disciples. Jesus being God
initiated a New Covenant in His blood that was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31 thus fulfilling the
Scriptures. He became the sacrificial Lamb as prophet Isaiah prophesied in 53:7. Jesus did not
eat the Passover He was the Passover. He did not eat the supper, He was the supper. All
four Gospels are in perfect harmony. Jesus is the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. If
Jesus did eat the traditional passover meal would it make more sense to pick up a piece of a lamb
and say, “This is my body?” Yet Jesus picks up a piece of bread, because there is no lamb, He is
the Lamb!

John and Synoptic Gospels all agree on the day that Jesus died, the day He rose from the
dead and the day that He ate a supper during which He initiated a New Covenant thus
marking the end of the Old. We know that nothing was supposed to remain till the morning
from the passover meal, it was supposed to be burned, Jesus is taken off the cross just before
Nisan 15 would begin. (Exodus 12:10). Also no bone of the lamb was supposed to be broken
(Exodus 12:46). We know that legs of Jesus were not broken! (John 19:33-37). John places the
cleansing of the temple right in the beginning of his gospel for a purpose as opposed to the
synoptics, he wants to tell us that Jesus is the temple! (John 2:13-22). In John chapter six Jesus
talks about being the bread of life and that if you want to have life you need to eat His flesh and
drink His blood. (John 6:53-58). Jesus did not eat the Passover meal, He was the Passover
meal, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.