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Common Questions About Passover - Ben Volman
March 15, 2018

Here are three common questions relating to the last Passover Yeshua (Jesus) celebrated.  They are answered by Ben Volman, Toronto Ministry Team Leader and Messianic Rabbi of Kehillat Eytz Chaim / Tree of Life Congregation.

Question:  When did Yeshua celebrate His last Passover Seder?

Answer:  Yeshua (Jesus) followed many traditions common to the practice of First Century rabbis and a number of these relate directly to Passover.

For example, it was a common practice for a rabbi to spend the night before Passover with his disciples in order to show them how the Passover Seder ceremony should be celebrated.  The next night, the disciples would be home with their families, following their rabbi’s instructions. (This practice is in some ways reflected in the modern synagogue; the rabbi is expected to bring a major teaching on Passover to the congregation on the Shabbat before the holiday. This is called Shabbat HaGadol – or the Great Sabbath.)

This custom explains why Yeshua is gathering with His disciples on the night before Passover and why He is following the usual Seder order, including the traditional number of cups and the dipping of ceremonial foods.  We even notice the familiar blessing over the wine or “the fruit of the vine.”  And “abiding in the vine” and “bearing fruit” are the initial focus of His post-Seder teaching as recorded in John 14-16.  As well, the synoptic gospels record the singing of a hymn which follows the usual practice today of singing the Great Hallel (from Psalms 116-118). This also explains why Yeshua takes time when He raises the “cup after the supper” to explain how, in His Seder, it has become the B’rit Chadasha (New Covenant) “in my blood” (Luke 22:20).  This is clearly the source of communion, the Eucharistic celebration.


Question:  At what point during Passover did Yeshua die?

Answer:  According to the gospels, Yeshua died on Erev Pesach, “the day of preparation.”  This is one of the reasons the Jerusalem authorities urged the Romans to speed along the crucifixion of the prisoners at Golgotha (Mark 15:42; John 19: 14; 31; 32).  

However, one of the traditions not mentioned in the Gospels was the practice of sacrificing the lambs in the Temple during the day of preparation, including one particular lamb on behalf of the sins of the nation, literally called “the Passover Lamb.”  

At about 3:00 in the afternoon, Yeshua spoke His last words, saying, “It is finished.” At that very hour, the Nicanor gates in the Temple were shut and the priests, after sacrificing Passover lambs for the thousands who had come to the Temple to have their family Passover lamb prepared by the Levites, began the special sacrifice of the nation’s “Passover Lamb.”  We know that Yeshua died, according to the Gospels at about 3:00 pm (“the ninth hour,” see Matthew 27:45-50Mark 15:34-37Luke 23:44-46) and this the source of Paul’s reference to Him as “our Passover Lamb.”


Question:  When was the Passover Lamb’s blood applied to the Mercy Seat?

Answer:  The mercy seat refers to the lid of the famed Ark of the Covenant where God would meet with Moses between the figures of the two angels (seraphim).  The regular sacrifices took place at the altar and had no contact whatsoever with the mercy seat.  

The Ark was placed, by tradition, in the Holy of Holies, a place entered only by the High Priest once a year during the Day of Atonement each fall – a practice that continued until 70 AD when the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans.  This Ark, whose whereabouts are unknown after 586 BC when Solomon’s Temple was destroyed was not actually in the Second Temple during Yeshua’s lifetime. 

Filed under: Jewish Festivals, Special Days, Jewish History


On Friday, March 16, 2018, Ben Volman said
The empty "Holy of Holies" did not end the practice of its spiritual cleansing in the years following Israel's return from exile. During the Day of Atonement, the High Priest entered the area behind "the veil" (actually a massive curtain) a total of four times. On the second entry, he sprinkled the blood of a bullock to cover the sins of himself, his family and the Levites (the priesthood) and on the third entry, he sprinkled the blood of the sacrificed goat for the sins of the people. A full description of this activity can be found in Alfred Edersheim's "The Temple: Its Ministry and Services" (Hendrickson, 1994) pages 250-261. The famed Temple excavations expert, Leen Ritmeyer, claimed that the "rock" which was once on the interior of the Holy of Holies and is now under the Dome of Rock, has four indentations where the Ark was originally placed. It was in this direction then that the High Priest would orient himself as he sprinkled the blood.


On Friday, March 16, 2018, L. E. SPENCE said
THANK YOU ! What a GREAT HELP ! ... one more "?" re: Ansr #3. If the practice con't to 70 AD, where was the high priest sprinkling the blood o/t Passover lamb? Thank you again for clarifying much.~LES


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