Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Crucifixion

Golgotha

Perhaps it does not really matter if we know the correct day of Jesus' crucifixion, but surely it does matter that we take the stories of the Bible seriously, and seek to put them together in the coherent way intended by the Holy Spirit. In fact, when we put all the story lines together related to the crucifixion of Jesus, we can see that God worked things out in ways that are beyond our imagination. Seeing God's power demonstrated in the complete story of the crucifixion and resurrection is faith building. 

Jesus likely took the Passover Supper with his disciples in the upper room, in the Essene quarter of Zion, on Wednesday.  He was crucified on the official day of preparation for the Passover the 14th of Nissan, on Thursday. He died on the cross at the time that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered, the ninth hour, or about 3PM our timing. His body was buried in the tomb for two complete Sabbaths (days of rest), , Friday and Saturday, and then resurrected exactly three days and thee nights after His spirit went to Hades at 3PM on Thursday. Counting the three hours of light between His death and sundown as the first day, His body was raised on the third day after His burial, and His spirit was in Hades for exactly three days and three nights. The sign of Jonah and the third day resurrection come together, as does the mystery of how Jesus could eat the Passover supper with His disciples, and then be crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover. 

Moses recorded the timing of the Passover observance in Exodus. 

Exo 12:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, Exo 12:2 "This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.
Exo 12:3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household.
Exo 12:4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb.
Exo 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats,
Exo 12:6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.Exo 12:7 "Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
Exo 12:8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.
Exo 12:9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts.
Exo 12:10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.

There were two established systems of determining the calendar for feast days in Jerusalem during Jesus' time. The Sadducees and Pharisees, who controlled the Temple worship, used the solar lunar calendar based upon lunar sightings, with the first month of the year beginning with the first new moon in the spring solar quarter.

The Essene community apparently used a calendar that always had the Passover day of preparation coming on Wednesday, with the Passover meal eaten after sundown on Wednesday evening. Jesus and the disciples apparently observed the Essene Passover, in which the bread was substituted for the lamb, in an upper room in the Essene quarter of Zion, on Wednesday after sundown. Jesus was crucified the next day, Thursday, at noon. Friday was a High Sabbath, the first day of the Feast of Unleaven Bread. Jesus' body was in the grave for two Sabbath days, Friday and Saturday. 

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Lord's Supper

Many questions arise about why Jesus would have observed the Passover in the Essene community. Perhaps Jesus had connections with the Essene by virtue of John the Baptist, who is believed to have been connected with the Essene order. The Essene apparently considered themselves to be the legitimate heirs of the the Temple worship order that was assigned to the descendants of Zadok.

Perhaps Jesus was referring to the Essene Passover calendar when He said on Monday, Mat 26:2 "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified."

A key part of the arrangement for the supper was that the disciples were to contact a man carrying a vessel of water, and ask him to arrange the room for the Passover. Matthew, Mark and Luke all mention this man who carried the jar of water. Perhaps this account is given to connect the upper room of the Passover with the Essene Quarter in Jerusalem. An Essene carrying water would enter the city through the Essene gate, directly into the Essene quarter, so that the water would not be contaminated by contact with unclean persons.


 Picture
Sill Of Gate To Essene Quarter, Mt. Zion
Jesus chose the place to observe the Passover meal with His disciples, as we see clearly from the account in Matthew.

Mat 26:17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?" Mat 26:18 He said, "Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, 'The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'"
Mat 26:19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.
Mat 26:20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve.


Jesus instructs the disciples to follow the man carrying the water, and to enter where he goes, and to say that "The Teacher" says, where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? The Essene quarter on Mt. Zion is likely the place this could have happened. Where else would people have been observing the Passover on Tuesday night?


Mar 14:1 It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, Mar 14:12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, "Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?"
Mar 14:13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him,
Mar 14:14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?'
Mar 14:15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us."
Mar 14:16 And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.


Luke repeats Mark's story.

Luk 22:7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.

Luk 22:8 So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it."
Luk 22:9 They said to him, "Where will you have us prepare it?"
Luk 22:10 He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters
Luk 22:11 and tell the master of the house, 'The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?'
Luk 22:12 And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there."
Luk 22:13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. ESV


Jesus and his disciples likely ate the Passover Meal in the Essene Quarter of Jerusalem, on the Priestly day of the Passover, which was on Wednesday. The Essenes claimed to be the legitimate heirs of the High Priesthood given by David to Zadok. Just after sundown, Jesus and his disciples ate the supper, using the bread as a substitute for the Lamb, as was the custom of the Essenes.

Jesus did not take a piece of lamb and divide it among the disciples, but he broke the loaf, representing His body, the eternally planned Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Thus He was able to partake with His disciples of the traditional Passover meal of the Essene on Wednesday, and yet be offered as the Passover Lamb on Thursday afternoon, Nissan 14, as observed by the official rulers of Israel, who arranged to have Jesus crucified by their authority and by their calendar.

Participation in the Essene Passover celebration would have some implications about the proper timing of the Passover, but would not be an approval of all that the community taught. Jesus and the disciples communicated with all people, and especially with sinners, because Jesus came to earth to save sinners.

The bible is not just a collection of laws and facts about what we are to know and do, so much as it is a collection of stories about how God works out His will over time in ways that challenge our imaginations. When we see all the story lines coming together, we know that we are on the right track. Know the stories, and you will see the picture. It is what it is.


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