PASSOVER UNDERSTANDINGS Part Seven SOME PROBLEMS WITH JOHN? Because John in his Gospel used the word "supper" in connection with the meal that Jesus had with His disciples on the night of the 14th of Nisan, some have taken this to mean that Jesus did not observe the Passover proper but was instituting something completely new. This question needs to be answered. Is there a contradiction between the writers of the synoptic Gospels and that by John? To answer this I will quote from the book by Dr.Samuele Bacciocchi - GOD'S FESTIVALS, pages 60,61. "The Last Supper in the Gospel of John. In the Gospel of John only few details of the Last Supper are given, because, as Geldenhuys explain, 'He assumes that his readers are quite aware of the fact that this meal was the paschal repast which the Lord celebrated with His disciples on the evening of His crucifixion......For this season he merely refers to it by the single word deipnon (supper) without stating expressly what precise meal it was. He knew that the first three Gospels and also the Epistles of Paul gave a full account of the celebration of the paschal repast and the institution of the Holy Communion. Consequently he does not repeat the same facts, but mentions a few supplementary occurrences that took place during the meal, as they made a great impression on him and had not been described in the other Gospels.' Though John does not explicitly designate the Last Supper as a Passover meal for the reasons just mentioned, there are indications that he also regarded the meal shared by Christ with His disciples as a paschal meal. The meal takes place within Jerusalem even though the city was thronged with pilgrims (John 12:12, 18, 20; 13:2; 18:1; cf. Mark 14:17). During His last stay in Jerusalem, Jesus regularly left the holy city in the evening and went to Bethany (Mark 11:11,19; Luke 19:29; 21:37), but at the time of the Last Supper, He remained in the overcrowded city. Why? Because, as mentioned earlier, it was a rule that the paschal lamb had to be eaten within the gates of Jerusalem(For a documentation and discussion, see Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus - Oxford, England, 1995, pp. 15- 16). The supper is held in the evening and lasts into the night (John 13:30; cf. Mark 14:17). The ordinary supper was not held at night, but in the late afternoon(See Josephus, Jewish Wars 2, 8, 5). The Last Supper began in the evening and lasted into the night because, as Joachim Jeremias explains, ' the Passover had to be eaten at night ever since its institution ' (Joachim Jeremias note 10, p.18). The meal was religious in character, and the participants reclined at the table (John 13:12, 23, 25, 28; cf. Mark 14:18). At an ordinary meal, diners sat down to eat, as indicated by rabbinical sources (Ibid., p.20). At the Last Supper, however, Jesus and His disciples did not sit; they reclined, because 'at Passover, as a symbol of liberty, it was the ritual duty of the people present to recline at the table even-as is expressly stated-for 'the poorest man in Israel' (Ibid., p.26). Finally, after the meal Jesus did not return to Bethany as He had done the preceding nights. He walked to the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:1-2). The reason is that custom dictates that ' the night of Passover had to be spent in Jerusalem (contemporary exegesis derived this command from Deut. 16:17). In order to make possible the observance of this command, the city district had been enlarged to include Bethphage. Bethany, however, lay outside the enlarged city district ' (Ibid., p.31). The above indications suggest that John, like the synoptic writers, regarded the Last Supper that Jesus shared with His disciples as a Passover meal." End of quote from the book God's Festivals. I think all of the above arguments and deductions do show John was in no way contradicting anything that Matthew, Mark and Luke wrote about the last Passover observance Jesus had with His disciples, on the night of the 14th day of Nisan. If as most scholars believe, John was the last apostle to write his Gospel, then it is only logical he would write things that no other Gospel recorded, and that he would choose to write with a different style. So John did not use the word "Passover" with the meal Jesus shared with His disciples on that night of the 14th, so what I say. Three other Gospel writers sure did. And just because John did not does not make the other writers wrong! John does not in any way contradict the fact that Jesus did observe the Passover as recorded by the others. He says nothing about this supper being NEW, or a "farewell meal" or just a "fellowship gathering to introduce the New Covenant memorial service of Jesus' death." Really no big deal, it was the Passover supper meal they were observing! John goes right into it mentioning things the other writers did not. So the whole is complete when all the pieces are put together. It is obvious from some of the things he states that he is indeed talking about the same Passover supper meal that the other Gospels talk about. And they made it very clear that it was the paschal meal Jesus was observing. There could be another reason as to why John may have deliberately not used the ord "passover" but the word "supper" instead. John does use the word Passover in his last chapters of his Gospel. He uses it in chapters 13:1; 18:28, 39; 19:14. As you look at these verses and the context(also the context of the other Gospels) it is again clear that all that transpired to Jesus during the night and early morning, and His being put on the cross to die, was all done ON THE 14TH, leading up to the late afternoon of the 14th, when the Passover lambs were killed by the Pharisees teaching in the Temple, and when the majority of the religious Jews observed THEIR Passover. They were still to "eat the passover"(chap.18:28). It was, this 14th day, the "preparation day" of the Jews who observed the Passover at the END of the 14th(chap.19:14). It was not only the preparation day for this passover of those Jews who followed the Temple custom, but it was also as John records, the day before "the Sabbath day"(chap.19:31) - the 15th day, the first annual Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Historically the popular religion of the Jewish Temple had Passover at the end of the 14th, going on into the 15th. John may have wanted his readers to understand that when he used the word "passover" in his last chapters, he was ONLY referring to the popular Jewish Passover of the Temple followers. If he had also used the word "passover" in connection with the supper meal Jesus had with His disciples, it may have caused un-necessary confusion in the minds of his readers. At least by using it with the popular Temple tradition(yet to eat the passover - chap.18:28 - at the end of the 14th) he would keep his readers on the correct chronological path. It would seem it was important for John to not only record certain things done and said during Jesus' supper meal with His disciples, that no other writer had recorded, but it also seems that John thought it important to make sure his readers understood clearly WHEN all these events took place. They transpired ON the 14th day, the day used by the Jews of the Temple Passover observance to prepare for the killing and eating of the passover lambs, and to prepare for the coming Sabbath of the 15th, the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread. What I say next is more than just interesting. You should note it carefully, for it bears out I believe the truth of what I have stated above. The word "passover" is used by Matthew, Mark and Luke, in connection with Jesus' night of the 14th day meal with his disciples. BUT AFTER THAT PASSOVER MEAL on that night, those writers NEVER AGAIN USE the word "passover" - it just does not appear from that night forward to the end of their Gospels. With all they say about the arrest, trial, beatings, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, THEY NEVER AGAIN USE THE WORD "PASSOVER." You can verify this fact in a few minutes with Strong's Concordance of the Bible, please do not just take my word for it, see it for yourself, and then you will know. With John it would seem he did in the main just the opposite. After telling us about a number of things that went on during that "supper" meal Jesus had with His disciples, he then uses the word "passover" - three times in fact, and once "the sabbath day" to come after that 14th day. John is most definitely using a context within a Jewish Traditional Temple Observance Passover, the other three Gospel writers were most definitely NOT DOING SO! They were using a context of the true original, correct time, to observe THE PASSOVER, at the beginning of the 14th day of the first month, as the disciples asked Jesus "where shall we prepare the Passover for you to eat." JOHN'S PHRASE "THE PASSOVER"? There is a key to Bible reading and understanding that most do not know about, have never been taught, or have never grasped it as they read through the word of the Lord. And that little key(one of a number of little keys to Bible reading) is that some writers wrote phrases and sentences that were purely HISTORICAL CUSTOM/TRADITION comments ONLY, never intended for anyone to believe that sacred God breathed DOCTRINE was being established. Examples will show you exactly what I mean; 1. Sabbath days journey(Acts 1:12). Luke who wrote the book of Acts, just from nowhere it would seem throws at us these words found in verse twelve: "....which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey." Now where did he ever get that from? There is nothing in the Law of Moses about "a sabbath day's journey." There is nothing anywhere in the Bible concerning "a sabbath day's journey." The center reference column in my KJV and my NKJV gives no cross scripture for that phrase. The truth is Luke was merely throwing in an HISTORICAL CUSTOM of PRACTICE from his religious TRADITIONS of the Jewish world. Many of his readers knew what he was talking about as they were familiar with such Jewish rules and practices concerning things done or not done on the Sabbath. The main part of religious Judaism had, not from any law of God, not from any specific command of the Lord regarding how far to travel on the Sabbath, from their own mind established the rule of "how far they could travel on the Sabbath." Luke gives this fact of the day(common knowledge and common practice for those who put themselves under such rules) to tell his readers the distance from Olivet to Jerusalem. HE DID NOT GIVE IT TO ESTABLISH CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE AS IF IT WAS A LAW OF GOD!! He does not state it IS a law of the Lord. He does not say it WAS a law of the Lord. He just uses a common custom of practice, to inform a "distance" in the mind of readers, NOT TO ESTABLISH A NEW LAW FOR CHRISTIANS TO FOLLOW. Jesus had taught man was to live by every word of GOD, if there was no law from God regarding a distance one could travel on the Sabbath, then there was no law to break. This is an example that could be compared to this. I am going to hold an Evangelistic series of meetings on the Canadian TV religious channel. I will do it on December the 25th. Some reporter writing for the Toronto Star(which goes all over Canada) is to write a story about my series. At some point, knowing that most people reading will understand certain terms because of religious custom, he says, "And Pastor Keith Hunt will bring these Evangelistic messages to you on Christmas Day." By so describing, by using such words, is that meaning I am going to preach about Christmas? Does it mean I believe in observing Christmas Day? NO! The reporter stated no such doctrine that I will do either! But he did, by using an HISTORICAL CUSTOM TIME(Christmas Day) most all would know is December 25th, tell people WHEN my messages could be heard. And that's all he meant by it, no more and no less. 2. Feast of Dedication(John 10:22,23). John puts us at Jerusalem, in the winter, at the time of the feast of dedication. Now you see if you can find any such feast commanded by the Lord to be observed in the books of Moses. I'll give you as much time as you like, but I'll also tell you that you will never find such a feast in the laws of the Lord. So as Paul said: "where there is no law there is no transgression." God does not command you to observe such a feast if you do not want to observe it, it is just that simple. This feast had HISTORICAL meaning for the Jews. It was then an HISTORICAL CUSTOM PRACTICE for many Jews. Some of the Bible Commentaries will tell you all about it, how it originated etc. Jesus was in Jerusalem and in the Temple. Now does John say Christians are to observe this feast? Does he state this feast is now New Covenant DOCTRINE for the church of God? Does he even state that Jesus was observing it? NO! He states NONE of these things. Jesus may have taken advantage of the situation and the custom of people, to preach to them. As Paul once said: "To a Jew I become a Jew, to a Greek, a Greek, to a Roman, I become a Roman, that I may win some to Christ." I could take advantage of preaching the truths of God on Christmas Day because many more could be willing to listen to religion on that day, as it is an historical custom to do so. John, by using this HISTORICAL CUSTOM PRACTICE of his day was at best only telling his readers WHEN all that transpired between Jesus and the Jews, he is going to relate to them, TOOK PLACE! John was certainly not trying to establish a new church DOCTRINE for Christians. If anyone teaches that he was they are certainly at best, reading into those words things that are not there, and at worst, they are perverting and twisting those words to say something they just do not say. 3. James, Peter, and Unleavened Bread(Acts 12:1-5). Should anyone use these verses to try to prove to someone that they should observe the feast of Unleavened Bread? Was this written here to prove to Christians that they should under the New Covenant, continue to observe the Unleavened Bread feast that is found in the books of Moses? Look at it, read it! I certainly would never give this as a proof text that the church of God should observe the days of Unleavened Bread. I have a few NT verses that do a FAR better job for that purpose than these in Acts 12. Luke is telling his readers the TIME ELEMENT ONLY as he relates to them the facts about James and Peter and Herod. All this took place at an HISTORICAL CUSTOM PRACTICE that most readers would easily acquaint with. He was not HERE trying to prove the DOCTRINE that the NT church of God observed this feast of the Lord. He is not here trying to DISPROVE it either. He was not entering that debate at all. That was to be taken up elsewhere, under other times and other purposes, and other parts of the word of the Lord. DOCTRINE was not the issue here. The fact of WHEN all this took place was one of the main points he wanted to bring out, no more and no less. 4. Amos and new month day(Amos 8:5). God is warning and correcting Israel. Many of them were saying, "When will the new month be gone, that we may sell corn?" This is the new month day here spoken about. People were wanting it over with so they could SELL CORN! Now just a minute, we need to ask: Where is the law of the Lord that prohibited the selling of corn on the new month day? In fact where is the law of God that prohibited selling ANYTHING on the new month day? Take Strong's Concordance, look up new month in every place in the books of Moses, and see if you can find any law making the new month day as a Sabbath, or prohibiting the selling of grain. I guarantee it, you will not come close to finding any such law for the new month day. In the time of Amos(who knows when it may have started) the people of Israel had from HISTORICAL CUSTOM(at some point in time) made the new month day into a kind of Sabbath day, and they were here moaning about the fact of their practice, as well as the true weekly Sabbath. There attitude of mind was all way off the wall and out of line, that is true, but what we need to see is that by Amos recording what he did, as to Israel's HISTORICAL PRACTICE that most of his readers were familiar with, about the new month day, DID NOT MAKE IT A LAW OF GOD, that was established by the Lord. Amos was NOT trying to establish DOCTRINE here. He was relating an attitude of mind, but also historical practices of the time. Now to see if those historical doings of their's(on the new month day and the Sabbath day) WAS IN LINE WITH THE LAW OF GOD OR NOT, was not to be done in those verses(as that truth Amos never even touches on), but must be done ELSEWHERE in the law of God. Because people do not understand this little key to Bible reading, I once had a group of people attend one of our Sabbath services in Ontario, back in the 80's. They were convinced from reading Amos 8:5 that the new month day WAS A SABBATH! They just could not understand what I have stated to you above. I asked them to find in the books of Moses, the law of the Lord, where the new month day was to be observed as a Sabbath. They could not find it, but because of Amos 8:5 they were dogmatic that the new month day was to be observed as a Sabbath. Remembering that some writers of the Bible sometimes wrote down HISTORICAL CUSTOM PRACTICES of the time as points of fact that were being done by people, as calendar marks, as reference to something else(i.e.the distance from Olivet to Jerusalem) people would acquaint with, AND NOT TO ESTABLISH DOCTRINE, will get you out of a lot of trouble. I could give many more examples as above, but time and space does not permit. I think you should from what I've given, understand this little truth. BACK TO JOHN Now do you see where John was coming from in the last chapters of his Gospel. He mentions and uses the word "passover" at least three times. The context is obviously the Passover that was HISTORICALLY THE CUSTOM practiced by many Jews of the Temple tradition, the end of the 14th Passover. It was called by them the PASSOVER, it was known by them and many others in different nations, as the Passover. That was the name it was, pure and simple. Just as Christmas Day is Christmas Day. John is not going to change it to some other name for his chronology. His readers would have been lost if he had. The historical practice of many to kill the lambs in the Temple at the end of the 14th day was called "the Passover." John WENT ALONG! I may "go along" with the phrase "Christmas Day" for chronological, or calendar reasons, if writing about certain things to certain people, BUT THAT BY ITSELF, WITHOUT ME ADDING OTHER COMMENTS, DOES NOT PROVE IT IS CORRECT OR FROM THE LAW OF GOD!! I must use other scriptures or add other comments if I want to prove to my readers the common historical practice of Christmas Day observance is WRONG, should not be practiced, or is done at the wrong time. John used a phrase within a chronological setting that was an historical custom phrase, quite easily understood by the readers of his day. He added NO MORE! He did not enter the DOCTRINAL debate of this phrase "the Passover" concerning the true WHEN of its observance as given by God to Israel through Moses. The purpose for John's last chapters, from chapter thirteen to the end, was not in the least to prove the doctrinal truth of WHEN, at what time of the 14th day, should the Passover be observed. John's purpose was to give some basic chronological setting to the last day of Jesus' life in the flesh, but also to give some other very important words, teaching, example, of Jesus, that the other Gospel writers did not give to us. The truth of WHEN to observe the NT Passover had already been given in the books of Moses, and in the writings of the other Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke(as we saw in our last study), together with that of Paul in 1 Cor.11 when he said: "the SAME NIGHT in which He was betrayed took bread....and said......also He took the cup.....saying......" Are there still more understandings we need to see about the Passover? Yes indeed! We have not finished yet. .................................