The Passover Mark 14:1-26
As we consider the place of the Passover in Jesus’ final week, we will start with Leviticus 23.
Leviticus 23:1-4 says:
Leviticus 23:1–4 (NLT) 1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as official days for holy assembly. 3“You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of complete rest, an official day for holy assembly. It is the Lord’s Sabbath day, and it must be observed wherever you live. 4“In addition to the Sabbath, these are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the official days for holy assembly that are to be celebrated at their proper times each year.
The rest of Leviticus 23 gives the rules to be followed in celebrating seven different feasts. Each feast was designed to teach Israel about God. Three of these feasts were pilgrimage feasts. In other words, three of these feasts required that every male in Israel travel to Jerusalem to observe the celebration.
The feasts were:
Feast of Weeks or Pentecost
The Feast of Trumpets
The Day of Atonement
The Feast of Booths
Each feast reveals a different truth about the gospel and God’s plan for the ages.
God chose Israel to be uniquely His. However, His purpose in doing this includes the salvation of the world. As we make you a quick review of Israel’s feasts, we will observe that each feast pointed to Jesus. The feasts were as follows: (I have taken much of this review of the feasts from Wycliffe’s website.)
1. Passover — Leviticus 23:4-8
Passover retells the story of Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt and the last plague. In this plague, the angel of death “passed over” the children of Israel who applied the blood of the lamb to their doors.
2. Unleavened Bread — Leviticus 23:6
This seven-day feast begins on the day following the start of Passover. In their haste to leave Egypt, the Israelites had no time to add leaven (yeast) to their bread. During this time, the Jews eat nothing leavened.
3. First Fruits — Leviticus 23:10
The Feast of First Fruits is the first of three Jewish harvest feasts.
The priests sacrificed Passover lambs on the 14th day of the month of Nisan, and the first day of Passover was the 15th. The Feast of First Fruits was celebrated on the third day, the 16th of Nisan. This “third day” celebration was the same day that Jesus rose from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 15:20, Paul refers to Jesus as the first fruits of all who have died.
4. Feast of Weeks or Pentecost — Leviticus 23:16
This feast is the second of the three harvest feasts. It occurs seven weeks after the Feast of First Fruits, so it’s also called Pentecost, which means “50 days.”
5. Feast of Trumpets — Leviticus 23:24
For this feast, God commands his people to rest. During this time, all regular work is prohibited, and men and women present a food offering to God.
6. Day of Atonement — Leviticus 16, 23:26-32
To make “atonement” is to make restitution for wrongs. This was a day for the Jews to get their hearts, consciences, and lives right before God. Animals were sacrificed for sin, and on this one day of the year, the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies.
7. Feast of Tabernacles or Booths — Leviticus 23:34
Following the Day of Atonement. The nation celebrated God’s provision and protection during their 40 years in the wilderness with the Feast of Tabernacles. For seven days, people live in temporary structures as they did in the wilderness. During those 40 years, the Lord was with the Israelites in a tent called the tabernacle, so the feast also celebrates his presence as he tabernacles (dwells) with us.
On three of these feasts, God required that all the men of Israel gather in Jerusalem. In Deuteronomy, God said:
Deuteronomy 16:16 (NKJV) Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed.
The three pilgrimage feasts were:
the Feast of Weeks
the Festival of Booths
Passover was when Jesus was crucified. The feast of weeks was when the Church was born, and the Festival of Booths will be when Jesus sets up His kingdom.
This brings us back to the final week of Jesus’ ministry to the nation of Israel. All the men of Israel were in Jerusalem for the slaying of the Passover. The whole nation needed to witness the death of the Lamb of God. This is why Jesus was in Jerusalem. He is the true Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God.
We have noted in previous messages that prophecies often have prefiguring fulfillments. The delivery of the Jews from slavery in Egypt and the Passover celebration all prefigured the Messiah’s coming to deliver His people.
Since every Jewish male was mandated to be in Jerusalem for the Passover, the city became incredibly crowded. The Jewish historian Josephus said that during Passover, the population of Jerusalem exceeded two million. However, some modern scholars think he exaggerated and suggest that the population grew from 20,000 to 150,000. (https://www.chosenpeople.com/site/passover-in-israel-past-and-present. Accessed March 18, 2021.)
When Jesus came to Jerusalem, the city was bursting with excitement. Much of the excitement was concerning Jesus. The people were wondering if He would come to the feast. In his gospel, John tells us:
John 11:56 (NKJV) Then they sought Jesus, and spoke among themselves as they stood in the temple, “What do you think—that He will not come to the feast?”
Jesus rode into this commotion on a donkey’s colt, cleansed the temple, and challenged the nation’s leaders. Mark 14 picks up two days before the Passover Lamb was to be sacrificed and tells us that the nation’s leaders were seeking an opportunity to arrest Jesus and kill Him, but they feared the crowds.
Everything was working toward fulfilling God’s plan, which was prefigured in the feast instituted over a thousand years earlier.
After noting that the leaders were seeking to kill Jesus, Mark takes us to an intimate scene as Jesus finished the day eating with His disciples. A woman enters this scene. Mary brought in some very costly perfume and poured it on Jesus’ head.
Some of the disciples reacted. John tells us that the complaints came chiefly from Judas because he kept the money and made a practice of borrowing some of it for his personal use. They asked why this perfume was not sold and given to the poor. However, Jesus rebuked them and said that His body needed to be prepared for burial. Here again, God’s plan that His Passover Lamb should be prepared for sacrifice was being fulfilled.
The Passover lamb was always carefully chosen and was without blemish. Here is what the Bible says:
Exodus 12:5 (NKJV) Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
Care was taken so that the lamb would meet these requirements, and then it was carefully prepared for sacrifice.
With preparations for the lamb to be sacrificed complete, Judas went out to the chief priests to betray Him.
Mark 14:12 brings us to the place where Jesus is ready to be betrayed. However, he must first celebrate Passover with his disciples. Verses 13 and 14 tell how the disciples were directed to find a room to prepare the Passover meal. Jesus did not tell them where, but only that they would be led to the room. He did this to avoid being interrupted by those who wanted to kill him. Only those who were preparing the room knew where it was. Judas had to leave the meal and go find the chief priests and tell them where Jesus was because he did not know in advance.
Passover was in the first month of the Jewish year. The Passover meal was especially significant and is still celebrated today. Each part of the meal signifies and points to the Messiah. It is shocking to realize that Judas determined to betray Jesus at such a sacred time. John 13:27 tells us that Satan entered into Judas. However, this also was according to God’s plan.
Jesus shows that he is fully aware of what is happening. He tells his disciples that one of them would betray him. Eleven of them were wondering if it was them, and we’re asking, “Is it I Lord, is it I?” Judas faked it. He also said, “Is it I?” Matthew tells us that Jesus said, “You said it.” (Matthew 26:25) But to all of them, Jesus said, “It is the one who dips with me into the dish.”
As part of the Seder meal, three pieces of matzo are put into an envelope, each separated by a cloth. We, believers, know that the top one represents God the Father, the middle one represents God the Son, and the bottom one represents the Holy Spirit. The middle one is broken during the meal.
This is what happened to Jesus. He was wounded for our transgressions. Isaiah 53 says of Him:
Isaiah 53:4–5 (NKJV) 4Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
When Jesus took up the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, He was doing what is still done in the Passover meal today. However, He made it clear that this was His body that was broken. We celebrate the communion, and we should, but when Jesus spoke these words, it was part of a Jewish Passover meal.
Next, we are told Jesus took a cup and said, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.” (Mark 14:24) In the Passover meal, there are four times when everyone present drinks a glass of wine. Each cup has its significance. They stand for each of the four promises the Lord makes to His people in Exodus 6:6-7.
Exodus 6:6–7 (NKJV) 6Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
The first cup is the Cup of Sanctification.
“I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”
The second cup is the Cup of Deliverance (also known as the cup of plagues).
“I will rescue you from their bondage.”
The third cup is the Cup of Redemption.
“I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”
The fourth cup is the Cup of Praise (also known as the cup of the kingdom).
“I will take you as My people.”
Jewish tradition is that the cups are filled with red wine to represent the Passover lamb’s blood.
Jesus took the third cup and said, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.” He was referencing that He was the Passover lamb, the Lamb of God.
Mark ends his account of the Passover meal with an important piece of information. Jesus said:
Mark 14:25 (NKJV) Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
I take it that Jesus declined to drink the fourth cup. He is saving it until the time of praise and rejoicing when He sets up His kingdom.
I want to close with a thought. The blood of the Passover lamb was put on the side post and the top bar of the door, but not on the threshold. It would not have been appropriate to step on the blood of the lamb.
Consider with me the words of Hebrews 10.
Hebrews 10:26–29 (NKJV) 26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
Seeing that Jesus purposefully and with full knowledge took upon Himself our sins and died to deliver us, dare we refuse His kindness?