The Four Passovers in Jesus Public Ministry
In my most recent posts concerning the 70 Weeks Prophecy, I showed how the prophetic days—1260 days, 1290 days and 1335 days—all fall within a seven year period beginning and ending on the Jewish holy days mentioned in Leviticus 23 or, as was the case of the 1290 days, the count began on a significant day having to do with those annual Festivals. In order for this understanding to be true, the Scriptures must refer to or at least imply four Passovers to have occurred during Jesus’ public ministry. The problem is the Gospel of John mentions only 3 Passovers: John 2:13, John 6:4 and John 12:1. For this reason some Christians believe Jesus’ public ministry lasted only 2 years or 2 ½ years at the most. If this is so, the prophetic days mentioned above cannot refer to Jesus’ first coming. Therefore, it will be necessary for me to show four Passovers to have occurred during this period.
I hope to prove that the “missing” Passover is that of 30 CE, so the Passovers of John 2:13 and John 6:4 occurred in 28 CE and 29 CE respectively. Many Christians believe Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem in Luke 9:51 refers to his going to Jerusalem to die, but this isn’t so. Notice that when compared with its sister Scriptures, Luke 9:51 shows Jesus set his mind to go up to Jerusalem by the farther side of the Jordan (Mark 10:1), thus coming to Bethany as they journeyed to Jerusalem (Luke 10:38). Therefore, since Jesus went to Bethany first, which is only a few miles from Jerusalem (John 11:18), his “ascension” in Luke 9:51 could not have referred to his coming to Jerusalem to die, because all accounts of the Passion Week show Jesus went to Jerusalem first and then to Bethany.
After the 2nd Passover in his Gospel, John clearly shows Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles but secretly (John 6:4; 7:1-10), because the Jerusalem authorities sought his life (John 5:18). Nevertheless, the particular journey begun in Luke 9 was very public. The Samaritans knew his intentions and refused to receive him, since he was going to Jerusalem (Luke 9:52-53). It should be noted that the Samaritans were upset with Jesus, because his journey had to do with a special time of celebration, and they felt Jesus was showing a preference for the Jews over them. They were jealous because Jesus intended to celebrate one of the annual holy day seasons in Jerusalem rather than with them. Moreover, Jesus sent out the 70 into various towns and villages on the way to Jerusalem (Luke 10:1, 17) showing it was hardly a secret that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. Therefore, Jesus journey of Luke 9:51 had to have occurred later than John 7:1-10.
Moreover, Jesus’ journey was during a time of harvest (Luke 10:2), which would necessitate Jesus’ journey to be either immediately prior to the next Passover following the Feast of Tabernacles in John 7:1-10, or the Feast of Tabernacles the following year. So, no matter which holy day Jesus intended to observe in Luke 9:51 (Passover or Tabernacles) it necessitates an additional Passover, because even if Jesus was celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles a third Passover is implied to have already occurred, since Jesus’ journey had to be later than John 7:1-10.
Jesus often used the surrounding scenery to elucidate a spiritual principle. Therefore, when he says “Consider the lilies…” (Luke 12:27) he was speaking of what the people were able to see at that specific time. These lilies were scarlet in color, arrayed more gloriously than the scarlet robes of Solomon. These lilies bloomed from late winter in January to the spring in early May. This indicates that Luke 12:27 and consequently his ascension in Luke 9:51 refers to his coming to Jerusalem to celebrate either the Passover or Pentecost. Since Jesus had already been in Jerusalem by this time (cp. Luke 10:38), the harvest mentioned in Luke 10:2 must refer to that between Passover and Pentecost. Therefore the feast that Jesus so publicly made his way to celebrate (Luke 9:51-53; Luke 10:1-2), yet slowly so as to spend time with those along the way (Luke 10:1; Luke 10:38), could be none other than the Passover.
Finally, Luke 13:1 indicates Jesus’ visit to Jerusalem was during a major Jewish holy day. Pilate’s official residence was at Caesarea. However, it was customary for the Roman procurator to travel to and stay at Jerusalem in Herod’s palace and officiate at the Antonia whenever one of the Jew’s three great Festival periods occurred. Luke 13:1 shows itself as a time when Pilate came to Jerusalem, which he did only when a great many pilgrims came to worship at the Temple. He did this because of the danger of sedition developing when so great a number of zealous pilgrims gathered in one place (cp. Matthew 26:5 and Mark 14:2). Luke 13:1 speaks of an event to which Josephus may also refer in Antiquities of the Jews; Book 18; Chapter 3, paragraph 2 (cp. Wars of the Jews; Book 2; Chapter 9, paragraph 4). The fact that Pilate was present in Jerusalem indicates Jesus’ visit was during one of the three major festival periods in 30 CE. Therefore, Jesus’ journey in Luke 9:51 demands an addition Passover season and Jesus’ public ministry lasted 3 ½ years, making it possible for us to use the prophetic days (1260, 1290 and 1335) to refer to Jesus confirming the (New) Covenant with his people (Daniel 9:27). May God quicken his word to the hearts and minds of his people everywhere.