Jesus’ Third Passover

13 Apr

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Because Luke doesn’t clearly show Jesus celebrating another Passover between John’s death and Jesus’ own crucifixion, many scholars believe Jesus set out to go to Jerusalem for the final time in Luke 9:51. Nevertheless, there are problems with this interpretation, and I believe that folks often skew the Scriptures in order to maintain this doctrine.

Jesus’ first Passover during his public ministry occurred in Jerusalem (John 2:13), while his second was celebrated in Galilee (cf. John 6:1-4). The Scriptures say of Jesus in Luke 9:51 “that he should be received up” – literally “for his ascension” – that is, the words should be are not in the text and received up (G354)[1] is a noun and not a verb. It is translated better in the NASB “When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem.” Whenever anyone journeyed to Jerusalem in Scripture, it is always phrased that he went up to Jerusalem.[2] To read it as it is in the KJV makes it sound like it is time for Jesus to be ‘received up to God’ or the time of his crucifixion. This cannot be true for reasons I intend to mention here.

Luke 9:51 occurred after the Transfiguration which occurred during the Feast of Tabernacles on the Last Great Day of the feast (Luke 9:28-36). Then Jesus and his disciples went to Galilee (Luke 9:44; cf. Mark 9:30-32). Now, when it came time for his “ascension” (G354 – Luke 9:51), Jesus set his mind to go up to Jerusalem through Samaria (Luke 9:52). However, the Samaritans refused to extend their hospitality to him and his disciples, because he was going to Jerusalem. This shows that the reason Jesus was going to Jerusalem was to celebrate one of the major Feast Days (Leviticus 23). Otherwise, the Samaritans would have had no reason to be jealous of where Jesus was going. Samaritans used only the Pentateuch for their Scriptures, ignoring the Writings and the Prophets, which tell of Jewish history. They celebrated the annual Holy Days of Leviticus 23, just as the Jews did, and because Jesus intended to celebrate those days in Jerusalem, rather than in Samaria, the Samaritans took offense and refused to extend their hospitality to Jesus and his disciples.

Therefore, because the Samaritans wouldn’t receive him, Jesus took his disciples to another village (Luke 9:53-56), which, apparently, took them to the farther side of the Jordan (Mark 10:1), thus coming to Bethany “as they went” to Jerusalem (Luke 10:38). Therefore, since Jesus came to Bethany on his way and before going up to Jerusalem in Luke 19:28-29, his “ascension” (G354) in Luke 9:51 couldn’t have referred to his coming to Jerusalem to be crucified and later ascend to heaven, because at that time Jesus went first to Jerusalem and then went to Bethany (cf. Mark 11:11). Moreover, a second journey to Jerusalem is implied in Luke 17:11 where it is said that as Jesus journeyed toward Jerusalem he went through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Otherwise, we would have Jesus zigzagging all over Palestine, even returning to Galilee before going to Jerusalem, if we force Luke 9:51 to mean Jesus intended to go to Jerusalem for his crucifixion.[3]

During Jesus ascension to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51), he remarked about the “lilies of the field” (Luke 12:27). Jesus often used the surrounding scenery to illuminate a spiritual principle, so, when Jesus said: “Consider the lilies…” (Luke 12:27; cf. Mark 6:28), he was speaking of what the people were able to see at that specific time. Notice:

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Luke 12:27)

These lilies are scarlet in color, and they clothe the grass (cf. Luke 12:28) more gloriously than the scarlet robes clothed Solomon. This type of lily bloomed from late winter (cir. January) to the spring (May), indicating that Luke 12:27 and, consequently, his ascension in Luke 9:51 refer to his coming to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. This implies that the harvest mentioned in Luke 10:2 needs to refer to the harvest occurring between Passover and Pentecost. The context, therefore, demands that the ascension (Luke 9:51) Jesus made so publicly on his way to Jerusalem (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.


[1] Luke uses the word, analepsis (G354) for Jesus’ ascension to Jerusalem in Luke 9:51. The word is used only there in Scripture. The verb form of the word is analambano (G353). On four occasions the word is used to refer to Jesus’ Ascension to heaven (Mark 16:19; Acts 1:2, 11, 22). On one occasion it is used to refer to taking the sheet of animals back up to heaven (Acts 10:16). On all other occasions (eight of the thirteen) it is used of taking something or someone to or with oneself (Acts 7:43; 20:13-14; 23:31; Ephesians 6:13, 16; 1Timothy 3:16; 2Timothy 4:11)

[2] See Matthew 20:17-18; Mark 10:32-33; Luke 2:12; 18:31; 19:28; John 2:13; 5:1; 11:55; Acts 15:2; 21:4, 12, 15; 24:11; 25:9. No matter where a practicing Jew is, when he intends to go to Jerusalem, he “goes up” or ascends to Jerusalem.

[3] I will have more to say about this when we get to Luke 13. It is possible that Jesus intended to go to Jerusalem to be crucified in Luke 9:51, but, if he did, he changed his mind, as we will see when we get to Luke 13.

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Posted by on April 13, 2017 in Gospel of Luke


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