Did Jesus Eat the Passover Seder?

12 Jun
Passover Seder

from Google Images

Have you ever heard people say there is a contradiction in the Gospel accounts pertaining to the meal Jesus shared with his disciples just before his crucifixion? It goes something like this: Luke tells us that the Last Supper (i.e. the Passover meal) was eaten on the Passover Feast Day, that is on the Holy Day Sabbath (Luke 22:15), but John tells us the meal Jesus and the disciples shared together was before the Feast Day (cf. John 13:29). In other words, Jesus sent Peter and John to prepare for the Passover (Luke 22:8), which they did (Luke 22:13). Afterward, Jesus and the twelve came and dined (Luke 22:14-15), but John seems to say: “No, the Feast Day and the great meal that was shared on that day was to occur the evening following the meal Jesus and the disciples shared together just before the crucifixion.” Which is it?

“And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15 KJV)

Read this way, Jesus is saying he and the disciples are eating the Passover (i.e. the official Passover meal of Exodus 12:8-11; celebrated on the 15th of Nisan), and it is this Passover meal that he longed to eat with them. However, the same word that is used to point to a meal is also used to point to the Feast day itself – i.e. the Passover Day (14th of Nisan) as mentioned in Leviticus 23 (see also that the same word [G3957] in Luke 22:1 is meant to point to the Feast Day of the Passover).

The Diaglott preserves the Greek syntax in its translation notice:

“And he said to them: With desire I have desired this the Passover to eat with you, before the me to suffer.” (Luke 22:15 Diaglott)

Read this way Jesus seems to put the emphasis on the day (the 14th of Nisan) and not the meal (eaten on the 15th of Nisan). In other words he greatly desired or longed for this—the Passover, to eat with the disciples before he suffered. And the Greek seems to emphasize the Passover day (the 14th) in saying: “touto to pascha” that is, “this the Passover”. The article is not translated from the Greek into the English for most translations, but the Diaglott does translate it, expressing the emphasis placed on the word Passover.

Earlier Jesus mentioned that, concerning his crucifixion, “how distressed I am until it is completed.” (Luke 12:50)

Jesus longed for this day (i.e. the day of the Passover, the 14th) with great desire that he might spend his final moments with his disciples in fellowship. It had nothing to do with the meal per se, but with the occasion… the Passover Day – the 14th of Nisan – the day the Pascal lamb was to be sacrificed (cf. Luke 22:7) – the day Jesus would be crucified and his work completed. Jesus said: “With desire I have desired this, the Passover (day), to eat with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15). So, when Jesus sent Judas away, the disciples assumed he was sent to buy what was needed for the Pascal meal, which would be eaten the following evening on the 15th of Nisan, showing there is no contradiction between John and the Synoptics on this point.

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Posted by on June 12, 2018 in Gospel of Luke


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