A Profound New Look at
A careful day-by-day exploration of the final week Jesus
Christ spent on this earth explodes many myths and grievous
misunderstands of scholars and theologians about His last
week, His entrance into Jerusalem, the dating of the "Last
Supper," the arrest and capture of Christ, the timing of His
appearances before Annas, Caiphas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate,
Herod, and His final condemnation before Pilate, and His
final crucifixion. Here is the TRUE STORY of Jesus' last
week on earth before His death and resurrection. Here is
NEW EVIDENCE which once and for all time buries the
notion that the "Last Supper" was in any way a "Passover"
meal or service! Let the reader beware: If you read this
material with an open, unprejudiced mind, this article could
completely change your life!
William F. Dankenbring
When was Jesus arrested? When was He interrogated by the high priests, and later by Pilate, Herod, and a final time before Pilate? When was He scourged by the Roman soldiers, and led away finally to Golgotha?
No subject has been more controversial, and beset with difficulty, and a clear understanding of the true sequence of events during Jesus Christ's last week on earth, before His death as the Passover lamb of God (John 1:29; I Cor.5:7). Scholars claim the gospel accounts are plagued with inconsistencies and contradictions; theologians attempt to explain away the differences between Matthew, Mark, Luke and John's accounts. Few have stopped to think that it is not the gospel writers who are at fault -- but rather the assumptions and rationalizations of
error-prone scholars and theologians, who have their own "turf" and religious beliefs to "defend," which may be subject to complete overhaul and in need of total revision!
Jews and Christians alike will find this study fascinating, emotionally moving, and tremendously inspiring -- and Biblically sound and truthful. Let us, therefore, begin "at the beginning," and go step by step through the final week of Christ on earth, beginning with proving the date of the crucifixion – the year, month, and day of the week.
I recently purchased a book entitled Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon and Planets by astronomer Jean Meeus (second edition, published by Willmann-Bell, Inc., PO Box 35025, Richmond, Virginia 23235). Part four deals with the “Phases of the Moon.” This remarkable work provides tables by which readers can compute the phases of the moon, including the New Moons (molads) with an accuracy within 10 minutes or less, for any year from 1500 B.C. to 2999 A.D. (The calculations of course may not work for years prior to the Exodus or Noah’s Flood, if the earth’s orbit or the moon’s orbit were changed during those periods of upheaval). However, the tables work just fine for the year 30 A.D., when the Messiah was crucified!
Using these tables, and doing a little math, it turns out that the tables in this book, show that the conjunction of the New Moon for March, 30 A.D., was on the 22nd day of the month (Wednesday), at 17:32 GMT– that is, 5:32 PM, Wednesday evening! This would have been about 7:32 Jerusalem time. Since the conjunction occurred Wednesday evening, the New Moon crescent for the month just beginning – Abib – could not possibly have been seen before Thursday evening. You cannot see the crescent the same evening the conjunction occurs! Normally it is visible about one day or 24 hours later – which fits the picture perfectly.
This information means that Abib 1 was a Friday that week, and Abib 14 – the day of the crucifixion – had to be on a Thursday, not a Wednesday or a Friday! There is no disputing these facts – and the Jews plainly state that in those days the months were determined by the sighting of the New Moon crescent by confirmed, authorized witnesses who were posted to watch for it.
Roger Rusk, Professor of Physics at the University of Tennessee, has also provided astronomical evidence that in A.D. 30 the New Moon crescent for the month of Nisan would make Nisan 14 occur on a Thursday. So reported Christianity Today, a well-known Christian magazine (March 24, 1974).
Jack Finegan in Handbook of Biblical Chronology says absolute astronomical evidence proves the crucifixion date could not have been on a Wednesday for the years A.D. 29 to A.D. 33. He points out April 25 could NOT have been a possible date in 31 A.D. because it would involve an extra lunar month, and the barley would have been ready to begin harvesting much sooner than April 25—over a month sooner.
Our conclusion, then, has to be that both the Wednesday crucifixion theory and the Friday crucifixion theory are wrong, disproved by this indisputable astronomical evidence! But the Thursday crucifixion fits perfectly with both Biblical evidence and astronomical evidence!
Keeping this fact in mind, therefore, let’s begin to trace the events of Jesus’ last seven days before His crucifixion. We begin with Friday, Nisan 8.
Nisan 8 -- Friday
"And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand; and many went out of the country
up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves" (John 11:55).
In order to partake of the Passover, if a person was ritually "unclean" -- if they had touched a "dead body" or corpse, for example -- they would have to be "purified," and go through a cleansing ceremony according to the law of God (see Numbers 19:11-22). This purification ritual lasted seven days and had to be done at the Temple, with a priest, and therefore many Jews came up to Jerusalem a week before the Passover festival began.
This year, 30 A.D., the first holy day, Nisan 15, fell on a Friday. This fact is proved beyond question by modern astronomy. The New Moon conjunction of Nisan 1 that year fell on Wednesday evening. The crescent of the New Moon would not be seen until Thursday evening, making Friday to be Nisan 1. See our article “How Long Was Jesus in the Grave?” for the incredible proof that Jesus was crucified on Thursday, Nisan 14.
The seven days' purification, then would have to be accomplished by Nisan 14 in order to celebrate the Passover seder (dinner) at the beginning of the 15th of Nisan, after the lambs were slain on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan.
"Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if
any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him" (John 11:57).
The Jewish religious leaders, the chief priests, who were mainly Saducees, and the Pharisees, who controlled the religious observances of the people, were very disturbed at the increasing popularity of Christ, since He had raised Lazarus from the dead and had performed many miracles. They were plotting against Christ Himself and were intent on arresting Him and having Him put to death (John 11:47-53).
Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was
which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a
supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with
"Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the
feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour
of the ointment . . ." (John 12:1-3).
The Passover lambs were slain on Nisan 14. This supper at the home of Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha, was "six days before" Passover -- or Nisan 8, which was a Friday that year. This was no doubt a very joyous and wonderful fellowship meal, and Mary showed her great gratitude to Jesus and her love for Him, by anointing His feet with expensive perfume. Lazarus, whom He had resurrected from the dead, was there at the meal with them!
Meanwhile, many of the Jewish people had learned that Jesus was visiting with Lazarus and his family, and wanted to see the man who was raised from the dead and the One who had done it (John 12:9). The chief priests, because of the notoriety of this miracle, consulted to put Lazarus to death, because many people believed on Jesus due to him (John 12:10-11).
Nisan 9 – the Weekly Sabbath
"On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that
Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet
him, and cried Hosanah: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the
Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear
not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt" (John 12:12-14).
"And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount
called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying, Go ye into the village
over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet
never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither" (Luke 19:29-30).
On this entrance into Jerusalem, Jesus sat on a colt, the offspring of an ass. Both accounts concur. Mark makes this even plainer. Notice!
"And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount
of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go your way into
the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt
tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. . . . And they brought the colt
to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. And many spread their
garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in
the way. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna;
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord . . . And Jesus entered into Jerusalem,
and into the temple: and when he had looked about on all things, and now the eventide
was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.
Notice! This was Sabbath, Nisan 9. Jesus entered the city riding on a colt -- one animal -- and looked around at the Temple, and then returned to Bethany. This was a sort of "scouting" mission -- a preliminary trip into the city.
Nisan 10 – Sunday
The gospel account of Mark continues the story thread:
"And on the morrow [Sunday], when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:
And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing
thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was
not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee henceforth for
ever. And his disciples heard it.
"And they come to Jerusalem [His second entrance, obviously], and Jesus went into the
temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew
the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; and would not
suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. . .
"And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him:
for they feared him, because all the people were astonished at his doctrine.
"And when even was come, he went out of the city" (Mark 11:12-16).
This was a very eventful Sunday entrance into the city! This was Jesus' second entrance, and this time He did more than just look around and observe. This time He took ACTION! The prices charged by the merchants were abominably high and amounted to extortion -- a religious "rip-off." Jesus chased the money-changers and thieves out of the temple and denounced their wickedness.
The gospel account of Matthew tells us more about this second entrance. We read:
"And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount
of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against
you, and straightway ye shall find AN ASS TIED, AND A COLT WITH HER: loose
THEM, and bring THEM unto me . . . And this was done, that it might be fulfilled which
was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh
unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, AND a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples
went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on
THEM their clothes, and they sat him thereon" (Matt.21:1-7).
Notice that when Christ entered Jerusalem on the Sabbath, He rode upon a colt -- a single animal. But this time, on Sunday, the next day, TWO ANIMALS were provided for Him -- an ass AND its colt! These Scriptures do not contradict each other. They describe two separate and distinct entrances into the city! There is no contradiction -- rather, these scriptures supplement each other, and together they paint an amazing picture of what really happened!
This was Nisan 10. Nisan 10 was the real beginning of the preparation for the Passover festival. What happened on this day? In the book of Exodus we read:
"This month [Nisan] shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first
month of the year to you. Speak ye unto the children of Israel, saying, IN THE TENTH
DAY OF THIS MONTH they shall taken to them every man A LAMB, according to the
house of their fathers, a lamb for an house . . . Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male
of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall
KEEP it up until the FOURTEENTH DAY of the same month: and the whole assembly
of the congregation shall kill it in the evening" (Exodus 12:1-6).
In ancient Israel, preparation for Passover began on Nisan 10, with the selection of a Passover lamb for each household, which was then kept up apart from the regular flock or herd for five days, until the "evening" (afternoon portion) of Nisan 14th, at which time they were to be slain. Take notice of how remarkably Jesus Christ fulfilled this prophecy of the Passover lamb -- it was on the 10th of Nisan, the first day of the week, in 30 A.D., when He rode into Jerusalem, and was proclaimed by the masses of people as "King of the Jews," "The Son of David," as "He who came in the name of the Lord," as He entered the city! In essence, they were accepting Him as their "Passover lamb" and fulfilling this selection process commanded for the 10th day of Nisan! The first day of the week represents a NEW BEGINNING! This entrance represented Jesus’ SECOND COMING when He will usher in a “new beginning” for mankind – the Kingdom of God!
Matthew goes on to show that on that day He exerted His authority, and established Himself in the sight of the people, for He took action and cast out those who bought and sold in the temple and overthrew the tables of the money-changers and merchants (v.12), and healed "the blind and the lame" that came to Him in the temple (v.13). This upset the chief priests very much, but they felt powerless to do anything in broad daylight, before all the people who were astonished at Him (v.15-16). After this eventful, tumultuous day, we read:
"And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany: and he lodged there"
Notice that during this time Jesus and the disciples were lodging in Bethany, the village where Lazarus and his sisters dwelt. It is very likely that He and the disciples abode with them, or nearby, during this period before the Passover, and each morning He would return to Jerusalem.
Now we come to the next day . . .
Nisan 11 -- Monday
"And when even was come, he went out of the city. And IN THE MORNING,
as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling
to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst
is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For
verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed,
and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that
those things which he saith shall come to pass: he shall have whatsoever he saith.
"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, believe that ye receive them,
and ye shall have them. . .
"And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come
to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, And say unto him, By what
authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?"
On Monday, the second day of the week, the scribes and priests and religious leaders were waiting for Him, seeking to entrap Him in His words, and "ambushed" Him with carefully calculated questions to challenge His authority. But in response, His wisdom and understanding put them to silence, and He began speaking in parables to the people, warning them of the wickedness of their leaders (Mark 11:29-33; chapters 12-13).
Notice that as they approached the city, Peter calls His attention to the fig tree which He had cursed the previous morning. It was all withered up and dead! Jesus used this example as an illustration and lesson on the power of true "faith."
But Jesus gave them another lesson on "faith" as they entered the city that morning. We read of a separate and different event that occurred as they entered Jerusalem, in Matthew's account!
"And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.
NOW IN THE MORNING [Monday morning] as he returned into the city, he
hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing
thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward
for ever. And presently [immediately, in the Greek] the fig tree withered away!
And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, How soon is the fig tree
"Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and
doubt not, ye shall not only do this that is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall
say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be
done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive"
Notice that this was a different fig tree. First of all, it was not outside of the city, like the first one Christ cursed the previous day. He came upon this fig tree "as he returned into the city" (v.18). Also, this fig tree dried up "immediately" when he cursed it! The Englishman's Greek Interlinear translates the Greek word "immediately." The first fig tree dried up overnight, but this one shriveled up as the disciples stood there watching it! What a double-lesson in FAITH!
Later that day, the second day of the week, Nisan 11, as Jesus left the Temple, the disciples were very impressed by the temple stones and magnificence. Jesus told them not one stone would be left on top of another (Matt.24:1-2) but the whole edifice they so admired would be completely destroyed. Later, as they once again came to the mount of Olives, the disciples, still puzzling over His remarks, inquired, asking Him when these things would happen, and what would be the sign of His coming and the end of the age (Matt.24:3). At this point "he sat upon the mount of Olives," once again outside of Jerusalem. He spells out for them the famous Mount Olivet prophecy in which He detailed the awesome things which would occur at the end of this age, signaling His soon return.
Just as Jesus had entered Jerusalem twice, with people shouting Hosanna in the highest, and just as He had cursed the barren fig tree twice, so He was plainly telling them that He was coming TWICE -- that He would come again (John 14:1-3). On the weekly Sabbath, the Messiah had entered the city and "looked around." That was a type of His first coming. On Sunday He entered again, and began JUDGMENT by casting out the evil-doers from the Temple. That is a type of His Second Coming, when He will come to JUDGE the nations, and all mankind, with FURY poured out! The first fig tree that was cursed, withered away overnight -- the judgment occurred over a period of time. The second fig tree shriveled up immediately -- showing that at the Messiah's second coming, judgment will be SWIFT and CERTAIN and there will be NO DELAY!
So now we come to Monday evening, the beginning of Nisan 12. Notice the story flow -- and be sure you understand the time sequence. We began the "last week" of Jesus Christ on this earth with Friday, Nisan 8 -- and now we come to Monday night, Nisan 12. Let's pick up the story once again:
Nisan 12 -- Monday Night
"And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his
disciples, Ye know that AFTER TWO DAYS is the feast of THE PASSOVER ,
and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified" (Matt.26:1-2).
"AFTER TWO DAYS was the feast of THE PASSOVER, and of unleavened
bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by
craft, and put him to death. But they said, not on a feast day, lest there be an
uproar of the people" (Mark 14:1-2).
"Now the feast of unleavened bread drew night, which is called the passover" (Luke
Notice that I highlighted the expression "the feast of" as it is found in Matthew and Mark. This expression, in italics in the King James Version, is supplied by the translators and does not appear in the Greek originals at all! This was an incorrect assumption by the translators. It was not the "Feast" that was two days hence, but rather "the Passover" -- that is, the day of Nisan 14, when the Passover was KILLED! This was the very day that Jesus Christ would be crucified, as our Passover (I Cor.5:7). Thus the time sequence here shows that we have come to the evening of Monday, and the beginning of Nisan 12 -- Monday night. What occurred at this time?
"Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto
him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his
head, as he sat at meat [dinner]. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation,
saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much,
and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the
woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with
you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she
did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresover this gospel shall be preached in
the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial
of her" (Matt.26:6-13; see also Mark 14:3-9).
"Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto
them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with
him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him"
It was now Monday evening. Judas went out after the supper in the home of Simon the leper, and met with the chief priests, who were Sadducees, and made an agreement to betray Jesus to them for the equivalent of $150 dollars today -- the price of a slave in those days. And so was fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah:
"And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So
they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver" (Zechariah 11:12).
Nisan 12 -- Tuesday
What was the next event to occur in the life of the Messiah, the Lamb of God?
Here is where scholars, Bible translators, and theologians, all become the most confused, befuddled, and frustrated. Here is where grievous misunderstanding of the text and of the sequence of events has led to massive error and doctrinal confusion on the part of churches, Christians, and students of the Scriptures. Scholars assume that the accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke -- called the "synoptic gospels" -- differ from the gospel of John. Most theologians also ASSUME there is a problem in reconciling the first three gospel accounts with John's account. This has led to many strange and puzzling theories and even wild speculations, concerning the last days of Jesus, and the 'Lord's supper." Why all the confusion?
Let us proceed carefully, step-by-step, and see if we can solve the problems that suddenly begin to appear in the various accounts. Is the problem in the texts? Or is the problem in the minds of the men who study and interpret the texts?
Some scholars assume the contradictions are real, and therefore prove the gospel accounts contradict and therefore could not be divinely inspired. Some theologians are hard pressed to find a "reasonable" explanation for the assumed "contradictions."
What IS the problem? Some believe the "last supper" Jesus held with His disciples was the Biblical "Passover" and was held at the beginning of Nisan 14, even though the Jews would not be sacrificing the passover lambs until the following afternoon. The churches who teach this believe that the Jews over the centuries somehow changed the passover from the beginning to the end of Nisan 14. Other churches admit that the Jews never changed the passover -- it was always held at the end of Nisan 14. But they believe that the "last supper" Jesus held with His disciples was at the beginning of Nisan 14 and was "the New Testament passover." That is, they conclude that even though Jesus NEVER SAID He was changing the date and time of the observance of the passover seder or dinner, He did it anyway by instituting the bread and wine ceremony at the "last supper"! Therefore, they call this the "New Testament Passover," in distinction from the "Old Testament Passover."
Nowhere in the entire New Testament, however, do we ever find the expression "New Testament Passover"! This teaching assumes and claims that Christ CHANGED a holy day observance, and replaced the "Old Testament Passover" with a "New Testament Passover" -- yet Jesus Christ said He did not come to abolish or destroy even a "jot" or a "tittle" of the Law of God (Matt.5:17-19).
The apostle Paul tells us that Christ is "the SAME, yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb.13:8).
Why all this confusion? What is the TRUTH? Let us notice very carefully and examine minutely the next events to occur in the final week of Christ on this earth -- His "last few days" leading up to the crucifixion!
A Crucial Mistranslation
"Now the FIRST day of the feast of UNLEAVENED BREAD the disciples came
to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we PREPARE for thee to eat the
"And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith,
My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. And
the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they MADE READY THE
"And the FIRST DAY of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his
disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and PREPARE that thou
mayest eat the passover? . . . And his disciples went forth, and came into the city,
and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover" (Mark
"Then came the DAY of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And
he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and PREPARE us the passover, that we may eat.
And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we PREPARE? . . . And they went,
and found as he had said unto them: and they MADE READY the passover" (Luke
Notice! The King James Version has inserted the words "day" and "feast of" in Matthew's account. These words do not belong! In the original Greek, as the Englishman's Greek-English Interlinear shows, the correct rendering is as follows:
"Now on the first [day] of unleavened bread."
Thus the real Greek reads, "Now on the first of unleavened bread." However, the first day of unleavened bread would not come till Nisan 15th arrived! What does the expression "the first of unleavened bread" really mean? The Greek word for "FIRST" here is #4418 in Strong's Concordance -- PROTOS -- and means,
"FOREMOST (IN TIME, PLACE, ORDER OF IMPORTANCE): --
BEFORE, BEGINNING, BEST, CHIEF . . ."
Therefore, this verse in Matthew merely states, "Now in the beginning of unleavened bread," or "Now before unleavened bread! This refers to a period of TIME at the beginning of or preceding the Feast of Unleavened Bread -- an indefinite period which is not specified but which is related to the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread!
The Word "DAY"
But what about the word "day" as found in the accounts of Mark and Luke? Mark says it was the "first day" of unleavened bread "when they killed the passover." Luke says it was "the day" of unleavened bread when the passover "must be killed." Many ASSUME that this MUST mean Nisan 14, because that is the literal 24-hour day the passover was commanded to be killed (Exo.12:6). However, the truth of the matter is that the Greek word "DAY" has many different meanings!
Notice! The Greek word translated "day" in these verses is HEMERA. It is #2250 in Strong's Concordance and means --
"DAY, i.e. (lit.) the time space between dawn and dark, or the whole
24 hours . . . fig. A PERIOD (ALWAYS DEFINED MORE OR LESS
CLEARLY IN THE CONTEXT): -- AGE . . . DAY . . . TIME, WHILE,
Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words defines hemera as follows:
"(a) the period of natural light . . . (b) the same, but figuratively for a period
of opportunity for service . . . (c) one period of alternate light and darkness
. . . (d) A PERIOD OF UNDEFINED LENGTH MARKED BY CERTAIN
CHARACTERISTICS, such as 'the day of small things,' Zech.4:10, of per-
plexity and distress, Isa.17:11; Obad.12-14; of prosperity and of adversity,
Ecc.7:14; of trial and testing, Ps.95:8; of salvation, Isa.49:8; 2 Cor.6:2;
cf. Luke 19:42; of evil, Eph.6:13, of wrath and revelation of the judgments
of God, Rom.2:5; (e) an APPOINTED TIME, Eccl.8:6; Eph.4:30 . . .
(f) a notable defeat in battle, etc., Isa.9:4 . . . (g) by metonymy -- 'when,'
'at the time when' . . ."
Clearly, this word has many different uses in the Greek language and most certainly does NOT always refer to a particular 24-hour "day"!
Notice how it is used in various Scriptures in the New Testament!
"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day [the period of Christ's
coming]: and he saw it, and was glad" (John 8:56).
"At that TIME [HEMERA] there was a great persecution against the church"
"But to Israel he saith, All DAY long [i.e., for a very long time] I have stretched
forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people" (Rom.10:21).
"But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that ONE DAY is with the Lord
AS A THOUSAND YEARS, and a thousand years as one day" (II Pet.3:8).
"But the DAY OF THE LORD [period of Christ's intervention] will come as
a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise,
and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that
are therein shall be burned up" (II Pet.3:10).
With this understanding then, we see that the verses in Mark and Luke can be translated, and understood, as follows:
"And the beginning period of unleavened bread, when they
killed the passover" (Mark 14:12).
"Then came the TIME of unleavened bread, when the passover
must be killed" (Luke 22:7).
The Word "KILLED" Examined
Now let's take a closer look at these two verses, and the word "KILLED," as used in them. The word for "killed" in both Mark's and Luke's accounts is THUO in Greek (Strong's' Concordance, #2380), and literally means, "to sacrifice." It is not the normal word used for "kill" as in killing a man, but rather a word which means "to immolate, slaughter for any purpose." To sacrifice the Passover lamb was not just taking a lamb and "killing" it. This was a very careful, regulated procedure which required proper preparation and TIME.
As we have already seen, the Israelites were commanded to select their Passover lambs on Nisan 10, and then to keep them apart for five days, until the ending of Nisan 14. During this time, they were to inspect the lamb, and be sure it had NO BLEMISH of any kind. They were to maintain it in perfect condition, without injury or flaw. All of this PREPARATORY WORK was part of the ritual of slaying the Passover lamb. Since the word thuo specifically refers to a sacrifice, it must of necessity include the required elements of preparation!
In other words, these verses are discussing the TIME OF PREPARATION -- the beginning period of PREPARATION -- for the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread!
Tuesday, Nisan 12, would certainly qualify in every way to be part of this PREPARATION PERIOD OF TIME, getting ready for the Passover which was coming up very soon -- just two days later!
There is absolutely no grounds for assuming or believing that these verses must refer to the day of NISAN 14 itself! To the contrary, it would seem LUDICROUS to BEGIN preparation for the Passover as LATE as Nisan 14, the very day all leaven had to be out of the homes, and the Passover lambs were killed! It would have seemed to be a complete dereliction of duty on Christ's part to WAIT UNTIL NISAN 14 BEFORE TELLING HIS DISCIPLES TO "GO AND PREPARE THE PASSOVER"! This would be DOUBLY TRUE if the "Passover" was going to be observed THAT VERY NIGHT!!!
Think about it!
What Do You Mean, "PREPARE the Passover"?
Our day-by-day chronology of events in Jesus' last week has brought us to Tuesday morning, Nisan 12. The Passover celebration itself would begin with the sacrificing of the lambs on the afternoon of Nisan 14. Prior to that time, all leaven had to be burned or disposed of hours before the end of Nisan 14. Then, the families would eat the Passover after roasting the lambs for hours until they were well cooked, at some time after the beginning of Nisan 15, on the first annual High Holy Day of Unleavened Bread.
Jesus tells His disciples to "go and prepare us the passover" (Luke 22:8). This means the time had come to BEGIN PREPARATIONS for the Passover! Our time-flow shows us that this was TUESDAY MORNING, Nisan 12th -- two days before the killing of the lambs, and two and one half days before the Passover seder would be eaten! Chronologically, this makes perfect sense. Then, Monday morning, the disciples went into the city, a journey which may have taken an hour or so, found the man they were to follow, made the inquiries they were instructed to do, found the appointed room, and then they made the Passover preparations.
Anyone who has kept Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread would know that much work would be involved in making all the proper "preparations." They would need to clean the room, be sure it was free of all leaven, and remove any leaven from the premises. They would need to go to the market, purchase supplies and stock up on food and unleavened bread to use during the seven-day Passover Festival (see Luke 22:1; Ezek.45:21). This "preparation" probably took at least four or five hours, to get everything ready in advance for the upcoming Passover celebration! These preparations occupied the daylight portion of Nisan 12, that Monday.
The common belief that it was already Nisan 14, when Jesus sent the disciples into the city to "prepare for the Passover," is flawed on several counts. First, it doesn't make any sense that the Messiah, Saviour of Israel, would wait until the last minute to instruct His disciples to make such important preparation! If Passover was that very night, as some insist, then they would have pulled their hair out, wracked with worry and anxiety, knowing that there was simply not enough time!
Second, since they would have started into the city on Nisan 14, after the sun had set ending Nisan 13, it would have been dark by the time they reached the city. How would they follow a man in the dark? But even if they did, it would have taken them hours to clean the room, and remove the leaven, to be ready for "Passover."
And third, if they had gotten such a late start, where would they have gotten the time to go to market, and purchase all the things needed for the Passover? By nightfall, all the markets would have been closed. The disciples would have thought that Jesus was "out of his mind" for waiting so long to tell them to "prepare the passover" if they were to celebrate it that very evening, and the sun had already set!
But when we realize it was only Tuesday morning, Nisan 12, when He told them to "go and prepare," the whole scenario makes much more logical and reasonable sense!
What happened next?
Nisan 13 -- Tuesday Night
"Now when the EVEN WAS COME [that very night, which would be the beginning
of Nisan 13 -- Tuesday night!], he sat down with the twelve. And AS THEY DID
EAT [they were eating dinner!], he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall
betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say
unto him, Lord, is it I?" (Matt.26:20-22).
"And IN THE EVENING he cometh with the twelve. And as they sat and DID EAT
[DINNER!], Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you that eateth with me shall
betray me. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I?
and another said, Is it I? An he answered and said unto them, it is one of the twelve,
that dippeth with me in the dish. The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him:
but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man
if he had never been born" (Mark 14:17-21).
"And when the hour was come [the hour for dinner -- the supper hour!], he sat down
and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire have I desired to
eat this passover with you before I suffer: [I will explain this comment later in this
article. Jesus was not referring to that meal, but to the upcoming Passover Feast.]
For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom
of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until
the kingdom of God shall come" (Luke 22:14-18).
Notice that up to this point, Matthew and Mark are treating this final meal as just that -- a dinner or supper held among friends. There is no mention of this night being the "Passover" at all!
Notice also -- we have taken this chronology of Christ's last week on a careful day-by-day introspection. We have carefully pointed out what occurred in the morning of each day, and the evening. We have gone through the ending of Friday, Nisan 8, Sabbath, Nisan 9, Sunday, Nisan 10, Monday, Nisan 11, and logically we must now come to Tuesday, Nisan 12, and Tuesday evening, the beginning of Nisan 13!
What occurred on this Tuesday? Simple: Jesus sent His disciples into the city, to "prepare for Passover" which was coming up soon, and much preparation work was needed. Then, "when evening was come," it logically must have been that very evening -- Tuesday evening, Nisan 13, which would have begun at sunset! This "last supper" therefore -- contrary to common assumptions -- occurred TUESDAY NIGHT!
So, with this amazing fact in mind, let's continue the story-flow.
At this "last supper," the gospel writer Luke quotes Jesus as making a remarkable statement. Luke mentions Jesus made the astonishing statement, "With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer . . ." (Luke 22:15). Does this one simple statement "prove" that this dinner was the "Passover"? Not at all! Jesus could just as easily have been harking back to the Passover which they had been preparing for, which was due to arrive a few days later. They understood what He was talking about. They knew He meant the upcoming Passover Festival, with the Seder on the night of Nisan 15 (Ezekioe 45:21).
What Jesus really meant by this expression is revealed when we look into the original Greek language. The Greek word for "desire" here in this verse is not the normal word used for "desire" in the New Testament. That word would be eudokia, meaning literally "good pleasure." But the word Jesus used is #1939 in Strong's Concordance, the word EPITHUMIA, which means "A LONGING (ESPECIALLY FOR WHAT IS FORBIDDEN)."
Jesus longed to be able to partake of the upcoming Passover celebration -- but He knew He could not, because He knew He would be DEAD AND BURIED at the time the Passover was being celebrated in Israel! He is merely expressing to the disciples His keen yearning to be able to keep the Passover with them -- but He knew it would not be possible. Why? Because He knew He was going to BE our Passover Lamb that very Passover!
Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary says of this word EPITHUMIA:
"'A DESIRE, CRAVING, LONGING, MOSTLY OF EVIL DESIRES,'
FREQUENTLY TRANSLATED 'LUST' . . .
"With regard to evil 'desires,' in Col.3:5 the RV has 'desire' for the
KJV, 'concupiscence'; there the preceding word pathos is translated
'passion,' RV, for KJV, 'lust' . . . Epithumia is the more comprehen-
sive term, including all manner of 'lusts and desires'. . ."
Why did Jesus use this word at His final supper with His disciples, before the Passover, which was only two nights away? The answer is simply that humanly speaking He longed, even craved, to keep that Passover with them -- but He knew that He couldn't, and still fulfill the plan of God, and BECOME our Passover sacrifice!
The truth is so beautiful, when we understand it! Jesus was not referring to that dinner that very night at all! Notice! The apostle John makes this point abundantly clear.
The Gospel of John Clarifies the Truth!
Now let us compare John's account with these three "synoptic" gospel accounts. Notice the striking comments that John makes concerning this evening meal, or supper!
"NOW BEFORE THE FEAST OF THE PASSOVER, when Jesus knew that
his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having
loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
"And supper being ended [Greek, "supper being served" is a better translation-- see
many new translations or any commentary or lexicon], the devil having now put in
the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus, knowing that the Father
had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
He riseth from supper [supper was still in progress], and laid aside his [outer] garments;
and took a towel, and girded himself. After that, he poureth water into a basin, and
began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was
girded . . ." (John 13:1-5).
Now plainly John says this final "supper" was "before" the Passover! Therefore it could not have been the "Passover"! For other evidence that the "Passover" had not yet come notice that the Jews were still waiting for Passover even when Jesus was sent before Caiphas the high priest, and taken to Pilate (John 18:28); the next day was still "the preparation of the passover" (John 19:14); it was still the "preparation" when Jesus was taken down from the cross (John 19:31).
Therefore, when we understand it, there is absolutely NO CONTRADICTION between John's account of the "last supper," and the accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. None of them is describing the "last supper" as being the "Passover" itself! That conclusion has been the erroneous ASSUMPTION, of countless scholars, who believe the gospel accounts contradict themselves, and many preachers and theologians, who simply assumed without proof that the "last supper" occurred on the night before Jesus' crucifixion.
Jesus plainly said, "The scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35). There is no contradiction. When sometimes there may appear to be a contradiction, on the surface, it is generally our own limited understanding which is at fault -- not the Scriptural record!
The question is, then, was this final meal Tuesday night, the beginning of Nisan 13, as I have shown here? Or was it held on the following evening, the beginning of Nisan 14, as the vast majority of church leaders and theologians, and most scholars ASSUME?
One way or the other, where's the PROOF?
Now let's get down to the real "nitty gritty" of this matter, and study the overwhelming PROOF that this final supper was Tuesday night, Nisan 13, and not a night later, which many incorrectly observe as what they call "the Lord's supper," or "New Testament Passover." Let's find out where Jesus Christ really was on the night of Wednesday,, Nisan 14!
Let's pick of the rest of the story. What happened next, that night of the "last supper"? Jesus handed the sop to Judas, who then left the table to go and betray Him (Matt.26:25; John 13:21-30). "He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night" (John 13:30). Toward the end of the supper, however, something else occurred. Notice! We read in Luke's account:
"And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying,
This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise
also the cup AFTER SUPPER, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood,
which is shed for you" (Luke 22:19-20).
Matthew and Mark both say that this new ceremony was instituted "as they did eat" (Mark 14:22), and "as they were eating" (Matt.26:26). The word for "bread" in all three synoptic gospel accounts is the Greek word ARTOS which signifies
"(a) 'a small loaf or cake,' composed of flour and water, and baked,
in shape either oblong or round, and about as thick as the thumb;
these were not cut, but broken . . . (b) 'the loaf at the Lord's Supper'
. . . (c) 'bread of any kind' . . ."
The word artos generally refers to regular LEAVENED BREAD, the kind that we eat throughout the year (Matt.4:4; Luke 4:4). It is used of Christ who is the "bread of life" (John 6:33, 35, 48). It is #740 in Strong's Concordance and simply means "bread (AS RAISED) or a loaf." Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon defines ARTOS as signifying
"food composed of flour mixed with water and baked; the Israelites
made it in the form of an oblong or round cake, as thick as one's
thumb, and as large as a plate or platter. . ."
The word translated "unleavened bread" throughout the New Testament is always azumos, which simply means "unleavened."
Since the word for the "bread" that Christ broke at the "last supper" was artos, and there is no reference in the relevant passages at all to azumos ("unleavened"), the implication is clear that the bread Christ used as a symbol of His body was REGULAR LEAVENED BREAD -- similar to the "Sabbath bread" Jewish people eat every Sabbath day in celebration of the manna from heaven and the "bread of life"!
This fact alone shows that the "last supper" was not and could not have been a "Passover," at which only UNLEAVENED BREAD ("AZUMOS") could be eaten!
The fact is, the "bread and wine" ceremony which Christ used to teach His disciples the real meaning of the "bread" and "wine" is an ancient ceremony which goes all the way back to Melchizedek, who brought forth "bread and wine" before Abraham (Gen.14:18). The importance of this fact is that every time Jewish people or any others celebrate the KIDDUSH -- the "blessing of the bread and wine" -- they are in effect SHOWING THE LORD'S DEATH, whether they realize it or not!
The apostle Paul plainly shows that this custom -- which some may refer to as "Communion" -- is something which ought to be celebrated and observed "OFTEN" -- not once a year as an annual memorial. His exact words are:
"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord
Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given
thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: This is my body, which is broken for you:
this do in remembrance of me.
"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This
cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, AS OFT AS YE DRINK IT,
in remembrance of me.
"FOR AS OFTEN AS YE EAT THIS BREAD, AND DRINK THIS CUP, ye do
shew the Lord's death till he come" (I Cor.11:23-26).
This ceremony or ritual has absolutely nothing directly to do with the annual PASSOVER observance, which is an altogether different observance! This is a ceremony which is to be done "OFTEN" -- the Jews partake of the bread and wine every Sabbath in many synagogues. We at Triumph Ministries do this the first Sabbath of every month, besides on Holy Days and other special occasions.
The Jamieson, Faucett, Brown Critical Experimental Commentary says of this expression as found in I Corinthians 11:25, 26 -- "as oft as -- as many times soever; for it is an ordinance often to be partaken of."
After the "LAST Supper"
After Jesus concluded His final "going away" meal with His disciples, a true "love feast," as it were, a very touching, emotional dinner in which He expressed His deep love for them, over and over, He gave them the new symbolism of the "bread and wine" ceremony, by which they were to remember Him throughout the year. After this, He gave them many encouraging and comforting words. The very next thing that occurred was --
"And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives"
"And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives"
As they walked to the mount of Olives, Jesus told His disciples that they would all forsake Him that night, saying, "All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee" (Matt.26:31-32).
During this conversation, Jesus warned them that He would be smitten and taken, and that all of them would be offended in Him that night (Matt.26:31). Peter declared he would never be offended in Christ. But Jesus told him,
"Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny
me thrice" (Matt.26:34).
"And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou
shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me" (Luke 22:34).
The last supper probably lasted from about 6:00 PM until about 7:30 PM. Jesus then spoke His final messages to the disciples (John 14-16), words of encouragement. He then prayed for them, and those who would believe on Him because of their witness (John 17), a prayer that they would be protected from evil (v.15), and united together as one, even as He and the Father are as "one" (John 17:17-23). These words of power and comfort probably took from about 7:30 or 8:00 PM and lasted till 9:00 or 9:30.
Very likely this "last supper" was held in Bethany, where Jesus had been staying every night from the time He arrived, on Nisan 8, Friday, till this night of Nisan 13, that is, Tuesday night. Then He went on a walk with the disciples, and crossed over the seasonal brook called Kidron.
"When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the
brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples"
From Bethany He may have walked southward around the mount of Olives, coming up to Jerusalem on the southeast, and then crossed the brook Kidron to Gethsemane. Or, He may have simply crossed from Bethany across the Kidron to the eastern environs of Jerusalem. The point is, no one really knows just where the garden of Gethsemane was.
Regardless of this fact, however, this passage does not "prove" that the "last supper" was held in Jerusalem. It simply shows that after the "last supper," and the discussion and teaching that followed the meal, Jesus took the disciples for a walk in which they crossed the Kidron valley and stopped at a garden which they were accustomed to visit. Much of His teaching may have occurred during this last walk together.
The Garden of Gethsemane
"Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto
the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him
Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry
ye here, and watch with me.
"And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father,
if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou
wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto
Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter
not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went
away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not
pass away from me except I drink it, thy will be done.
"And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he
left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your
rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands
of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me" (Matt.
We pick up the story in the gospel account of John.
"And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus oftimes resorted thither
with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the
chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons"
"And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great
multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that
same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith, he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master;
and kissed him.
"And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefor art thou come? Then came they, and
laid hands on Jesus, and took him. And behold, one of them which were with Jesus
stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's,
and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place:
for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot
now pray to my Father, and he shall presently [immediately] give me more than twelve
legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"
A "legion" in those days numbered 6,000 men. Twelve legions of angels would have been 72,000 angels -- much more than enough to dispatch the men who came against Christ. But if He had resisted arrest, how could He have become our Passover sacrifice for all our sins? How could He have become God's "sin offering" for all the sins of the world (II Cor.5:20)? "Without shedding of blood is no remission," God's Word says (Hebrews 9:22).
How many men came to seize Jesus and take Him prisoner? A "band" in the Greek language was a speira, meaning a "mass of men," that is, a "Roman military cohort," which numbered a tenth of a legion, or 600 men when fully complemented. Thus the "band" that came against Jesus was approximately 400-600 men -- truly a "great multitude" as Matthew describes them!
Says Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary about the word "band" as used in the New Testament:
"1. speira, primarily 'anything round,' and so 'whatever might be wrapped around
a thing, a twisted rope,' came to mean 'a body of men at arms,' and was equivalent
of the Roman manipulus. It was also used for a larger body of men, a cohort, about
600 infantry, commanded by a tribune. It is confined to its military sense" (p.49,
It is evident that the chief priests, Sadducees and Pharisees were not about to take any chances in their attempt to apprehend Jesus. They sent a huge mob of men after Him!
Night of the Inquisition
After praying in the garden of Gethsemane, for probably a couple of hours, from about 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM, Jesus was taken prison approximately 11:00 PM that Tuesday night. First, we are told in John's gospel, that He was taken to the house of Annas, the former high priest who was still highly influential and powerful.
"Then the band and the captain and the officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound
him, and led him away to ANNAS FIRST; for he was father in law to Caiaphas,
which was the high priest that same year" (John 18:12-13).
While before Annas, Peter was accused by a damsel that kept the door of being one of Jesus' disciples, and he denied it -- his first denial (John 18:17-18). Jesus appearance before the interrogation of Annas must have been from about midnight till 1:00 or 2:00 AM in the morning. Then Annas sent him to his son-in-law, Caiaphas the high priest.
"Now ANNAS had sent him bound unto CAIAPHAS the high priest" (John 18:24).
"And they that laid hold on Jesus led him away to CAIAPHAS the high priest, where
the scribes and the elders were assembled. . . Now the chief priests, and elders, and
all the counsel, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; but found
none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came
two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God,
and to build it in three days.
"And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it
which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest
answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether
thou be the Christ, the Son of God?
"Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye
see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of
heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what
further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What
think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his
face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands .. ." (Matt.
The interrogation before Caiaphas at his home was more extensive, and probably lasted from about 2:00 AM to 4:00 AM. Both of these events occurred in the middle of the night. He appeared before Annas the high priest, and then Caiphas the high priest, during the middle of the night, and was interrogated in a virtual "kangaroo court," a "witch hunt" if there ever was one. While before Caiaphas, one of the officers became angered and struck Jesus. Jesus asked the guard, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?" (John 18:23). The word "smitest" Jesus used is the Greek word dero and means "to skin, flay, or scourge," indicating He must have been hit with a rod -- in this case, a thin, flexibe whip-like cane which, upon striking the face, would bend and wrap around the face cutting into the flesh.
Take note of the fact that none of the false witnesses agreed with each other -- the whole trial was fast becoming an obvious "set up" -- and a disaster for the chief priests since no credible witness against Jesus could be found.
The entire proceedings of Jesus' trial were a mockery of justice. The religious leaders were desperate to condemn Jesus. Therefore they began the proceedings lateat night, which was contrary to Jewish law. Then they deliberately tried to frame Jesus by seeking false witnesses against Him. In Deuteronomy 17:6 and 7, we read that the testimony of at least two witnesses was needed in order to establish guilt. These testimonies had to agree in order to be valid. If the witnesses were found to be lying, they were to endure the sentence of the accused, according to Deuteronomy 19:15-19.
In Jesus' case the rulers were so intent on condemning Jesus that they intentionally sought false witnesses in addition to accepting the testimonies of witnesses who did not agree.
Another stipulation of Judean law was that once all the witnesses had testified and the council was considering the issue, at least one judge had to speak on behalf of the accused.
Jesus was never afforded an opportunity for His own defense.
Another discrepancy was regarding the charge itself. Jesus had never spoken of himself as the one to destroy the Holy Temple. Thus, this 'trial' was a total contradiction of justice. There is no doubt that it was meant to be a kangaroo court perpetrated by the highest religious leaders of the land!
Finally, exasperated, Caiaphas arose and demanded as high priest that Jesus tell them whether He was the Christ or not. Jesus answered in the affirmative, saying in effect that He was indeed, whereupon the high priest "rent his clothes."
Caiaphas tore his mantle in half, or as the King James Version says, '”rent his clothes.” This was an outer priestly garment or mantle symbolizing his authority. This custom of rending or tearing the mantle was an outward expression of extreme anger and grief. The Old Testament law, in Leviticus 10:6 and 21:10, forbad the high priest to do this, the penalty for doing so being DEATH.
By asking, “What further need have we of witnesses?” the high priest violated Jesus' right to further testimony by other witnesses, witnesses outside of Himself. Caiaphas quickly proclaimed the issue as being settled: Jesus was considered guilty of blasphemy. Caiaphas immediately called on the priests, elders, scribes, and Sanhedrin to declare their judgment. But the plain ttruth was, in actuality, these men had prejudged Jesus already as being guilty of blasphemy and therefore to suffer the penalty of death!
After this mockery of a "trial," a frame-up if there ever was one, in which due process was completely denied, and Jesus was falsely condemned. All of this was completely contrary to Jewish law. Haim Cohn, in The Trial and Death of Jesus, explains:
"It is [thought] that the high priest convened the Sanhedrin that night in his private
home; that there and then Jesus was tried under Jewish law on a charge of blasphemy;
that he was convicted of that offense upon his own confession; and that he was sentenced
to death. On the face of it, the theory appears incompatible with the following well-
established provisions of Jewish law.
"1. No Sanhedrin was allowed to sit as a criminal court and try criminal cases outside
the temple precincts, in any private house.
"2. The Sanhedrin was not allowed to try criminal cases at night; criminal trials had to
be commenced and completed during daytime.
"3. No person could be tried on a criminal charge on festival days or on the eve of a
"4. No person may be convicted on his owns testimony or on the strength of his own
Says Haim Cohn, "Furthermore, while consultations among the judges could be held at night without any way inconveniencing the accused, any noctural inquiry, including his interrogation, would infringe his right of rest no less than a noctural trial would; and as with sabbatical and festival rest, so must the night's rest be taken as a right conceded to the accused rather than to his judges"(p.107). How plain it is, then, the the whole proceeding against Jesus Christ was a trumped up kangaroo court -- He was "railroaded." He received only a mockery of a "fair trial."
What happened next?
Early the next morning -- Wednsday morning -- Jesus was summarily brought before the ENTIRE Sanhedrin, for final summary judgment
Early Wednesday Morning -- Nisan 13
. Matthew goes on to tell us:
"WHEN THE MORNING WAS COME, all the chief priests and elders of the
people took counsel against JESUS to put him to death: and when they had
bound Jesus, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the
governor" (Matthew 27:1-2).
"And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the
elders and scribes and the WHOLE COUNCIL, and bound Jesus, and carried him
away, and delivered him to Pilate" (Mark 15:1).
This was morning -- a new day. Morning is generally considered from about 6:00 AM and lasts until noon. This was obviously early morning when the full Sanhedrin considered the case against Jesus and condemned him to death. This may have taken from 6:00 AM until 7:00 AM. However, Haim Cohn writes:
". . . as a matter of law, the Sanhedrin started its sessons in the morning hours and
determined them in the afternoon, and even where the trial had been concluded
earlier, sentence was never pronounced until shortly before sunset" (The Trial
and Death of Jesus, p.140).
The Mishna states in very plain language regarding the Sanhedrin:
"Civil cases are tried during the day and may be completed at night; criminal cases are
tried during the day and must be completed during daytime. If the accused is aquitted,
the criminal trial may be completed on one and the same day; but if not, it is adjourned
to the next following day, on which judgment will then be pronounced" (Sanhedrin IV,1).
Judging by the combined gospel accounts, it is obvious that these strict legal procedures were not followed in the trial of Jesus. After the full Sanhedrin condemned Him, Jesus was led away to appear for the first time before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. This was probably about 8:00 AM in the morning.
The Scriptures clearly state that it was already the next MORNING when the Sanhedrin gave their final decision, and then took Jesus before Pilate. However, the common assumption is that Jesus must have been brought before Pilate during the night, because it is assumed that His second appearance before Pilate was at 6:00 AM in the morning. However, this "dog won't hunt," as the expression goes. This idea simply can't fit the facts. It is hardly likely that the Jewish leaders, who were despised by Pilate, a Roman governor who had no love for Jews but was like most Romans an anti-Semite at heart, could have gotten him out of bed to appear for a court case in the middle of the night! Such an idea is preposterous. Pilate was a Roman governor. For him to hold court at nighttime itself WAS CONTRARY TO ROMAN LAW!
Nevertheless, all these events obviously took considerable TIME! It is already morning, and Jesus comes before Pilate.
"And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. And they began
to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to
give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.
"And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him
and said, Thou sayest it. Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find
no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people,
teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. When Pilate heard
of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that he
belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was in
Jerusalem at that time" (Luke 23:1-7).
Jesus Before Herod
From Pilate's audience, Jesus is remanded to the jurisdiction of Herod, the king. This took more time -- no doubt another hour or two, at least. If Pilate saw Jesus and heard the complaints of the chief priests and elders of the people against Him about 8:00 AM, this must have taken about an hour, before discovering He was a Galilean, and sending Him over to Herod.
Luke's account goes on:
"And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see
him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to
have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words;
but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently
accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him,
arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. And the same day
Pilate and Herod were made friends together; for before they were at enmity between
themselves" (Luke 23:8-12).
Herod probably began his "interrogation" and "questioning," and his abuse and mistreatment of Jesus the Christ, about 9:30 AM and finished by about 10:30 AM, and then sent Him back to Pilate. Jesus appeared before Pilate, then, a second time -- probably about 11:00 AM to 12 noon!
Is this scenario correct? Let us see the evidence!
Jesus' Final Appearance before Pilate
Luke goes on to describe what happened next in the sequence of events. Picking up the story:
"And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the
people, said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth
the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault
in this man as touching those things whereof ye accuse him. I will therefore chastise
him and release him. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)
And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us
Barabbas: (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into
prison.) Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. But they
cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. And he said unto them the third time, Why,
what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise
him, and let him go.
"And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And
the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it
should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and
murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their
will" (Luke 23:13-25).
Matthew tells us more about this intriguing travesty of justice and miscarriage of judgment. Pilate was really in a spot. Yet, being weak-willed and weak in character, he supinely caved in before the Jewish mob, orchestrated by the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees, the enemies of Jesus who were jealous and envious of Him.
"Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner,
whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. There-
fore, when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I
release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus, which is called Christ?
"For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
"But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask
Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether
of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto
them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him,
Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why? what evil hath he done? But
they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
"When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made,
he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of
the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
"Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he has scourged Jesus, he delivered
him to be crucified" (Matthew 27:15-26).
Now, when did this final appearance before Pilate occur? When was it that Jesus was finally condemned to death, and taken be the Roman soldiers to be whipped, scourged, and tortured, and later to be crucified?
Notice! The gospel of JOHN gives us the INCREDIBLE, SHOCKING, SEN-SATIONAL AND ASTONISHING ANSWER! It has been right before us all along, and until now we have MISSED it! Yet the truth is SO PLAIN that even a small child can understand it! But grown men who have an ax to grind? That is another matter! But let's allow the evidence to speak for itself. Notice what the Scripture says:
INCREDIBLE PROOF from John's Gospel
"Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou
sayest that I am a King. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into
the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth
heareth my voice.
"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again
unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. But ye have a custom,
that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto
you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas.
Now Barabbas was a robber" (John 18:37-40).
"Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers plaited a crown
of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, and said, Hail,
King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.
"Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you,
that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth wearing the crown
of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said, Behold the man!
"When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify
him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no
` fault in him" (John 19:1-4).
Pilate sought to release Jesus, but his attempts were to no avail. The Jews were vehement, and insisted that Jesus had to be crucified, and put to death. Pilate knew that Jesus was an innocent man. John goes on:
"And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying,
If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a
King speaketh against Caesar.
"When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down
in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew,
"And it was the preparation of the passover, AND ABOUT THE
SIXTH HOUR: and he said unto them, Behold your King!
"But they cried out, Away with him, away with him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall
I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no King but Caesar.
Then delivered he him unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led
him away" (John 19:12-16).
It has been here, staring us in the face, all these years, and we have not understood UNTIL NOW the incredible meaning of these words!
"About the SIXTH HOUR"
WHEN WAS THE "SIXTH HOUR"? What time of day are we talking about? Notice what the Scriptures say about this expression, and how it is used in the New Testament!
"And it was the THIRD HOUR [9:00 AM], and they crucified him" (Mark 15:25).
"And when the SIXTH HOUR [12:00 noon] was come, there was
darkness over the whole land until the NINTH HOUR [3:00 PM].
And at the NINTH HOUR Jesus cried with a loud voice . . . And
Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost [died]" (Mark
"Now from the SIXTH HOUR there was darkness over all the land
unto the NINTH HOUR" (Matt.27:45).
Judging from the crucifixion account itself, we see that the "sixth hour" clearly refers to NOON-TIME!
There can be no doubt about it! In New Testament language, the 'SIXTH HOUR" ALWAYS refers to 12:00 high noon!
Notice further proof! Jesus gave a parable about a man who hired others to work in his vineyard. Notice how time was reckoned in the story:
"For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which
went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. And when he
had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
And he went out about the THIRD HOUR [9:00 AM], and saw others standing
idle in the marketplace. And said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and
whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went
out ABOUT THE SIXTH [12:00 PM] AND NINTH HOUR [3:00 PM], and did
"And about the ELEVENTH HOUR [5:00 PM], he went out, and found others
standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say
unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the
vineyard: and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive" (Matt.20:1-7).
How plain it is that the "SIXTH HOUR" means 12:00 o'clock NOON!
Jesus Himself said, "Are there not TWELVE HOURS in a day?" (John 11:9). The daylight portion of a day, or "DAYTIME," begins at dawn, and ends at sunset -- a period of about 12 hours. The first hour would be at dawn (about 6:00 AM in the morning), the sixth hour would be at NOON, and the twelfth hour would be sunset (about 6:00 PM in the evening).
These facts are not difficult to comprehend.
The expression "SIXTH HOUR" clearly refers to HIGH NOON! Jesus appeared before Pontius Pilate for His final sentencing about 12:00 NOON -- in the middle of the day!
This is a very difficult Scripture to "get around." Scholars and theologians who are committed to believing the "last supper" must be a Passover, must somehow "explain away" this total anomaly -- this complete "inconsistency." Most assume a "scribal error" occurred, or that John "made a mistake," and that his "memory was faulty."
However, this is SCRIPTURE! This is the inspired Word of God (II Tim.3:16). And God's Word is TRUTH (John 17:17). "The scripture CANNOT be broken" (John 10:35). Therefore, this Scripture must be true, and scholars and theologians should go back to their drawing boards and reconsider their various "assumptions" about the nature of Jesus' last supper and when it had to have occurred!
The Jamieson, Faucett, Brown Critical Experimental Commentary remarks on the difficulties presented by this verse:
"and about the sixth hour. As it cannot be conceived that our Evangelist meant
here to say that it was already noon, according to Jewish reckoning -- for Mark says
(15:25), that the crucifixion itself took place at the third hour (nine o'clock of our
reckoning) . . . two expedients have been resorted to for clearing up the difficulty,
neither of which appears to us quite satisfactory. The one is to adopt the reading
'third' instead of 'sixth' hour . . . But the evidence for this reading is so weak that it
almost seems like a tampering with the sacred text to adopt it. The other way of
solving the difficulty is to suppose that our evangelist here adopts the Roman method
of computation, and means that it was about six o'clock, according to our reckoning
. . . But as there is no ground to suppose that in other cases our Evangelist adopts
the Roman divisions of time, so the hour which that reckoning brings out can
hardly be the right one; for it must have been considerably later than six in the
morning when that took place which is here related . . ." (bold-faced emphasis
Thus scholars and theologians are in a quandary. They are perplexed. They just don't know what to do with this strange verse which appears in John 19:14, which plainly states that the final time Jesus appeared before Pilate was "about the sixth hour" -- high noon. They know that this could not have been true on the crucifixion day, because Jesus was already nailed to the cross by 9:00 AM in the morning! So their perplexity continues.
But the whole problem is solved expeditiously when we realize that this final judgment occurred ON THE PREVIOUS DAY -- at nigh noon on Nisan 13!
Understanding this, the whole problem is solved, and there is no contradiction left! Every piece of the puzzle fits snugly and perfectly, without any "force" being necessary to "trim the pieces" or having to "pound them into place." It all fits like hand-in-glove.
To paraphrase the defense attorney Johnny Cochran at the O. J. Simpson trial, "If it doesn't fit, you must acqit!" If the evidence doesn't fit one scenario, then you must try another. You must keep searching, until ALL the relevant evidence can be satisfactorily explained!
On the day of Pentecost, in 30 A.D., when the Spirit filled the disciples for the first time, coming on them like a rushing, mighty wind (Acts 2:1-7), the disciples spoke in foreign languages by the power of God. Some onlookers mocked, and said they must have been "drunk." However, Peter admonished them, saying, "For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the THIRD HOUR of the day" (Acts 2:15) -- that is, it was only 9:00 AM in the morning!
Then in the book of Acts, we find a unique story about a Roman centurion by the name of Cornelius, who had a vision from God about the "ninth hour" (Acts 10:1-3). This would have been, as we have seen, about 3:00 PM in the afternoon. In the vision, he was told to send servants to Joppa, to find a man named Simon Peter (v.5).
"On the morrow [the next day], as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto
the city, PETER was up on the housetop to pray ABOUT THE SIXTH HOUR: and
he became VERY HUNGRY, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he
fell into a trance" (Acts 10:9-10).
Obviously, this would have been NOON -- or "lunch time"!
In the book of John itself, John uses the term "sixth hour" to refer to noon, in chapter 4, where Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well. Notice the account!
"He [Jesus] left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through
Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel
of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore,
being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was ABOUT THE SIXTH
HOUR. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water . . ." (John 4:3-7).
After walking all morning, Jesus stopped at Jacob's well in Samaria, to rest and be refreshed. John noted the time as being "the sixth hour." This was no doubt noon-time. Therefore, for consistency's sake, when John used the same expression, "the sixth hour," in John 19:14 in reference to Jesus' final appearance before Pilate, he must mean the same hour of the day -- not some other time. John would certainly not use Roman reckoning in John 19:14, but Hebrew reckoning in John 4:6.
There is simply no evidence that John ever used "Roman time" in his reckoning in his gospel, which is in many respects the most "Jewish" of all the four gospels!
In fact, remember, it is John himself who quotes Jesus as saying, "Are there not TWELVE HOURS IN THE DAY" (John 11:9). Thus in a normal day-time portion of a day, there are twelve hours between sunrise and sunset. Since the first hour would begin at sunrise, the sixth hour of a twelve hour day would have to begin at NOON!
There can be no doubt about it! The "SIXTH HOUR" when Jesus was condemned by Pontius Pilate to be crucified, had to be about NOON-TIME ON WEDNESDAY, the day before the crucifixion occurred! It could not have been NOON on Nisan 14, because Jesus was hanging on the cross from 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM on that day! Therefore, it had to be the previous day, NOON on Nisan 13!!!
I know this new truth must seem shocking, incredible, mind-boggling, to many. But we cannot deny the facts! Even when new truth is explosive in nature -- a veritable "bombshell" that explodes in the face of the cockamamie theories and speculations of men -- we must be willing to accept the truth, love the truth, and embrace the truth!
As Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). If we don't have the "LOVE of the truth," then we cannot be saved! (II Thess.2:10-12). If we reject the truth, then God will reject us! Jesus Christ came to proclaim the TRUTH of God -- and truth never changes! It is the Word of God and endures FOREVER (I Pet.1:25). "Thy word is truth," Jesus said of the Father (John 17:17). How much do we, personally, value the truth?
Now let's summarize what we've learned so far, and see it all in context. Here is an outline of the events and circumstances confronting Jesus, during the final two days of His life, beginning with His arrest on late Monday night.
A Brief Summary Outline of Events
1. Arrested in garden of Gethsemane late Tuesday night (Matt.26:47-56;
Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12).
2. Appeared before Annas late Tuesday night (John 28:13-23).
3. Appeared before Caiaphas and Sanhedrin in a "night trial" late Tuesday
night and very early Wednesday morning (Matt.26:57-75; Mark 14:53-72; Luke
22:54-65; John 18:24-27).
4. Appeared before Sanhedrin again for a "morning trial" around dawn
on Wednsday morning (Matt.27:1; Mark 15;1; Luke 22:66-71).
5. Appeared before Pilate early Wednesday morning, after daybreak (Matt.
27:2; Mark 15;1; Luke 23:1-6; John 18:28-38).
6. Taken before Herod later on Wednsday morning (Luke 23:7-12).
7. Appeared before Pilate once again later on Wednsday morning. During
this trial appearance, Pilate three times appealed to the Judeans to allow
him to release Jesus, to no avail (Matt.27:11-25; Mark 15:2-14; Luke
23:13-23; John 18:39-19:15).
8. Sentenced by Pilate around NOON (John 19:14) on Wednesday (Matt.
27:26; Mark 15:15; Luke 23:24-25; John 19:16).
9. Tortured and mocked by soldiers in Praetorium, or "judgment hall" all
afternoon and evening, into the night by a "cohort" of of about 600 red-
necked Roman anti-Semitic grunts, who took out their rage and contempt
on Jesus, who was in their power for about 20 hours -- averaging out to
about 4 minutes per soldier to belittle, kick, smite, mock, and beat on Jesus
two at a time (Matt.27:26-31; Mark 15:15-20).
10. Led out for crucifixion early THURSDAY morning (Matt.27:32-34;
Mark 15:20-23; Luke 23:26-32; John 19:16-17).
11. Nailed to the cross at about 9:00 AM in the morning, and hung there
until about 3:00 PM in the afternoon on Thursday (Matt.27:35-49;
Mark 15:24-36; Luke 23:33-46; John 19:18-30).
12. Died about 3:00 PM Thursday afternoon; massive Temple curtain
was rent, a mighty earthquake occurred, and bodies of saints who had
died arose from their graves (Matt.27:50-54; Mark 15:37-39; Luke
23:45-48; John 19:30-37).
Jesus' Final FORTY HOUR Agony
This means that Jesus Christ was abducted by the band sent by the chief priests about 11:00 PM, Tuesday night; was interrogated by Annas the high priest that night; then was interrogated by Caiphas the high priest later that night; was judged and condemned by the full Sanhedrin the next morning (Wednesday morning); was then taken to Pilate, later that morning, who sent Him to Herod, who then sent Him back to Pilate -- so that His final appearance before Pilate was about NOON on Wednesday!
This means, further, that the sufferings and captivity of Jesus Christ, the MESSIAH of Israel and the world, lasted from 11 PM Tuesday night until 3 PM Thursday afternoo -- a TOTAL PERIOD OF TIME of 40 LONG HOURS -- 40 hours during which our Saviour and King was beaten, whipped, tortured, scourged, mocked, ridiculed, punched, slapped, kicked, and totally humiliated, His face so smashed that He was almost beyond recognition. FORTY HOURS -- which seemed like an eternity -- He suffered for YOU AND FOR ME! He took the penalty of OUR SINS upon His back, and suffered greatly as our "Sin Bearer." He went through excruciating torture, exquisite pain, incredible suffering and agony -- for you and for me.
The number "40" of course is a symbol for "a time of trial," "testing," and "tribulation." Israel was 40 years wandering in the desert wilderness. Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights, before beginning His ministry. Moses was 40 days up in the Mount Sinai, to receive the Torah from God. Elijah fasted 40 days, when he was fleeing from Jezebel.
The 40 hours of suffering that Jesus went through for you and for me, we have never even begun to properly appreciate!
Can you imagine it? As many believe, it was all like a whirlygig, or a merry-go-round, with Jesus being shuttled back and forth from Annas to Caiphas to the Sanhedrin to Pilate to Herod and back to Pilate -- all in the brief span of SIX HOURS AT NIGHT -- from midnight to 6:00 AM in the morning. Then He was quickly crucified, and soon died. From His abduction and arrest till His being nailed to the stake was thought to be only about 10-12 hours. A whole day is missing from that make-believe scenario!
However, as we have seen, this entire scenario is utterly ridiculous and totally unbelievable, when we stop to take a really good look at it!
Given to the Cruel Roman Soldiers
The truth is, Christ Jesus suffered GREATLY. He was beaten, many times, in the course of that Tuesday night, and all the next morning. Then, Pilate finally had Him condemned to death, at noon time, Wednesday. But His real excruciating torture and travail had "only just begun."
Matthew's gospel tells us what happened next:
"Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had SCOURGED JESUS,
he delivered him up to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took
Jesus into the common hall, and GATHERED UNTO HIM THE WHOLE BAND
OF SOLDIERS. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when
they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his
right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying,
Hail, King of the Jews! And they SPIT upon him, and took the reed, and
SMOTE HIM ON THE HEAD. And after that they had mocked him, they took
the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to
crucify him" (Matt.27:26-31).
"And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and
delivered Jesus, when he had SCOURGED him, to be crucified.
"And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called PRAETORIUM: AND THEY
CALL TOGETHER THE WHOLE BAND [COHORT, some 600 men!]. And
they clothed him with purple, and plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head,
and began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him upon the head
with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him . . . ."
How long did this whipping, scouring, beating, mocking, torturing process take? According to the conventional theory, it could not have lasted long, because Pilate rendered judgment at 6:00 AM in the morning, then the Roman soldiers only had an hour or so to beat on Him, before leading Him away up to Golgotha for crucifixion. Did it all happen so fast?
Not at all! The judgment sat at the sixth hour, high noon, on Wednesday, Nisan 13. Then Christ was taken by the soldiers -- THE WHOLE BAND, or COHORT, which numbered 600 men filled with blood lust, cruelty, who all wanted a "piece" of this "Jewish King"! ALL SIX HUNDRED brutal Roman soldiers had their opportunity to mock and beat on Him, to kick Him, punch Him, until He was black and blue and bleeding all over.
The torture didn't only last for an hour or so -- it lasted all that afternoon, and on into the night! Jesus suffered GREATLY for us -- for our sins, iniquities, and transgressions!
Isn't it about time we really stop and pause to meditate, and think deeply, about the tremendous price and incredible sacrifice our Saviour made for us, because of His great love for us?
Isn't it time we stop minimizing the sufferings of Christ, and drink in deeply of the dregs of the punishment He received -- on our behalf?
Foretold by the Prophet Isaiah
Isaiah the prophet wrote of His future suffering:
"As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any
man, and his form more than the sons of men" (Isaiah 52:14).
"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with
grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we
esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne OUR griefs, and carried OUR sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded
for OUR transgressions, he was BRUISED for OUR iniquities: the chastisement
of our peace was upon him; and WITH HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED"
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was OPPRESSED, and
he was AFFLICTED, yet he opened not his mouth: he is BROUGHT AS A
LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so
he opened not his mouth. He was taken from PRISON and from JUDGMENT:
And who shall declare his generation? for he was CUT OFF OUT OF THE
LAND OF THE LIVING: for the TRANSGRESSION OF MY PEOPLE WAS
HE STRICKEN. . . .
"Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou
shalt MAKE HIS SOUL AN OFFERING FOR SIN, he shall see his seed, he shall
PROLONG HIS DAYS [be resurrected and see renewed life!], and the pleasure
of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the TRAVAIL OF HIS
SOUL and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify
many; for he shall BEAR THEIR INIQUITIES.
"Therefore will I divide him his portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil
with the strong; BECAUSE HE HATH POURED OUT HIS SOUL UNTO DEATH:
and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he BARE THE SINS OF MANY,
and made INTERCESSION for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:6-12).
Think about it! Yes, we ought to "remember" what Jesus did for us -- how He suffered for us -- OFTEN throughout the year -- as we partake of the "Kiddush" -- the bread and wine symbolizing His broken body and poured out blood, given freely for us!
And we ought to observe the one and only TRUE PASSOVER, on the night of Nisan 15, the only Passover of the Bible, ordained as a statute forever, to all generations! Truly, Christ IS our "Passover, sacrificed for us" (I Cor.5:7).
How much do you really appreciate Him? How much do you really love Him? "If you love me, keep my commandments," Jesus said (John 14:15). Do you love Him enough to obey Him?