Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Jesus’ Final Passover Is At Hand
AS TUESDAY, Nisan 11, draws to a close, Jesus finishes teaching the apostles on the Mount of Olives. What a busy, strenuous day it has been! Now, perhaps while returning to Bethany for the night, he tells his apostles: “You know that two days from now the passover occurs, and the Son of man is to be delivered up to be impaled.”
The following day, Wednesday, Nisan 12, Jesus apparently spends in quiet retirement with his apostles. On the day before, he had rebuked the religious leaders publicly, and he realizes that they are seeking to kill him. So on Wednesday he does not openly show himself, since he does not want anything to interfere with his celebrating the Passover with his apostles the following evening.
In the meantime, the chief priests and the older men of the people have gathered in the courtyard of the high priest, Caiaphas. Smarting from Jesus’ attack the previous day, they are making plans to seize him by crafty device and have him put to death. Yet they keep saying: “Not at the festival, in order that no uproar may arise among the people.” They are in fear of the people, whose favor Jesus enjoys.
While the religious leaders are wickedly conspiring to kill Jesus, they receive a visitor. To their surprise, it is one of Jesus’ own apostles, Judas Iscariot, the one into whom Satan has implanted the base idea of betraying his Master! How pleased they are when Judas inquires: “What will you give me to betray him to you?” They gladly agree to pay him 30 silver pieces, the price of a slave according to the Mosaic Law covenant. From then on, Judas seeks a good opportunity to betray Jesus to them without a crowd around.
Nisan 13 begins at sundown Wednesday. Jesus had arrived from Jericho on Friday, so this is the sixth and final night that he spends in Bethany. The next day, Thursday, final preparations will need to be made for the Passover, which commences at sundown, when the Passover lamb must be slaughtered and then roasted whole. Where will they celebrate the feast, and who will make the preparations?
Jesus has not provided such details, perhaps to prevent Judas from informing the chief priests so that they might apprehend Jesus during the Passover celebration. But now, probably early Thursday afternoon, Jesus dispatches Peter and John from Bethany, saying: “Go and get the passover ready for us to eat.”
“Where do you want us to get it ready?” they ask.
“When you enter into the city,” Jesus explains, “a man carrying an earthenware vessel of water will meet you. Follow him into the house into which he enters. And you must say to the landlord of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you: “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the passover with my disciples?”’ And that man will show you a large upper room furnished. Get it ready there.”
No doubt the landlord is a disciple of Jesus who perhaps anticipates Jesus’ request to use his house for this special occasion. At any rate, when Peter and John arrive in Jerusalem, they find everything just as Jesus foretold. So the two of them see to it that the lamb is ready and that all the other arrangements are made to care for the needs of the 13 Passover celebrants, Jesus and his 12 apostles. Matthew 26:1-5, 14-19; Mark 14:1, 2, 10-16; Luke 22:1-13; Exodus 21:32.
◆ What does Jesus apparently do Wednesday, and why?
◆ What meeting is held at the home of the high priest, and for what purpose does Judas visit the religious leaders?
◆ Whom does Jesus send into Jerusalem on Thursday, and for what purpose?
◆ What do these sent ones find that reveals once again Jesus’ miraculous powers?