The Last Passover
October 19, 2021
Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them" (Matthew 21:1-3).
The ancient route from Jericho to Jerusalem was about 18 miles to the southwest. A person walking from Jericho to Jerusalem would be going from an elevation of 825 ft. below sea level to 2500 ft. above sea level (ca. 3,325 feet or 2/3 of a mile uphill) and leaving a totally barren and dry area and entering a semi-dry area. The majority of those 18 miles would be in desert-like conditions. Normally a person could walk the distance in about 6 hours.
Jesus was at the end of His 3-year public ministry. Prior to that He spent 30 years in relative obscurity. There is a huge gap of information from His birth to His baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptizer. We have a vignette of Jesus as a child (about 2 years old) when He was visited by the Magi, and another as a young boy (12 years old) when He was at the Temple questioning the Rabbis. Much of what we know about Jesus in the 4 Gospels are from His 3-year ministry between His baptism and His post resurrection appearances.
It was the time of Jesus’ final Passover Celebration - His 3rd Passover during His ministry. It was early Spring, about the 15th day of Nisan (our 1st of April). It was the most celebrated festival of the year for the Jews in Israel. Josephus states that 10 years after this last Passover of Jesus, 260,000 lambs were slaughtered for the celebration. Since 1 lamb was generally offered for 10 people, he estimated the worshipers numbered ca. 2,000,000 in Jerusalem.
Passover is a celebration of spring, of birth and rebirth, of a journey from slavery to freedom, and of taking responsibility for yourself, your family, the community, and the world. Little did the crowds that followed Jesus that day realize that He was the one true Passover Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. The millions of lambs slaughtered at Passover since the celebration began nearly 1,500 years earlier, pointed to, and were fulfilled in Him. Giving His life a sacrifice on the cross inaugurated the spiritual rebirth of all who believe in and receive Him as Lord and Savior. It also inaugurated the responsibility of every Christian to spread the Gospel to every creature, just as He said in The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
“Lord Jesus, Your last Passover was truly the celebration of celebrations for all mankind - Jew and Gentile, male and female, young and old, rich and poor. In giving Your life on the cross, You gave us new life in Your Kingdom. In dying, You made us alive. In taking our sin, You freed us from the penalty of sin. Words cannot express my gratitude. Words cannot clothe my praise offered to You for the salvation You have given to me. May I offer the sacrifice of praise to You every day for the rest of my life. Amen.”