Updated: Mar 26
Harlon and Joyce Picker (Excerpts from The Messianic Passover Story by Harlon Picker)
Many people we have met over the years longed to know the full story of Passover, mainly so they could make Biblical sense out of when Messiah was crucified and when he arose; the three nights and three days. Below is the account based on the Biblical timeline.
(For in-depth study and further insight, we highly recommend you purchase Rabbi Harlon's book, The Messianic Passover Story. And view the 'Passover Timeline' at the end of this blog.)
We find the story of Passover in the Book of Exodus.
Exodus 12:1-14 (CJB) 1 ADONAI spoke to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt; he said, 2 "You are to begin your calendar with this month; it will be the first month of the year for you. 3 Speak to all the assembly of Isra'el and say, 'On the tenth day of this month, each man is to take a lamb or kid for his family, one per household - 4 except that if the household is too small for a whole lamb or kid, then he and his next-door neighbor should share one, dividing it in proportion to the number of people eating it. 5 Your animal must be without defect, a male in its first year, and you may choose it from either the sheep or the goats. 6 "'You are to keep it until the fourteenth day of the month, and then the entire assembly of the community of Isra'el will slaughter it at dusk.* 7 They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the two sides and top of the door-frame at the entrance of the house in which they eat it. 8 That night, they are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire; they are to eat it with matzah and maror. 9 Don't eat it raw or boiled, but roasted in the fire, with its head, the lower parts of its legs and its inner organs. 10 Let nothing of it remain till morning; if any of it does remain, burn it up completely. 11 "'Here is how you are to eat it: with your belt fastened, your shoes on your feet and your staff in your hand; and you are to eat it hurriedly. It is ADONAI's Pesach [Passover]. 12 For that night, I will pass through the land of Egypt and kill all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both men and animals; and I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt; I am ADONAI. 13 The blood will serve you as a sign marking the houses where you are; when I see the blood, I will pass over [Hebrew: pasach] you - when I strike the land of Egypt, the death blow will not strike you. 14 "'This will be a day for you to remember and celebrate as a festival to ADONAI; from generation to generation you are to celebrate it by a perpetual regulation.
The Passover Lambs were taken on the 10th day of Nisan and held until the 14th day of Nisan, allowing each family to become personally attached to the lamb. It would no longer be just a lamb, but it would become their lamb!
The town of Bethlehem was known for raising the perfect, spotless lambs that were used for the temple sacrifices. Yeshua was from Bethlehem, and as John the Immerser said:
"The next day, Yochanan saw Yeshua coming toward him and said, "Look! God's lamb! The one who is taking away the sin of the world!" John 1:29
** Notice in verse 6 of Exodus 12 the entire congregation was to kill the lambs at twilight.
Day One – 9th of Nisan – Friday
On the 9th day of Nisan, Yeshua came from Jericho to Bethany.
John 12:1-3 1 Six days before Pesach, Yeshua came to Beit-Anyah, where El‘azar lived, the man Yeshua had raised from the dead; 2 so they gave a dinner there in his honor. Marta served the meal, and El‘azar was among those at the table with him. 3 Miryam took a whole pint of pure oil of spikenard, which is very expensive, poured it on Yeshua’s feet and wiped his feet with her hair, so that the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. Miriam anointed Yeshua as the Passover Lamb.-CJB The Complete Jewish Bible
Day Two – 10th of Nisan – Saturday
Yeshua could travel from Bethany to Jerusalem on Shabbat because it was not more than a Sabbath’s Day journey. It was less than 30 miles.
Zechariah 9:9 9 Rejoice with all your heart, daughter of Tziyon! Shout out loud, daughter of Yerushalayim! Look! Your king is coming to you. He is righteous, and he is victorious. Yet he is humble - he's riding on a donkey, yes, on a lowly donkey's colt.
Yeshua rode into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt, just as the scriptures said the Messiah would.
Matthew 21:1-7 1 As they were approaching Yerushalayim, they came to Beit-Pagey on the Mount of Olives. Yeshua sent two talmidim 2 with these instructions: “Go into the village ahead of you, and you will immediately find a donkey tethered there with its colt. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, tell him, ‘The Lord needs them;’ and he will let them go at once.” 4 This happened in order to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, 5 “Say to the daughter of Tziyon, ‘Look! Your King is coming to you, riding humbly on a donkey and on a colt, the offspring of a beast of burden!’ 6 So the talmidim went and did as Yeshua had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put their robes on them, and Yeshua sat on them. -CJB The Complete Jewish Bible
Yeshua fulfilled this as He entered Jerusalem.
John 12:12-13 12 The next day, the large crowd that had come for the festival heard that Yeshua was on his way into Yerushalayim. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Deliver us!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of ADONAI, the King of Israel!” -CJB The Complete Jewish Bible
Yeshua left Jerusalem and went back to Bethany to spend the night.
Matthew 21:17 17 With that, he left them and went on outside the city to Beit-Anyah, where he spent the night. -CJB The Complete Jewish Bible
Day Three – 11th of Nisan – Sunday
Matt. 21:18 18 The next morning, on his way back to the city, he felt hungry. 19 Spotting a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. So he said to it, “May you never again bear fruit!” and immediately the fig tree dried up. -CJB The Complete Jewish Bible
Yeshua teaches in the Temple.
Luke 20:1 1 One day, as Yeshua was teaching the people at the Temple, making known the Good News, the head cohanim and the Torah-teachers, along with the elders, came up to him— Mark 11: 15 - 17 15 On reaching Yerushalayim, he entered the Temple courts and began driving out those who were carrying on business there, both the merchants and their customers. He also knocked over the desks of the money-changers, upset the benches of the pigeon-dealers, 16 and refused to let anyone carry merchandise through the Temple courts. 17 Then, as he taught them, he said, "Isn't it written in the Tanakh, My house will be called a house of prayer for all the Goyim. But you have made it into a den of robbers!" -CJB The Complete Jewish Bible
Day Four – 12th of Nisan – Monday
Mark 11: 20 20 In the morning, as the talmidim passed by, they saw the fig tree withered all the way to its roots. Matthew 26:1 1 When Yeshua had finished speaking, he said to his talmidim 2 “As you know, Pesach is two days away, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be nailed to the execution-stake.” -CJB The Complete Jewish Bible
Yeshua is anointed for his burial.
Matthew 26:6-12 6 Yeshua was in Beit-Anyah, at the home of Shim‘on, the man who had had the repulsive skin disease. 7 A woman with an alabaster jar filled with very expensive perfume approached Yeshua while he was eating and began pouring it on his head. 8 When the talmidim saw it, they became very angry. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This could have been sold for a lot of money and given to the poor.” 10 But Yeshua, aware of what was going on, said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing for me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 She poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. -CJB The Complete Jewish Bible
Day Five – 13th of Nisan – Tuesday
Yeshua’s Last Seder Meal
Luke 22:7-8 7 Then came the day of matzah, on which the Passover lamb had to be killed. 8 Yeshua sent Kefa and Yochanan, instructing them, “Go and prepare our Seder, so we can eat.” John 13:1-2 1 It was just before the festival of Pesach, and Yeshua knew that the time had come for him to pass from this world to the Father. Having loved his own people in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 They were at supper, and the Adversary had already put the desire to betray him into the heart of Y’hudah Ben-Shim‘on from K’riot. -CJB The Complete Jewish Bible
Remember, the Jewish day starts the evening before. Yeshua and his Talmidim had the Passover meal on Tuesday evening, which is the beginning of Wednesday for the Jewish people.
Genesis 1:5 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. So there was evening, and there was morning, one day. CJB
Day Six – 14th of Nisan – Wednesday
This night at sundown starts The Feast of Unleavened Bread
Exodus 12:6 6 "'You are to keep it until the fourteenth day of the month, and then the entire assembly of the community of Isra'el will slaughter it at dusk. CJB
Yeshua died at 3PM on WEDNESDAY!
Luke 23:44-46 44 It was now about noon, and darkness covered the whole Land until three o’clock in the afternoon; 45 the sun did not shine. Also the parokhet in the Temple was split down the middle. 46 Crying out with a loud voice, Yeshua said, “Father! Into your hands I commit my spirit.” With these words he gave up his spirit.
Yeshua’s body had to be taken down BEFORE sundown on Shabbat.
John 19:30-31 30 After Yeshua had taken the wine, he said, “It is accomplished!” And, letting his head droop, he delivered up his spirit. 31 It was Preparation Day, and the Judeans did not want the bodies to remain on the stake on Shabbat, since it was an especially important Shabbat. So they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies removed. Exodus 12:46 46 It is to be eaten in one house. You are not to take any of the meat outside the house, and you are not to break any of its bones. Exodus 12:15-18 15 "'For seven days you are to eat matzah - on the first day remove the leaven from your houses. For whoever eats hametz [leavened bread] from the first to the seventh day is to be cut off from Isra'el. 16 On the first and seventh days, you are to have an assembly set aside for God. On these days no work is to be done, except what each must do to prepare his food; you may do only that. 17 You are to observe the festival of matzah, for on this very day I brought your divisions out of the land of Egypt. Therefore, you are to observe this day from generation to generation by a perpetual regulation. 18 From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the evening of the twenty-first day, you are to eat matzah. [CJB The Complete Jewish Bible]
According to the Word of God – Thursday, the 15th of Nisan, would have been a Holy Convocation Day and the Shabbat!
Exodus 12:7-8 7 They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the two sides and top of the door-frame at the entrance of the house in which they eat it. 8 That night, they are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire; they are to eat it with matzah and maror.
Yeshua had blood running down from his head and from both of his hands where the nails had been. The punishment He endured during the hours before his crucifixion certainly could be considered being roasted with fire.
Day Seven – 15th of Nisan – Thursday
The Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the evening of the 14th of Nisan
Yeshua would be in the earth for three nights and three days.
Wednesday night to Thursday night is ONE DAY
Day Eight – 16th of Nisan – Friday
Thursday night to Friday night is TWO DAYS
An interesting note about 'The Feast of Firstfruits' is that at the time Yeshua walked the earth, the Sadducees and the Boethusians (a sub-sect of the Sadducees) celebrated “The Feast of Firstfruits” on the First Sunday after Passover. They get this from Leviticus 23:9-11
Leviticus 23: 9 - 12 9 ADONAI said to Moshe, 10 "Tell the people of Isra'el, 'After you enter the land I am giving you and harvest its ripe crops, you are to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the cohen. 11 He is to wave the sheaf before ADONAI, so that you will be accepted; the cohen is to wave it on the day after the Shabbat. -CJB The Complete Jewish Bible
The Sadducees recognized the weekly Shabbat in celebrating 'The Feast of Firstfruits' on Sunday and not the Shabbat used to celebrate 'The Feast of Unleavened Bread' on Sunday. Individual sects of Judaism celebrate differently, just as other denominations of Christianity and cultures observe things differently.
Day Nine – 17th of Nisan – Saturday
Friday night to Saturday night is THREE DAYS
Day Ten – 18th of Nisan – Sunday
Resurrection Day! – The Feast of First-fruits
Matthew 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation is asking for a sign? It will certainly not be given a sign—except the sign of Yonah!” With that he left them and went off. Matthew 12:39-40 39 He replied, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign? No! None will be given to it but the sign of the prophet Yonah. 40 For just as Yonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea-monster so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the depths of the earth. Luke 23:55-24:3 55 The women who had come with Yeshua from the Galil followed; they saw the tomb and how his body was placed in it. 56 Then they went back home to prepare spices and ointments. On Shabbat the women rested, in obedience to the commandment; 1 but on the first day of the week, while it was still very early, they took the spices they had prepared, went to the tomb, 2 and found the stone rolled away from the tomb! 3 On entering, they discovered that the body of the Lord Yeshua was gone! [NKJV The New King James Bible]
Yeshua rose from the dead sometime between
after sundown on Saturday and early morning on Sunday.
In the time of Yeshua, a lamb would be the main course for the meal. We no longer eat lamb for Passover since the Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E., and we can no longer sacrifice the lamb with the community. However, as we look at Jewish tradition, we will see that Yeshua IS now our Passover Lamb!
“Have you ever wondered why Yeshua is called The Passover Lamb? Why not call him a goat which was used for the Day of Atonement? After all, it was a goat that carried away the sins of the people into the wilderness.”
Leviticus 16:20-22 20 “And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. 21 Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.” Genesis 46:31-34 31 Yosef said to his brothers and his father's family, "I'm going up to tell Pharaoh. I'll say to him, 'My brothers and my father's family, who were in the land of Kena'an, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds and keepers of livestock; they have brought their flocks, their herds and all their possessions.' 33 Now when Pharaoh summons you and asks, 'What is your occupation?' 34 tell him, 'Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth until now, both we and our ancestors.' This will ensure that you will live in the land of Goshen - for any shepherd is abhorrent to the Egyptians." (emphasis added)
The chain of events that happened to a lamb for Passover was a mikrah (or rehearsal) for the things that were to happen to the Messiah. On the tenth day of Nisan, the Passover lamb was led through the Sheep Gate for its journey to the Temple. (This lamb came from Bethlehem (or House of Bread in Hebrew) and was raised as a sacrificial lamb by Levitical priests.)
When the lamb entered in, the people would wave palm branches in all four directions. Then they would sing the Hallel (Psalm 118) and lay the palm branches before the lamb.
When Yeshua entered Jerusalem on 'Palm Saturday', the tenth day of Nisan, the very same things occurred.
Matthew 21:8-9 8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” John 12:12-13 12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Yeshua was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!”
The lamb was then taken to the Temple, where the Levitical Priests kept it for four days for close observation.
Exodus 12:3 & 6 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.
Yeshua entered Jerusalem on the tenth of Nisan or four days before Pesach, where he was closely watched by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Essenes. According to tradition, there were fifty tests performed to ensure the lamb’s purity. Fifty stands for the “Year of Jubilee.”
On the fourteenth day of Nisan - after the lamb was declared pure and free from defect - it was placed upon the altar at 9:00 AM and would remain there until 3:00 PM.
Yeshua was declared righteous by Pontius Pilate, was placed on the execution stake (the cross) at 9:00 AM, and was pronounced dead at 3:00 PM!
John 19:4 4 Pilate then went out again, and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.” Mark 15:25 25 Now it was the third hour (9:00AM), and they crucified Him. Matthew 27:45-46 45 Now from the sixth hour (12:00 Noon) until the ninth hour (3:00PM) there was darkness over all the land. 46 And about the ninth hour Yeshua cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
In the Aramaic English New Testament, Matthew 27:46 reads: ”And about the ninth hour Y'shua cried out with a loud voice and