Contents
The Festival of Passover
Luke 2.4l-43 (JNT), "Every year Jesus' Parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of Passover.  When
He was twelve years old, they went up for the festival, as custom required.  But after the festival was
over...."

Luke 2.41-43 (NKJV), "His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.  And
when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.  When
they had finished the days..."

The first thing we should notice is that The Messiah’s parents went to Jerusalem every
year
for the Festival of Passover.  They lived in Nazareth of Galilee, three days journey,
according to
Atlas of the Bible (about 50 miles as the crow flies) from Jerusalem.  It is
obvious that they did not keep the Passover on the early night of the 14th in Nazareth and
then travel to Jerusalem for the Festival of Unleavened Bread.  In that case, they would
have had to travel on the Holy Day and arrive about the third day of the festival.  

They went up to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival
every year!  If one could keep the
Passover at home, why did they go up to Jerusalem <every year> for the whole festival of
Passover?  As these Scriptures show, it was the required custom to go up to Jerusalem
<every year> to observe the Passover.  If you did not live in Jerusalem, the law required
you (Deuteronomy 16.16) to travel up to Jerusalem (the place which God chooses) for the
Passover Sacrifice as well as the rest of the Festival.  Travel time would prohibit doing
one at home and the other in Jerusalem.  Of course, the law prohibited any domestic
sacrifices:

Deuteronomy 16:6 But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there
thou shalt sacrifice the Passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest
forth out of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 16:5 Thou mayest not sacrifice the Passover within any of thy gates, which the LORD
thy God giveth thee:
6 But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt
sacrifice the Passover at (toward) even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest
forth out of Egypt.

Another thing to notice is that Luke refers to the entire period of the Festival of
Unleavened Bread, as Passover
"When they had finished the days...” This agrees with the
usage of the term Passover for the entire festival week that some early 14th Passover
advocates claim that Deuteronomy 16 used erroneously.  Christ's parents went up to
Jerusalem every year to keep the Passover on the night to be much observed at the
beginning of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, as well as the rest of the Festival as
required by custom.  As we can see, there is no discrepancy between this and what we
have learned from our study in the Old Testament.

John 2.13 (JNT), "It was almost time for the festival of Passover in Judea, so Jesus went up to
Jerusalem."  

John 2.13 (NKJV), "Now the Passover of the
Jews (#2453) was at hand, and Jesus went up to
Jerusalem.

John 2.23 (JNT), "Now while Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover festival..."

John 2.23 (NKJV), "Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast..."


Notice the under current of anti-Semitism (whether intentional or not) by the KJV
translators in this verse, "...the Passover
of the Jews..." – "...and Jesus went up..."  The
word Jews is Strong's #2453, and primarily means Judean.  What is John referring to
when he speaks of,
"the festival of Passover in Judea?”  He is referring to that festival
which was different to any other in the world.  He covers the sense that the Jews could
only kill the Passover lambs at the temple in Jerusalem and that they could eat the lambs
only in Jerusalem and within a designated area beyond the border of Jerusalem.  
Everywhere else in the world there could be no lamb slain and eaten as a Passover lamb;
only a remembrance ceremony on the night to be much observed, the 15th, could be
conducted other than in the Judean Passover.

Some early 14th Passover advocates turn to Josephus' writing about the number of
sacrifices slain in Jerusalem, at the Passover, to prove their theory.  Josephus claims
there were 256,500 lambs slain one given year.  The question is "How did Josephus arrive
at his number of 256,500 lambs for the last Passover in Jerusalem?"  The early 14th
advocates claim this is as proof of domestic sacrifices.  However, the only count made of
the lambs would have occurred at the temple.  No count would have been made of any
lambs that may have been illegally slain in a domestic sacrifice.  Josephus said that the
high priests found the number of sacrifices was two hundred and fifty-six thousand five
hundred.  

It seems plausible that the politically oriented Sadducean high priest may have added a
zero to the count to please the Roman Governor, who would have wanted a larger tax
base.  There is always the possibility that Josephus or the translators of his work may
have made a mistake.  Josephus’ writings do not get the respect of the Bible!  In addition,
if we consider the upper limit, as given by Josephus, of twenty persons per lamb, we see
that 25,650 lambs would give us a population of 530,000.  We have to remember that
Jerusalem was a city dominated by the Romans.  There were garrisons of soldiers in the
city.  There were undoubtedly many Romans living in the city as well as other non-Jews
and thoroughly Helenized Jews, who would not be keeping the Passover, probably about
half or more of the population did not even keep the Passover.  If that were the case, the
population including guests would have been over one million.  As no one seems to know
how many actually lived in Jerusalem at the time, why we would beg a problem by over-
inflating the number.  If the people had been there, undoubtedly the religious order of the
day could have adapted!  Some have suggested that the priests may have slaughtered any
overflow of Passover lambs on the spot where they slaughtered the red heifer sacrifice,
outside the temple.  The instructions of the law stipulated two requirements: 1) they had
to slaughter any sacrifice toward the door of the tabernacle and the blood had to be
sprinkled on the brazen altar.  Some adaptations did take place in the history of Israel:

1 Kings 8:64 The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that [was] before the house of
the LORD: for there he offered burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings:
because the brasen altar that [was] before the LORD [was] too little to receive the burnt offerings,
and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.

The suggestion that there were domestic Passover sacrifices during the time of Christ
pose a question, "Why did these mysterious domestic sacrifices cease after the Romans
destroyed the temple?"  Surely, they would have continued for a long time beyond the
destruction of the temple, if they were going on at the time of Christ.  If domestic
Passover sacrifices ever existed, they should have been in their heyday after the
destruction of the temple.  Do any contemporary Jews slay domestic Passovers today?  
Moreover, some who would thrust an early 14th Passover upon us tell us that it was the

predominant practice
during the time of Christ.  If that is the case, there should be an
abundance of written historical evidence for this assertion.  Furthermore, the bible tells us
that domestic sacrifices for the Passover were illegal, according to the law (Deuteronomy
16:5-6).

Deuteronomy 16:5 Thou mayest not sacrifice the Passover within any of thy gates, which the LORD
thy God giveth thee:
6 But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt
sacrifice the Passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out
of Egypt.

Now back to our Scripture in John 2:13 – the word and is so unattached, "Well they are
having a feast up there in Jerusalem, I guess I will go up and see what is going on."  I did
not point it out, but in Luke 2:41, the KJV translators said, “His parents went to
Jerusalem every year
at the feast of the Passover."  Notice the word at, again very
detached from what is going on.  Of course, in this case, it means
at the time of the
Passover Festival; but by using only the word
at, it could have been a carnival and they
were going to see some friends and what they could see.  This explains our reason for
using the
Jewish New Testament for this study, at least in the beginning, to offset the anti-
Semitism we see in the KJV translation.  Notice how the word
<for> in Luke 2:41 in place
of the word
at, and the word so in John 2:13 in place of the word and "warm" these
sentences up, in the JNT.  These words reveal a desire to keep the Passover rather than
looking on it as a requirement or even worse an attitude that it was unnecessary.

The Passover of John 2:13 and John 2:23 is apparently the first Passover after Christ's
baptism.  Christ’s life surrounded the biblical holy days.

John 6.4 (JNT), "Now the Judean festival of Passover was coming up..."

John 6.4 (NKJV), "Now the Passover,
a feast of the Jews, was near...."

Notice again the anti-Semitism of the KJV translators in translating this word #2453 as
Jews rather than by its primary meaning Judean.  This is apparently the third Passover
after Christ's baptism and He is still going up to Jerusalem to keep the Festival of
Passover, which included the whole eight days.  The 14th was the last preparation day for
the festival on which the Jews removed the leavened bread, from their homes.  In
addition, they had to bake the first unleavened bread to begin the Festival – and the lambs
were slain on this day.  All last minute preparations for the festival had to be complete by
the time evening came, beginning the 15th – the night to be much observed.  The Jews
than continued the Festival, for the rest of the seven days.  However, the “Season of
Passover” actually began on the 10th of Nisan.  The Jews put up the Passover lambs, on
the 10th of Nisan.  The Passover lambs were slain on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan.

John 11.55 (JNT), "The Judean festival of Passover was near, and many people went up from the
country to Jerusalem to perform the purification ceremony prior to Passover."

John 11.55 (NKJV), "And the Passover
of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to
Jerusalem before the Passover,
to purify themselves."

Notice the anti-Semitism once again in the word “Jews” rather than Judean and in the
phrase
“to purify themselves” – as though the Jews believed they could make themselves
pure.  This is referring to the approaching Passover when Christ would become the true
Passover for the entire world on the afternoon of the 14th.  During the time from the 10th
until the beginning of the 15th, they would continue to prepare for the Festival.  This
would include putting up the lambs on the 10th, finding lodging, purification at the temple,
whitewashing the tombs and even purifying public buildings including the temple itself.  
The Passover was so solemn and the preparations so great that no one-day would suffice
to prepare for it.

John 12.1 (JNT), "Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, the man
Jesus had raised from the dead..."

This verse shows Christ among friends and foe (Judas), six days before the Passover
began either the 14th or the 15th depending on whether the Scriptures are referring to
the slaying of the Passover or the Passover Festival, when the Jews ate the Passover.

Mark 14:1-2 (JNT), "It was now two days before Passover (that is the festival of unleavened bread),
and the head priests and the scribes were trying to find some way to arrest Jesus surreptitiously and
have Him put to death; for they said, 'Not during the festival, or the people will riot.'"

Matthew 26:1-5 (JNT), "When Jesus had finished speaking, He said to His disciples, 'As you know,
Passover is two days away, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be nailed to the execution-
stake."  Then the head priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of Caiaphas the high
priest.  They made plans to arrest Jesus surreptitiously and have Him put to death; but they said, 'Not
during the festival, or the people will riot.'"

Luke 22:1-2 (JNT), "But the festival of Unleavened Bread, known as Passover, was approaching; and
the head priests and the scribes began trying to find some way to get rid of Jesus, because they were
afraid of the people."

These Scriptures are referring to two days before either the 14th or the 15th depending
on whether the Scriptures are referring to the day the Passover was slain, or to the
Passover Festival, when the Jews ate the Passover.  The Passover Festival began on the
15th day of the month of Nisan at sunset of the 14th day.