Easter and Passover

Fredi Winkler

This year, Easter and Passover fall into the same week, but not on the same weekend. For the determination of Easter Sunday, the date of the equinox and the new moon is the deciding point; namely, March 21st. The date for Passover also depends on the equinox and the new moon. But it is not observed on the following Sunday, rather on the 14th day of the first month Nisan (Leviticus 23:5). Because of this difference, Easter and Passover may not fall on the same weekend, and may even be celebrated a month apart.

Because the Passover depends on the moon and the equinox—which are fixed astronomical conditions—it is possible to calculate the date on which the Passover Feast took place at the time of Jesus, and thus also when Jesus most probably was crucified. Nevertheless, there are varying opinions concerning the exact point in time, ranging from the year 30 to 33. The respective opinions are usually presented with supposedly convincing arguments; however, the element of uncertainty remains. And, knowing the exact time is really not of such great importance.

The week leading up to the Crucifixion occupies the most important part in all four Gospels—from 6 to 10 chapters in each. The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem riding a donkey is described in the greatest detail by Luke (19:28-48). This event was the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy, where it is written: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (9:9). 

Luke is the only one who reports in this context that when Jesus approached the city of Jerusalem, He wept for the city and said: “If thou hadst known…at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes” (Luke 19:42).

This day—with the event of Jesus’ entry on a donkey, to the cheers of the multitude of His followers—was a decisive day for the city of Jerusalem. What should the leaders of the people have realized? That what was happening was the fulfilling of Zechariah 9:9. However, the event garnered disapproval among the Pharisees, so that they said to Jesus: “Master, rebuke thy disciples. And He answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:39-40).

Why did Jesus say this? Because what happened had to be fulfilled. God had predicted it through the prophet Zechariah; therefore, if the followers of Jesus had not cheered for Him then, so to speak, the very stones would have had to do it. But we see the prophecy miraculously fulfilled, even if His disciples were not aware of it. The Pharisees, on the other hand, had nothing better to say than to ask Jesus to silence the people.

Why did the Pharisees not recognize Jesus as the One of whom Zechariah had spoken? Because they had formed their own ideas about the Messiah and His coming: not riding on a donkey in humility, but triumphantly on a stallion. The donkey is a peaceful animal, not suitable for warfare. But the horse was seen in those times as the beast for war. Revelation speaks in chapter 19 about the coming of the Lord on a white horse. At that time, He will not appear in lowliness and peace, but in sovereignty for judgment. Only thereafter will the messianic Kingdom of Peace be established. For us as well, it is important not to form our own ideas concerning His return, but to pay close attention to what the Bible says about it.

News from Israel - 03/2021

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