The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
THE CROSS AND THE CROWN
THE FIFTH DAY IN PASSION-WEEK
'MAKE READY THE PASSOVER!'
(St. Matthew 26:17-19; St. Mark 14:12-16;
St. Luke 22:7-13; St. John 13:1.)
When the traitor returned from Jerusalem on the Wednesday
afternoon, the Passover, in the popular and canonical, though not in the
Biblical sense, was close at hand. It began on the 14th Nisan, that is, from
the appearance of the first three stars on Wednesday evening [the evening of
what had been the 13th], and ended with the first three stars on Thursday
evening [the evening of what had been the 14th day of Nisan]. As this is an
exceedingly important point, it is well here to quote the precise language of
the Jerusalem Talmud:1
'What means: On the Pesach?2
On the 14th [Nisan].' And so Josephus describes the Feast as one of eight days,3
evidently reckoning its beginning on the 14th, and its close at the end of the
21st Nisan. The absence of the traitor so close upon the Feast would therefore,
be the less noticed by the others. Necessary preparations might have to be
made, even though they were to be guests in some house - they knew not which.
These would, of course, devolve on Judas. Besides, from previous conversations,
they may also have judged that 'the man of Kerioth' would fain escape what the
Lord had all that day been telling them about, and which was now filling their
minds and hearts.
Pes. 27 d, line before last.
question is put in connection with Pes. i. 8.
ii. 15. 1.
Everyone in Israel was thinking about the Feast. For the
previous month it had been the subject of discussion in the Academies, and, for
the last two Sabbaths at least, that of discourse in the Synagogues.4
Everyone was going to Jerusalem, or had those near and dear to them there, or
at least watched the festive processions to the Metropolis of Judaism. It was a
gathering of universal Israel, that of the memorial of the birth-night of the
nation, and of its Exodus, when friends from afar would meet, and new friends
be made; when offerings long due would be brought, and purification long needed
be obtained - and all worship in that grand and glorious Temple, with its
gorgeous ritual. National and religious feelings were alike stirred in what
reached far back to the first, and pointed far forward to the final
Deliverance. On that day a Jew might well glory in being a Jew. But we must not
dwell on such thoughts, nor attempt a general description of the Feast. Rather
shall we try to follow closely the footsteps of Christ and His disciples, and
see or know only what on that day they saw and did.
the Jerusalem Gemara (Jer. Pes. 27 b, towards the end). But the detailed
quotations would here be so numerous that it seems wiser to omit them.
For ecclesiastical purposes Bethphage and Bethany seem to have
been included in Jerusalem. But Jesus must keep the Feast in the City itself,
although, if His purpose had not been interrupted, He would have spent the
night outside its walls.5
The first preparations for the Feast would commence shortly after the return of
the traitor. For, on the evening [of the 13th] commenced the 14th of Nisan,
when a solemn search was made with lighted candle throughout each house for any
leaven that might be hidden, or have fallen aside by accident. Such was put by
in a safe place, and afterwards destroyed with the rest. In Galilee it was the
usage to abstain wholly from work; in Judea the day was divided, and actual
work ceased only at noon, though nothing new was taken in hand even in the
morning. This division of the day for festive purposes was a Rabbinic addition;
and, by way of a hedge around it, an hour before midday was fixed after which
nothing leavened might be eaten. The more strict abstained from it even an hour
earlier (at ten o'clock), lest the eleventh hour might insensibly run into the
forbidden midday. But there could be little real danger of this, since, by way
of public notification, two desecrated thankoffering cakes were laid on a bench
in the Temple, the removal of one of which indicated that the time for eating
what was leavened had passed; the removal of the other, that the time for
destroying all leaven had come.6
St. Matt. xxvi. 30, 36; St. Mark xiv. 26, 32; St. Luke xxii. 39; St. John
Jerusalem Talmud gives the most minute details of the places in which search is
to be made. One Rabbi proposed that the search should be repeated at three
different times! If it had been omitted on the evening of the 13th, it would be
made on the forenoon of the 14th Nisan.
It was probably after the early meal, and when the eating of
leaven had ceased, that Jesus began preparations for the Paschal Supper. St.
John, who, in view of the details in the other Gospels, summarises, and, in
some sense, almost passes over, the outward events, so that their narration may
not divert attention from those all-important teachings which he alone records,
simply tells by way of preface and explanation - alike of the 'Last Supper' and
of what followed - that Jesus, 'knowing that His hour was come that He should
depart out of this world unto the Father7
. . . having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the
end.'8 But St.
Luke's account of what actually happened, being in some points the most
explicit, requires to be carefully studied, and that without thought of any
possible consequences in regard to the harmony of the Gospels. It is almost
impossible to imagine anything more evident, than that he wishes us to
understand that Jesus was about to celebrate the ordinary Jewish Paschal
Supper. 'And the Day of Unleavened Bread came, on which the Passover must be
The designation is exactly that of the commencement of the Pascha,
which, as we have seen, was the 14th Nisan, and the description that of the
slaying of the Paschal Lamb. What follows is in exact accordance with it: 'And
He sent Peter and John, saying, Go and make ready for us the Pascha, that we may
eat it.' Then occur these three notices in the same account: 'And . . . they
made ready the Pascha;'10
'and when the hour was come, He reclined [as usual at the Paschal Supper], and
the Apostles with Him;'11
and, finally, these words of His:12
'With desire I have desired to eat this Pascha with you.' And with this fully
agrees the language of the other two Synoptists, St. Matt. xxvi. 17-20, and St.
Mark xiv. 12-17.13
No ingenuity can explain away these facts. The suggestion, that in that year
the Sanhedrin had postponed the Paschal Supper form Thursday evening (the
14th-15th Nisan) to Friday evening (15-16th Nisan), so as to avoid the Sabbath
following on the first day of the feast - and that the Paschal Lamb was
therefore in that year eaten on Friday, the evening of the day on which Jesus
was crucified, is an assumption void of all support in history or Jewish
untenable is it, that Christ had held the Paschal Supper a day in advance of
that observed by the rest of the Jewish world - a supposition not only
inconsistent with the plain language of the Synoptists, but impossible, since
the Paschal Lamb could not have been offered in the Temple, and, therefore, no
Paschal Supper held, out of the regular time. But, perhaps, the strangest
attempt to reconcile the statement of the Synoptists with what is supposed
inconsistent with it in the narration of St. John15
is, that while the rest of Jerusalem, including Christ and His Apostles,
partook of the Paschal Supper, the chief priests had been interrupted in, or
rather prevented from it by their proceedings against Jesus - that, in fact,
they had not touched it when they feared to enter Pilate's Judgment-Hall;16
and that, after that, they went back to eat it, 'turning the Supper into a
Among the various objections to this extraordinary hypothesis, this one will be
sufficient, that such would have been absolutely contrary to one of the
plainest rubrical directions, which has it: 'The Pascha is not eaten but during
the night, nor yet later than the middle of the night.'18
phrases occur frequently in Jewish writings for dying: 'the hour has come' 'to
depart out of this world.' Thus, in Targum on Cant. i. 7, 'when the hour had
come that Moses should depart out of the world;' Shem. R. 33, 'what hour the
time came for our father Jacob that he should depart out of the world.'
words may also be rendered 'to the uttermost.' But it seems more natural to
understand the 'having loved' as referring to all Christ's previous sayings and
doings, as it were, the summing up of the whole past, like St. Matt. xxvi. 1:
'when Jesus had finished all these sayings,' and the other clause ('He loved
them to the end') as referring to the final and greatest manifestation of His
love; the one being the terminus a quo, the other the terminus ad
Luke xxii. 7.
deserves notice that the latest Jewish writer on the subject (Jo�l,
Blicke in d. Relig. Gesch. Part II. pp. 62 & c.) - however we may otherwise
differ from him - has by an ingenious process of combination shown, that the original
view expressed in Jewish writings was, that Jesus was crucified on the first
Paschal day, and that this was only at a later period modified to 'the eve of
the Pascha,' Sanh. 43 a, 67 a (the latter in Chasr. haSh., p. 23 b).
has of late, however, found an advocate even in the learned Bishop Haneberg.
John xvii. 28.
John xviii. 28.
Archdeacon Watkins (in Excursus F, in Bp. Ellicot's
'Commentary on the N.T.,' Gospel of St. John).
It was, therefore, with the view of preparing the ordinary
Paschal Supper that the Lord now sent Peter and John.19
For the first time we see them here joined together by the Lord, these two, who
henceforth were to be so closely connected: he of deepest feeling with him of
quickest action. And their question, where He would have the Paschal
Meal prepared, gives us a momentary glimpse of the mutual relation between the
Master and His Disciples; how He was still the Master, even in their most
intimate converse, and would only tell them what to do just when it needed to
be done; and how they presumed not to ask beforehand (far less to propose, or
to interfere), but had simple confidence and absolute submission as regarded
all things. The direction which the Lord gave, while once more evidencing to
them, as it does to us, the Divine foreknowledge of Christ, had also its deep
human meaning. Evidently, neither the house where the Passover was to be kept,
nor its owner,20
was to be named beforehand within hearing of Judas. That last Meal with its
Institution of the Holy Supper, was not to be interrupted, nor their last
retreat betrayed, till all had been said and done, even to the last prayer of
Agony in Gethsemane. We can scarcely err in seeing in this combination of
foreknowledge with prudence the expression of the Divine and the Human: the
'two Natures in One Person.' The sign which Jesus gave the two Apostles reminds
us of that by which Samuel of old had conveyed assurance and direction to Saul.21
On their entrance into Jerusalem they would meet a man - manifestly a servant -
carrying a pitcher of water. Without accosting, they were to follow him, and,
when they reached the house, to deliver to its owner this message:22
'The Master saith, My time is at hand - with thee [i.e. in thy house the
emphasis is on this] I hold23
the Passover with My disciples.24
Where is My25
hostelry [or 'hall'], where I shall eat the Passover with My disciples?'26
Luke xxii. 8.
Matthew calls him 'such an one' (ton
deina). The details are furnished by St. Mark and St. Luke, and must be
gathered from those Gospels.
Sam. x. 3.
combine the words from the three Synoptists.
in St Luke and also according to the better reading in St. Mark.
Mark and St Luke.
Two things here deserve marked attention. The disciples were
not bidden ask for the chief or 'Upper Chamber,' but for what we have rendered,
for want of better, by 'hostelry,' or 'hall' - kataluma
- the place in the house where, as in an open Khan, the beasts of burden were
unloaded, shoes and staff, or dusty garment and burdens put down - if an
apartment, at least a common one, certain not the best. Except in this place,2728
the word only occurs as the designation of the 'inn' or 'hostelry' in
Bethlehem, where the Virgin-Mother brought forth her first-born Son, and laid
Him in a manger.29
He Who was born in a 'hostelry' - Katalyma - was content to ask for His
last Meal in a Katalyma. Only, and this we mark secondly, it must be His
own: 'My Katalyma.' It was a common practice, that more than one company
partook of the Paschal Supper in the same apartment.3031
In the multitude of those who would sit down to the Paschal Supper this was
unavoidable, for all partook of, including women and children,32
only excepting those who were Levitically unclean. And, though each company
might not consist of less than ten, it was not to be larger than that each
should be able to partake of at least a small portion of the Paschal Lamb33
- and we know how small lambs are in the East. But, while He only asked for His
last Meal in the Katalyma, some hall opening on the open court, Christ
would have it His own - to Himself, to eat the Passover alone with His
Apostles. Not even a company of disciples - such as the owner of the house
unquestionably was - nor yet, be it marked, even the Virgin-Mother, might be
present; witness what passed, hear what He said, or be at the first Institution
of His Holy Supper. To us at least this also recalls the words of St. Paul: 'I
have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you.'34
Mark xiv. 14: St. Luke xxii. 11.
word occurs seven times in the LXX. and twice in the Apocrypha (Ecclus. xiv.
25; 1 Macc. iii 45). But out of these nine passages only in one, 1 Sam. ix. 22,
does it stand for 'apartment.'
Luke ii. 7.
Mishnah explains certain regulations for such cases. According to the Targum
Pseudo-Jon., each company was not to consist of less than ten persons;
according to Josephus (War vi. 9. 3), of not more than twenty.
Cor. xi. 23.
There can be no reasonable doubt that, as already hinted, the
owner of the house was a disciple, although at festive seasons unbounded
hospitality was extended to strangers generally, and no man in Jerusalem
considered his house as strictly his own, far less would let it out for hire.35
But no mere stranger would, in answer to so mysterious a message, have given
up, without further questioning, his best room. Had he known Peter and John; or
recognised Him Who sent the message by the announcement that it was 'The
Master;' or by the words to which His Teaching had attached such meaning: that
His time had come; or even by the peculiar emphasis of His command: 'With thee36
I hold the Pascha with My disciples?' It matters little which it was, and, in
fact, the impression on the mind almost is, that the owner of the house had
not, indeed, expected, but held himself ready for such a call. It was the last
request of the dying Master - and could he have refused it? But he would do
more than immediately and unquestioningly comply. The Master would only ask for
'the hall:' as He was born in a Katalyma, so He would have been content
to eat there His last Meal - at the same time meal, feast, sacrifice, and
institution. But the unnamed disciple would assign to Him, not the Hall, but
the best and chiefest, 'the upper chamber,' or Aliyah, at the same time
the most honourable and the most retired place, where from the outside stairs
entrance and departure might be had without passing through the house. And 'the
upper room' was 'large,' 'furnished and ready.'37
From Jewish authorities we know, that the average dining-apartment was computed
at fifteen feet square;38
the expression 'furnished,' no doubt, refers to the arrangement of couches all
round the Table, except at its end, since it was a canon, that the very poorest
must partake of that Supper in a reclining attitude, to indicate rest,
safety, and liberty;39
while the term 'ready' seems to point to the ready provision of all that was
required for the Feast. In that case, all that the disciples would have to
'make ready' would be 'the Paschal Lamb,' and perhaps that first Chagigah,
or festive Sacrifice, which, if the Paschal Lamb itself would not suffice for
Supper, was added to it. And here it must be remembered, that it was of
religion to fast till the Paschal Supper - as the Jerusalem Talmud explains,40
in order the better to relish the Supper.
12 a; Megill, 26 a.
similarly, for example, St Mark v. 41; x. 18.
B vi. 4.
Talmud puts it that slaves were wont to take their meals standing, and that
this reclining best indicated how Israel had passed from bondage into liberty.
Perhaps it is not wise to attempt lifting the veil which rests
on the unnamed 'such an one,' whose was the privilege of being the last Host of
the Lord and the first Host of His Church, gathered within the new bond of the
fellowship of His Body and Blood. And yet we can scarcely abstain from
speculating. To us at least it seems most likely, that it was the house of
Mark's father (then still alive) - a large one, as we gather from Acts xii. 13.
For, the most obvious explanation of the introduction by St. Mark alone of such
an incident as that about the young man who was accompanying Christ as He was
led away captive, and who, on fleeing from those that would have laid hold on
him, left in their hands the inner garment which he had loosely cast about him,
as, roused from sleep, he had rushed into Gethsemane, is, that he was none
other than St. Mark himself. If so, we can understand it all: how the traitor
may have first brought the Temple-guards, who had come to seize Christ, to the
house of Mark's father, where the Supper had been held, and that, finding Him
gone, they had followed to Gethsemane, for 'Judas knew the place, for Jesus
ofttimes resorted thither with His disciples'41
- and how Mark, startled from his sleep by the appearance of the armed men,
would hastily cast about him his loose tunic and run after them; then, after
the flight of the disciples, accompany Christ, but escape intended arrest by
leaving his tunic in the hands of his would-be captors.
John xviii. 1, 2.
If the view formerly expressed is correct, that the owner of
the house had provided all that was needed for the Supper, Peter and John would
find there the Wine for the four Cups, the cakes of unleavened Bread, and
probably also 'the bitter herbs.' Of the latter five kinds are mentioned,42
which were to be dipped once in salt water, or vinegar, and another time in a
mixture called Charoseth (a compound made of nuts, raisins, apples
- although this Charoseth was not obligatory. The wine was the ordinary
one of the country, only red; it was mixed with water, generally in the
proportion of one part to two of water.44
The quantity for each of the four Cups is stated by one authority as
five-sixteenths of a log, which may be roughly computed at half a tumbler - of
course mixed with water.45
The Paschal Cup is described (according to the rubrical measure, which of
course would not always be observed) as two fingers long by two fingers broad,
and its height as a finger, half a finger, and one-third of a finger. All
things being, as we presume, ready in the furnished upper room, it would only
remain for Peter and John to see to the Paschal Lamb, and anything else
required for the Supper, possibly also to what was to be offered as Chagigah,
or festive sacrifice, and afterwards eaten at the Supper. If the latter were to
be brought, the disciples would, of course, have to attend earlier in the
Temple. The cost of the Lamb, which had to be provided, was very small. So low
a sum as about threepence of our money is mentioned for such a sacrifice.46
But this must refer to a hypothetical case rather than to the ordinary cost,
and we prefer the more reasonable computation, from one Sela47
to three Selaim,48
i.e. from 2s. 6d. to 7s. 6d. of our money.
it was symbolic of the clay on which the children of Israel worked in Egypt,
the rubric has it that it must be thick (Pes. 116 a).
contention that it was unfermented wine is not worth serious discussion,
although in modern practice (for reasons needless to mention) its use is
whole rubric is found in Jer. Pes. 37 c. The log = to the contents of
six eggs. Herzfeld (Handelsgesch. p. 184) makes 1/32 of a log = a
dessert spoon. 12 log = 1 hin.
If we mistake not, these purchases had, however, already been
made on the previous afternoon by Judas. It is not likely that they would have
been left to the last; nor that He Who had so lately condemned the traffic in
the Courts of the Temple would have sent His two disciples thither to purchase
the Paschal Lamb, which would have been necessary to secure an animal that had
passed Levitical inspection, since on the Passover-day there would have been no
time to subject it to such scrutiny. On the other hand, if Judas had made this
purchase, we perceive not only on what pretext he may have gone to Jerusalem on
the previous afternoon, but also how, on his way from the Sheep-market to the
Temple, to have his lamb inspected, he may have learned that the Chief-Priests
and Sanhedrists were just then in session in the Palace of the High-Priest
it may have been otherwise; perhaps the lamb was even procured by the owner of
the 'Upper Chamber,' since it might be offered for another. At the same time
the account in the text seems to accord best with the Gospel-narrative.
On the supposition just made, the task of Peter and John would,
indeed, have been simple. They left the house of Mark with wondering but
saddened hearts. Once more had they had evidence, how the Master's Divine
glance searched the further in all its details. They had met the servant with
the pitcher of water; they had delivered their message to the master of the
house; and they had seen the large Upper Room furnished and ready. But this
prescience of Christ afforded only further evidence, that what He had told of
His impending Crucifixion would also come true. And now it would be time for
the ordinary Evening-Service and Sacrifice. Ordinarily this began about 2.30
p.m. - the daily Evening-Sacrifice being actually offered up about an hour
later; but on this occasion, on account of the Feast, the Service was an hour
earlier.50 As at
about half-past one of our time the two Apostles ascended the Temple-Mount,
following a dense, motley crowd of joyous, chatting pilgrims, they must have
felt terribly lonely among them. In all that crowd how few to sympathise with
them; how many enemies! The Temple-Courts were thronged to the utmost by
worshippers from all countries and from all parts of the land. The Priests'
Court was filled with white-robed Priests and Levites - for on that day all the
twenty-four Courses were on duty, and all their services would be called for,
although only the Course for that week would that afternoon engage in the
ordinary service, which preceded that of the Feast. Almost mechanically would
they witness the various parts of the well-remembered ceremonial. There must
have been a peculiar meaning to them, a mournful significance, in the language
of Ps. lxxxi., as the Levites chanted it that afternoon in three sections,
broken three times by the threefold blast from the silver trumpets of the
it had been the evening from Friday to Saturday, instead of from Thursday to
Friday, it would have been two hours earlier. See the rubric in Pes. v. 1.
Before the incense was burnt for the Evening Sacrifice, or yet
the lamps in the Golden Candlestick were trimmed for the night, the
Paschal-Lambs were slain. The worshippers were admitted in three divisions
within the Court of the Priests. When the first company had entered, the
massive Nicanor Gates - which led from the Court of the Women to that of Israel
- and the other side-gates into the Court of the Priests, were closed. A
threefold blast from the Priests' trumpets intimated that the Lambs were being
slain. This each Israelite did for himself. We can scarcely be mistaken in
supposing that Peter and John would be in the first of the three companies into
which the offerers were divided; for they must have been anxious to be gone,
and to meet the Master and their brethren in that 'Upper Room.' Peter and John51
had slain the Lamb. In two rows the officiating Priest stood, up to the great
Altar of Burnt-offering. As one caught up the blood from the dying Lamb in a
golden bowl. he handed it to his colleague, receiving in return an empty bowl;
and so the blood was passed on to the Great Altar, where it was jerked in one
jet at the base of the Altar.52
While this was going on, the Hallel53
was being chanted by the Levites. We remember that only the first line of every
Psalm was repeated by the worshippers; while to every other line they responded
by a Halleluyah, till Ps. cxviii. was reached, when, besides the first,
these three lines were also repeated: -
so far as we know, not of practical importance here, we should perhaps bear in
mind that John was a priest.
we may suppose that there was a double row of priests to hand up the blood, and
several to sprinkle it, or else that the blood from one row of sacrifices was
handed to the priests in the opposite row, there could be no difficulty in the
offering of lambs sufficient for all the 'companies,' which consisted of from
ten to twenty persons.
cxiii. to cxviii.
Save now, I beseech Thee, Lord;
O Lord, I beseech Thee, send now
Blessed be He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.
Peter and John repeated them on that afternoon, the words must have sounded
most deeply significant. But their minds must have also reverted to that
triumphal Entry into the City a few days before, when Israel had greeted with
these words the Advent of their King. And now - was it not, as if it had only
been an anticipation of the Hymn, when the blood of the Paschal Lamb was being
Little more remained to be done. The sacrifice was laid on
staves which rested on the shoulders of Peter and John, flayed, cleansed, and
the parts which were to be burnt on the Altar removed and prepared for burning.
The second company of offerers could not have proceeded far in the service,
when the Apostles, bearing their Lamb, were wending their way back to the home
of Mark, there to make final preparations for the 'Supper.' The Lamb would be
roasted on a pomegranate spit that passed right through it from mouth to vent,
special care being taken that, in roasting, the Lamb did not touch the oven.
Everything else, also, would be made ready: the Chagigah for supper (if
such was used); the unleavened cakes, the bitter herbs, the dish with vinegar,
and that with Charoseth would be placed on a table which could be
carried in and moved at will; finally, the festive lamps would be prepared.
'It was probably as the sun was beginning to decline in the
horizon that Jesus and the other ten disciples descended once more over the
Mount of Olives into the Holy City. Before them lay Jerusalem in her festive
attire. All around, pilgrims were hastening towards it. White tents dotted the
sward, gay with the bright flowers of early spring, or peered out from the
gardens or the darker foliage of the olive plantations. From the gorgeous
Temple buildings, dazzling in their snow-white marble and gold, on which the
slanting rays of the sun were reflected, rose the smoke of the Altar of
Burnt-offering. These courts were now crowded with eager worshippers, offering
for the last time, in the real sense, their Paschal Lambs. The streets must
have been thronged with strangers, and the flat roofs covered with eager
gazers, who either feasted their eyes with a first sight of the sacred City for
which they had so often longed, or else once more rejoiced in view of the
well-known localities. It was the last day-view which the Lord could take, free
and unhindered, of the Holy City till His Resurrection. Once more, in the
approaching night of His Betrayal, would He look upon it in the pale light of
the full moon. He was going forward to accomplish His Death in Jerusalem; to
fulfil type and prophecy, and to offer Himself up as the true Passover Lamb -
"the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the world." They who followed
Him were busy with many thoughts. They knew that terrible events awaited them,
and they had only shortly before been told that these glorious
Temple-buildings, to which, with a national pride not unnatural, they had
directed the attention of their Master, were to become desolate, not one stone
being left upon the other. Among them, revolving his dark plans, and goaded on
by the great Enemy, moved the betrayer. And now they were within the City. Its
Temple, its royal bridge, its splendid palaces, its busy marts, its streets
filled with festive pilgrims, were well known to them, as they made their way to
the house where the guest-chamber had been prepared. Meanwhile, the crowd came
down from the Temple-Mount, each bearing on his shoulders the sacrificial Lamb,
to make ready for the Paschal Supper.'54