13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
On a number of occasions, the gospel states that Jesus celebrated a Jewish Passover (5:1; 6:4; 7:2). Given the spread of various Jewish movements in Ancient Roman Empire, no one in the original audience, even when first century Gentiles read this text, needed to be told that Passover was a Jewish holiday. Everyone with any interest towards Christian claims already knew that Passover had something to do with Ancient Israel, since the general Jewish presence was numerous and well spread throughout the Empire.
The designation “Jewish” for Passover that was celebrated by both groups (Samaritans, Jews among other Israelite groups) interestingly enough is stated each time this feast is mentioned (Jn. 2:13, 6:4; 7:2; 11:51, 55), but strikingly the winter Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) did not have the word “Jewish” attached to it at all (Jn.10:22). This was so because the Samaritans did not celebrate this holiday and hence it needed no such specification whose calendar it followed. Remember that the Samaritans rejected the legitimacy of the Jerusalem temple and would have had no reason to celebrate the cleansing and rededication of Jerusalem Temple.
Other than Samaritan and Jewish Passovers there were also others Passovers celebrated according to different Israeli calendars. So it was very important to specify which Passover did Jesus observed. Jesus was not a Samaritan. Nor was he a Qumranite. He was in fact a Galilean, Jerusalem-centered Israelite. In a word he was a Jew.
To receive more information about learning Biblical Languages with Hebrew University of Jerusalem/eTeacher Biblical program online at affordable cost, please, click here.
© By Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, Ph.D.
To sign up for weekly posts by Dr. Eli, please, click here. It is recommend by Dr. Eli that you read everything from the begining in his study of John. You can do so by clicking here – “Samaritan-Jewish Commentary”.
Join the conversation (6 comments)
It is said Jesus celebrated the Jewish Passover because He was Jewish–can we say with certainty Jesus celebrated the Passover as it was being celebrated conventionally, at a time when the Jews were not keeping the instruction of Moses, and apparently had not been, from the time in the wilderness (Joshua 5:2-9) to the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:51-53)? Even though it might look to the disinterested, dispassionate outside observer that they were, evidence points to that they weren’t.
It seems there might have been two ways to do this (besides Samaritan vs Jewish): as the Jews were doing, or as Moses instructed.
This way it would make sense, that He and Stephen, both of whom exhorted obedience to the law of God as taught by Moses, would both be falsely accused of “ceasing not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law”.
The reasons it is stated that the Jesus celebrated Jewish Passover is because there were different Passovers celebrated. One that comes to mind is Samaritan Passover. (Read about Samaritans in the introduction to the commentary. You may be surprised to learn few very important facts about them and why this is important (http://iibsblogs.wpengine.com/samaritan-jewish-commentary-on-gospel-of-john/).
Keeping the Law by Israel is a very complex issue that cannot be addressed here. One must first get rid of the anti-Jewish views and approaches and only then re-approach the texts afresh. This is very hard to do indeed and sometimes takes years to grasp a new.
It’s my understanding that the “seder” was in the process of being formalized about this time. Does this have any bearing on what it meant to “celebrate” the Pesach to the Jews of that time?
Formalized? probably not…. but it was certainly in works and being develope in natural way.
There are many “sedarim” all around the world; sometime, I heared that there were more than 1500 hagadot (seders)!! this speaks about the natural development of the “celebration” mantaining a basic structure; remember that remain indeed the Minhagim and the Nusachim about the texts…
Excellent… I only want to put here that by expressions like this one, mistaken, many christians assume that Pesach is indeed an exclusive Jewish celebration (not a God’s commandment, a Mitzvah for those who like celebrate it, as says the Hagadah…כל דצריך Kal di tzrich…) and maintain so, a separation and unpluging with ‘Am Yisra’el, and didn’t take in account this beautiful recordatory… God is one, and his Wife ‘am Yisra’el, is one!