Passover: Tough Questions

There was a question in one of the comments on my last post. The lady quoted her pastor who had written: There is a fickleness to the crowd which proclaims ‘Hosanna!’ one day and is screaming ‘Crucify him!’ a week later,” and then she asked me: “Do you agree with this view? Is it the same crowd of people who sang Hosanna and later cried Crucify him?” This is a very serious question. I spent years trying to understand why “the crowd” cried, “Crucify him” and why his own received him not. I wrote books addressing this subject (as well as several articles on these pages) – but I believe there is still much to be said, and the Passover season would be a very proper time to turn again to this question.

Why Sunday?

First, let us ponder the Palm Sunday phenomenon. Why did Jesus enter Jerusalem on that particular Sunday? Many Christian readers still don’t know that the answer to this question should be sought in Exodus 12. At the beginning of this chapter, God instructed that the lamb that was to be slain on the eve of the Exodus, had to be separated out four days beforehand:

In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house… And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

I wrote several posts on this blog, dealing with the events of Jesus’ last week (see, for instance, https://blog.israelbiblicalstudies.com/jewish-studies/last-supper-sign-jonah-2-2/). I am not going to reconstruct the logic of those articles here, I would just remind you that on Wednesday, Nisan 13, the disciples prepared this special meal that we call the Last Supper and that was, in fact, seudah maphsehket – the last meal before the Galilean Fast of the Firstborns. Jesus and his disciples ate this meal on Wednesday night, at the beginning of the Passover, as the day changed to Nisan 14. Then Jesus was arrested at night, tried and convicted early on Thursday morning, and crucified during the day – and all this happened during Passover day, Nisan 14, Thursday. Thus, on Thursday, Nisan 14, Jesus died on the cross; therefore, he had to enter Jerusalem the very same day when the perfect lamb was to be set apart – on the 10th of Nisan.

His Own Received Him Not

Do you remember the very last question the disciples asked Jesus here on the earth? This one question is enough to understand how great the difference was between the redemption Israel was looking for and that which Jesus brought. Open the Book of Acts and in the very beginning, in the scene preceding His ascension, you will read: ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’[1] Please note that they are asking this, not only after three years of uninterrupted fellowship with Him, but after His death on the cross and resurrection, after the forty days He had appeared to them, teaching and explaining the mysteries of God’s plan to them. Theirs was a typical question—the Messiah that Israel was waiting for had to bring redemption and salvation to the people of Israel!

Faith in a kingly Messiah who would restore the throne of David and hence the kingdom to Israel, was an inseparable component of faith in God, and was based on a Biblical promise. ‘I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.’[2] No devout, believing person in Israel could imagine that God would send His salvation by a savior that would not save His people – and even the disciples He had chosen and taught, continued to expect this from Him! What does it say then, about all the other multitudes of Israelites who, listening to His messages and seeing His miracles, were absolutely convinced that sooner or later He would be sure to begin saving and restoring Israel? What does it say about “the crowd” – the same crowd that cried “Crucify Him”?

Now we can go back to the question that I was asked: “Is it the same crowd of people who sang Hosanna, that later cried Crucify him?” My answer will inevitably be very simplified; however, for the sake of clarity, I will allow myself this simplified approach here. “Hosanna” designates the fact that the Jewish people waited for Messiah; “Crucify him” refers to the fact that Jesus was not the Messiah of Jewish concept. Jesus did not come in accordance with normal Jewish Messianic expectations. He ascended the altar, not the throne of David. He wasn’t sent to restore the kingdom of Israel, as was expected of the Messiah, and in this sense all the Messianic promises that Israel associated with the coming of the Messiah, in fact, remained unfulfilled during His first coming. Therefore, out of faithfulness to God and His Word the people of Israel simply could not accept Jesus as their Messiah, since in their understanding this would have contradicted the Scriptures! Neither was it their choice.

What do I mean? The fact that Jesus ascended the altar, not the throne—the fact that He came to give Himself as an offering—was so extraordinary that, just as it was with Peter, not flesh and blood but only the Father who is in heaven[3], could reveal it by His Spirit.  No one but God Himself can restrain or open spiritual eyes[4]. It was His decision, His choice, His plan – and in full accordance with this plan, Jesus came to Israel as the Hidden Messiah—as though hiding his face[5].

According to this plan, our people could not only not recognize Him, but they were not supposed to recognize Him!

Next time, we will continue to discuss this topic – but today, before I finish this article, I would like to remind you of one scene from the New Testament. In Luke 19, when Jesus approached Jerusalem: He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.  For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Knowing that He came not only for His own suffering but also for the suffering of His own people – chosen not to recognize and thus to become “enemies for your sake” – Jesus weeps openly over all the torment to be unleashed on Israel in His name…

 

[1] Acts 1:6

[2] 2 Sam. 7:12-14

[3] Mat.16:16

[4] See the article about “restrained eyes”: https://blog.israelbiblicalstudies.com/jewish-studies/keys-transitional-chapter-key-one/.

[5] Isa 53:3. You can read more about this prophecy and about Jesus being Hidden Messiah for Israel, in my book with the same title: As Though Hiding His Face.

Excerpts from my books are included in this article  (and many other posts here), so if you like the articles on this blog, you might enjoy also my books,  you can get them here Also, I  would like to remind you,dear friends,  that eTeacher offers a wonderful course, where you can learn from Parashot Shavua commentaries along with their New Testament interpretation. As always, you are welcome to contact me for more information (juliab@eteachergroup.com).  

About the author

Julia BlumJulia is a teacher and an author of several books on biblical topics. She teaches two biblical courses at the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, “Discovering the Hebrew Bible” and “Jewish Background of the New Testament”, and writes Hebrew insights for these courses.

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  1. David Oberdieck

    I think your explanation is very plausible, and it has some insightful comments indeed. I believe the simplest answer is that the crowds shouting Hosanna and the crowds shouting crucify are not the same. Jerusalem would be overflowing with pilgrims – thousands upon thousands. Outside the city, you can imagine, would be Jesus’ followers especially from His Galilean ministry. The crowds brought before Pilate would naturally be hand picked (so to speak) by the religious establishment in order to put maximum pressure on Pilate.

  2. Eve fitton

    Was not the year Jesus died Passover falling on the sabbath day, exactly as this year 2021?
    Ève

    1. Julia Blum

      Hi Eve, since there have been so many different concepts and traditions over these two millennia, we can’t say for sure what year it was and therefore, we don’t know which day Passover was. It is very difficult to reconcile the gospel accounts on this issue. I’ve just published a new post dealing with the events of the Last Week, and I explain there how I personally see these events, hopefully there you will find the answers.

  3. Gabriel M Hakeem

    Hi Julia,
    Congrats for this extraordinary insight
    I would like to comment on two points:
    [ Jesus did not come in accordance with normal Jewish Messianic expectations. He ascended the altar, not the throne of David. He wasn’t sent to restore the kingdom of Israel, as was expected of the Messiah, and in this sense all the Messianic promises that Israel associated with the coming of the Messiah, in fact, remained unfulfilled during His first coming.]
    You are absolutely right and I support this vision. Yes, I believe that the Messiah in His 1st coming did not come to restore the kingdom of Israel by saving them from the Romans, but to redeem the whole world from sin.
    Regarding your smart question: “Is it the same crowd of people who sang Hosanna, that later cried Crucify him?”, simply I say yes, they were the same crowd and the evidence is in (Romans 11: 25).
    Restoration of the kingdom will be later on, at the end times, after Rapture of the church and the great tribulation “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30: 7)… etc.
    On the other hand, what you wrote about crucifixion day is confusing me a lot: [ Jesus and his disciples ate this meal on Wednesday night, at the beginning of the Passover, as the day changed to Nisan 14. Then Jesus was arrested at night, tried and convicted early on Thursday morning, and crucified during the day – and all this happened during Passover day, Nisan 14, Thursday.].
    Was Jesus crucified on Thursday or Friday? I need a clear answer because scripture evidence points to Friday.

    Stay blessed
    Thank you.

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you, Gabriel, for your kind words and for your thoughtful comment. As for your question, when Jesus was crucified, I just wrote another post dealing with the events of the Last Week. It will be published tomorrow (Thursday), hopefully there you will find the answers! Blessings!

  4. Gladys Fox

    Thank you Julia, as always you teach so much and God answers many of my questions through your teachings .
    I believe that Jesus died on Thursday . The problem comes down to two words “on” or “after” Some places it say on the third day and others say after . Now there is no way that we could tell what the days of the week Passover fell in that year. We do however know that Jesus rose on Sunday . I believe that after the third day is correct. Now to me being in the center of the earth doesn’t mean buried . I believe that His Soul went to visit the souls of those who had died and to stand face to face with Satan to tell him that he will be destroyed in a short time if he doesn’t change his ways.
    So now if Jesus died on Thursday then that would be the first day and night . Friday would the second day and night and Saturday would be the third day and night therefore Sunday would be AFTER the third day .

    Now I have a question .If Jesus died at the same time the Passover lambs died how did He then eat the Seder and sing the Hallel ? See Matthew 26:17-30 and Mark 14 12-26 . Was there only one Passover lamb or many ? Did each family or group have a Passover lamb ? When people say that Jesus died during the sacrificing of the Passover lamb do they mean the same time of day ,but a different day ? I believe that Jesus was a very special Sacrificial Lamb and would have His own Special Day to be Sacrificed so that Passover would still be remembered for it’s own importance .

    I am learning so please be patient if I make mistakes in that learning .
    May God Bless you all !!

    1. Julia Blum

      Dear Gladys, I am always happy to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words! I agree with you, I don’t think it was Seder, either. I just wrote another post dealing with the events of the Last Week, and I explain there how I personally see these events. It will be published tomorrow (Thursday), hopefully there you will find the answers.

  5. Dorothy HEALY

    A profound answer indeed Julia – which makes perfect sense. Not only did Jesus not fulfil their expectations, but it seemed he was an imposter, a deceiver – in their eyes, certainly he deserved the death penalty then. How could they have imagined what his death would purchase for them?

  6. Theodor van der Waard

    Hello Julia! I was really excited about your reaction. So full of insight. I just wondered one thing. If Jesus rose from the death at the start of the first day (directly after the sabbath had ended) and calculate back, shouldn’t he have died on Wednesday, as he would be three days and three nights in the grave, just as Jonah the prophet had been? Well if so than it seems to me that the farewell evening (John 13-17) was to be on Tuesday evening, the slaughtering of the Passover lamb on Wednesday evening, when Jesus had died before and was taken from the cross and buried in the tomb at the end of Wednesday at maybe 7.p.m. (three days and nights from here would be on Saturday, just after sabbath ended, the beginning of the first day (Sunday).
    Can you prove me wrong? And how should we understand the 6 days before Passover? Thursday, Friday? Did they have the meal on Sabbath Eve? (Friday evening) How would you respond?

    1. Scott Miller

      Yes, He died on Wednesday, preparation day as the lambs were being slaughtered Yeshua was also being killed. They had to hurry to get Him buried because the High Sabbath-Unleavened Bread- was to begin at sunset. When you read the scriptures you see the zteo Marys went to buy supplies to give Him a proper burial. That was Friday. They couldn’t have done that Thurs or Saturday.

      He likely rose as the weekly Sabbath-Saturday- ended. Then the women came to the grave either very late Saturday night or very early Sunday morning. He was in the grave a full 3 days and 3 nights, as He said.

      1. Theodor van der Waard

        Hi Scott. Great! However, there seems yet to be a problem. If the lamb is to be taken into the jewish home 4 days before it had to be slaughtered then this was to happen during the previous sabbth, not on palm sunday as it’s just three days from Sunday to Wednesday. So when how to explain this?

    2. Julia Blum

      Hi Theodor, I started to respond to your question, and then I realized that I would probably have to write another post dealing with the events of the Last Week. Stay tuned, please, hopefully in my next article you will find the answers! Blessings!

      1. Theodor van der Waard

        Great!! I am looking forward to it!