Jesus Christ Our Passover
THE ELEVENTH OF NISAN
This day has come to be known as “Palm Sunday,” named for the palm branches involved with Christ’s 1st entry* and possibly with his 2nd entry** into Jerusalem.
* John 12: 13 – Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. [Palm trees represent joy and triumph.]
** Matthew 21: 8 – And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
Mark 11: 20 -- And in the morning, [this is the Sunday morning after the record in Mark 11: 12 to 19, which was on Saturday] as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
Jesus had cursed this same fig tree the previous day while on the way from Bethany to Jerusalem. This is stated in Mark 11: 12 to 19. Peter was amazed that in less than 24 hours, the tree had already dried up.
Mark 11: 21 to 24 -- And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
Literally stated: "Have the believing of God".
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
Jesus used this fig tree to demonstrate for his disciples and teach the great Law of Believing. [See The Law Of Believing – Parts 1, 2 & 3]. Having cursed the tree on Saturday morning as they were traveling from Bethany to Jerusalem, on Sunday morning they found it dried up from the roots. Jesus paused to teach his disciples the great law of believing before continuing to Jerusalem. This brings us to a similar, though not identical, event in Matthew 21. Do you see why the Word of God must be RIGHTLY DIVIDED? It has to be a perfectly right cutting.
Matthew 21: 18 -- Now in the morning [the eleventh of Nisan, Sunday morning; we have seen the events of Matthew 21: 1 to 17 to be on Saturday] as he returned into [eis] the city, he hungered.
This event occurred on the same morning that we just read about in Mark 11: 20. Here in Matthew 21: 18, however, Jesus had returned into (eis) the city of Jerusalem.
Matthew 21: 19a -- And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only. . . .
Just like the fig tree of Mark 11: 12 and 13 which grew by the way leading from Bethany to Jerusalem, so this fig tree within Jerusalem had only leaves and no buds that could later turn into fruit. The tree in Mark had been cursed outside the city the preceding Saturday morning, and was found withered as they returned to Jerusalem on Sunday. But this tree was inside the city and was cursed there on Sunday morning. Matthew 21 notes another great difference between these two incidents.
Matthew 21: 19b -- . . . and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently [immediately] the fig tree withered away.
This second fig tree withered away immediately while the previous one died overnight. The first fig tree had amazed Peter while this one startled the disciples.
Matthew 21: 20 -- And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!
Jesus Christ took advantage of the situation again to teach the law of believing.
Matthew 21: 21 and 22 -- Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Twice that Sunday morning, Jesus demonstrated to his followers how he manifested the law of believing. He established this law to his disciples that day with two similar miracles. The first miracle involved cursing a fig tree on Saturday and finding it dried up by the next morning. The second miracle involved cursing another fig tree on Sunday morning and seeing it wither away before their eyes. This completely established for his followers the law of believing, a law which would be so crucial for the disciples to operate in their walk with God.
Genesis 41: 32 tells us that when God says something twice, it is established.
Genesis 41: 32 – And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.
The incidents of two unfruitful fig trees are good examples of similar events being mistaken as identical by the casual reader. Scriptures must complement and corroborate one another and can never contradict each other. Only when private interpretation and theology try to make the two cursed fig trees identical do problems arise. The two records of the fig trees will never be understood if the details are not carefully compared – rightly divided. That is why God's Word must be allowed to interpret itself. Time, place, and circumstances must be carefully noted. The Scriptures cannot be broken or manipulated to fit our theology. They are not to be tampered with to make them say what a reader has preconceived in his mind. When God's Word is allowed to speak for itself, we see its great perfection.
Leaving the withered fig tree behind, Jesus Christ and his disciples entered the Temple once again. Remember, it was still the morning of Sunday, the eleventh of Nisan.
Mark 11: 27 -- And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there came to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders.
Matthew 21: 23 -- And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?
With this, Jesus began a discourse in the Temple with the religious leaders. As he had done so often, he confronted their craftiness with boldness, wisdom, and the use of parables. His discourse this day was a penetrating and courageous presentation in the presence of his critics and those who were seeking to put him to death. They tried to undermine and intimidate him with tempting questions, but Jesus continually responded to them in such a way as to unmask their hypocrisy.
Jesus also gave several parables which included unmistakable references to the religious leaders present. Much of what he said was for the benefit of his many disciples present. Jesus Christ was being confronted by Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians - three groups which normally had very little to do with each other, in fact, they usually opposed each other. However, on this rare occasion, these three groups had a mutual point of agreement: to trap, humiliate, and destroy Jesus of Nazareth, who was a threat to each of their religious and political positions and followings. Did they care about the Word of God? Jesus spoke the two great commandments and finally denounced the religious leaders in front of all. He completed his discourse with a prophecy concerning Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. Then he arose and left the Temple.
(See Matthew 21: 23 to 23: 39 for the complete discourse in the Temple. It is also recorded in Mark 11: 28 -12: 44 and Luke 20: 1 to 21: 4.)
Mark 13: 1 and 2 -- And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!
And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Luke 21: 5 and 6 -- And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
The disciples wanted Jesus to admire the magnificence of the Temple. Yet, Jesus Christ saw beyond its outward appearance and prophesied of the Temple's destruction. The Temple at this time, though beautiful and immense, was still under construction in its outer courts. The building of Herod's Temple and its courts had begun around 20 B.C. It was finally finished in 64 A.D. Six years later, in 70 A.D., the Roman general Titus destroyed the grand structure. This destruction by the Romans was the event of which Jesus Christ prophesied. That’s the rightly divided Word of God – not guesswork.
Leaving the Temple area, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives where four of his disciples privately asked him to explain his statements.
Mark 13: 3 and 4 -- And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
In answering them, Jesus began another discourse which included items directly relating to the apostles as well as future events recorded in the Book of Revelation.
(This discourse is recorded in Luke 21: 7 to 38, Mark 13: 3 to 37, and Matthew 24: 3 to 25: 46.)
Biblical students must constantly remind themselves that these teachings and prophecies from the Gospels deal basically with Israel. They do not relate to the Church of the Body to which you and I belong. The Church of the Body was a mystery, hid in God until revealed to the Apostle Paul. This discourse on the Mount of Olives is for our learning; but it is not addressed to us. The Church of the Body and Christ's return to gather it were not the subject of Jesus' teaching here, for they were revealed later in the Church Epistles. Not realizing this fact has caused great confusion in the Christian church. Portions of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation give further details on what Jesus Christ was expounding.
By the time Jesus became involved in this discourse with these four men, it was probably afternoon. When Jesus finished telling his disciples about the future events relating to Israel, he told them of his imminent death, and the method by which he would die.
Matthew 26: 1 and 2 -- And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,
Ye know that after two days is the feast of [omit the italicized words] the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
The italicized words are inaccurate additions by the translators and should be deleted. "After two days" means "after two days have passed." Since he was speaking very late on the eleventh, the "two days" must have been Monday the twelfth and Tuesday the thirteenth. That correctly places the Passover after these days on the fourteenth. Jesus knew his death was imminent and would take place sometime after Passover began on the fourteenth, though he did not yet know the exact hour. The specifics of Jesus' death become important later.
So Christ told his disciples of his impending crucifixion. After witnessing his powerful deeds and the miracles of the past few days, to think of their bold and powerful Lord dying such a demeaning death must have overwhelmed his followers. To the apostles, Jesus' statement must have seemed unbelievable, puzzling. But God's adversary, Satan, was using the religious leaders as they conspired together to capture and kill Jesus Christ.
Matthew 26: 3 to 5 -- Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,
And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty [seize by guile], and kill him.
But they said, Not on the feast day, [omit "day"] lest there be an uproar among the people.
Imagine the fury of the priests, scribes, and elders after Jesus had rebuked them before the people earlier in the day. Now these leaders gathered to consider ways of killing him. It is interesting that God's Word shows Jesus Christ having this knowledge revealed to him before the religious leaders even began their scheming. God always has His people a step ahead of the Adversary. The priests, scribes, and elders wanted Jesus Christ dead before the fifteenth, the day of holy convocation, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They feared the reaction of the people if they were to have Jesus killed during the Feast. A record of this identical situation is found in Mark 14.
Mark 14: 1 and 2 -- After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.
But they said, Not on [during] the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.
Once again, the italicized words must be omitted. The word "of" preceding "unleavened bread" should be "the."
Mark 14: 1a – [Literal] After two days was the passover and the unleavened bread . . . .
The known events of the eleventh of Nisan conclude with the conspiracy of the religious leaders.