The Passover was held in remembrance of the deliverance of Israel, (not the Jews) from Egypt. The first occasion of this remembrance feature that the Bible records is that event recorded in the fifth chapter of Joshua. It was the occasion of their crossing the Jordan to the land of their fathers. It was then that they began to realize the meaning of deliverance. The hardships of the wilderness were now over and with grateful hearts they could and did direct their foot steps to their individual God-given inheritance, throw off their dusty, timeworn garments that had stood them good for forty years of trekking in the wilderness and repose peacefully in their new-found homes. At last reaching a place, where no man dared to make them afraid.
Let us now consider an additional phase. We mentioned the fact of the Israelites sitting down to supper on the 14th day of the first month at even. Read verse 10 of chapter 5 of Joshua. “And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the 14th day of the month AT EVEN in the plains of Jericho.” Let me repeat the last part of that verse, “and kept the Passover on the 14th day of the month at even.”
You will remember that during the afternoon of the 14th day of the month, the Priests or heads of families were slaying lambs of one year old in preparation for the Passover. They performed all this at the going down of the sun, that is in the afternoon of the 14th day and at even they ate their evening meal. That was their Passover Supper. It was eaten on the 14th of the month at even. The people at this time reckoned the dividing line between one day and the next as at sunset. This order of change is recorded in the first chapter of Genesis, and it was so estimated in all the Old Testament, at sunset another day was born. Remember: “The evening and the morning were the first day.”
Now to go back to Joshua, chapter 5, verse 10. They kept the Passover on the 14th day of the month at even. Our Lord celebrated this same Passover event in His Day with His Disciples on the 14th day of the first month at even in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. It was there that He ate the Passover with His Disciples on the evening of the last day of his life on earth in the flesh. But remember this, that the next day – as we would call it – though it was the same day as they estimated time – for their evening meal continued till after sunset, which was in their estimation the 15th day of the month – it was on the 15th day of the month at noon that our Lord, on the Cross, became our Passover. This is the event of Christian remembrance. This was not the Passover Supper; it was the Feast of the Passover, of which they partook every year throughout all of their national existence as a remembrance or sign of the great deliverance from sin, in which we all as Christians rejoice.
Let me now give another interesting detail on this Passover Period of the year, and I quote from David Davidson.
“Then followed the great passing-over of death from mankind – the midnight agony in the garden of Gethsemane – prefigured 1515 years before on the same day of the week, month, and year by the passing-over of the angel of death. In both cases the “blood” was the “token” of the passing-over that was to take place at midnight to deliver, in the one case, Israel from the bondage of the Egyptians, and in the other case, mankind from the bondage of sin and death.
Following His agony was the active betrayal by Judas. This was after the midnight of 15th Nisan, which is clearly shown by the narrative of the gospels. On the afternoon of 12th Nisan our Lord said: “After two days is the feast of the Passover and the Son of man is betrayed TO BE crucified.” (Matt. 26:2). The parallel phrase in Mark 14:1 concerning the same date – equates the “feast of the Passover” with “the feast of unleavened bread.” The statement of our Lord therefore defines that from the afternoon of 12th Nisan two days were to intervene prior to His betrayal. This means that His betrayal was to follow the afternoon of 14th Nisan, and therefore to occur some time during the 15th Nisan. The narrative of the betrayal fixes the hour as between midnight and dawn, obviously of 15th Nisan. Now it is the betrayal that is thus dated and not the Crucifixion. Our Lord’s Last Supper preceded this betrayal and therefore occurred in the evening beginning 15th Nisan.”