How could it have been after sunset, commencing Preparation Day, that Jesus told His disciples to prepare for the Passover meal when Mark 14:17 indicates it was "evening" that Jesus and the twelve arrived to eat their meal?

Email Received:

I so appreciated your in depth explanation to answer some questions I have had for years about the 3 days and 3 nights prophecy. I still am confused though as to how Jesus could be on the cross and giving up his spirit on the same day as the lambs were sacrificed (Preparation Day), when both Mark and Luke state that "the day that was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb" was when Jesus' disciples asked Him where they should prepare to eat the Passover (Mark 14:12 and Luke 22:7-9). This was the day before His crucifixion, right?

I can understand Jesus celebrating it a day early, as you suggest, but this seems to be the normal day, not a day early. Wasn't He sacrificed the next day, not that day? We know it couldn't have been after sundown (thus making it be the next day) that Jesus was telling the disciples to go and prepare a room for them to eat, because Mark 14:17 says, after Jesus told them to go into the city, "when evening came, Jesus arrived with the twelve." So how could Jesus have been sacrificed the same day as was the customary day to sacrifice the lambs? I would love to understand this more fully as My heart says what you are saying must be true.

Ted's Response:

That is a great question, and I understand what you are saying. Frankly, I have scratched my head over the same issue. I've never found another advocate of a Thursday crucifixion who has brought up this issue. So although I have not formulated a firm belief about this, I will tell you what I have surmised about it.

I suspect that the meaning of the Greek word translated "evening" in Mark 14:17 is misunderstood, just as the Hebrew word translated "twilight" in Exodus 12:6 is misunderstood. Most people think the latter refers to the time at or after sunset; however "twilight" (beyn ha’arbayim in Hebrew) is translated "between the evenings" (that is, between the minor evening oblation and the major evening oblation). So it refers to the time at mid-afternoon or about 3:00 pm.

Likewise, some might consider "evening" to begin at sunset or soon thereafter. However, I would see "dusk" as beginning at sunset, and I am making a supposition that the translation of the word "evening" in Greek would indicate the time when actual darkness begins, perhaps 1 to 1˝ hour after the moment the sun has set.

Thus, I would say that Jesus told His disciples at about sunset, beginning Aviv (Nisan) 14 (Preparation Day), to go make the Pesach or Passover preparations. There is an indication that the upper room was "furnished"; it seems to indicate that some or all of the food and items for the Passover meal already were there. This would make sense to me, since Jesus miraculously had directed them to the man carrying water who was the owner of the house and who would allow them to use the room (Luke 22:10-12).

It seems to me that God supernaturally had caused the man to make available, beforehand, the main things (such as bread and wine) that they would need. If so, it would have taken only a relatively short time for the disciples to collect the items and spread them out on the table.

Some might wonder, "But how could they have had the time to slaughter and roast a lamb?" As I have explained in the lamb subsection of my Good Thursday commentary, I feel it was unlikely that a lamb was eaten by Jesus and His disciples. Not only was He the ultimate Passover Lamb for humanity (1 Corinthians 5:7), the regular Passover lambs were not to be slain until mid-afternoon on Aviv 14 (Preparation Day), which also was when Jesus died.

I cannot conclusively demonstrate or prove that what I have implied to you, about the word translated from the Greek as "evening," is factual and accurate. However, I do feel confident that Jesus and His disciples ate their "last supper" after dark on the evening of Aviv 14 (within a couple of hours after Aviv 13 had ended at sunset). Then at mid-afternoon (still on Aviv 14), Jesus died on the cross as our Passover Lamb.

Return to Email Questions and Ted’s Responses

Go to Ted’s Bible Commentaries and Other Links

View the New International Version of the Bible

Go to Ted’s Homepage