Biblical Period 11
Lesson # 26


Beloved Heavenly Father,

Your servant the Roman priest and apologist Tertullian rightly proclaimed when speaking of the Resurrection of Your Son that "The flesh is the hinge of salvation!"  Tertullian understood that it is precisely this flesh which brings about our transformation in the final resurrection.  Elaborating on this theme Your servant St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, invited the faithful to compare the transformation of the simple host by the power of the Holy Spirit into the Holy Eucharist to the transformation we anticipate of our own bodies when Christ descends on "the Last Day" to summon all the ages of the dead: "Just as bread that comes from the earth, after God's blessing [...] is no longer ordinary bread, but Eucharist, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but possess the hope of resurrection." We thank you Father for giving us Your beloved Son in the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist.  Help us to be ever mindful of the mystical union to which we are called when we receive the glorified flesh of Your precious Son, whose Body, Blood, Soul, and divinity permit us to enter into the divine life of the Most Holy Trinity.  We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen!




"Ill-treated and afflicted, he never opened his mouth, like a lamb led to the slaughter-house, like a sheep dumb before its shearers, he never opened his mouth. [...]  It was Yahweh's good pleasure to crush him with pain; if he gives his life as a sin offering, ...[..]  Hence I shall give him a portion wit the many and he will share the booty with the mighty, for having exposed himself to death and for being counted as one of the rebellious, whereas he was bearing the sin of many and interceding for the rebellious." Isaiah 53:7, 10, 12


"Look the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall make a new covenant with the House of Israel (and the House of Judah), but not like the covenant I made with their ancestors [...].  No, this is the covenant I shall make with the House of Israel when those days have come, Yahweh declares.  Within them I shall plant my Law, writing it on their hearts.  Then I shall be their God and they will be my people.  There will be no further need for everyone to teach neighbor or brother, saying 'Learn to know Yahweh!'  No, they will all know me, from the least to the greatest, Yahweh declares, since I shall forgive their guilt and never more call their sin to mind." Jeremiah 31:31-34


Please read Luke 9:28-36: The Transfiguration: Jesus reveals His glory!

In each of the Gospels accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke Jesus warns His Apostles and disciples on 3 different occasions of His coming Passion: "He said, 'The Son of man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day." This is the first prophecy of His Passion in Luke 9:22 [also see Matthew 16:21 and Mark 8:31].  To encourage and strengthen the Apostles for the Covenant ordeal they must endure Jesus will reveal His glory to the Peter and the brothers James and John Zebedee. 


Question: Before their eyes Jesus is transformed.  Suddenly two men are seen talking with Jesus.  Who are these men and what are they discussing?

Answer: The Apostles see Jesus with the prophets Moses and Elijah.  These are the two Old Covenant servants of Yahweh who sum up the entire body of revelation in the Old Testament: the Law and the Prophets.  They are speaking with Jesus about His "exodus" [Greek word for "departure"] from Jerusalem.  Moses led an "exodus" to the Promise Land of Canaan and now Jesus prepares for His "exodus" leading His children to the Promised Land of God's heavenly kingdom.


Question: Peter is overcome with emotion and makes a suggestion to Jesus.  What suggestion does he make and why?

Answer: Peter suggests that they make booths or shelters for all of them here on the mountain.  This seems an odd suggestion but not if it was the season of the 7th  Sacred Feast, the Pilgrim feast of Tabernacles or Shelters [Sukkot in Hebrew] which is celebrated for a week in Jerusalem by living in booths or shelters made of branches.  Perhaps Peter has already realized that it is no longer necessary to keep the Old Covenant feasts-- that the Old Covenant has been transformed and now in the presence of God the Messiah it is no longer necessary to go to the old Temple in Jerusalem!


Question: What supranational event happens as Peter is speaking?  What prophesy is recalled in this event?

Answer: The Presence of God hovers over them in a cloud and they hear the voice of God speaking from within the Glory Cloud.  God's words recall the command in the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:17-18 to "listen to Him" referring to the prophet-Messiah promised in that revelation.

Question: Look up that passage.  What is the penalty for not "listening" to the promise Messiah-Prophet?

Answer: Deut. 18:19b "Anyone who refuses to listen to my words, spoken by him in my name, will have to render an account to me."

Question: Are we still bound by this same obligation?

Answer: Yes.  At the end of our lives we will come before the great judgment throne of Yahweh-Elohim and He will ask each of us "Did you listen and obey my words spoken by Jesus Christ?" It is at that moment when each of us will be able to judge the success or failure of our lives.

The Jesus' Judean Ministry


Please read Luke 9:51- 19:27:

During this, the last phase of Jesus' ministry He is transforming the Old Sinai Covenant into a New and eternal Covenant which has been:

¨      Intensified:  sin is no longer restricted to just the act of sinning but one's thoughts as well as ones deeds will come under judgment

¨      Internalized: hearts must be circumcised not just flesh

¨      Internationalized: salvation will no longer identified with one ethnic group


Jesus of Nazareth spent 3 years traveling the length and breath of Israel calling God's Covenant people as a shepherd calls His flock. 

Question: Was Jesus sent to call the Gentiles as well as the Jews into the New Covenant family?

Answer: No, He was sent only to the Jews as He told His disciples concerning the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:25 "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel."  Jesus had come as Yahweh had promise to "save the sheep of the House of Israel" to call the faithful remnant to salvation and to send them forth to transform the Gentile  nations of the world into the world-wide blessing promised to Abraham in Genesis 12.  This call of the faithful remnant to transform the world is know as "the Great Commission" [see Matthew 29:19-20].

Question: How will the two covenants differ?




(Hebrews 9:1-10)


(Hebrews 9:11-28)

Obsolete now that Christ has come

Hebrews 8:13

A better covenant brought about by Christ

Hebrews 7:19; 8:6-7

Originated at Mt. Sinai

Galatians 4:24-25

Originated from the heavenly Jerusalem

Galatians 4:26-27

Blessings and punishments were temporal: brought judgment, death, condemnation

2 Corinthians 3:7-9

Blessings and punishments are eternal: brings eternal life

Ephesians 2:1-13; Revelation 20:11-21:4

Impossible to obey perfectly because of human weakness and slavery to sin

Romans 8:3

Fulfilled perfectly by Christ

1 Corinthians 11:25

Established in the blood of sacrifice: required continual daily atonement for unintentional sins.  There was no remedy for intentional sin because no animal was perfect enough to forgive mortal sin.  In animal sacrifice the blood of the animal was separated from the body and both are offered in sacrifice.  With the exception of the whole burnt offerings other sacrifices are eaten: Ex. 12:7; 24:5-11; 29:10-18; Lev. 1:1-13; 6:17-22; 19:17; 7:6-7

Numbers 15:27-31; Hebrews 9:7; 10:1-4;

Established in the blood of sacrifice: In the celebration of the first Eucharist Jesus separated His Body from His Blood [Lk.22:19-20]'the sacrifice must be eaten [John 6:53-56]. Christ atoned for all sin once for all and cleanses the conscience.  The application of His sacrifice is on-going as He stands before the Father as both our High Priest and the perfect Lamb of Sacrifice

Hebrews 9:12; 10:2, 22; Revelation 5:5-6

Restricted access to God

Hebrews 9:7-8

Christ opened access to God for all

Hebrews 9:15-16

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2002 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.


Jesus isn't simply another David or Moses, He is the Son of God and is superior to all other prophets and servants of Yahweh:



Jesus is Greater Than the Prophets

Hebrews 1:1-3

Jesus is Greater Than the Angels

Hebrews 1:4-14

Jesus is the heir of all things (vs. 2)

Psalms 2:7 (vs. 5)

Through Him all things are created (vs. 2)

2 Samuel 7:14 (vs. 3)

He is the manifestation of God's eternal being

(vs. 3)

Deuteronomy 32:43

Psalms 97:7 (vs. 6)

Perfect representation of God's glory (vs.3)

Psalms 104:4 (vs. 7)

Sustainer of all things in the universe (vs. 3)

Psalms 45:6 (vs. 8,9)

Savior of mankind through His atonement for sin (vs. 3)

Psalms 102:25-27 (vs. 10-12)

He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (vs. 3)

Psalms 110:1 (vs. 13)



The Last Visit to Jerusalem


Please read John 12:1-28; Matthew 23:13-39:

Question: In John 12:1 how many days is it before the sacrifice of the Passover lambs?

Answer: Six days.


The next day Jesus rides into the city of Jerusalem in fulfillment of the prophecy of Jacob in Genesis 49:10-12 and Zechariah 9:9.  It is the Feast day we celebrate in the Church as Passion or Palm Sunday. 

Question: If the day before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem is Saturday then what day of the week is the Passover sacrifice which is 6 days later?  Hint: remember there was no concept of a 0-place value in ancient times so any sequence begins as #1.

Answer: If the day Jesus ate dinner in Bethany with His friends was Saturday = Day #1 then Day #6 is Thursday.  This agrees with the Synoptic Gospels which all place the day of the Passover sacrifice as the day before Christ's Passion [see Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:17; Luke 22:14].


Question: If Thursday is the day of the Passover sacrifice then Thursday would be the 14th of Nisan [Leviticus 23:5].  What day of the month then is Passion Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem and what is the significance of this date?  Hint: see Exodus 12:3-14.

Answer: Sunday would have been the 10th of Nisan, the day the Passover lambs were selected for the sacrifice.  This is significant because it was on the 10th of Nisan that Jesus, the Lamb of God rode into the city of Jerusalem to offer Himself as the true Lamb of sacrifice.  All the Old Testament animals offered in sacrifice were only imperfect foreshadows of Jesus the true and perfect sacrifice.


Question: As Jesus rode into the city what did the crowds shout?  What is the significance of this acclamation?

Answer: The people greeted Jesus as a king, shouting Hosanna, literally meaning "Save us!" or "Grant salvation!" and similar in meaning to the English acclamation to their sovereign "God save the king!" It is also an acclamation found in the Messianic Psalms 118: 25-26 known in Hebrew as a Hallel [praise God] psalms which was sung during the liturgical ceremonies at the Temple on Passover and during the sacrificial Passover meal: "We beg you, Yahweh, save us [hosanna], we beg you, Yahweh, give us victory!  Blessed in the name of Yahweh is he who is coming!"  Indeed, on that day in Salvation History He had indeed COME!


The Last Supper


According to the Law of Moses the 14th of Nisan was the day of the Passover Sacrifice.  Every household brought a perfect male lamb to the Temple at noon for the great liturgical service, which would end in the sacrifice of the lambs.  After the sacrifice the families would return to homes in Jerusalem to prepare the lambs for the sacrificial feast that night.  The day ended at sundown.  Sundown was the 15th of Nisan and the celebration of the Pilgrim feast of Unleavened Bread, a feast that lasted 7 days [Exodus 12:15-20; 13:3-10; 23:14-15; Leviticus 23:5-8; Numbers 28:16-25]. See the chart The Seven Sacred Feasts of the Old Covenant.


Earlier in the day Jesus had sent Peter and John to make sure all the preparations for the Passover meal had been made [see Luke 22:7-13; Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16].  That night Jesus served as host of the Passover supper. 


For the first century Jew and Israelite the Passover Feast [John includes the Feast of Unleavened Bread as part of the entire Passover week] not only looked back in history to a time when God redeemed the children of Israel from slavery to the Egyptians and when Israel was set aside from all peoples of the earth has Yahweh's holy Covenant people, but also looked forward to a future redemption of Israel when the Messiah would come free His people from bondage and oppression to the Roman Empire.  Jewish scholar Hayyim Schauss writes of this longing for the Messiah at the Feast of Passover in his book The Jewish Feasts: "The highest point in the evolution of Pesach came in the last century of the second Temple, when the Jews suffered from the heavy oppression of the Romans.  It was during this period that the Messianic hope flamed up, and in the minds of the Jews the deliverance of the future became bound up with the first redemption in Jewish history: the deliverance from Egypt.  Jews had long believed that in the deliverance to come, God would show the same sort of miracles that he had performed in redeeming the Jews from Egypt.  This belief gained added strength in this period of Roman occupation and oppression.  Jews began to believe that the Messiah would be a second Moses and would free the Jews the self-same eve, the eve of Pesach.  So Pesach became the festival of the second as well as the first redemption; in every part of the world where Jews lived, especially in Palestine, Jewish hearts beat faster on the eve of Pesach, beat with the hope that this night the Jews would be freed from the bondage of Rome, just as their ancestors were released from Egyptian slavery."  Hayim Schauss, The Jewish Feasts, page 47.


Indeed, this was the time when that longing for redemption would be fulfilled as Jesus, the new Moses, would begin His journey, in the last Passover Feast celebrated that night in the Upper Room, to lead His Covenant people out of bondage to sin and death to victory in the Resurrected Christ and to the promise of the true Promise Land, Heaven. [See the chart The Typology of Jesus and Moses].


Please read Luke 22:1-23:

Question: In Luke 22:15 why did Jesus tell the Apostles He "longed" to share this meal with them?

Answer: He wanted to share this sacrificial meal with them before He suffered "because I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God."  The first stage of that fulfillment is the institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper.  It will be the summit of spiritual life in the kingdom Jesus is founding. 


Question: Carefully read Luke 22 verses 17-20.  How many cups are mentioned?

Answer: Two cups.  Luke's Gospel is the only Gospel to mention 2 cups.  Actually there are 4 communal cups in the Passover supper.

Question: As Jesus passes the cup in verse 17 what statement does He make concerning the wine?

Answer: He will never drink wine again until the kingdom of God comes.  The institution of the Eucharist is the first stage of fulfillment but the Passion and Crucifixion will be the final stages necessary to establish God's kingdom and open the gates of heaven to humanity.


The Sacrificial Meal of the Passover lamb was structured around 4 cups of sacramental red wine shared communally by the faithful assembled for the meal.  According to the Old Covenant Law only members of the Covenant Church may attend this sacrificial meal [see Exodus 12:47-51].

1.      The meal opened with prayers and the blessing and drinking of the first cup called the Cup of Sanctification.  This was followed by the first ritual hand washing and the eating of the first dipping of the bitter herbs.

2.      The second cup is the Cup of Forgiveness, which is blessed and poured out but not passed.  The four ritual questions must be recited, the story of the first Passover must be told, and the assembly must sing Hallel Palms 113 before this cup is passed, and consumed.

3.      After the drinking of the second cup comes the second ritual hand washing followed by the blessing and eating of the unleavened bread, bitter herb, fruit mixture, and the lamb.  The lamb is to be completely consumed and afterward no more food is to be eaten.  Hands are washed a third time and then the most important cup of the meal, the Cup of Blessing [also called the Cup of Redemption] is poured, blessed and passed communally. 

4.      At the conclusion of the meal the 4th cup it poured out and blessed. It is the Cup of Acceptance, which seals and unites those present to Yahweh through the Passover Sacrifice. The assembly sings the remainder of the Hallel Psalms 114-118, the faithful drink the 4th cup and the host cries out "Teltelesti" – "It is finished [fulfilled]".


Luke's Account of the Last Supper Luke 22:14-20

(vs.14) "When the time came he took his place at table, and the apostles with him.  And he said to them. 

(vs. 15) 'I have ardently long to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;

(vs. 16) because, I tell you, I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.'                 (vs. 17) Then, taking a cup, he gave thanks and said, 'Take this and share it among you because from now on,  

(vs. 18) I tell you, I shall never again drink wine until the kingdom of God comes.' 

(vs. 19) Then he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.

(vs. 20) He did the same with the cup after supper, and said, 'This cup is the New Covenant in my blood poured out for you."


Question:  What connection do you see between what Jesus said about the cup of His blood in verse 20 and the blood of the sacrificed lambs at the Temple that afternoon?

Answer: The connection is between the sacrifice of the Passover lambs, the "pouring out" of the cups of the blood of the sacrificed lambs at the Temple and Jesus' words concerning His sacrifice and the "pouring out" of His blood for us in the Eucharistic cup of the New Covenant.  The sacrifice of Eucharist is a true, though unbloody, sacrifice.


The first cup Luke mentions is probably the Cup of Forgiveness and the second, the Cup of His precious blood, is the Cup of Blessing: Paul writes in 1 Corinthians "Is not the Cup of Blessing we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ; and is not the bread we break a sharing in the body of Christ?  Because the loaf of bread is one, we many though we are, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf."  1 Corinthians 10:16 [New American translation]


Question: What statement does Jesus make in Luke 22:18 after the passing of the cup, which most scholars assume is the Cup of Forgiveness, and before the passing of the third cup, the Cup of Blessing?  What is the significance of this statement?

Answer: He declares that He will never again drink wine until the kingdom of God comes.  It is significant that He makes this statement before He passes the Cup of Blessing.  Luke wants us to understand that the Cup of Blessing is no longer wine but is the very blood of Jesus the Lamb of God. 


In the Synoptic Gospels this statement comes after the passing of His precious blood.  Since St. John does not comment on this difference, as he does not throughout his Gospel when he thinks the other Gospels have adequately related an event, it is likely that Jesus made this declaration twice: before and after passing the Cup of His precious blood.    This statement is significant because it means Jesus could not have taken the 4th Cup, the Cup of Acceptance, which the celebrants must drink in order to close the sacrificial meal.  Each of the Synoptic Gospels record that the Psalms were sung and then the assembly left for the Mount of Olives without officially ending the Passover meal by consuming the 4th Cup and without the host closing the meal with the ritual statement "It is finished" [fulfilled].


Question:  Why is it significant that the Passover meal had not ended and what is the connection to Jesus' sacrifice?  Hint: what happened when Jesus separated His body from His blood in what appeared to be bread and wine?

Answer:  The separation of the body from its blood is the beginning of death.  Jesus did not close the Passover meal as an end of the Old Covenant sacrificial system because His death would be the end of Old Covenant and the beginning of the New Covenant "in His blood", which He promised in Luke 22:20


The question is "Where does Jesus' sacrifice begin and what is the connection between His sacrifice and the Passover?  If Jesus' death is the fulfillment of the Passover sacrifice then His Passion must begin in the Upper Room when He says the words: "This is My Body and this cup is the Blood of the New and Everlasting Covenant".  When body and blood are separated death begins!  Jesus' Eucharistic Sacrifice as the true Passover Lamb of the New Covenant begins in the Upper Room but it is not "finished" there!  That is why Jesus would not have uttered the closing words of the Sacrificial Meal "Teltelestai"'"It is finished!"  The Passover can't be finished until the true sacrifice is fulfilled.


The true sacrifice of this feast is what Jesus promised in John chapter 6 in the Bread of Life Discourse when He told the crowd, "Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day.  For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person." [6:54-56].


Question:  What was the purpose of the sacrifice of animals in the Old Covenant?  Was it primarily the death of the animal or is there something more?  Hint: see Leviticus 17:11 and Psalms 51:16-17.

Answer: Leviticus 17:11 is the reason for animal sacrifice: "For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you for performing the rite of expiation on the altar for your lives, for blood is what expiates for a life."  But in Psalms 51 the Holy Spirit inspired writer warns us that ritual is empty without spiritual commitment: "Sacrifice gives you no pleasure, burnt offering you do not desire.  Sacrifice to God is a broken spirit, a broken, contrite heart you never scorn."  The blood of the sacrifice as atonement for sin is only the first step.  The desired result of sacrifice is the restoration of communion with God.  It is the Covenantal union...the restoration of the family bond -- the child of God reunited with God the Father-- this is the desired result.  This is the desired result of the Passover sacrifice and sacrificial meal in particular.  The sacrifice was the first step but the desire was the mystical union with God through the eating of the sacrifice.  Christ is the Passover Lamb, slain for our sins, fulfilling the Old Covenant Passover.  At the first Passover in Egypt the lamb was slain, the blood was "poured out" into the threshold, the blood was smeared on the door with a hyssop branch, and then they ate the lamb! It was not enough to make the sacrifice'the lamb had to be eaten [Exodus 12:7-10].  It isn't enough for Jesus to die a sacrificial death'He must be consumed if He is the true Lamb of the Passover of the New Covenant people!  We must feast on the flesh of Jesus, the Bread of Life, hidden under the form and appearance of unleavened bread, which becomes for us nothing less the Jesus the Christ, the true Lamb of the New Covenant Passover who provides for us, through His sacrificial death, a true union with the Trinity in the mystical bond of the New Covenant family of God.  This is what St Paul means when he writes in 1 Corinthians 5:7 "For our Passover has been sacrificed, that is, Christ; let us keep the feast..."-- let us feast on the flesh and blood of the Christ, the Lamb of God!


But what about that 4th Cup which Jesus did not take in the Upper Room?  For the Host of the sacrificial meal to not take the last cup and to not make the final pronouncement would be like a priest celebrating Mass and forgetting communion.  Jewish scholars rightly point out if there was no 4th cup it couldn't have been the Passover meal.  But this 4th cup was a cup He announced He could not take, as he said, until "I come into My Kingdom" [Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; and Luke 22:18].  It is a cup He cannot take until the Sacrifice is complete.  But there is another cup that Jesus will take.--a symbolic cup that He accepts in the Garden of Gethsemane in His "Prayer of Agony." 

Question:  What prayer does Jesus make three times in the Garden of Ge thsemane after the Last Supper?  Hint: see Matthew 26: 39, 42, and 44

Answer: In the garden at Gethsemane Jesus prayed three times: "My Father, [...] if it is possible, let this cup pass me by.  Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it."


In the books of the Old Testament Prophets God's holy Prophets use four reoccurring image clusters to express Yahweh's messages of judgment and renewal.  The drinking of wine is one of these image clusters that express the joy of the drinking of wine as the bond of the Covenant relationship.  When the Covenant people rebel against God and misuse His blessings, the prophets express this rebellion in images of becoming drunk with wine.  This rebellion imagery is followed by judgment and the drinking of the "Cup of Yahweh's Wrath", and finally the image of repentance and restoration which is the Covenant people rejoicing in the best "New Wine" of the Covenant [the "sign" of the Wedding at Cana].  The cup that Jesus sorrowed over in the garden is the "Cup of God's Wrath" which we all should drink, judged dead in our sins, but which Jesus will drink for our justification through His Passion and sacrificial death.


The true Passover sacrifice to redeem God's people from slavery to sin began in the Upper Room but it will end on the Cross.


After eating the meal the table is cleared.  It is time for the 3rd cup of wine to be poured out and blessed-- the Cup of Blessing.  As Jesus holds Himself in His own hands and offers the Apostles His precious Body and Blood they must have thought back to the previous year when Jesus told the crowds of people in the Bread of Life Discourse that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood to receive the gift of eternal life. 


Question: What words does Jesus use to identify the cup of His blood and what Old Testament passage do these words evoke?  See Jeremiah 31:31-34

Answer: He offers them "the New Covenant in my blood poured out for you."  There is only one place in the Old Testament where the "New Covenant" is promised and that is in Jeremiah 31:3  -34 where the prophet says: "Look the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall make a new covenant with the House of Israel [and the House of Judah], but not like the covenant I made with their ancestors the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt, a covenant which they broke, even though I was their Master, Yahweh declares.  No, this is the covenant I shall make with the House of Israel when those days have come, Yahweh declares. Within them I shall plant my Law, writing it on their hearts.  Then I shall be their God and they will be my people.  There will be no further need for everyone to teach neighbor or brother, saying 'Learn to know Yahweh!'  No, they will all know me, from the least to the greatest, Yahweh declares, since I shall forgive their guilt and never more call their sin to mind." The Apostles must have realized that the day Jeremiah had promised 5 centuries earlier was about to be fulfilled.


At the end of the Passover meal the covenant believers must close the meal by singing the last of the Hallel Psalms [Psalms 155-118], by drinking from the 4th cup, the Cup of Acceptance, and the host must close the meal with the ritual words "Tel telestai", "It is fulfilled!"  But Jesus has already declared He will not drink wine until the kingdom is fulfilled.  Matthew's Gospel records that they sing the Psalms before leaving for the Mount of Olives.


Please read The Passion of the Christ:

John 18:1-11; Matthew 26:57-66; John 18:28-19:16; Luke 23:24; Mark 15:21-27; Luke 23: 33-34; John 19:23-27; Mark 15:33-34; Luke 23: 39-44; Matthew 27:45; John 19:28-30; Mark 16:42-47; John 19:31-36; Luke 23:45-56


Question: In Jesus' prayer of agony in the Garden of Gethsemane what petition does He make to the Father?  See Luke 22:42

Answer: "'Father', he said, 'if you are willing take this cup away from me.' "

Question: What is the cup Jesus dreads? See Isaiah 51:17, 22; Revelation 14:10.

Answer: It is the cup of God's wrath that all covenant breakers deserve to drink.  In the reoccurring symbolic images of the prophets the drama of wine drinking moves from enjoying the good wine in fellowship with God, to abusing the wine and becoming drunk,  to facing God's judgment by drinking the "cup of God's wrath"'judgment to bring about redemption.  In Sacred Scripture to drink "the cup of God's wrath" was the punishment for apostasy.  In taking our sins on Himself Jesus drank "the cup of wrath" intended for us.


Jesus is arrested and is brought before an illegal assembly of the Jewish court known as the Sanhedrin.


Question: What prophetic messianic passage does Jesus allude to which leads the assembly to condemn Him for blasphemy for declaring Himself to be divine?  See Luke 2:69-71; Matthew 26:57-66; Mark 14:53-64].

Answer: Jesus claims that Daniel's vision in Daniel 7:13-14 of the Messianic Son of man is about Himself.  He is claiming to be divine and for this He is condemned.


Question: Why is it that the Jewish authorities cannot condemn Jesus to death?  Why is He sent to the Roman governor?

Answer: The Jewish court has jurisdiction over civil and religious law but they do not have the power over life and death.  Rome jealously guards that power.


John 18:28   "They then led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the Praetorium.  It was now morning. They did not go into the Praetorium themselves to avoid becoming defiled and unable to eat the Passover." [literal = "it was proia"--  "dawn" is a better translation of the Greek word proia.  The 4th Watch = from 3AM to sunrise was called proi]


The Gospel of Mark tells us "First thing in the morning, the chief priests, together with the elders and scribes and the rest of the Sanhedrin, had their plan ready.  They had Jesus bound and took him away and handed him over to Pilate." Mark 15:1

According to the Synoptic Gospels it is now the morning of the 15th of Nisan and the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  It is also a Friday which is called "Preparation Day", meaning the preparation day for the holy Sabbath which begins at sundown.


Unlike the Synoptic Gospel writers John never uses the title "Unleavened Bread" for this 8-day festival period of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Instead he only refers to the entire 8-day festival as "the Passover", as do the Jews today.  The 8-day feast actually celebrated 3 feasts ordained by Yahweh: The Feast of Passover, always celebrated on the 14th of Nisan, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which began that night, since sundown became the 15th of Nisan, and the Feast of Firstfuits, which fell on the day after the first Sabbath of Passover week [see Leviticus 23:11 and the document "The Seven Sacred Feasts of the Old Covenant" found in the Resources section of the study].  Each of these feasts had prescribed offerings and sacrifices.


These are the Biblical requirements for the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread:

Exodus 12:8 "That night, the flesh must be eaten, roasted over the fire..." Leviticus 23: 5-8 "The fourteenth day of the first month, at twilight is the Passover of Yahweh; and the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of Unleavened Bread for Yahweh.  On the first day [of Unleavened Bread] you will hold a sacred assembly; you will do no heavy work.  For seven days you will offer food burnt for Yahweh.  On the seventh day there will be a sacred assembly; you will do no heavy work."


Numbers 28:16-24 "The fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of Yahweh, and the fifteenth day of this month is a feast day.  For seven days unleavened bread will be eaten.  On the first day [the morning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the 15th] there will be a sacred assembly; you will do no heavy work.  As food burnt as a burnt offering you will offer Yahweh two young bulls, a ram and seven yearling lambs, without blemish.  The accompanying cereal offering of fine flour mixed with oil will be three-tenths of an ephah for a bull, two-tenths for a ram, and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs. There will also be a goat as a sacrifice for sin, for performing the rite of expiation for you.  You will offer these in addition to the morning burnt offering [the Tamyid morning lamb sacrifice], which is a perpetual burnt offering." Please note that verse 24 verifies that this assembly for the Feast of Unleavened Bread took place in the morning. 


On Friday, the 15th of Nisan, the Temple gates opened to admit the faithful at 9AM with the whole burnt offering of the first lamb of the Tamyid sacrifice.  This first sacrifice was offered at the very hour Mark 15:25 tells us Jesus was nailed to the cross.  When the regular whole burnt offering sacrifice was completed the public offerings were brought.  These offerings consisted of two young bulls, one ram and seven lambs for a burnt offering along with the appropriate meal-offerings as well as one goat for a sin-offering to make an atonement'these sacrifices were offered on each day of the 7-day feast of Unleavened Bread [see Numbers 28:19-24].  But on the 15th of Nisan, the first day of Unleavened Bread, after the public sacrifices offered for the whole congregation, the Chagigah offering of Nisan the 15th was brought forward along with the so-called "sacrifices of joyousness" [Deuteronomy 27:7] in which the faithful were given the liberty to offer "according to the blessings which Yahweh had given" to each believer [Deuteronomy 16:17].  These sacrifices included a burnt-offering, along with the Chagigah, which would be eaten by the offerer and his family that day, and the "sacrifices of joyousness" which were made according to what one could afford. These were private offerings of each individual were brought forward to the altar -- they were called the "peace offerings".  They required the laying on of hands, the sprinkling of blood, burning of the inside fat and kidneys of the victim on the altar, and the proper handling of the other sacrifices by the priests.  The portions not given to the priests were used by the offerers in their festive meals. The offerings were not to be a heavy burden for the people and were to be joyous festival offering but one point was very clear: the Chagigah was a holy offering and one had to be in a state of ritual purity in order to make this offering [Mishnah, Pesach 6.3]'no one else could make the offering for you as they could in the case of the Passover Lambs of Nisan 14.


The requirements for eating holy food:

Leviticus 22:4b-7:

 "Anyone who touches anything made unclean by a dead body, or who has a seminal discharge, or who is made unclean by touching any kind of reptile or any one who has contaminated him with his own uncleanness, be it what it may, in short, anyone who has had any such contact will be unclean until evening, and must not eat holy things until he has contact will be unclean until evening, and must not eat holy things until he has washed his body.  At sunset he will be clean and may then eat holy things, for these are his food." 


Numbers 19:17-22"Anything that an unclean person touches will be unclean, and anyone who touches it will be unclean until evening."


[Note: the requirements were different for someone who actually physically touched a dead body.  That person had to undergo the 7-day period of ritual purification.  See Numbers 9:9-11 and 19:11].


There is confusion over John 18:28 and whether or not it contradicts the Synoptic Gospels which clearly state that the Passover was the day before Christ's Passion.  The difficulty is in this verse: "They then led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the Praetorium. It was now morning. They did not go into the Praetorium themselves to avoid becoming defiled and unable to eat the Passover."


This verse is usually interpreted to suggest that the Nisan 14 Passover sacrifice at the Temple and the meal that was to follow the evening of the sacrifice had not yet taken place.  If this interpretation is correct John's Gospel contradicts the Synoptic accounts, which clearly state the meal Jesus ate with His disciples the night before His death was the Passover sacrificial meal [see Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; and Luke 22:7-13 and please refer to the document Was the Last Supper a Sacrificial Meal? in the resources section].


The suggestion that this passage contradicts the Synoptic Gospels and indicates John is speaking of a Passover meal that had not yet taken place is in error for the following reasons:

1.      We know that in the first century it was common to refer to the entire 8-day festival

as both Unleavened Bread and the Passover. Matthew, Mark, and Luke seem to prefer the designation "Unleavened Bread" for this entire festival period: Mark 14:12 "On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover Lamb was sacrificed..." Matthew 26:17 "Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus to say 'Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?" Luke 22:7 "The day of Unleavened Bread came round, on which the Passover had to be sacrificed..." [also see Acts 12:3 and 20:6}.


John, on the other hand NEVER refers to the feast as "Unleavened Bread". He ONLY uses the designation "Passover" [see John 2:13, 23; 4:45; 6:4; 11:55 x 2; 12:1; 13:1 18:28, 39; 19:14]. That John uses the word "Passover" for the entire weeklong celebration is clear in 19:14 which is poorly translated in the New Jerusalem. The literal Greek of this passage reads: "And it was Preparation [Day] of the Passover, hour about the sixth and he says to the Jews, 'Behold your king'." The reference is to the "Preparation Day" not for the Passover but for the Sabbath which occurred during the week long Passover festival.  This is clearly the interpretation in verse 31 as John continues: "It was the Day of Preparation, and to avoid the bodies remaining on the Cross during the Sabbath..." [literal Greek = "The therefore Jews that might not remain on the cross the bodies on the Sabbath because preparation it was for was great day that Sabbath.."].  The 1st century historian/Jewish priest Josephus recounts in both Antiquities of the Jews and The Jewish War that it was common to refer to the entire weeklong feast as both "Passover" and "Unleavened Bread".   John uses the term "Passover" for the entire 8-day festival.


2.   John has already designated Thursday as the day the Passover lambs were sacrificed          in John 12:1 when he tells us that the day before Passion Sunday it was 6 days until the feast of the Passover. As the ancients counted [no 0 place value at this time so the first in the series is designated #1] the 6th day from Saturday at Bethany [Sunday was Palm or Passion Sunday] would be Thursday which agrees with the Synoptic accounts [day #1= Saturday, day #2=Sunday, day #3=Monday, day #4=Tuesday, day #5=Wednesday, day #6=Thursday].


3.   The reference in 18:28 "They did not go into the Praetorium themselves to avoid becoming defiled and unable to eat the Passover" [pesach in Hebrew] cannot be referring to the Passover supper that took place after sundown and was therefore in Jewish time the next day = Nisan 15. Ritual defilement in association with eating a sacrificial meal only lasted until sundown!  Therefore, they would not have been ritually unclean at sundown.

Numbers 19:17-22"Anything that an unclean person touches will be unclean, and anyone who touches it will be unclean until evening."


[also see the Talmud [Mishnah], tractate Oholoth 18:7, 10 which demonstrates that the dwelling places of Gentiles, but not their open courtyards, were considered unclean].


If this incident had taken place the morning of the Passover sacrifice the Jews would have become ritually defiled by entering the abode of gentiles [see Acts 11:2], but they had all day to become purified and by that night they would be able to eat the feast: see Numbers 28:16-25; Acts 10:28; Talmud [Mishnah] Oholoth 18:7 and Leviticus 22= Holiness in consuming sacred food: see:4-7 "Anyone who touches anything made unclean by a dead body, or who has a seminal discharge, or who is made unclean by touching any kind of reptile or any one who has contaminated him with his own uncleanness, be it what it may, in short, anyone who has had any such contact will be unclean until evening, and must no eat holy things until he has washed his body. At sunset he will be clean and may then eat holy things, for these are his food." .


4.      However, if John's account is in agreement with the Synoptic accounts and the

morning that Jesus is taken before Pilate is the morning of Nisan the 15th  the Jews are referring to the morning Temple service of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.   In this case the "pesach" in this verse refers to other food eaten during the Pesach week-long feast, specifically the Chagigah festival sacrifice, which was consumed with great joy and celebration on the day following the Passover sacrificial meal [Chagigah is from chag or chagag = to bring the festive sacrifice usual at each of the three Great Pilgrim Feasts.  Unleavened Bread was a Pilgrim Feast, see Exodus 23:14, of which the Passover Sacrifice was offered the afternoon of the 14th with the sacrificial meal of Unleavened Bread that night which became the 15th .  The 15th day of Nisan called the feast of "Unleavened Bread" was a holy convocation, when all needless work was forbidden.  The only "work" allowed was that which was necessary for the observance of the festival.  The services in the Temple began after the first daily sacrifice [9AM] when the public offerings were brought to the Temple.  The Chagigah sacrifice of Nisan 15 could only be brought by the offerer in person [Jerusalem Talmud, Chag. 76a, lines 14-16], but the Paschal lamb of Nisan 14 might be brought for another person who, although having missed the Temple service because of ritual defilement, could partake of it later that night when the defilement would have been lifted [Numbers 19:17-22]. However, someone in ritual defilement could not offer the Chagigah the morning of the 15th .  These canons of the Old Covenant faith show that there would have been no reason to fear 'defilement' on the morning of the Paschal Sacrifice but entrance into the Roman Law Court on the morning of the first Passover-day of the 15th would have rendered it impossible for a Jew to offer the Chagigah, which is also designated by the term pesach!  Dr. Alfred Edersheim the Jewish-Christian Biblical historian writes in The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah that "No competent Jewish archaeologist would care to deny that 'Pesach' may refer to the Chagigah, while the motive assigned to the Sanhedrists by St. John implies, that in this instance it must refer to this, and not to the Paschal Lamb."


Note: The Mishnah portion of the Talmud demonstrates later rabbinic concern for ritual purity throughout the seasonal festivals and an entire tractate is devoted to "Mid-Festival Days" (Moed Katan) and another to the mid-festival offerings in between the first and last day of feasts like those offered on Nisan 15-21 [see Hagigah 1:3].


This is the pesach [Passover] sacrifice that must be offered in person at the Temple for the meal eaten before sundown which the Jew gathered outside Pilate's palace would have been unable to eat had they entered Pilate's residence.  If they had become ritually defiled coming into a gentile residence their defilement would have lasted until sundown and they could not have eaten the Chagigah sacrifice that had to be offered that morning at the Temple liturgical ceremonies along with the other sacrifices associated with that service nor could they have eaten that pesach in the afternoon [also see Leviticus 23:5-8; Numbers 28:16-25].  Addition evidence to support this interpretation is found in 2 Chronicles 35:7-9 which also refers to the various sacrificial animals offered throughout Passover week, not only the sacrificed lamb of the meal eaten the night of Nisan 15, as pesach.  The word pesach was used to refer not just to the lambs sacrificed on the 14th at the Temple but to the various animals that were offered in sacrifice during the 8-day Passover/Unleavened Bread festival [also see 2 Kings 23:21-23 and Ezekiel 45:21-24] which also uses the word pesach /Passover to refer to the entire 8-day feast.  Remember the sacrifice of the 14th of Nisan is not the Pilgrim feast; the Pilgrim feast begins that night with the sacrificial meal which became the 15th -- the feast of Unleavened Bread, and which continued 7 additional days. In this interpretation there is no contradiction between the Synoptic Gospels and St. John's Gospel.


In John 18: 28 the Pharisees and Priests were concerned with the ritual impurity that would have contaminated them if they entered the Roman pratertorium.

Question: What is ironic about the Pharisees' and Priests' concern for their ritual purification?

Answer: There are 4 elements of irony: 

1.      It is ironic that these men concerned with ritual purification, have so lost their moral compass that they are willing to pollute their souls by lying in order to achieve their goal of sending an innocent man to a horrible death.

2.      It is ironic that even though they do not wish to contaminate themselves by entering a gentile residence they do not hesitate to use the gentiles to destroy their adversary. 

3.      It is ironic that they fear a ritual impurity that might prevent them from attending the Temple services that morning or later eating the festival sacrificial offerings which gives them a mystical bond with God, and yet unknowingly they are offering up the sacrifice of Him who is the true Lamb of God and their only means of a true union with God the Father.

4.      It is ironic that the Jewish authorities have planned that Jesus is not to die according to Jewish Law [they convicted Him of blasphemy which requires death by stoning] but that He is to die a particular Roman form of execution, on a cross which will disgrace Jesus all the more. But they do not realize that Jesus is the master over His own destiny [see 10:17-18] and that it is God's plan for Him to die on a cross. This is the form of death He himself has prophesied in John 12:32-33; Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-33.  Ironically they are fulfilling His mission by lifting Him up on the cross so that He can draw all men to Himself "And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all people to myself." [John 12:32]


Question: What does Matthew 27:18 tell us Pilate understood to be the motivation for the Jewish authorities to hand Jesus over for execution? What is the connection to the first murder recorded in Salvation History?  See Genesis 4:8.

Answer: Jealousy.  It was the same sin that led Cain to kill the innocent Abel in Genesis 4:8.


There is one more irony in the litany of ironies:  Pilate has judged Jesus to be without sin: "I find no case against him."  This is the first of the 3 times Pilate will judge Jesus and find Him innocent. The irony is that any animal offered to Yahweh in sacrifice had to be judged as perfect and without flaw.  Pilate, a heathen gentile, has judged Jesus and found Him to be a sacrifice "without flaw"!


Question: When Jesus was brought to Pilate at dawn what was happening at the Temple?

Answer: The first Tamid lamb was being brought out and tied to the Altar.


Question: According to Mark 15:25 what time was Jesus nailed to the cross?  What was happening at the Temple at this time?

Answer: At 9AM, the third hour Jewish time, the first Tamid lamb was being sacrificed.  It was also the first hour of prayer.  The Temple gates had been opened and the faithful were coming to the Temple for the first sacrifice of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.


Question: According to Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; and Luke 23:44 what happened at 12 noon?  What was happening at the Temple?

Answer: 3 hours after Jesus was nailed to the cross the sky turned dark from 12 noon to 3PM.  At the Temple the second Tamid lamb was brought out and tied to the Altar.


The Seven sayings of Jesus on the Cross:

1.      "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34).  Under the imperfect sacrificial system of the Old Covenant there was no sacrifice for intentional sin.  See Numbers 15:27-31.

2.      "In truth I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43) Jesus' promise to the good thief.

3.      "Woman, this is your son."  "This is your mother" (John 19:27).  Mary is our inheritance from the cross!

12 noon darkness: This is the mid-point in the Passion of the Christ.


4.      "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"(Mark 15:34 & Matt. 27:46).  Jesus is quoting Psalms 22:1.   Psalms 22 is the description of a crucifixion written centuries before this terrible punishment was invented by the Persians.

5.      "I thirst." (John 19:28). Only St. John mentions Jesus' thirst.  A Roman guard takes a hyssop branch and offers Jesus some sour wine.  Jesus drinks the wine and then says:

6.      "Father into your hands I commit my spirit." (Luke 23:46)

7.      "It is fulfilled." (John 19:30) Note: these are the words that close the Passover Feast after   drinking of the 4th cup = Cup of Acceptance

                        (note: scholars disagree over which of these last two statements was #7)


Question: What is it that is fulfilled?


Answer: The Old Covenant has been fulfilled.  In the Upper Room Jesus said He would not drink wine again until He came into His kingdom. Now He has accepted the wine from the Roman soldier as a sign that His sacrifice has been fulfilled.  Jesus uses the words that closed the Passover meal, "It is fulfilled" or "It is finished",  to close the Old Covenant and to open the gates of the Kingdom of God. 


Question: What time is it when Jesus gives up His life?

Answer: It is 3 PM.  Jesus fulfills the perpetual sacrifice. He is the true Tamid sacrifice.  At that moment the veil that covered the Holy of Holies is torn in half from the top to the bottom symbolizing that there is no longer a barrier between man and God.  [See the chart on the Tamid Sacrifice in the Appendix of this lesson].


A Roman soldier pierces Jesus' side with a spear to see if He is truly dead and that He has not just fainted.  Water and blood, symbols of Baptism and Eucharist flow from the side of Christ.  Just as Eve the Bride was born from the side of the first Adam so too now is the Church, the Bride of Christ born from His side.


It is Preparation Day for the Jewish Sabbath [it is Friday] and the bodies of the condemned cannot remain on the crosses.  Sundown is the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath [Saturday]. Jesus' body is taken down from the cross and place in a rich man's tomb.  His body would not be washed.  It was necessary in the case of a violent death that the blood be buried with the body.  It is Friday and Jesus will rest in the tomb 3 day as the ancients counted: Friday = day #1, Saturday = day #2, and Sunday = day #3.


The Resurrection

Please read Luke 24:1-49:

On the first day of the week, Sunday, which was also the first day of the Old Creation, the women disciples are the first to discover Jesus has been raised from the dead.


Question: If the Passover Feast was the last legitimate Passover sacrifice and the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the day Jesus is crucified, what feast day is Resurrection Sunday?  Hint: see Leviticus 23:11-14

Answer: It is the Feast of Firstfruits.  Today only the Karaite Jewish sect still celebrates the Feast of Fruitfruits on the day after the first Sabbath of Passover Week [as prescribes in Leviticus chapter 23:11-14].  The Karaites, who claim descent from the Sadducees, maintain that the day was later changed to Nisan 16 but that the Sadducees always celebrated this feast according to the literal interpretation of Leviticus 23:11-14. Apparently the Jews adjusted the date after Christ was resurrected so that His Resurrection would not fall on this Feast day.  Today Jews no longer keep this feast.  [See the chart: Sacred Feasts of the Old Covenant in the charts and resources section].


Question: Later on Resurrection Sunday Jesus appears to some disciples on the road to Emmaus.  They do not recognize Him and they are discussing the events of their Master's suffering and the rumors that He has been raised from the dead.  What does Jesus tell them concerning His Passion? See Luke 24:25-27

Answer: He tells them that His Passion was necessary because it was the plan God had set in place from the time of Moses and the prophets.


Later He will affirm this teaching to the 10 Apostles in the Upper Room.

Question: What command does Jesus give the Jews and Israelites who are the spiritual fathers of the New Covenant people?  See Matthew 28:19-20

Answer: They are to go and preach the "good new" of Jesus Christ to all nations, in order to bring the Gentile nations back into the family of God.


Question: What power and authority does He give them to accomplish this mission?  See Matthew 28:18 and John 20:21-22.

Answer: The Apostles carry His power and authority; they also have His power to forgive sins.



Please read Luke 24:50-53; Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:1-11:

Question: How many days after His Resurrection did Jesus continue to teach the disciples and prepare them for their world-wide mission? See Acts 1:2

Answer: He taught the disciples and Apostles for 40 days.


Question:  What happened on the 40th day?

Answer: Jesus returned to God the Father to take His place as King of Kings.


Question: What promise did the angels make to the Apostles and disciples?  See Acts 1:11

Answer: One day He will return!


As the Glory Cloud enveloped Jesus and He rose into the heavens the vision of Daniel in Daniel 7:13-14 was fulfilled,-- the Old Testament passage Jesus quoted the most frequently: "I was gazing into the visions of the night, when I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven, as it were a Son of man.  He came to the One most venerable and was led into his presence.  On him was conferred rule, honor and kingship, and all peoples, nations and languages became his servants.  His rule is an everlasting rule which will never pass away, and his kingship will never come to an end."


Questions for group discussion:

Please read Mark 11:12-25: Jesus Curses the Barren Fig Tree

On Monday, the day after Jesus' triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, Jesus is walking with his disciples from Bethany on the Mt. of Olives toward the Eastern Gate of the city of Jerusalem, as they pass a fig tree growing beside the road [Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:12-14, 20-25].  Jesus is hungry and He reaches into the tree to pick some fruit'but He finds no fruit.  Jesus then curses the fig tree for not bearing fruit.  From there He goes to the Temple in Jerusalem where He judges the Temple, finds it desecrated, and cleanses God's holy house.  The next day as Jesus and His disciples pass the fig tree the disciples discover it has withered to the roots and died.  When questioned by the disciples, Jesus responds with a teaching on "faith" replying "Have faith in God.  In truth I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Be pulled up and thrown into the sea,' with no doubt in his heart, but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him." The mountain He is referring to –and probably gesturing toward'is the mountain of Moriah upon which the Temple in Jerusalem stood.  The Temple could be seen from the Mt. of Olives.  His actions and His teaching connect the subjects of bareness, faith, and the Temple.

Question: What is the significance of Jesus cursing the fig tree?  What act is Jesus performing in His role as "the Prophet" of Deuteronomy 18:18, and how is this act connected to the cleansing of the Temple?  Hint: in the Bible both the fig tree and the vineyard are symbols of the Old Covenant Church of Israel.  Under the shade of the village fig tree is usually where Sacred Scripture was studied [Zechariah 3:10; John 1:48].

Answer:  In Scripture the fruitful fig tree is a symbol of Israel as God's Covenant people, but the fig tree is also often presented in Scripture as a symbol of Israel in rebellion.  In judging and announcing the "curse of destruction" against the fig tree, Jesus is performing an ot, a prophetic act'He is demonstrating a parable that is related to His ot in the judging and cleansing of the Temple, which occurred the same day.  Notice in Matthew's account that Jesus connects the two prophetic acts by referring to Mt. Moriah where the Temple was located.  His cleansing of the Temple was a judgment on those who ministered in the Temple.  The Temple was supposed to be God's house where the people could come to worship and be instructed in holiness through the obligations and rituals of the Sinai Covenant.  The Temple was the means by which this holiness would "bear fruit" in the lives of the Covenant people, thereby allowing the works of God to work through them, providing a blessing and a witness to the other nations of the earth.  When He judged the Temple He was judging the Old Covenant Church.  Jesus found that like the fig tree, it had not produced "good fruit".  The Old Covenant people had not kept their covenant obligations as defined in the Law of Moses.  Instead of converting the gentile nations, the Covenant people desired to be just like their gentile neighbors in deciding for themselves what was good and what was evil, as Adam and Eve had done when they ate the forbidden fruit.  Therefore, the Old Covenant Church had failed to bear the works of faith that God desired'to bring the other nations of the world back into Covenant and communion with Him.


Question: St. Mark tells us in his Gospel [Mark 11:13] that when Jesus cursed the fig tree it was not even the season that a fig tree bore fruit! Think of the first time a fig tree is mentioned in Scripture [Genesis 3:7].  What is the significance of Jesus' teaching on faith in connection with the cursing of the fruitless fig tree?  How is His teaching directed to the Old Covenant Church?  What is the connection to our faith bearing "fruit" in the works of faith that are manifested in the life of the New Covenant believer?  Is faith alone enough for salvation?  See James 2:14-26.


Answer: It is interesting that the first time a fig tree is mentioned in Scripture is when a "dis-graced" Adam and Eve, lacking faith and ashamed because they were no longer "clothed" in God's grace, use the leaves of the fig tree to cover their nakedness.  It may have been the fig that was the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Jesus' warning to the Old Covenant people is that they have been judged and found "fruitless" like the barren fig tree.  God expects His Covenant people to be a people of living, active faith and the true manifestation of faith is to "bear good fruit" continuously in the works of God that work through our lives.  St James, first Bishop of the Catholic Church in Jerusalem was concerned about the "fruitfulness" of New Covenant believers when he wrote in his letter to the universal Church: "How does it help my brothers when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith?" [James 2:14]. He continues in 2:17 "In the same way faith: if good deeds do not go with it, it is quite dead." And finally in 2:26 he concludes his teaching with the statement:  "As a body without a spirit is dead, so is faith without deeds."  That it is "not the season to bear fruit" is not an acceptable excuse'God expects His Covenant People to continuously bear "fruit" = living, active works of faith [this will be the promise of Revelation 22:1-2]!  The point is, as God's Covenant people we don't "bear fruit", that is do good works, in order to achieve salvation, rather it is because of our salvation that we in faith produce a harvest of good works that are pleasing to God.


These two prophetic acts of cursing the fig tree and judging the Temple are also related to a parable Jesus told about a fig tree in St Luke's Gospel sometime during His 3 year mission to the Old Covenant people.  Please read Luke 13:6-9.


Question: How is this parable related to the judging and cursing of the fig tree Jesus' last week in Jerusalem and the judging and cleansing of the Temple? In determining the symbolic meaning of Luke's parable of the Barren Fig Tree in Luke 13:6-9, you will need to discern who is the owner of the fig tree, who or what is the fig tree, and who is the vinedresser?

Answer: It is possible that this parable is a symbolic conversation within the Holy Trinity.  Some scholars see the reference to the 3 years of ownership as an allusion to the length of Jesus' ministry as described in the 4th Gospel, but 3 is also the number of fullness, importance, and completion as expressed in God's divine will. God the Father is the owner of Israel [" out of all peoples, shall be my personal possession.. Exodus 19:5; also see Malachi 3:17]; therefore, it is more likely that He is the owner of the fig tree.  Then which of the 3 persons of the Holy Trinity is the vinedresser?  In John 15:1-5a Jesus identifies Himself as the "True Vine" and His Father as the "Vinedresser": "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even fore.  [...]I am the vine, you are the branches [..]."  However the Vinedresser may be Christ Himself.  The fruitless fig tree may be the Old Covenant people who had not produced the "fruit"  that Yahweh had called them to produce, or the fruitless fig tree could be each individual member of the Covenant who fails to produce "good fruit" = the works of God working through the Covenant believer.  The response of the Vinedresser makes it more likely that the fruitless fig tree is the Old Covenant Church.  The Vinedresser is perhaps Jesus [remember the Trinity is One therefore where one person of the Trinity is found, so are they all].  He requests time to nurture the tree in an attempt to save it from destruction.  This is symbolic of Jesus' ministry to the Old Covenant Church.  After Jesus taught, nurtured, and "fertilized" the Old Covenant Church with His 3 year ministry, He gave them the final opportunity to bear fruit through His self-sacrificial death, burial, resurrection, and the 40 day earthly instruction to the Church before His Ascension.  What more could He have done to revitalize the Old Covenant people?  And still the majority of the "firstborn sons" of God disgraced themselves by not accepting their Messiah and later by not welcoming the "younger sons" [the other nations] into the Covenant.  But, in His mercy, the Christ gave them more time before judgment fell on Old Covenant Israel/Judah'He gave them 40 years from His Ascension to the coming of judgment in the form of the Roman legions who devastated Judea, destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the Temple, and sold the surviving Jews into slavery throughout the gentile nations of the Roman Empire.  In the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, Jesus' ot performed in the incident of the judging and "curse of destruction" on the fig tree was fulfilled in the "curse of destruction" on Jerusalem and Judea.  The event of the destruction of Jerusalem was also prophesized by Jesus His last week in Jerusalem in Matthew 25:15-25 [also see Mark 13:14-23; Like 21:20-24] when He told the Jewish crowds "In truth I tell you, it will all recoil on this generation" [Matthew 23:36].  And yet, we know that God has not abandoned His "firstborn son" and Israel's role in Salvation History is still unfolding!


Question: What is the warning to the Roman Catholic Church, she who is the Bride of Jesus Christ, just as the Old Covenant Church was the Bride of Yahweh?

Answer: Like our Old Covenant brothers and sisters who proceeded us we also have covenant obligations that have been passed down to us through Jesus to His Apostles and to their successors the Magisterium = the Pope and Bishops of Mother Church, just as in the Old Covenant teachings were passed down from Moses and Aaron to the High Priests and kings who were their successors.  If we are obedient to the teachings of the Church and faithful to fulfill all our covenant obligations we are promised that we will bear "good fruit"'for if we do not, we have the lesson of the fig tree to remind us of the consequences'consequences that will come to us individually and as a covenant people who serve as Christ's witnesses to a still largely pagan world!


Prior to Jesus' Resurrection there were 3 resurrection miracles performed by Jesus:

Question: These resurrections were miraculous events but how do they differ from Jesus' Resurrection as recounted in the 4 Gospels? [see John 20:1ff; Matthew 28:1ff; Mark 16!ff; Luke 24:1ff]

Answer: In these 3 miracles the persons miraculously raised from the dead returned to their ordinary earthly lives, to live out those lives and to eventually die again.  Jesus' Resurrection however is entirely different.  He passed from death to the abode of the dead, [to the Jews "sheol" or "Abraham's bosom, to Catholics purgatory] and then into another life beyond our understanding of time and space.  See CCC# 631; 632.

Question: Did Jesus experience a bodily or a spiritual resurrection?

Answer: The Church has always taught that Jesus' experienced a bodily Resurrection.  Tertullian, the late second century pagan Roman jurist turned Catholic apologist shocked

the Roman world with the momentous statement ""The flesh is the hinge of salvation!"

Elaborating on Tertullian's statement CCC #1015 continues: "We believe in God who is creator of the flesh; we believe in the Word made flesh in order to redeem the flesh; we believe in the resurrection of the flesh, the fulfillment of both the creation and the redemption of the flesh."


Question: What evidence do we have in Scripture to support a bodily Resurrection of Christ?



The CCC teaches in # 643 "Given all these testimonies, Christ's Resurrection cannot be interpreted s something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact."  CCC# 644 "Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. 'In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering.'  Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord's last appearance in Galilee "some doubted."  There the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles' faith (or credulity) will not hold up.  On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus."


If our salvation is God's gift offered to all humanity then God can hardly ignore the flesh which He created to clothe our immortal souls.  He in fact did not ignore our humanity, for our human flesh as been assumed by Christ, it has been redeemed in the event of the Cross of suffering and it has been resurrected and taken up into the heavenly court.  And so our bodies too have been promised glory'a promise manifested in the bodily resurrection of the God-man Jesus of Nazareth on Easter Sunday and a bodily resurrection to which we all are called.


Question: What was the focus of Jesus' 3 year ministry?  Did He come only to Israel or did He come to give the message of salvation to the whole world?  See Matthew 10:1-7; 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30.

Answer: Scripture tells us He came to fulfill Yahweh's promised to the Old Covenant Church.  Down through Salvation History His coming had been promised only to them.  As Jesus prepared the 12 Apostles for their first missionary journey He instructed them in Matthew 10:5 "Do not make your way to gentile territory, and do not enter any Samaritan town; go instead to the lost sheep of the House of Israel."  And when Jesus addressed the gentile woman who came requesting a healing for her daughter, before He honored her request, He told her: "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel." [Matthew 15:24].  Jesus came to transform the faithful remnant of the Old Covenant Church into His New Covenant Israel and to give them the 3-fold blessing promised Father Abraham in Genesis chapter 12 = a kingdom, descendants, and a world-wide blessing.  Before His Ascension He gave this faithful remnant their marching orders to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit [Matthew 28:19-20] and to carry the Gospel message from Jerusalem, to Judah, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth [Acts 1:8]. Through these faithful Jewish emissaries Jesus established the promised kingdom'the Universal Kingdom, the Kingdom of heaven on earth, and Mother Church would bear countless generations of New Covenant children.  Through these Jews of the New Covenant the entire world would be blessing through the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  The promise to Abraham would finally be fulfilled in the Catholic, universal, Church= the New Israel of the New Covenant who would carry Jesus' message of the promise of His gift of salvation to the world


Question: How does the Catholic Church define "salvation"?  How do we as Catholic Christians achieve salvation?

Answer: The Catholic Church has always taught that the gift of Salvation is a process that begins when we are "born again" through baptism by water and the Spirit, continues all through our lives as we live out our faith in the Sacraments, and is completed when we stand before the Judgment throne of God.  Sacred Scripture teaches that there are three dimensions to salvation:

ü      Past: Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ I have been saved [Ephesians 2:5-8]

ü      Present: I am being saved as I continue in faith [1 Peter 1:8-9; Philippians 2:12]

ü      Future: If I persevere in faith I shall be saved [Romans 13:11; 1 Corinthians 5:5] 


In addition to salvation as a whole, the Church also addresses the individual aspects of salvation which are redemption, justification, sanctification, and forgiveness.  These aspects of salvation are also a lifelong process sharing the same 3 dimensions as the definition of salvation.


Question: When a Protestant brother or sister in Christ asks you the questions "Are you born again?"  or "Have you been saved?" or "Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?"  How do you answer?

Answer: Your answer should be: "YES, praise God!

ü      I was 'born again' at my baptism when God the Holy Spirit filled and indwelled me, freeing me of original sin so that I could become an adopted child of God the Almighty! 

ü      And in that saving work of the Holy Spirit at my baptism I was placed on the road to salvation; as we speak I have been saved through the redeeming work of Christ on the Cross, I am being saved as His sacrifice is applied daily to my life, and if I persevere in faithfulness to the end I have Jesus' promise that I shall be saved for all eternity!"

ü      Through the mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist I have an intensely personal relationship with Jesus because He comes to me personally, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity! 


Question: Can you answer those questions in absolute confidence?  Are you taking an active role in playing out your part in Salvation History as one of the faithful remnant destined to spend eternity in the Kingdom of God in heaven?


The readings for Biblical Period # 12, The Birth of the New Covenant Church

New Covenant Church

Acts 2:1-41; Matthew 16:13-20

Peter's Homily before the Sanhedrin

Acts 4:1-31

The Church faces persecution

Acts 6:8 – 8:1

The Witness in Samaria

Acts 8:4-40

The Conversion of Saul

Acts 9:1-19

Peter's Ministry in Judea          

Acts 9:31-11:18

The Mission of Barnabas and Paul

Acts 13:1-14:28

The First Great Council

Acts 15:1-35

St Paul's Missions       

Acts 15:36-28:31

The Destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the Old Covenant 9th of Ab [Av], 70AD

Hebrews 8:6-13 and 9:8

The Early heresies and the Protestant Reformation


The Great Councils



Resources and recommended reading:

1.      Anchor Bible Commentaries: – Gospel of Luke, Gospel of Matthew, Gospel of Mark

2    The History of Greece, Will Durant

3.   Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant

4.   Caesar and Christ, Will Durant

5.   Making Sense out of Scripture, Mark Shea

6.   The Didache, James Kleist, translator. Ancient Christian Writers Series, [Newman Press, New York, N.Y., 1948]

7.    The Navarre Bible Commentaries: John, Matthew, Luke, and Mark

8.    The Anchor Bible Commentary- The Gospel of John, Fr. Raymond Brown

9.    The Ignatius Study Bible – The Gospel of John

10.  Catechism of the Catholic Church

11. Life is Worth Living, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

12. The Gospel of John Study Guide, Dr. Scott Hahn

13. Offerings, Sacrifices, and Worship in the Old Testament, J.H. Kurtz

14. Feast of Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

15. The Annals, Tacitus

16. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

17. The Temple, its Ministry and Services

18. The Mishnah

19. The Anchor Bible Commentary- The Gospel According to  John, vol II

20. The International Critical Commentary – St John

21. The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible – The Gospel of John

22. The Dictionary of the Bible, Fr. John McKenzie, S.J.

23. The Feasts of the Lord, Kevin Howard and Marvin Rosenthal

24. Many Religions, One Covenant, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

25. Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament

26. The Works of Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews; The Jewish War

27. The Works of Philo of Alexandria

28. Hail Holy Queen, Dr. Scott Hahn

29. The Jewish New Testament Commentary

30. Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus, Jeremias

31. Salvation is From the Jews: The Role of Judaism in Salvation History From Abraham to the Second Coming, Roy H. Schoeman, Ignatius Press



Daily time divisions and the Tamid Sacrifice in the Old Covenant


The Romans divided the day into 24 divisions of time with two 12 hour periods; beginning each new day at 12 midnight (ref. Pliny the Elder: Natural History vol.2.79.188).  We keep Roman time. The new day for the Jews began at sunset and was divided into 24 divisions of time with 12 divisions of dark and 12 divisions of daylight. After the Roman occupation the 12 divisions of darkness were measured by 4 "watches":   










The 12 daylight hours were measured by four different time divisions that coincided with the daily sacrifice & whole burnt offering of the 2 lambs at the Temple in Jerusalem.  This sacrifice was called the Tamid [also spelled Tamid in Hebrew and pronounced "tah-meed"] meaning "Standing" as in "perpetual" Sacrifice. Exodus 29:38 "This is what you must offer on the altar: two yearling male lambs each day in perpetuity. The first lamb you will offer at dawn, and the second at mid-day"(literal meaning is "between the twilight" = bayin ha ereb meaning the midpoint between dawn and dusk which is 12 noon).  See Exodus 29:38-46; Leviticus 6:1-16; Numbers 28:4-8; 1Kings 18:29; 2Kings 16:15. The time divisions of the day and daily prayer times were associated with the perpetual [literally = standing] sacrifice of the two perfect lambs.


The Daily Time Divisions



The first lamb is brought out and tied to the altar at dawn Mishnah: Tamid 3:2-3:3

The high priest prepares the altar

[see: Exodus 29:39; Leviticus 6:1-6; Mishnah: Tamid 1:2]




The first lamb is sacrificed at 9AM* Mishnah: Tamid 3:7

9AM is the first hour of prayer [see Acts 2:15] Temple gates open "Shacharit"(morning)



The second lamb is brought out and tied to the altar at noon

Mishnah: Tamid 4:1

Noon is the second hour of prayer [Acts 3:1; 10:9] "Minchah" (gift-offering)




The second lamb is sacrificed at 3PM* Antiquities of the Jews 14.4.3 (14:65);  Philo Special Laws I, XXXV (169)

3PM is the third hour of prayer [Acts 3:1; 10:9] "Ma'ariv" (evening: our afternoon is the Jewish evening= next day began at sundown)

[3 hours of prayer see Mishnah Berakhot]

*dawn and high noon were easily determined but the actual sacrifices three hours later at 9AM and 3PM were determined by the use of a sundial or a waterclock.  These times of sacrifice directly correspond with the time frame of Jesus' Passion even thought these sacrifices were set c.1,500-1,300 years before the birth of Jesus.  Jesus the Messiah fulfilled the Tamid sacrifice!


Each day for the daily Tamid Sacrifice two male lambs a year old in their perfection are chosen for sacrifice along with two cakes of fine flour mixed with oil [one offered with each lamb] and wine.  What is the significance of the two lambs?  The Son of God has come to redeem man as the perfect Lamb of Sacrifice in His humanity and in His divinity: 

-At dawn the first lamb of the daily sacrifice is tied to the altar: Jesus was condemned by the Sanhedrin [the Jewish Law Court] at dawn (Matthew 26:63-66; Mark 15:61-15:1; Luke 22:66-23:1; Mishnah: Tamid 3:2-3:3). After Jesus was condemned by the High Priest and the Sanhedrin He is immediately brought before the Roman governor, Pilate.  The Greek word proi can mean "very early in the morning" or "dawn" (see John 18:28). It is also the name of the 4th Roman Watch, which is from 3AM-Dawn.  Later in John 19:14 John writes that Jesus is condemned by Pilate on "Preparation Day" = the 6th day of the week and the day the Jews prepared for the Sabbath, Friday, at about the 6th hour.  If John is using Roman time instead of Hebrew time in his Gospel, he is in accord with the Synoptic Gospel accounts which all record that Jesus is brought to Pilate just after dawn.  It would be more reasonable for a late first century largely gentile Roman-culture Christian community in Asia Minor to be using Roman time.  If this is the case, then John is indicating it is about 6AM, our time (we use Roman time).  Then too, considering the importance of symbolism in John's Gospel, it may be that the reference to the number "6" is entirely symbolic to help us recall that it was on the 6th day that God created man and it is on the 6th day of the week, at the 6th hour that Christ will begin His redemption of man through His Passion and sacrifice.  Just as the High Priest selected the lamb of sacrifice for the sins of the people in the Feast of Atonement, Jesus is the last true sacrifice selected by the High Priest.  He is the perfect Lamb of God chosen to die for the sins of the people and pronounced "innocent", without sin, by a gentile Roman prefect.

 -At the 3rd hour/9AM the first lamb of the daily sacrifice is sacrificed for the sins of the people on the great sacrificial altar at the Temple: Jesus was crucified at the 3rd hour Jewish time = 9AM. (Mark 15:25 "They crucified him, and shared out his clothing, casting lots to decide what each should get.  It was the third hour when they crucified him.").

-At noon the second lamb of the daily sacrifice is brought out and tied to the altar: The sky turned dark at noon. (Matthew 27:45 "From the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour." Also Mark 15:33 Luke 23:44-49)

-At the ninth hour/ 3PM the second lamb of the daily sacrifice is offered up on the altar for the sins of the people:  Jesus gave up his life at 3PM. See Matthew 27:46-50; Mark 15:34-36;Luke 23:44-46.

            In Revelation 5:4-8 St. John, standing before the throne of God is told to look at "the Lion of the Tribe of Judah".  He turns to look and sees " the middle of the throne with its four living creatures and the circle of elders, a Lamb standing that seemed to have been sacrificed;.." John has seen the glorified, risen Christ as the true Standing [Tamid] Sacrifice perpetually offering Himself for the sins of the people before the throne of God!

M.Hunt (updated) April 2004

Tamid references:

1.  Flavius Josephus, The Jewish War 6.2.1

2.  Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 14.4.3: "..the priests were not at all hindered from their sacred ministrations, by their fear during this siege, but did still twice each day, in the morning and about the ninth hour, offer their sacrifices on the altar...."

3. Philo of Alexandria: Special Laws I, XXXV (169): "Accordingly it is commanded that every day the priests should offer up two lambs, on at the dawn of the day, and the other in the evening; each of them being a sacrifice of thanksgiving [eucharistia]; the one for kindnesses which have been bestowed during the day, and the other for the mercies which have been vouchsafed in the night, which God is incessantly and uninterruptedly pouring upon the race of men.  And on the seventh day he doubles the number of victims to be offered..."

4.      Talmud: Mishnah, Tamid 1:1-7:4. Temple gates open for morning prayer at 9AM

5.      The Temple its Ministry and Services, Alfred Edersheim, page 108-114

6.      Like the Mesopotamians the Hebrews divided the night into three watches [see Lamentations 2:19; Judges 7:19; Exodus 14:24; 1Samuel 11:11].  By New Testament times the Roman custom of dividing the night into four watches had been adopted [see Matthew 6:48; 14:24; Mark 13:35].  See New World Dictionary Concordance

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2008 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.