And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said to him…
The festival of "unleavened cakes," or "unleavened bread," commenced on the night of the 14th of Abib or Nisan (Exodus 12:16) after sunset; that day, corresponding to our 16th of March, was therefore popularly called the first of the festival, because it was the preparation day for it. This preparation of the Passover, i.e. the killing of the lamb, etc., had to take place between three and six o'clock, the ninth and twelfth hours of the solar day. "Sacrificed," or "killed," has the force of "accustomed to sacrifice or kill." The room was to be "furnished," literally "strewn," i.e. the tables and couches were to be laid; and it was to be ready, i.e. cleansed, etc., in conformity with ceremonial purifications. A considerable amount of work had to be carefully gone through ere all things would be ready. The lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs, wine, and "conserve of sweet fruits," had to be purchased; the lamb had to be slain by the officiating priest in the temple; and then it had to be roasted with the herbs. From the circumstances connected with this preparation in the case of Christ and his disciples we see -
I. THE REPRESENTATIVE HEADSHIP OF CHRIST. The disciples looked to him for direction. They spoke of him, and not themselves severally, as being about to observe the Passover, which indicated, not that they themselves were not going to observe it, but that they ranged themselves under him as constituting, so to speak, his household· That they should have to seek his direction at the last was no proof of carelessness, but only of habitual dependence upon him; and it pathetically suggested how closely their circumstances corresponded with the typical character of the first celebrants, who as strangers and sojourners partook of the hasty feast. Fittingly enough, he who sought at birth the shelter of an inn, goes to such a place to observe the Passover with his disciples, in a separate and distinct capacity from that of any other household in Israel. They were to ask, "Where is my guest-chamber?" it was he who was to entertain.
II. His REGARD FOR THE OBSERVANCES AND INSTITUTIONS OF THE LAW. This is shown in the careful attention he gave to the details of the feast. Whether the arrangements made were due to the exercise of supernatural foresight, or merely to the natural forethought and human care of Christ, it is impossible to determine. In the former case, the "man bearing a pitcher of water," who was to meet them, would be indicated as a Divine token; in the latter, the man would be simply arranged for with the master or "goodman" of the hostelry. Either way, the feast was really prepared for by Christ, and no regulation was neglected. When the poverty, homelessness, and personal danger of the Savior are remembered, his observance of the Passover will be seen to possess an emphasis and intention quite special.
III. THE CONTINUITY IN WHICH THE "LORD'S SUPPER" STANDS. It was a "moment" or stage of the Paschal feast, and therefore a portion of the same celebration. Doubtless the feast would be protracted, or at any rate the actual eating of the lamb would be distinguished in time from the partaking of the bread and wine, which came a little later, as a new commencement after Judas had withdrawn at the bidding of the Master. In this way the retrospective character of the eating and drinking is quite natural. The two great feasts of Judaism and Christianity are thus vitally connected, the new celebration being a survival of the old one, and a perpetuation of its spiritual meaning. In such instances do we see the continuity of essential ideas, observances, and institutions throughout the varying phases and progressive stages of religious development.
IV. THE SPIRITUAL PREPARATION OF CHRIST FOR THAT WHICH THE PASSOVER SYMBOLIZED. It is just in the attention to these minute details, paid by One to whom in general the "spirit" was ever of so much more consequence than the "letter," that the inward preparedness of the Savior is suggested for his great sacrifice. The whole typology of the sacred festival had been spiritually realized by him, and its connection with his own death. In Matthew's Gospel this foreboding consciousness of doom, elevated into a higher mood by spiritual willinghood, is expressed: "The Master saith, My time is at hand," etc. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?