The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
|The Last Supper. Jacopo Tintoretto. 1592–94|
THE PASSOVER, OR LAST SUPPER.
THE Old Testament mentions the Passover forty times, and it is found twenty times in the New Testament. The word Passover, Phase, or Pasch, means " a passing over " because the angel of death passed over the Hebrew houses in Egypt the night he killed all the firstborn Egyptian children and animals. In memory of that miracle ever since at Eastertide the Hebrews celebrate this their greatest feast.
The delivery of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage foretold the delivery of the human race from the bondage of the devil and the slavery of sin. As a shadow of that future time when the Messiah would die, Jewish writings tell us, the chief events of Hebrew history took place at the Passover.
At midnight of the Passover, Abraham divided his forces and conquered his enemies, (Gen. xiv. 15.) Jacob wrestled with and overcame an angel, (Gen xxxii. 24-29.) Egyptian first-born of men and animals were killed, (Exod. xii.) Prince Harosheth's army was routed, (Judges iv 16.) Bel's idol was overthrown, (Dan. xiv) and dreams foretold to Joseph the future. (Gen, xxxvii., xl, xli.)
Passover night, Belshassar, proud king of Babylon, celebrating his feast, called for the vessels of Solomon's Temple, mocked God, praised his idols, and the finger of God wrote the sentence of doom on him and on his empire on the wall of his banquet chamber, now a ruin called the Kasr, making a mound on the Euphrates river. Daniel interpreted the writing while Cyrus' Persian army was marching into the city, along the dry bed of the Euphrates. That night of the Passover Babylon was destroyed (Daniel v.) and later Cyrus, reading his very name in Isaias' prophecy, gave orders to the Jews to return and rebuild their destroyed Temple. (Isaias xliv; 28 Esdras v.)
At the Passover God appeared to Abraham. At the Passover the Lord himself, with an Angel each side of him, visited Abraham in his tent. (Gen xviii.) At the Passover fire fell and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and all the wicked people, except Lot, who alone had baked the unleavened cakes for the Passover service. It was at this season that the land of Moph and Noph was swept of idolatry; Jericho's walls fell; Midian was totally destroyed ; Pul overthrown; Esther directed the Hebrews to fast, and Haman crucified. (See Hymn of Passover Service.) These miracles God wrought to save the Hebrew nation, as signs of the future salvation of the world through the death of Christ at the Passover. (See Liturgy of the Passover Service)
The chief sacrifice of the Passover was a lamb, called from the time of his selection " the lamb of God," for he foretold the true Lamb of God from the beginning of the human race. At the gates of Eden Abel offered a lamb in sacrifice.(Gen. iv. 4.) Noe and the patriarchs immolated the lamb among their other offerings, and down the ages the little lamb was an image and a figure of the coming Messiah.
At the time of the patriarchs, the head of the family offered the victim, the night of the flight from Egypt the father of the family slew it. But after the Hebrew priesthood had been established, the victim was brought to the priests of tabernacle and Temple to foretell how, later, they would arrest Christ and bring him to the priests to be the sacrifice, the real " Lamb of God," Calvary's victim.
At first the ceremony was quite simple. But as ages passed, under the direction of the Shekina the rules and regulations became more and more elaborate, every movement filled with type and figure of the coming, and the death, of God's only begotten Son.
The lamb was selected from the flock on the tenth day of the moon of Nisan, our April, for on this day, which this year fell on Monday, the Sanhedrin condemned Christ to death. God commanded them to sacrifice a lamb, be cause from the beginning of the world it was the chief victim offered by the patriarchs; and in Egypt, Rome and pagan lands a lamb was worshiped as a god.
By God's command they chose a little ram without spot or blemish, not more than a year old, whose innocence foretold the sinless Christ sacrificed in the flower of his manhood. When chosen, he was washed, for Christ and his Apostles bathed before celebrating the Last Supper. That was the Jewish custom. The lamb was perfumed to typify the perfume of holiness and good works of the Lord's humanity. The lamb was then condemned to death, and tied to a colored stake as Christ was decreed to death and nailed to the cross. When killed a lamb utters not a sound, for in all his sufferings Jesus kept silence. (Matt, xxvi, 63.)
You ask, Did Christ celebrate the Passover or Last Supper with all the rites and ceremonies followed by the Jews in our day ? The same question is asked by Zanolini, ( Disputat. de Festis et Sectis, Judeorum, p. 54 Curaus, Comp. S. Theol. Migne's Edition. Benedict, xiv. De Festis Pom. N. Jesu Christi.) and all other authors who treat the question say he did with the exception of a few additions made by Jews who lived after him.
As a Jew, he was bound by every law God laid down through Moses, and the Jew who would not celebrate the Passover, without a reason, was to be put to death. (Numb, ix 18.) " But if any one is clean, and was not on a journey, and did not make the Phase, that soul shall be cut off from among his people, because he offered not sacrifice to the Lord in due season." They would otherwise have brought that charge against Him at the trial. " He that shall eat leavened bread, his soul shall perish out of the assembly of Israel, whether he be a stranger or born in the land." (Exod, xii, 19.)
It was Thursday, eve of the Passover, the fourteenth day after the first full moon (Talmud, Pesachim, Ch, I.) following the vernal equinox, the sixth of April, in the year 34,788 after the founding of Rome, 4,088 years after the creation of Adam, Joseph Caiphas being high priest, Pontius Pilate governor of Judea, Herod Antipas ruler of Galilee, Ponponius Flaccus, father of the emperor of that name, Roman Legate of Syria, when Tiberius sat on the throne of the Caesars, that Jesus Christ changed the Passover service into the Mass, and the next day died the death of the cross.
For a month the Jews had been preparing for their great Easter feast. They fixed the roads, they white washed the tombs, they put their houses in order, for strangers, pilgrims from all nations, were coming up to the Holy City. The strict law was that every male Hebrew, within fifteen miles of the sacred city, and free from legal uncleanness, was to appear on the 14th of Nisan " before the Lord in his Temple." (Edersheim. Temple, p. 183.)
Two days before the Passover, in every Hebrew house began the preparations. They first cleaned all the cooking utensils, so the smell of fermented bread could not be perceived. The plates, carving knives, kettles, called circenth, and all dishes were carefully washed in boiling water—metal vessels they held over fire till red hot, woodenware they boiled; (Book Orach, Chajim.) the upper stone of the flour-mill called Pelach, and the lower stone named Receb, they dressed with iron tools till they looked like new, and they also cleaned the chest where the cakes were kept.
That afternoon as the sun was sinking, they drew pure water from the well called, " The water of Precept." This was the water the man with a pitcher was carrying into the city when Sts. Peter and John met him. Beside the bridge across the Cedron stream below Gethsemane, over which Christ was dragged the night of his arrest, ages before, some one had dug deep in the rock a well used still in our day. The man had drawn from that well the water for the Passover.
With this water they now mix purest flour and make a dough they call Mazzoth. They roll the mass as thin as they can, forming four cakes as large as plates. They imprint five holes in each cake with their fingers, as they thought to make them bake better, not knowing that they were images of the five wounds in the Lord's body when he was dead. Now they anoint each cake with olive oil in the form of a cross. (Edersheim, Temple, p. 155.) These four cakes, called Kiccar, " a circle," they now bake—one they send to the Temple priests, the other three are for the feast, and the dough remaining they burn as an offering to the Lord.
Minute are the Talmud's rules still followed by Jews (Talmud, Pesachim, " Passover.") searching for Chometz, " Fermented Bread," the ceremony typifying examination of conscience before eating the real "Paschal Lamb of God" in the Eucharist. Before Or "Light," early in the morning of the fourteenth moon of Nisan, it was allowed to eat fermented bread, give it to servants, fowls, Gentiles, etc. But after that the master could not do so, or he would become a Kareth, " excommunicated," by the Sanhedrin. Work was allowed that morning till nearly noon, sheep and goats might be sold to Heathens, but not large cattle. (Talmud, Pesachim, Cap. iv. Mishna.) At the sixth hour, noon, the master of the house with a candle searched for Chometz, " fermented," which was burned in every home with prescribed prayers. The Temple priests at early morning had placed two cakes of the Bread of the Tace, "of the Presence of God," " the Angel," the holy proposition bread, removed the Sabbath before from the Holies, on a bench in the Temple, while they remained they could eat leaven, when one was removed all abstained from eating, the other was removed at noon. All began burning the leaven, after which it could not be given to animals, sold or any benefit derived from it. The reader will now better understand Christ's allusions to leaven, unleavened bread, azymes, etc. (Mat. xxvi. 17 ; Mark xiv. 1-12 ;Luke xxii. 1-7.)
Bound by these laws or customs, Christ and the Apostles came to the Last Supper fasting, and that is the reason they who receive the Eucharist, the sick excepted, must be fasting in all Christian Rites.
Every Israelite, even pregnant and nursing women, kept a strict fast the day of the Passover, like the Day of the Atonement. (Bonatha.) Shammai's followers and the Pharisees forbade work, but Hillels school allowed manual labor. (Talmud Bab., Pesachirn, C. iv.p. 95, 96.
Copy in Astor Library.)
Jewish writers say that Moses went up Mount Sinai on Thursday and came down on Monday. During this forty days he kept a strict fast. In memory of this the Jews fasted on these days. The Pharisees were strict regarding this fast as one of them says: " I fast twice in the week." (Luke xviii, 12.) Esdras (Tal, Bab. B. Kamma, Fol, 88. 1.) established these fasts.