Jesus’ First Passover

Image of the Second Temple, Reconstructed by Schematics

Many things are beginning to be interesting in Jesus’ Life. We don’t receive much information about Jesus’ earlier life, except for this main thing: When He turned 12, He was allowed to attend the Passover at the Temple.

Temple Services were only allowed (and required typically) once a boy turned 12 years of age, which is also known (at least to us and generally contextually) for the age of pre-adolescence. Once a child begins to appear pre-adolescent, he/she becomes more accountable in their lives. Such a thing enabled a child to begin maturing much more rapidly and soon approaching their purpose.

For Jesus, this was highly important to begin His Preparation for ministry by training continuously in the doctrines of the Temple before the doctors (teachers).

His parents traveled a days’ journey home before they found Jesus was not with them. Re-read that last sentence. How does that work out? Maybe they trusted He could take care of Himself without their intervention. Nonetheless, when Joseph and Mary journeyed back, they could not find Him amongst the friends and family of theirs. Therefore, they became dumbfounded they had a lost child (and that lost child being the Son of God – this is a big problem they thought).

Quick question of thought: Many people have lost Jesus, but later found Him…? Think about that for a minute. Think Salvation for a moment…

Where did they find Him? In the Temple, busy astounding the doctors with many questions. His inquisitive nature assuredly impressed them. Once Mary asked Jesus why He stayed behind, Jesus questioned her if she was aware He had to be about His Father’s (Father God) business.

He became obedient, nonetheless, and indeed to His parents. He grew in stature and wisdom, because it was highly important for Him to obey man, which was great that He also obeyed God earnestly.

Self-submission was just the beginning and prophecy fulfillment was beginning, as later He would be submissive to His Flock, to His killers, and to God overall in everything.

Many have wondered of His skilled trade in carpentry, to which was the trade of His father, Joseph. All Jewish boys had done this – learning trades of their fathers. It is assumed His work in carpentry involved roof making, boat building, door making, window making, and creating divan frames.

With all that said… Let’s begin our reading today in Luke 2:41-52…

“Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

PROPHECIES & FULFILLMENTS

The prophecy fulfillments are seemingly innumerable in this instance. Let us read about such fulfillments, in the combined verses of John 13:1 and 18:28, “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.”

Jesus’ First Passover was a prophecy premonition to the much later Passover to occur toward the end of His Earthly Work.

God’s Purposes allow us to see the end from the beginning; however, God’s Guidance in the middle/in the thick of things is what’s most important. Now that we have the premonition in place for Jesus’ Ministry Work and His Future Redemptive Work, we must proceed next week into the beginning of the full preparation of Ministry.

NOTE: To quickly reference the requirements of people at the three feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, look in Exodus 23:17 and Deuteronomy 16:16.

Herod the Great wanted Jesus Dead

He wanted to kill Jesus… Right from the start, the enemy had his sights set on Jesus’ death, to which he used Herod to bring this hopeful reality – But the enemy was only being short-sighted, for he knew that one day, the promised redeemer would crush the head of the serpent (see Genesis 3).

We will be reading soon, but first, let me explain… Joseph has this dream, where he was warned of an imminent danger and that he needs to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt. It was Herod’s mission to slay all male children under the age of two. We don’t know how many children were slewed – quite a bit or only a little. They were able to escape successfully, which was good for them to survive.

Eventually, Herod dies, and Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were able to return to Egypt and live safely. When they arrived, Joseph saw Herod’s son, Archelaus, in power – so they went on to Nazareth.

Luke passes over this episode; however, Matthew explains the prophecy of Hosea 1:1, “Out of Egypt have I called my Son.” In addition, the weeping prophet, Jeremiah, has something to say on this in 31:15, “Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.”

NOW, let’s explore the Bible verses for this story, Matthew 2:13-23, “And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Historicity and Archaeological Data

Herod was apparently an unstable leader, threatened by the onset of Jesus’ Birth, the recognition from the wise men for the King made Herod quite anxious. Since he was so anxious, he had all the children under 2 slayed, to which caused an immense struggle for Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to flee to Egypt. Thankfully, the gifts they received at Jesus’ Birth through the visitations provided them with enough to make it to Egypt without too much complication.

This was seemingly around 4 BC, since Herod the Great ruled from 37-4 BC. Herod’s Kingdom, which he inherited from his father, Herod Antipater, was vast. When Herod died in 4 BC, his kingdom was divided into parts where all three of his potentially ruling sons can take over. Archelaus became ethnarch of Judea, Idumea, and Samaria. Antipas became tetrarch of Galilee and Perea. Finally, Philip became tetrarch of Gaulanitis.

Herod’s Palace; Photo courtesy: Ron Dauphin

Josephus noted Archelaus was tyrannical, which was similar to his father, Herod the Great; however, Archelaus had little ability and bore no fruit during his reign. Augustus, in 6 AD, banished Archelaus to Gaul for being so incompetent, which would suppress his heavy-handed excess treatment against the Jews and Samaritans and suppress any anti-government riots soon to break out.

Archaeologists and historians verified Matthew’s story of this smiting of all the under age 2 children, by research that many small bones being found beneath the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

The Herodium

Josephus notes the physical agony of Herod the Great upon his death. He was buried, as Josephus notes, with great splendor and pomp, and notes the burial happened at Herod’s fortress, Herodium, where remains of this tomb were discovered on the northern slope of Jerusalem.

Herod’s Palace, Lower Terrage zone

Archaeological evidence suggests that the Jews entered the tomb of Herod the Great, where they allegedly smashed his sarcophagus or coffin – which was around the time of the Jewish Revolt of 66-68 AD. This was enacted because of revenge against Herod. Some were skeptical at Josephus’ discovery, until it was confirmed in 2007 when archaeologists found the tomb and remains of Herod.

The sarcophagus was decorated with rosette ornaments and made overall of red imported stone.

On an overall basis, we assume many decorated his tomb, but the Jews absolutely hated Herod and decided to wreak vengeance on his remains. Although, they didn’t rid the evidence, which made it very useful for discoveries contemporarily.

The Wise Men: More than Magi

The adoration of the Magi, after they followed that ‘star in the east’ to Jesus. Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P., CC BY-NC-ND

The Wise Men (not just three wise men and not just three gifts) came from “afar” between 40 days and 2 years after the birth of Christ to visit the holy child and bear gifts unto Him. Scripture gives us information that there were three gifts presented (which is because at the time the Scripture witness was there, he only saw three gifts presented most notable). These gifts stated in Scripture were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Why were these three most notable? They carry extraordinary significance. Gold is a measurable money, frankincense is a perfume and healing agent, and myrrh is a burial spice and healing agent. God equipped His Son just as He now equips us for everything.

Why were they wise men? They were philosophers, priests, astronomers, medical practitioners/apothecaries, religious leaders, scribes, etc. Many of them dwelt in Persia or Arabia, and were held in high esteem. The Star they followed at night to guide them to the Newborn King was a significant one as the usual odd star appearances signified the birth or death of a very important figure (good or evil). In this case, it was very good! Someone remarkable just appeared and the Jews were sore amazed and avidly looking for the Messiah.

What does the Prophet Daniel speak in this moment? Daniel 9:25-27 says, “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

Such prophecy meant the Jews would be anxious at such remarkable event, as I said, the appearing of a new star or comet meant an omen that some remarkable or notorious person was born or had died. For example, a comet appeared for seven days at the death of Julius Caesar. People knew this situation was no anecdote.

He was to be honored as King of the Jews, or the Coming King. What about Son of God? Many did not know this child to be as the Son of God. However, some were sent because they were to “spy” for Herod and report their findings. Herod had an evil plan in mind, which we will discuss in the next part of our series.

Let us read then in Matthew 2:1-11, “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”

Archaeologically speaking, we do not see enough reference points to reveal the data; however, there has been a significant surfacing research that there is a grotto beneath the Nativity Church that could have been the birthplace of Christ, and that the grotto was built over top of to protect it from any harm as it is a holy site.

Astronomers Michael Mornar and David Weintraub from Vanderbilt University attempt to investigate:

“The portent began on April 17 of 6 BC (with the heliacal rising of Jupiter that morning, followed, at noon, by its lunar occultation in the constellation Aries) and lasted until December 19 of 6 BC (when Jupiter stopped moving to the west, stood still briefly, and began moving to the east, as compared with the fixed background stars). By the earliest time the men could have arrived in Bethlehem, the baby Jesus would likely have been at least a toddler.”

Historical research shows that the Herodian Lineage was quite an evil lineage (which we will discuss in further depth next episode). Nonetheless, what we see overall is that The Temple was where Herod would conduct ruling business, and that is where several decisions were made to spy on Jesus, conduct investigations, and attempt an evil deed against Jesus.

North and west of The Temple was Herod’s Palace near the Upper City in Jerusalem, and then Herod also had his own outer defense wall built along with an aqueduct. This is significantly pagan in nature due to the entropic of closing the city tight near his palace to prevent any spying on his evil activities. Traditional scholars warrant a further investigation into his functions, which we will be getting to very soon.

We wish for more evidence to be brought into this situation; however, there is still limited evidence for the appearance of an odd star, many note as “Star of David” – nonetheless, we do have the assurance a King was born in the City of David and that the remarkable event staged an immediate action by King Herod. Such action would influence the very being of the course of the world, lest a Savior were to come. The Spirit of God is upon us, and we have to be aware of His Provision as He makes way in just the right moment.We will explore more next week as we Discover Research that Leverages Faith.

Birth of Jesus Christ – Historical Look

Our future redeemer was said to be born of the seed of a woman, as the Lord says in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Who should this redeemer be? In Galatians 4:4-5, we have fulfillment, where Paul says, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

The Lord said to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3, “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” and then in 22:17-18, “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” Jesus was born of the seed of Abraham as we read in Matthew 1:1.

What this means is that a King is coming from Abraham that shall bless all the nations of the earth – and should Abraham obey, there shall be a tremendous redemption.

After that, in Genesis 17:19, we see the redeemer also coming from Isaac confirmed in Matthew 1:2, therefore we read in Genesis 17:19, “And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”Then, in Genesis 49:10, we read Jacob’s words here, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”

Who then is this coming “Shiloh?” The lawgiver may be around, but a new lawgiver is coming eventually? From whence He came? Shiloh? What about the Sceptre? Someone coming who would unimaginably rule the world with the greatest prosperity?

Who is the One who comes from Jacob? In Numbers 24:17, we read what Balaam said, “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

“The Star from Jacob, the Sceptre from Israel, the One with the power to smite the corners of Moab and destroy the children of Sheth… Who was it? Jesus! As we read in Matthew 1:2. Jesus was from the Tribe of Judah, which is confirmed in Luke 3:33.What about Job 19:25, the Coming Redeemer? Job speaks this then… “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” This Coming Redeemer arriving to save Job and the world overall from death.

According to Isaiah 7:14, this Redeemer will be conceived through a Virgin, as God said, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7). Where do we find this fulfillment? In Luke 1:32-33, the angel told Mary, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

His throne shall be established upon the throne of David – the One of whom shall multiply the seed forever!And He shall be of the Root of Jesse, In Isaiah 11:10, “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.” Of the root of Jesse, as we see in Isaiah 11:10, it shall be the One even the Gentiles seek! Victory for the Gentiles through the Coming Christ from the root of Jesse!

We see this confirmed branch of righteousness from David in Jeremiah 23:5, the Lord speaks it so, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.”

Who is the Son of man revealed in Daniel’s visions in 7:13-14, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” In Luke 1:26-31, we read the confirmation from the angel Gabriel to Mary, “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.”

What time shall His Birth come? We see in Daniel 9:25, the angel Gabriel telling Daniel, “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” That confirmed in Luke 2:1-2 as we will read more into a little later.

Is this the One called from Egypt in Hosea 11:1, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.”

Apparently, He is the One to be born in Bethlehem as we see in Micah 5:2, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” The Coming King, who reigned before the foundation of the world, shall come and be that Great One! We will read the confirming of His Birth in Bethlehem in Luke 2:4-7.

New Testament Accounts

Matthew 1:18-2:11, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”

Luke 2:6-16, “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.”

This Messiah, Jesus, is God in the flesh – 100% God and 100% Man (see Colossians 2:9). He existed even before the foundation of the world, as He is God in the flesh… SO, Let’s read in John 1:1-18, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”