It is highly unlikely that Yeshua and His disciples were eating a Passover meal in the Gospels
Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder?
This question comes up every so often and it is a good time to discuss it because of Passover week. I realize Christianity has already celebrated Easter but the reasons why have already been explained in recent articles. The bottom line is Christianity purposely tried to sever any connection with Judaism, the biblical festivals, the Sabbath and God’s commandments in favor of the traditions of men. Well, Rabbinical ( not biblical) Judaism has been just as guilty. The choice in Rabbinical Judaism is whether you will believe Moses or Rabbinical oral Law and tradition and the choice in Christianity is whether you believe Yeshua or the Church Fathers. Passover is to be determined by the ripeness of the Barley in Israel and the New Moon. This year Passover was on April 21. The Feast of Unleavened Bread started at sundown and goes for seven days, ending on April 28. The first and seventh day is a Sabbath and no work is to be done.
The meanings of these spring festivals have been discussed in past articles so I won’t get into it again here, but these festivals can be found in Leviticus 23 and there is information about their prophetic significance on the Internet.
Now, back to the question. I do not believe that the Last Supper was a Passover meal and I’ll give several reasons why. This meal took place on the night of Nisan 13 at sundown as the 14th began. Yeshua fulfilled Passover by being the innocent Lamb of God.
In Luke 22.13-23 the basic story of what happened can be seen. Other gospels have it but let’s look at Luke for simplicity. The days of Unleavened Bread were approaching on which the lamb had to killed. In the first century, Passover could refer to the seven days of Unleavened Bread and Unleavened Bread can include Passover, totaling eight days total.
It was just a way of thinking. So when it says the Unleavened Bread was coming on which the Passover lamb was killed was just a Hebraic way of saying Passover. The Passover lamb cannot be killed on any day other than Nisan 14 and so neither could Yeshua. Now I have heard many people try to get around that fact and make the Last Supper a Passover meal but it doesn’t work. They will say that the lamb was killed as the sun set on the 13th leading to the 14th of Nisan so Yeshua could be placed on the cross later that day.
But the Passover lamb could not be killed that early in the day. The Temple was the only place the lamb could be brought and that didn’t happen till after the morning sacrifice on the 14th and well after 12 p.m. The worshippers in Jerusalem were divided into three groups of people. Each group would come up to have their lambs slaughtered and when they were done, the next group came in and so on and so you can see that this was very time consuming. They tried to get the lambs killed "between the evenings" and we know this was around 3 p.m.
We know this because the true Lamb of God was killed at 3 p.m. and so God Himself defined what "between the evenings" really meant. So, on Nisan 13 Yeshua sends His men ahead to prepare a room for Passover. Now that is no easy task. You have to "de-leaven" the room first of all, get tables, chairs, cushions, utensils, water and everything needed for the feast. This was done at least a day early. So when Yeshua talks about getting a place ready to eat Passover, that doesn’t mean He will eat it that night. In Luke 22.15 He says that He earnestly desired to eat this Passover with them, but again that doesn’t mean that night. He won’t be able to eat the Passover with them because He will be dead the next day, a fact that the Disciples still didn’t grasp at that time. What He was doing was getting together one last time with His students for one last night of instruction. This meal was known as a "Seudat Mitzvah" or a consecrated meal that accompanied any good work. It was called the Last Supper simply because it was the last supper before Unleavened Bread started. Anybody who keeps the festivals and especially Unleavened bread will telll you when the "last supper" will be after which no leaven can be eaten. The supper itself does not resemble a Passover, the lamb is never mentioned and bread and wine was eaten at many meals, not just Passover, Yeshua gives meaning to the bread and wine and then ties it into the ratification of the New Covenant in His own body and blood in Luke 22.19-20.
Messiah Yeshua never broke a commandment of God and so He did not kill a Passover lamb a day early, outside of the Temple and eat a Passover on the night of the 13th going to the 14th. He was killed on Passover, between the evenings as prophesied, and was buried before the sun set on the 14th leading to the 15th of Nisan. It was probable that the Disciples went to the upper room and ate a very somber Passover meal, full of fear and very confused about the day’s events.
Even though Yeshua warned them, they did not understand that the Messiah had to suffer on Passover, be buried on the first day of Unleavened Bread and rise from the dead on the 3rd Biblical festival of that week, the Feast of first Fruits. Which means the true remembrance of the resurrection of Yeshua was April 27 this year. But, in answer to the question, it is highly unlikely that Yeshua and His disciples were eating a Passover meal in the Gospels.