John’s Gospel challenges common assertions that Jesus’ Last Supper with His apostles was one & the same as the Passover meal of that particular year. It was not. To understand the discrepancies, one must compare the 3 accounts in the other Gospels to that of Jn 13:1-5. The text clearly states that the Last Supper took place prior to Passover. In actuality, the Passover lambs had not yet been slaughtered by the heads of households. Nationwide, the Commemorative Exodus meal had not yet been roasted.
The confusion comes from the wording in the other accounts where the Lord sent His men to secure a room for Passover. It’s logical for non-Jews to assume that He meant a place for them to eat the official Passover meal. There are reasons that this was not the case. First. One cant eat of a lamb that has not yet been slain. That did not happen until twilight of the Day of Preparation as the sun began to set leading into the eve beginning of the first day of Passover. Thirdly, it’s helpful to view Passover as a yearly season much like our holiday seasons. Friends & business associates are invited to preliminary festivities of the same name that are not on the exact holiday such as Christmas & Thanksgiving. All the while, the actual holiday meal can be reserved for family celebrations. Thus it was specifically with Passover meals that were consumed in private homes in the context of family. The Last Supper was a special meal that Christ planned for the opening evening that began the Day of Preparation. Normally speaking, this would have liberated His disciples to return home during the day to eat the actual Passover with their personal families. Of course, most did not make it home because of His midnight arrest in the garden, his trials, torture, crucifixion, and burial on that particular Day of Preparation.
There are some fascinating items to note about that day:
* All leaven was to be removed from houses during the day prior to the setting of the Passover table. There’s high probability that that task had not been completed as early as the evening of the Last Supper. This might indicate that the bread Jesus broke and shared as symbolic of His suffering was leavened bread. If so, this flows with typology. Leaven is symbolic of sin. On the cross Jesus who knew no sin, became satiated with sin for us. Thus the Last Supper’s loaf fully typified the Lord’s impending bodily sacrifice.
* At first the Jewish officials insisted that Pilate converse with them outside of the Praetorium where Jesus was held. They didn’t want to be contaminated by association with Gentiles with the high holy Sabbath of Passover approaching. However, on that Sabbath, they threw caution to the wind. The Pharisees et al were breaking the Sabbath in any event. The wording of the verse (Matthew 27v62) is that they went to Pilate on the day *following* the day of preparation. Jesus had been crucified the afternoon before and the Passover meal would have been eaten that night (ie the night before this event). That day was the first full day (ie daytime/daylight) portion of Nisan 15, so therefore it was the feast of Unleavened Bread and therefore a 'special' sabbath - one of the seven annual sabbaths prescribed by the Lord God in Leviticus 23. They went to see Pilate and begged that a guard be set at Jesus’ tomb to insure that His body was not taken as a claim of His predicted resurrection. The Holy Spirit was cleverly pointing out the end of the Old Covenant as unkeepable, obsolete & ineffective.
* That Passover & Unleavened Bread season began with 2 back to back Sabbaths. The High Holy Sabbath of the first day of unleavened bread that commenced with eating the Passover meal. And the regular weekly Sabbath. This is the basis for the position that the day following His burial was not a Saturday Sabbath, but rather a Friday Sabbath. Therefore, He was crucified and buried on Thursday. This fits with the 3 days & 3 nights in the tomb which the Friday death assertion never could.
Jesus breathed His last breath at 3PM at the exact time Jews begin the killing of Passover lambs. Christ indeed was our Passover sacrifice.