God’s Word for You
Luke 22:7 The devil is a dirty fighter
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, March 15, 2019
7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.
Passover was one of the high festivals commanded by Moses. It recalled the night of the exodus from Egypt, when God commanded the Israelites to get themselves ready to depart. They were to eat the meal “with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand” (Exodus 12:11). There were actually two festivals that overlapped. The first celebration was the Passover itself. The yeast was to be removed from the houses and the meal for the Passover was to be prepared. The meal involved a specially selected lamb that needed to be taken to the temple to be presented and slaughtered, and then brought back to the house to be roasted along with unleavened bread and certain herbs and vegetables. This first festival was always supposed to be held on the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan (Exodus 12:6), a month which corresponds to late March or early April in our calendar. Since the Hebrew festivals were based on the cycles of the moon, they do not line up perfectly with dates in our solar calendar. This is why Easter is celebrated on a different day every year.
The second festival was to begin on the next day, the fifteenth of Nisan, and was to last for seven days (Leviticus 23:6). Since the Passover meal was prepared on the fourteenth but not eaten until after sundown, the meal of the Passover was technically eaten at the beginning of the second festival, which was called Unleavened Bread. Sometimes the names were used interchangeably, which is the case here in Luke 22:7.
It used to be popular for critics and certain commentators to claim that there is a discrepancy between John’s account and the other three Gospels, since John makes a point of saying that Jesus was crucified on the Preparation Day of Passover Week (John 19:14). At first glance this makes it seem as if Jesus was crucified on the day when the lambs were being slaughtered, which would be Thursday and not Friday. We see the specter of this argument being raised by Jehovah’s Witnesses and other non-Christians every year as Holy Week approaches, when the devil loves to confuse poor ordinary Christians with specious arguments, which sound plausible but really aren’t. Beware! Be on your guard! The devil is a dirty fighter in a losing battle but he will throw dust in your eyes and he doesn’t stop punching. So if someone wants to confuse you and ruin your precious Maundy Thursday worship with such a foolish claim, take the Bible from their hands as they point to John 19:14, and keep reading down to verse 31. You will be reading the crucifixion account—get one verse past “It is finished” and you will have the verse I mean. I’m telling you this in such a way because you probably won’t remember verse numbers when the moment comes but you might remember to “keep reading until the verse after “It is finished!” Then you will see that John says: “It was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath.” This is one of several verses where the Bible explains that “Preparation” was the usual word in their usage for “Friday,” meaning the day before a Sabbath. Mark 15:43 also says this clearly: “Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath),” and there are other examples: Matthew 27:62, Luke 23:54 and John 19:42. So Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all say that Jesus was crucified on Friday. They all agree, and anyone who challenges this tips their hand and shows that they are either confused about the Bible’s message or that they are outright unbelievers.
In John 19:31, the Sabbath is called “a special Sabbath” or “great Sabbath” (Greek μεγάλη ἡ ἡμέρα), and this seems to have been the name of the Sabbath day (Saturday) during the Feast of Unleavened bread no matter when it fell during the week. It was called “great” (megálē) because it was two festivals at once: Part of Unleavened Bread, and a Sabbath day. It had a special name because the lessons read in the Synagogue would need to be adjusted accordingly.
As Holy Week approaches, be on your guard against the useless challenges the devil wants to make through the lips of unbelievers. There will always be something, some quibble, some argument, or some strange celebration that tries to rip your attention away from the cross of Jesus. It might be some Public Television presentation about the “true story” of Jesus (always written and narrated by skeptics), or it might be an invitation to come and listen to a lecture about the “torture stake” upon which Jesus was executed (which, they claim, was not a cross at all), or some other nonsense. When this happens, calm the people around you and turn your attention back to the cross. The cross is the place where our sins were atoned for. The cross is the place where we were made right, once again, with God. The cross is the place where we stopped being condemned for our sins, and were forgiven. Let the cross stand in your heart, as you stand as a forgiven and beloved child of God.
Pastor Timothy Smith