Unleavened BreadJust as a refresher, here is where we have been thus far in this series:

Part I: Lamb Selection Day
Part II: Passover Preparation
Part III: Passover Banquet
Part IV: Passover Sacrifice

In the past, we’ve also examined Jesus’ use of remez while on the cross

Tonight, in Part V, we will be examining the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Timing

“Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. (Exodus 12:17-18)

“These are the LORD’s appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present an offering made to the LORD by fire. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’ “(Leviticus 23:4-8)

On the Jewish Calendar, the Passover Festival is often a combination of 3 Festival celebrations, spread over a 7-9 day period (depending on which day Passover falls). These three festivals are: Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits. The Feast of Unleavened Bread, while it lasted a week in total, was celebrated in sacred assembly on the first Sabbath after Passover – whether it was the day after or seven days after Passover. Firstfruits was then celebrated, per Leviticus 23:15, the day after the Feast of Unleavened bread (and then the Feast of Weeks – Shavuot or Pentecost – seven weeks later).

So, in the year Jesus was crucified, Passover was on Friday, the Feast of Unleavened Bread was on Saturday and Firstfruits was on Sunday – a sequence that only happened one out of every seven years.

Jesus’ Burial & Burial Customs

From the Gospel accounts, we know that Jesus was buried just before sunset on Friday.

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. (John 19:31)

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

Tomb floorplanThe women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. (Luke 23:50-56)

In this account, women were preparing spices and perfumes for Jesus’ body, because it would be the Jewish custom for them, beginning the day after the Sabbath, to sit in the anteroom of Jesus’ tomb (see #6 on the diagram at the right of a First Century tomb which some believe to have belonged to Joseph of Arimathea). Here, in this anteroom, they would be greeted and comforted by other mourners for up to a week after the burial. However, the placing of the guards by the tomb and the sealing on the stone would have created a problem for the mourners, unless Pilate had granted permission to open the tomb (though, with great celebration, we never had to find this out!)

After the period of mourning, the tomb would have been sealed for a year, during which the flesh on the body would decay or dessicate and slough off. After the year was over, the bones of the deceased would then have been placed in an ossuary (a bone box) in the tomb, so that the tomb could be used by more family members. In the Hebrew Scriptures, this ’second burial’, interring the bones of the deceased in an ossuary, was referred to as ‘resting with their fathers’ or ‘buried with the fathers’. This is most likely what is being referred to by the potential disciple in Matthew 8:21 and Luke 9:59.

It is also an important detail that no bodies had yet been laid in this tomb, as anyone who went into this tomb would become unclean if anyone had been previously buried there. If this had been the case, then when Jesus was resurrected, he would have been ceremonially unclean (and unable to go into the Temple, among other things, without sinning). However, because there had been no other dead bodies there, when he was resurrected, the tomb would still have been ceremonially clean – a detail we Christians may not fully appreciate, but many Jews would.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

This feast commemorated the giving of manna, the bread from heaven, by God to the Israelites during their wanderings in the desert, and it was a thanks to God for providing rain and a harvest – for providing food from the earth.

The main prayer for the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the same one as is spoken during the breaking of the afikomen during the Passover meal:

Baruch attah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Haoolom, hamotzee lechem min ha-oretz.

“Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.”

So, imagine for yourself, somewhere between 500,000 and 3 million people (if we accept Josephus’ figures) in the Temple on Saturday calling out this prayer to God – Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.

During this time, who is buried in the earth? Jesus.

Who is the Bread of Life? Jesus!

Where was he born? Bethlehem (which means “House of Bread”!)

And so, whether they knew it or not, these people blessing God for bringing bread out of the earth would have their prayers answered in the most spectacular way ever. If you believe this is a coincidence, you must believe in a different God than I do – because my God is not a God of coincidence!

Jesus said:

I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. (John 6:48-50)

Shalom

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 2nd, 2010 at 7:00 pm and is filed under Devotional, Original Articles, Theology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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2 Comments(+Add)

1   Christian P    http://www.churchvoices.com
April 3rd, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Great series Chris. Will there be another article tomorrow?

Also, I’m seeing a formatting issue with the first main paragraph. As in, I can’t see it at all. I tried fixing it, but was unable to.

2   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
April 3rd, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Thanks, Christian – yes, there is one more, dealing with the Feast of Firstfruits – it should publish late tonight/tomorrow morning…

I think I got the formatting issue fixed, by removing a single-quote, which I think the template wanted to convert to an upper-case, bold letter, but could not do sooo…