Matthew 26:17
Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?
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(17) The first day of the feast of unleavened bread.—St. Mark and St. Luke, as writing for Gentile readers, add the explanation that it was then that the Passover was to be slain. The precision with which all the first three Gospels emphasise the fact leaves no room for doubt that they looked on the Last Supper as the celebration of the actual Paschal Feast. St. John’s narrative, as has been said, leaves primâ facie a different impression.

Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?—Our Lord had passed each night since His entry at Bethany (probably in the house of Lazarus or Simon the leper), or in the garden of Gethsemane (John 18:1), but the Paschal lamb was to be slain and eaten in Jerusalem, and therefore special preparations were needed. Once before, and probably once only (John 2:13), had the disciples kept that feast with Him in the Holy City. Were they expecting, as they asked the question, that this feast was to be the chosen and, as it might well seem, appropriate time for the victorious manifestation of the Kingdom? We learn from St. Luke (Luke 22:7) that the two who were sent were Peter and John.

Matthew 26:17. On the first day of unleavened bread — Being Thursday, the fourteenth day of the first month, Exodus 12:6; Exodus 12:15. The disciples came, saying, Where wilt thou that we prepare the passover? — They meant at what house. And he said, Go into the city to such a man — This implies that Jesus named the person to whom they were sent, though the evangelists have not thought it of importance to mention his name. He told them further, that on their entrance into the city they should find one of the man’s servants in the street, bearing a pitcher of water. This person he ordered them to follow, without saying any thing to him, because as he was carrying the water home he would lead them straight to his master’s house, with which, it seems, the disciples were not acquainted. This direction, and some others, mentioned Mark 14:14-15; Luke 22:11-12, (where see the notes,) were given by Jesus to his disciples, and these predictions were uttered to show them how completely he foreknew every thing that should befall him, and to convince them that his sufferings were all predetermined of God; and that, on his part, they were all submitted to voluntarily. The disciples did as Jesus had appointed — and found every thing to happen exactly as Jesus had foretold, which doubtless would tend no little to confirm their faith in him, and prepare them for the trial they would so soon have to pass through.

26:17-25 Observe, the place for their eating the passover was pointed out by Christ to the disciples. He knows those hidden ones who favour his cause, and will graciously visit all who are willing to receive him. The disciples did as Jesus had appointed. Those who would have Christ's presence in the gospel passover, must do what he says. It well becomes the disciples of Christ always to be jealous over themselves, especially in trying times. We know not how strongly we may be tempted, nor how far God may leave us to ourselves, therefore we have reason not to be high-minded, but to fear. Heart-searching examination and fervent prayer are especially proper before the Lord's supper, that, as Christ our Passover is now sacrificed for us, we may keep this feast, renewing our repentance, our faith in his blood, and surrendering ourselves to his service.See also Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-13.

Matthew 26:17

The first day ... - The feast continued "eight" days, including the day on which the paschal lamb was killed and eaten, Exodus 12:15. That was the fourteenth day of the month Abib, answering to parts of our March and April.

Of unleavened bread - Called so because during those eight days no bread made with yeast or leaven was allowed to be eaten. Luke says, "in which the passover must be killed" - that is, in which the "paschal lamb," or the lamb eaten on the occasion, was killed. The word in the original, translated "Passover," commonly means, not the "feast" itself, but the "lamb" that was killed on the occasion, Exodus 12:43; Numbers 9:11; John 18:28. See also 1 Corinthians 5:7, where Christ, "our Passover," is said to be slain for us; that is, our paschal lamb, so called on account of his innocence, and his being offered as a victim or "sacrifice" for our sins.

Mt 26:17-30. Preparation for and Last Celebration of the Passover Announcement of the Traitor, and Institution of the Supper. ( = Mr 14:12-26; Lu 22:7-23; Joh 13:1-3, 10, 11, 18-30).

For the exposition, see on [1362]Lu 22:7-23.

See Poole on "Matthew 26:19".

Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread,.... There were seven of these days, and this was the first of them, in which the Jews might not eat leavened bread, from the fourteenth, to the twenty first of the month Nisan; in commemoration of their being thrust out of Egypt, in so much haste, that they had not time to leaven the dough, which was in their kneading troughs: wherefore, according to their canons (c), on the night of the fourteenth day; that is, as Bartenora explains it, the night, the day following of which is the fourteenth, they search for leaven in all private places and corners, to bring; it out, and burn it, or break it into small pieces, and scatter it in the wind, or throw it into the sea. Mark adds, "when they killed the passover", Mark 14:12; and Luke says, "when the passover must be killed", Luke 22:7; which was to be done on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan, after the middle of the day; and this was an indispensable duty, which all were obliged to: for so they say (d),

"every man, and every woman, are bound to observe this precept; and whoever makes void this commandment presumptuously, if he is not defiled, or afar off, lo! he is guilty of cutting off.''

The time of killing the passover was after the middle of the day; and it is said (e) that

"if they killed it before the middle of the day it was not right; and they did not kill it till after the evening sacrifice, and after they had offered the evening incense; and after they had trimmed the lamps, they began to slay the passovers, or paschal lambs, unto the end of the day; and if they slayed after the middle of the day, before the evening sacrifice, it was right.''

The reason of this was, because the lamb was to be slain between the two evenings; the first of which began at noon, as soon as ever the day declined: and this was not done privately, but in the temple; for thus it is (f) affirmed,

"they do not kill the passover but in the court, as the rest of the holy things.''

The time and manner of killing the lamb, and by whom, of the sprinkling of the blood, and of their flaying it, and taking out the fat, and burning it on the altar, may be seen in the Misna (g).

The disciples came to Jesus; that is, Peter and John, as may be learnt from , for these only seem to have had any notion of Judas's betraying Christ, from what had been said at the supper in Bethany, two days before; the rest thought he was gone to prepare for the feast, and therefore were under no concern about it; but these two judged otherwise, and therefore came to Christ to know his mind concerning it; for it was high time that a preparation should be made; for this was Thursday morning, and the lamb was to be killed in the afternoon, and ate at even.

Saying unto him, where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? This question in Luke follows upon an order which Christ gave to these disciples; "saying, go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat", Luke 22:8, for masters used to give their servants orders to get ready the passover for them; and which were expressed in much such language as this (h):

"he that says to his servant, , "go and slay the passover for me": if he kills a kid, he may eat of it.''

It is reported (i) of

"Rabban Gamaliel, that he said to his servant Tabi, , "go and roast" the passover for us upon an iron grate.''

The disciples having received such an order from their master, inquire not in what town or city they must prepare the passover, for that was always ate in Jerusalem; see Deuteronomy 16:5, where they were obliged, by the Jewish canon (k), to lodge that night; though they might eat the unleavened bread, and keep the other days of the feast any where, and in every place (l); but they inquire in what house he would have it got ready; for they might make use of any house, and the furniture of it, where they could find room, and conveniency, without any charge; for they did not let out their houses, or any of their rooms, or beds, in Jerusalem; but, at festivals, the owners of them gave the use of them freely to all that came (m): and it is (n) observed among the wonders and miracles done at Jerusalem, that though there were such multitudes at their feasts, yet

"a man could never say to his friend, I have not found a fire to roast the passover lambs in Jerusalem, nor I have not found a bed to sleep on in Jerusalem, nor the place is too strait for me to lodge in, in Jerusalem.''


{6} Now {g} the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?

(6) Christ purposing to bring us into our country without delay and so, to pay the penalty of the law, truly fulfils the law, omitting the contrary tradition and custom of the Jews: and thus shows that all things will so come to pass by the ministry of men as governed by the secret plan of God.

(g) This was the fourteenth day of the first month: now the first day of unleavened bread should have been the fifteenth, but because the evening of this day (which after the manner of the Romans was referred to the day before) belonged by the Jews' manner to the day following, therefore it is called the first day of unleavened bread.

Matthew 26:17. Τῇ δὲ πρώτῃ τῶν ἀζύμ.] on the first day of the unleavened bread, i.e. on the first day of the feast, the day on which the unleavened bread (המצות) is eaten. The day referred to is the 14th of Nisan (Thursday, according to the synoptic evangelists), which, following the loose popular mode of reckoning, to which Josephus (Antt. ii. 15. 1) also conforms when he represents the feast as extending over eight days, was counted as one of the feast days, although the Passover did not begin till the evening of that day, Numbers 28:16; Exodus 12:18 (Otto, Spicil. p. 70).

ποῦ] in what house.

σοι] “Jesus est ut paterfamilias inter discipulorum familiam,” Bengel.

τὸ πάσχα] the Passover lamb, to be eaten on the evening of the 14th of Nisan. See on John 18:28. This lamb was slain (not by the priests) in the fore-court of the temple in the afternoon before sunset (בֵּיו הֵעַרְבָיִם, see Hupfeld, de primitiva festor. ap. Hebr. ratione, I. p. 12).

It may seem strange that, at a season when the presence of such multitudes of strangers in the city was certain to create a scarcity of accommodation (Joseph. Bell. ii. 1. 3, vi. 9. 3; Antt. xvii. 9. 3), Jesus should have put off His arrangements for celebrating the feast till now. This, however, may be accounted for by the fact that He must have had certain friends in the town, such as the one referred to in Matthew 26:18, whose houses were so much at His disposal at all times that it was unnecessary to make any earlier preparation.


According to John’s account, the last meal of which Jesus partook was not that of the Passover; while His death is represented as having taken place on the day before the feast, the day which Matthew here calls the πρώτη τῶν ἀζύμων. On this great and irreconcilable discrepancy, which even the most recent exhaustive inquiry, viz. that of Wieseler (Beitr. p. 230 ff.), has failed to dispose of, see on John 18:28.

Matthew 26:17-19. Arrangements for Paschal Feast (Mark 14:12-16, Luke 22:7-13).

17. the first day of the feast of unleavened bread] This was the 14th of Nisan, which commenced after sunset on the 13th; it was also called the preparation (paraskeué) of the passover. The feast of unleavened bread followed the passover, and lasted seven days, from the 15th to the 21st of Nisan. Hence the two feasts are sometimes included in the term “passover,” sometimes in that of “unleavened bread.” On the evening of 13th of Nisan every head of the family carefully searched for and collected by the light of a candle all the leaven, which was kept and destroyed before midday on the 14th. The offering of the lamb took place on the 14th at the evening sacrifice, which on this day commenced at 1.30; or if the preparation fell on a Friday, at 12.30. The paschal meal was celebrated after sunset on the 14th, i. e. strictly on the 15th of Nisan.

The events of the Passover are full of difficulty for the harmonist. It is however almost certain that the “Last Supper” was not the paschal meal, but was partaken of on the 14th, that is after sunset on the 13th of Nisan. It is quite certain, from John 18:28, that Jesus was crucified on the preparation, and although the synoptic narratives seem at first sight to disagree with this, it is probably only the want of a complete knowledge of the facts that creates the apparent discrepancy.

The order of events in the “Passion” was as follows: when the 14th commenced, at sunset, Jesus sent two disciples to prepare the feast for that evening, instead of for the following evening. A sign of hastening on the meal may be detected in the words “my time is at hand,” Matthew 26:18, cp. Luke 22:15, “with desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” The supper follows, which bears a paschal character, and follows the paschal ceremonial. Early in the morning of the 14th of Nisan the irregular sitting of the Sanhedrin took place. Then followed the formal sitting of the Sanhedrin, and the trial before Pilate, the “remission” to Herod, and, finally, the Crucifixion. This view meets the typical requirements of our Lord’s death completely. During the very hours when our Great High Priest was offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins upon the cross, the Jewish people were engaged in slaying thousands of lambs in view of the paschal feast about to commence.

17–19. Preparations for the Last Supper

Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-13Nisan 13—from the sunset of Wednesday to the sunset of Thursday—Jesus seems to have passed in retirement; no events are recorded.

Matthew 26:17. Τῇ δὲ πρώτῃ τῶν ἀζύμων, now on the first day of unleavened bread) It was now Thursday, the fourteenth day of the first month;[1120] cf. Exodus 12:6; Exodus 12:15.—ποῦ, where?) They ask not whether, but where, they should prepare the Passover.[1121] Jesus was wont to perform all things which were enjoined by the law.—Σοὶ, for Thee) Jesus was as the father of a family, surrounded by the family of His disciples.

[1120] Nisan 14, April 4. Greswell.—(I. B.)

[1121] Nor even do they say, When? all that they were concerned about was the supper-room where. Moreover, we may reasonably infer that the Jews also, and not Jesus alone, celebrated the paschal feast on the evening of Thursday, from the fact—1) That otherwise the disciples would undoubtedly have been censured by the Jews at the close of the Friday, for omitting to keep the Passover, which they were not; and 2) Because, on the year on which Christ suffered, the conjunction of the Moon and Sun, before the Passover, fell on Wednesday, and therefore the new moon and Passover itself could not be thrust forward to the Sabbath-day. There is to be added, 3) the consideration that the supper, which is recorded even by John, ch. Matthew 13:1-2, was celebrated on Thursday, immediately before the feast of the Passover.—Harm., p. 501, 502.

On which they were bound to put away all leaven; and so the consumption of the paschal lamb could not be put off beyond 24 hours, to the evening of the Friday.—Harm., p. 490.

Verses 17-19. - Preparation for the Paschal Sapper. (Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-13.) Verse 17. - The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread; literally, on the first day of Unleavened Bread. We have arrived at the Thursday in the Holy Week, Nisan 13. Wednesday had been spent in retirement at Bethany, and no acts or sayings of Christ on that day are recorded. The festival actually began at sunset of the 14th which was called the day of preparation, because the lambs for the feast were slain in the afternoon of that day, preparatory to their being eaten before the morning of the 15th. Domestic preparation, involving the removal of all leaven from houses and the use of unleavened bread, began on the 13th; hence this was considered at this era "the first day of the Unleavened." Came to Jesus. As the Master of the family, who had the ordering of all the details of the Paschal celebration. They did not know the mind of Jesus on the subject, and desired his directions as in former years. Bethany was considered as Jerusalem for the purposes of the solemn meal, and the apostles thought that preparation was to be made at some house in that village. Prepare for thee to eat the Passover. The preparations were numerous: a proper room had to be found and swept and carefully cleansed from every particle of leaven; tables and couches had to be arranged, lights to be supplied, the lamb and all other necessaries (e.g. bread, wine, bitter herbs) provided. All these preparations took much time, so it was doubtless in the early morning that the disciples applied to our Lord. When they spoke of eating the Passover, they doubtless supposed that Christ meant in due course to celebrate the regular Paschal supper on the appointed day, i.e. on the evening of Friday. But his intentions were different from what they expected. Matthew 26:17
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