I have a problem with the idea that Jesus kept the passover one day before the regular Jewish Passover, just before He was crucified. Matthew 26:17 says it was “the first day of the feast of unleavened bread’ when the disciples asked Jesus, ‘Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?”
The problem lies in the translation of Matthew 26:17. The verse reads in our common version, “Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” The same event is recorded by the apostle John in chapter 13, verses 1 and 2, where we read that it was before the feast of the passover when Jesus met with His disciples.
Why the difference? The problem is with the translation, not with the original text. The word translated “first” in Matthew 26:17 is translated from the Greek word protos, which has for its root word pro, and pro is the word used in John 13:1, where it is translated “before.” Of the root word pro we read in the Greek lexicon: “Pro is a root whence by the change of a vowel spring many branches, all having the common notion of before in regard sometimes to space, sometimes to time…which forms almost always refer to being before in point of time, sometimes in point of number or degree.” The definitions of protos are: “Of place, before, in front, forward…of time, before, former, sooner…on the day before…before, sooner, earlier.”
If we substitute the thought of “before” in Matthew 26:17, the passage would read, “Now before the feast of unleavened bread,” and the passage harmonizes with John 13:1.
Jesus ate the Passover Supper one day early with His disciples, on the evening of Abib 13, and later that same evening He was betrayed, and led into the house of Caiaphas, where He was tried, appeared before Pilate, who sent Him to Herod, who sent Him back to Pilate, and by three o’clock the next day He had been crucified and was dead. All of this occurred on the day of Abib 13, which was the day before the beginning of the Jewish Passover/Sabbath. When the sabbath began that evening at six o’clock (the beginning of Abib 14–the Israelite day began in the evening; Lev. 23:32), Jesus had been buried. He lay in the grave that night, all the next day, the following evening and night. The following morning, the day of Abib 15, He was resurrected.