The Passover


AFTER the marriage at Cana of Galilee, Jesus and his disciples, with his mother and his brethren, went down to Capernaum, which was on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, and about twenty miles from Cana. But "they continued there not many days"; for "the Jew's Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem." to attend it.

Many years before, when the Lord would bring his people out from bondage in the land of Egypt, he brought plagues upon the king and people of the land because they refused to let the Israelites go. The last of these plagues was the slaying of the oldest child in every house of the Egyptians. On the night before this terrible plague, every family of the children of Israel, had, by the command of the Lord, slain a lamb and sprinkled its blood ON the lintel and doorposts of their houses; and the destroying angel, seeing it, passed over them, and spared their first-born when he smote those of the Egyptians. And on that very night the king and his people rose up and sent the children of Israel out of the land in. haste; "for they said, We be all dead men." In memory of their great deliverance the Israelites were commanded to keep that day as the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover throughout all their generations. "And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons forever."

So now that they were come into the land which the Lord had promised to give them, they still observed the Passover; and every spring the people must all go up to Jerusalem to attend it. This feast commenced on the fourteenth day of the first month, which would be about the middle of April with us. It continued seven days, and during this time the people ate none but unleavened bread, as their fathers had done on the night when they left Egypt. It was to attend this yearly gathering that Jesus and his disciples went from Capernaum down to Jerusalem.

Now when Jesus had come into the city, he found in the courts of the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting there. 

These animals were there to be sold to those who came to the temple to make sacrifices, as many would be needed at a time when such numbers of the people were coming to Jerusalem to attend the feast. But Jesus was not pleased to have so little respect shown for the house of God; "and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overthrew their tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise."

And when the people saw the miracles, which he did, many of them believed in his name. And a certain great man named Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus by night and wanted to speak with him. He may have come by night because the Saviour was so thronged with people by day that he could get no time to talk quietly with him. Nicodemus seems to have had great respect for Jesus, and to have partly believed in him; for he said to him, "Rabbi, we know thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these things which thou doest, except God be with him." Jesus then talked with the man some time, showing him that he must have a new heart, leading him to live a new and better life, before he could ever enter the kingdom of God; and that without faith in Christ no man could inherit eternal life. Nicodemus seems to have accepted the words of Jesus and to have believed on him; for afterward we read of his coming to help bury the body of the Lord after his crucifixion.