Easter lamb

Everyone is used to the image of Christ as the good shepherd and the lamb of God, but the Passover lamb presents a problem for vegetarian Christians. Was the Last Supper a Passover meal at which Christ and the apostles ate the flesh of a lamb? 

The Synoptic Gospels (the first three) report that the Last Supper took place on the night of Easter; this means that Jesus and his disciples ate the Passover lamb (Matt. 26:17, Mk. 16:16, Lk. 22: 13). However, John claims that the Supper took place earlier: “Before the feast of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that His hour had come to pass from this world to the Father, … got up from the supper, took off His outer garment, and, taking a towel, girded himself” (Jn. 13:1—4). If the sequence of events was different, then the Last Supper could not have been the Passover meal. The English historian Geoffrey Rudd, in his excellent book Why Kill for Food? offers the following solution for the riddle of the Paschal lamb: The Last Supper took place on Thursday, the crucifixion – the next day, Friday. However, according to the Jewish account, both of these events happened on the same day, since the Jews consider the beginning of a new day to be the sunset of the previous one. Of course, this throws off the whole chronology. In the nineteenth chapter of his Gospel, John reports that the crucifixion took place on the day of preparation for Easter, that is, on Thursday. Later, in verse XNUMX, he says that Jesus’ body was not left on the cross because “that Sabbath was a great day.” In other words, the Sabbath Easter meal at sunset of the previous day, Friday, after the crucifixion. Although the first three gospels contradict John’s version, which most biblical scholars consider to be an accurate account of events, these versions confirm each other elsewhere. For example, in the Gospel of Matthew (26:5) it is said that the priests decided not to kill Jesus during the feast, “so that there would not be revolt among the people.” On the other hand, Matthew constantly says that the Last Supper and the crucifixion took place on the day of Passover. In addition, it should be noted that, according to Talmudic custom, it is forbidden to conduct legal proceedings and execute criminals on the first, most sacred, day of Easter. Since Passover is as holy as the Sabbath, the Jews did not carry weapons on that day (Mk. 14:43, 47) and were not allowed to buy shrouds and herbs for burial (Mk. 15:46, Luke 23:56). Finally, the haste with which the disciples buried Jesus is explained by their desire to remove the body from the cross before the start of Passover (Mk. 15:42, 46). The very absence of mention of the lamb is significant: it is never mentioned in connection with the Last Supper. Biblical historian J. A. Gleizes suggests that by replacing flesh and blood with bread and wine, Jesus heralded a new union between God and man, a “true reconciliation with all his creatures.” If Christ had eaten meat, he would have made the lamb, not bread, the symbol of the Lord’s love, in whose name the lamb of God atoned for the sins of the world by his own death. All evidence points to the fact that the Last Supper was not a Passover meal with the invariable lamb, but rather a “farewell meal” that Christ shared with his beloved disciples. This is confirmed by the late Charles Gore, Bishop of Oxford: “We acknowledge that John correctly corrects Mark’s words about the Last Supper. It was not a traditional Easter meal, but a farewell dinner, His last dinner with His disciples. Not a single story about this supper speaks of the ritual of the Passover meal ”(“ A New Commentary on Holy Scripture, ch. 3, p. There is not a single place in the literal translations of early Christian texts where meat-eating is accepted or encouraged. Most of the excuses invented by later Christians for eating meat are based on mistranslations.

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