Jesus and the Feast Days

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How are God's annual Feast (Holy) days linked to Jesus' life and ministry? What took place in his life near or on these seven commanded periods for worshipping God?

The gospel writers, by mentioning the Feast days, offer us a framework to understand a proper chronology of the events in the life of Jesus. Passover, in the four gospels, is linked to Jesus the most (four times). It is followed by Unleavened Bread, Trumpets and Tabernacles (twice each), then Pentecost, Atonement and the Last Great Day (once each). The Apostle John even mentions the Festival of Lights (Hanukkah) as it relates to Jesus almost getting killed!

Divine Intervention
Feast of Trumpets 5 B.C.

Jesus was born, not in the dead of winter, but in the fall of the year. The Lord's birth occurred in 5 B.C. between August 27 and September 9. The Feast of Trumpets, in part, symbolizes God's direct intervention into the affairs of mankind (Joel 2:1, Revelation 8 - 9, 10:7, 11:15). It is therefore highly likely that Jesus, who chose to become a human in order to save us, came into the world on September 2 (the Day of Trumpets).

First Recorded Observance
Passover 9 A.D.

The first time Passover is directly mentioned in the New Testament is when Jesus was twelve years old in the spring of 9 A.D. By this time in history the word Passover commonly referenced both it and the seven Days of Unleavened Bread that followed it. This Scripture shows that, even in his youth, Jesus obeyed his heavenly Father and kept God's Feast days.

Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast (Luke 2:41 - 42, HBFV throughout).

Baptism and Temptation
Trumpets, Atonement 26 A.D.

Jesus turned thirty years old on September 2, the Day of Trumpets, in 26 A.D. At thirty the Lord's life changed profoundly as a person was considered mature enough at this age to serve God fulltime as a priest (Numbers 4:3, 23, 47).

The Lord, right after turning thirty, is baptized by John the Baptist (John 1:28). He then sets off to the wilderness of Judea where he will fast for 40 days and be tempted by Satan the devil (Matthew 4, Luke 4). The start of his fast and temptation by the devil, given its rich symbolism, likely began on September 11 (Day of Atonement). This date is also highly significant as it is the start of a Jubilee Year.

Tossing Out the Thieves
Passover 27 A.D.

Mentioned only in the gospel of John, Jesus travels to Jerusalem to keep the Passover. After discovering what was happening at the temple, he acts to chase away those seeking dishonest gain.

Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money exchangers sitting there; And after making a scourge of cords, He drove them all out of the temple . . . (John 2:13 - 15, HBFV throughout).

A Jubilee Message
Pentecost 27 A.D.

Mentioned only in Luke, Jesus travels to his hometown of Nazareth and preaches a message linking the Jubilee year to the start of his ministry. The message is preached on one of God's annual High Feast days.

And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and according to His custom, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read (Luke 4:16).

In Luke 4:16, the words "on the Sabbath day," in Greek, are εν τη ημερα των σαββατων (Strong's Concordance #G1722, G3588, G2250 G3588 and G4521). These words refer to the Feast Day called Pentecost.

"A literal translation (of Luke 4:16's phrase) would be, "Now on the day of the sabbaths"; or, "Now on the day of the weeks." . . . (this phrase in Greek) indicates that this verse is referring to the day of Pentecost. Because this day is observed after counting a period of seven full weeks, it was known in New Testament times as "the day of the weeks." (Holy Bible, a Faithful Version, notes on Luke 4:16).

Defending the Disciples
Days of Unleavened Bread 28 A.D.

Jesus, on the seventh and last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, finds himself having to defend his disciples against the self-righteous criticisms of the Pharisees (Matthew 12:1 - 8, Mark 2:23 - 28 and Luke 6:1 - 5). We know his defense took place on this day from Luke 6.

Now it came to pass on the second Sabbath of the first rank that He was walking through the grain fields; and His disciples were plucking the ears and were eating, after rubbing them in their hands (Luke 6:1).

The phrase "the second Sabbath of the first rank" refers to the last day of Unleavened Bread in 28 A.D. which occurred on April 5 (ibid., comment on Luke 6:1).

A Unique Healing
Feast of Tabernacles 28 A.D.

Found only in the book of John, Jesus in Jerusalem heals a man who had an unknown infirmity for 38 years (John 5:1 - 15). This event took place, highly likely, prior to the Feast of Tabernacles which began on September 23 (John 5:1).

Feeding the Masses
Passover 29 A.D.

Jesus, just before Passover on April 16, draws a massive crowd near the Sea of Galilee to hear him teach. Seeing that the people have no food with them, he miraculously uses five barley loaves and two small fish to feed more than 5,000 folks (John 6:1 - 14)!

Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. And when Jesus lifted up His eyes and saw a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, "How shall we buy enough loaves to feed all these?" . . . And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those who were sitting; and in like manner the small fish, as much as they desired (John 6:4 - 5, 11).

The Transfiguration
Day of Trumpets 29 A.D.

Jesus, in front of Peter, James and John, is transfigured into his glorified spiritual form along with the glorified forms of Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1 - 9, Mark 9:1 - 9, Luke 9:28 - 36). This event likely took place on, or just after, the Feast of Trumpets given its symbolism. It clearly took place close to the Feast of Tabernacles, which is also known as the Feast of Booths (Leviticus 23:42 - 43, Nehemiah 8:14 - 17), given Peter's unique comment about booths (Mark 9:5, Matthew 17:4, Luke 9:33).

Secret Travel, Public Appearance
Feast of Tabernacles 29 A.D.

Jesus' family, as the Feast of Tabernacles draws near, pushes him to reveal himself in Jerusalem during the celebration. This glorious and joyous period of worshipping God began at sunset on October 10 in 29 A.D.

Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was near. For this reason, His brothers said to Him, "Leave this place and go into Judea, so that Your disciples may see the works that You are doing . . ." (John 7:2 - 3).

Jesus encourages his family to attend Tabernacles while he himself stays behind (John 7:8 - 9). Shortly after they leave, however, he travels to Jerusalem in secret only to surprisingly make his presence known a few days into the festivities.

But then, about the middle of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple and was teaching (John 7:14).

On the Last Great Day (Oct. 18), a high day that immediately follows Tabernacles, Jesus cries out a most encouraging message.

Now in the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and called out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink . . ." (John 7:37).

Jesus Almost Stoned!
Hanukkah 29 A.D.

Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Light. It celebrates the rededication of Jerusalem's temple c. 164 B.C. and the miraculous burning of its menorah for eight days. Though not one of God's Feast days, its occurrence is useful in determining a chronology of Jesus' life and ministry.

Hanukkah lamp unearthed near Jerusalem
Hanukkah lamp
unearthed near Jerusalem.

Hanukkah in 29 A.D. year ran from sunset on December 18 to sunset on the 26th. Jesus, while in Jerusalem for the festival, states he and God are "One" (John 10:22 - 39). This declaration so infuriates the Jews that they seek to kill him on the spot!

Then the Jews again picked up stones so that they might stone Him . . . "We will not stone You for a good work, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a man, are making Yourself God." (John 10:31, 33).

The Greatest Sacrifice
Passover 30 A.D.

Jesus keeps his last Feast of Passover with his disciples just after sunset on Tuesday April 4 (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 13). He dies on April 5 at 3p.m. and is buried in his tomb near sunset the same day. Exactly three days later he is resurrected from the dead near sunset on Saturday, April 8.

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