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Jesus' birth and the Passover

26-12-2013 - Posted by Andre Piet

images19 It can not go unnoticed that the birth of Jesus, as is narrated by Luke, is strongly associated with flocks and shepherds. It were shepherds who were the first to be informed of the birth of the promised Messiah. It is prophetically obvious that His birth was in Bethlehem, the city of David (2:11), the king, who also began his career as a shepherd boy and who as a good shepherd, proved to be the designated king of Israel. Anyway, the shepherds received from the heavenly messenger a description of the born baby, that He would lie in a manger. Not for nothing did the messenger call this a “sign” and therefore it cannot be missed that this given detail must have significance. A manger is a feeding trough for cattle and sheep, but behold, the Savior, the Messiah is lying in it, as if he is a lamb or a sheep… It reminds us of what Isaiah prophesied (53:7) “… a lamb that is led to the slaughter … as a sheep that before his shearers is dumb.” The manger is a hint to Passover. In all our considerations about Jesus’ day of birth, everyone senses that this day, in one way or another, must be linked to Israel’s feast days (Lev.23). There are two groups of feasts: the first three are in the first month and the last threein the seventh month of the year. The first group (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Wave-sheaf offering) refers to Christ’s first coming, while the feasts in the seventh month (Trumpet, Yom Kippur, Tabernacles) refer to Christ’s second coming. What could typologically be more obvious than that Jesus’ birth took place during the month of Passover? The remarkable thing is that in the same chapter 2 of Luke, we find an explicit reference to the Passover. That is when Jesus, as a twelve-year old, with his parents went up to Jerusalem. Luke 2:42, in the common translations, reads that He was twelve years old, but strictly literally, it reads there (from the Greek):

And when He came to be twelve years old, at their going up into Jerusalem according to the custom of the festival… (CLV)

Do we take this reading as it presents itself, then we have, here, an explicit indication of Jesus’ birthday! Just before the Passover, Jesus became twelve years old. Do we zoom in, even sharper, then there is one specific date that stands out in this regard: 10th of Nisan. That is, namely, the day that Israel had to take a lamb into their houses (Ex.12:3-6) and from that day on, they also needed a manger. Insofar as the Scripture makes announcements and provides guidance on the timing of Jesus’ birth, everything points to Passover. But this is not all. Luke also mentions that Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day (Luke 2:21). When we count from the 10th of Nisan, forward, we come out on the 17th of Nisan. It is the date on which He later, would rise from the dead! Is that not a remarkable confirmation, what with circumcision being, pre-eminently, the sign of life from the dead, referring to a dead (impotent) Abraham who, nevertheless, would bring forth life (Rom.4:17-19)?!. As the world, in general, celebrates a mid-winter commemoration of the birth of Jesus, Luke directs us, quite accurately, to the spring of the year, to Passover, to the time when the lamb was taken into the house. Yes, to die, for sure, but also to the eighth day (the number refers to a new beginning) to bring forth life that is stronger than death! This means that during these dark days, we are anyway, directed to focus on God’s victorious Light! (John 1:4,5a,9)