Passover and the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread basically happen in succession, which makes it a bit difficult to discern between the two, but I will attempt to do so very simply. Passover begins at twilight on the 14th day of Nisan (sundown). And since the next Hebrew day begins after sundown, the Feast of Unleavened Bread commences after Passover at the beginning of the 15th day of Nisan. Literally, one rolls into the next.
Both Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were established as a blueprint to remember how God delivered the children of Israel from the hand of Pharaoh and the death plague. And because of the rapid exit that the children of Israel made out of Egypt, they didn’t have any time to allow the bread to go through the leavening process.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread was a week-long Feast (Lev. 23: 6). The first day and seventh day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread were considered “High Holy Days, or also referred to as “Sabbaths.” These “Sabbaths” were similar to a weekly Sabbath in that all the children of Israel were to cease from work and rest. But the “High Holy Days” were specific to the Sabbaths of the Feast days:
“Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away” (John 19:31).
Most Christians would read these New Testament scriptures and never know there is a difference between the Sabbaths. But understanding the distinction helps to break down the truth of the events that happened when Jesus fulfilled scriptures and became the sacrificial Passover lamb.
Christ, Himself knew when it was His time to begin His ministry, and when it was His time to go to the cross. This is why Jesus went willingly when the Roman soldiers came to take him away. However, what is so amazing is that the Father Himself had to orchestrate the rest of the events to line up with the blueprint of prophecy and the dress rehearsal of the Feasts. Jesus could do nothing to help fix the outcome because he wasn’t able.
For example, the law said that the Passover lamb used was not to have any bones broken (Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12; Ps. 34:20). Most of the time, a Roman soldier would break the legs of someone being crucified because they would try to use their legs to get air. Without the help of their legs, they would die of suffocation. This happened to the two thieves who were crucified next to Jesus. They both had their legs broken (John 19:30-37). But when they came to Jesus, He was already dead, so there was no need. Instead, they pierced his side, which allowed the blood and water to spill out.
In thinking about the Feast of Unleavened Bread, I am in awe of a few more things. First, it is impossible to be righteous without Christ, which most of us understand and is why we ask Jesus to be our Savior. Jesus Himself had to rely on the Father’s help to perfect prophecy concerning His birth, death, and resurrection. God worked miracles through time, weather, circumstances, as well as moving on the hearts of men.
Secondly, it is equally impossible to be a “perfect” Christian. If you have ever tried to edit a book or made sure a room was germ-free or cleaned your house, you know how hard it is to get it completely free of dirt, errors, or invaders. Getting rid of the leaven in our lives as Christians are all a part of the journey of “sanctification.”
Even though Jesus covers our sins, the wages of sin (death) has not been removed from our bodies as of yet. We can rest knowing that JESUS was without ANY leaven. HE alone is perfection. And in Him, we can abide in His perfection. But it takes time for our soul to understand this truth. And it will take Jesus coming back until we get bodies that have NO death in them but are a reflection of His glory.
“Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore, purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:6-8).
The greatest difference between the Old and New Covenant is this: In the Old Covenant, man was trying to work at meeting the requirements of Covenant with God. But in the New Covenant, man rests in the knowledge that the requirements of Covenant will be performed and perfected by God Himself. The Old Covenant places trust in man’s effort. The New Covenant places trust in God’s finished work. When we get to the place in our hearts that we can rest in that knowledge, we have removed the “leaven” from our hearts and are “abiding in Christ alone.”
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).