12 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. 14 Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ 15 Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” 16 The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.
The episode of the preparation of the paschal meal is parallel in structure to Mark 11:1–7. The commissioning of two disciples for the performance of a task, the precise knowledge of what they would encounter, and the exact response to be given to the responsible party are features familiar from the earlier account. The two incidents are entirely independent but they have been described according to a common scheme.
Clearly, as with the colt, Jesus’ instructions indicate that the divine Hand is directing the events. What is often overlooked is the moniker “Teacher” and “disciples.” From what we know of 1st century Passover celebrations (and that if from a late 2nd century Jewish document (Mishna)), the celebration was primarily between family members. Jesus will celebrate as a teacher. Given the disciples were all observant Jews, it is not too far a stretch to imagine that Jesus intends to teach something new associated with this Passover observance.
Mark 14:12-16 Question of Chronology: Mark’s description of the timing of the events is not clear. This chapter of the Gospel opens with a precise designation of time, two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread (v. 1). The next series of events is introduced as occurring on “the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb.” (v. 12). These references cause some confusion. Mark presumably intends “Unleavened Bread” as an alternative designation for Passover (cf. Luke 22:1; 2 Chr 35:17). Or Mark may have followed the older tradition in which “Unleavened Bread” was the designation for the seven-day period following the celebration of the Passover meal on 15 Nisan, during which nothing made with leaven could be eaten (Exod 12:8–20). In either case, Mark’s assertion that the preparations for the meal were made on the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread is inaccurate.
Mark 14:17 Passover: The Passover meal of the Hebrews celebrated their deliverance from Egypt. (“The Lord will go by, striking down the Egyptians. Seeing the blood … on the doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and not let the destroyer come into your houses to strike you down,” Exod 12:23).
- William L. Lane, The Gospel of Mark in The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974) 597-99
- Pheme Perkins, The Gospel of Mark, vol. 8 of The New Interpreter’s Bible (Nashville, TN: Abington Press,1994) 8:701
- The New American Bible available on-line at http://www.usccb.org/bible