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Initial the Chief Priest had stated that Christ should not be killed during the festival as this would have caused a riot

Mark 14:1-2 NIV

Now the Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest Him covertly and kill Him; 2 for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there will be a riot of the people.”

But later it would seem it was during the festival that actually Christ was crucified since the first night Judas betrayed him is said to have been the first day of the festival

Mark 14:12 NIV

12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples *said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?”

Pilate further points it out that it was during the festival that Christ stood before him when he released a prisoner of their choice

Mark 15:6 NIV

Now at the Passover Feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested.

They went on to crucify him clearly during the festival

Did Chief Priest change their minds about crucifying Christ during the festival?

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  • They wanted to murder Jesus and they sought opportunity. Then Judas appeared and offered to betray him which would present an apparently witnessed 'clandestine gathering' with an overtone of 'uprising' to it. Thus they went with this opportunity. Up-voted +1,
    – Nigel J
    Apr 5, 2022 at 15:37
  • Yes it seems so.
    – Michael16
    Apr 8, 2022 at 5:20

6 Answers 6

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In brief, this incident is yet another instance of the duplicity of the Jewish leaders. Jesus should not have been executed because:

  • The trial that delivered was illegal for numerous reasons such as (1) trials by night were forbidden, (2) any capital sentence cannot be delivered for a minimum of 24 hours after the trial (3) the trial verdict in a capital trial is invalid if no witness or judge can be found to speak in favor of the accused, (4) no valid evidence of the crime was proffered, etc, etc.
  • executions were forbidden on festival and feast days such as the Passover, Pentecost, etc.
  • According to the Jews themselves (Mark 14:1, 2), it was very unwise to execute Jesus, especially during the festival of Passover because it might precipitate a riot for the above reasons. Then they would be in trouble with Rome as well as God for breaking the Law.

Despite all this, the Jewish leadership still forced Pilate to execute Jesus for the wrong reasons (the Jewish trial found him guilty of Blasphemy but this mysteriously morphed into sedition by the time Jesus was delivered to Pilate and thus they had no evidence), at the wrong time, illegally, without evidence, without a valid trial, etc.

It is obvious that in spite of themselves and the requirements of jurisprudence, the Leadership still executed Jesus. After all this, they then pronounced judgement on themselves when they shouted:

Matthew 27:25 All the people answered, "His blood be on us and on our children!"

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  • And a key part of the illegal trial — a new factor that allowed them to change their plans — was Judas' contribution. The ability to find, recognize, and arrest Jesus by night defused much of the potential for a riot (at least until Pilate publicly presented him, but by then they priests expected him to be seen as a public enemy and were probably unhappy to have to publicly go against him despite their machinations). Apr 5, 2022 at 11:05
  • They needed a plan for getting the crowd behind Jesus' execution. They didn't have this before, but by getting the Romans to do the killing as something done for Roman purposes, and by the convenience of having a rebel (Barabbas) to set up as the guy that the Jewish nation really needed to rally behind (even if they forgot that tack the moment they no longer needed it), they could turn Jesus into someone whom His own people would throw under the bus.
    – EvilSnack
    Apr 5, 2022 at 16:41
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    It just hit me... Since the blood of Jesus is what cleanses us of our sin, "His blood be on us and on our children" is actually a good thing! Unfortunately, most Jews don't see it that way. (I say most since I was raised a Jew.)
    – FreeMan
    Apr 5, 2022 at 18:24
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My reading of this is the emphasis was on the covert(e.g. out of the public eye) nature of the arrest:

" the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest Him covertly and kill Him; 2 for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there will be a riot of the people.”"

Note that during his trial before the Sanhedrin, Jesus even remarks (when questioned about his teachings) that he had been openly preaching in the Temple Area for some time. The High Priests could have easily found him, but only when he was in front of crowds of people.

Essentially, Jesus was popular. Arresting Jesus when he was preaching would likely lead to a riot. So the need a "fait accompli"; Essentially, they arrested Jesus at night, held a "closed" trial at night, and then handed him over to Pilate in the morning, before people could realize and organize.

So it's less, don't arrest/execute him during the festival to begin with, and more "don't get caught/start a riot, especially at a time where the city population is swelled with more people, which means things will get uglier if there is a riot".

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John “11:49 Moreover, a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high kohen that year, said to them, You know nothing at all, 11:50 nor do you consider that it is advantageous for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish. 11:51 Now he did not say this of himself, but being high kohen that year, he prophesied that YAHshua would die for the nation, 11:52 and not for the nation only, but that He might also gather together into one the children of ELOHIM who are scattered abroad.”

After the above prophecy was proclaimed, the decision to kill YaHshua was sealed.

Above was an inspired prophecy, even though the prophet (Caiaphas) may not have understood it’s full significance. In accordance with ELOHIM’s will, the Lamb of atonement which HE has provided must be killed and sacrificed, regardless of the willingness of the people.

@Nigel, the Hebrew name given to the “Glory of YisraEL, Light of goyim” is “YaHshua” (same name as YaHshua the son of Nun, etc). It is a much closer transliteration (phonetically) of the Hebrew name compared to the much less accurate (improperly evolved) “Jesus”. A proper transliteration from the source (original) name preserves the proper pronunciation and more critically the meaning of the name - “YHWH’s Salvation”.

@sharur, Yes this is an excerpt from a new (WIP) bible version titled “Book of The Covenant - An Integrated Translation & Transliteration of the Hebraic Scriptures (Gimel UriYaH)” [Amazon kindle].

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  • Up-voted +1. May I ask why you do not use the name 'Jesus' ? Feel free not to respond, I am just curious, not critical. Welcome to SE-BH.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 5, 2022 at 15:39
  • Not Gim, but I think they are copy/pasting from a specific Bible that uses a number of Hebrew words (see inline chapter/verse citations, "kohen" in place of "priest", ELOHIM where I would expect to see e.g. THE LORD or God, depending on version).
    – sharur
    Apr 5, 2022 at 21:23
  • Thanks for the comment flag - that's been removed now. But please do provide references for Bible translations, or at least make it clear if it's mostly your own translation.
    – Steve can help
    Apr 10, 2022 at 19:31
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Jesus did not die on the day the Passover feast was eaten.

Passover/Feast

"Passover" is sometimes used to refer to the meal eaten on 15 Nisan just after sundown, and is sometimes used to refer to the full, multi-day commemoration. The Greek word in Mark 14:2 (and the parallel passage in Matthew 26:5) is ἑορτῇ, which some translations render as a reference to the "festival" and others render as a reference to the "feast".

Therefore, either:

  • The chief priests did change their minds and seized the opportunity when it came, even though it was during the festival period
  • The chief priests meant they didn't want Jesus to be executed on the feast day (15 Nisan)

The later actions of the chief priests suggest "the feast" specifically is what they had in mind.

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The day of the crucifixion

Much ink has been spilled in efforts to reconcile the Synoptics--which appear to suggest that Jesus died on 15 Nisan--with John, who is clearer in indicating that Jesus died on 14 Nisan (see John 13:1-2, 18:28, 19:31). I will not attempt to cover that ground here.

I argue in the series Chronology in the Life of Jesus that there is compelling reason to believe that the 15 Nisan date is correct; see also this post on the site. In addition to the direct support from John, it has significant symbolic meaning: Jesus--the Lamb of God--would have died just before sundown on 14 Nisan, at the very time the Passover lambs were being slain.

If Jesus died on 14 Nisan, the Passover feast had not yet been eaten: He didn't die on the feast day.

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Change of plans?

Mark 14:1 lets us know that a matter of only a few days before Jesus' arrest the Jewish leaders were still working out the details of how they would do it. Judas provided them the opportunity. But there is good reason to believe that the actions of Thursday night (arrest, trial, etc.) were not thrown together in the spur of the moment; they were planned.

  • The Sanhedrin had procured soldiers for the arrest
  • They made sure key individuals such as Annas & Caiaphas were available
  • A quorum of the Sanhedrin was ready & available for a trial at an unusual (and as Dottard noted, illegal) time

These and other factors suggest that by Thursday evening, the chief priests were not taking advantage of an unforeseen opportunity, but executing pre-laid plans to have Jesus killed on Friday.

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Conclusion

The clearest reading of the text is that the chief priests did not want Jesus to be executed on 15 Nisan, and they made arrangements so that this did not happen.

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The word "during" translates EN, which simply means "in". I would like to suggest the possibility that this is referring to a location (i.e the festal crowd) rather than a time.

I offer a contemporary analogy. If we know that a town's annual carnival is coming up, and we are told that an event will be taking place "during the carnival", part of our understanding is that the event belongs to the carnival period. If the carnival lasts from noon to midnight on Saturday, then an event of that afternoon or evening will be "during the carnival".

But if we are told that the event will be "AT the carnival", we understand also that it will be physically located among the carnival events. If you are riding a tricycle through the crowded streets wearing a clown's costume, then you are at the carnival. If you are enjoying a quiet cup of tea at home, then you are not at the carnival, even if you are doing it during the carnival period.

I suggest that ME EN TE EORTE actually means "not AT the feast". Let's not do it in a public place, where crowds will immediately gather round to support him. Let's look for a way of seizing him privately, away from the bulk of his supporters.

On that theory, the information given by Judas made it possible to carry out the exact plan that was being recommended. Jesus was arrested privately, not publicly.

It isn't just me. C.E.B. Cranfield's commentary (Cambridge University Press, 1959) suggests that "it is better (with Jeremias) to translate 'in the presence of the festival crowd'".

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Did the Chief Priests change their minds about crucifying Christ during the festival?

Many do assume the chief priests did not break that Sabbath to kill Jesus Christ. Consider Luke’s account of this Sabbath feast of the Passover, the day when the chief priests forgot about, and lost all of their decorum and cleverness—to conceal their hypocritical plan to take and kill Jesus, losing sight of their fear of an uproar “on the feast day.” I am answering these questions, which belong with the original question: Was there an uproar on the day Jesus was taken and killed? Yes. Who led it? Pilate, or the Jews and the people? Was it the Passover (Mt 26:17-29), the first of seven days of unleavened bread? Which story became truth, the plans, or the failed plans of the chief priests?

After two days the feast of Passover came (Mt 26:2 & Mk 14:1). Jesus ate and was betrayed by Judas and captured by the chief priests. That night Jesus said to the chief priests, the captains of the temple, the elders, the centurion and his soldiers, and a large multitude, “Are you come out as against a thief with swords, staves and torches?” They took him to the palace of the high priest. There they blindfolded him and beat him and mocked him.

Then the chief priests assembled a council of elders, scribes and Pharisees to condemn him, trying to hand him off to Pilate before the sun rose. As hypocrites, they tried to not defile themselves, by not going into Pilate’s judgment hall, that they might still eat Passover before it was too late, which they remembered as they heard the cock crow (Ex 12:8-10 & Jn 18:27-28).

Then the multitude of them, Caiaphas excluded, rose up and led Jesus to Pilate, as Jesus had predicted. As the trial began early that morning, the people had assembled with the chief priests. The chief priests fiercely protested before the people, “This man leads the people in seditions throughout all Jewry, from Galilee to this place!” They were leading the riot on the Sabbath feast day, provoking the people into the uproar. Pilate called to the chief priests and the rulers, “Neither Herod nor I have found a fault worthy of death for Jesus. Let me release him. It’s the Passover” (Jn 12:1 & 18:39). They cried out, “Away with this man! And again, Crucify him, crucify him!” Again, Pilate said, “There is no cause of death.” Immediately they cried out again, “Crucify him!”

The voices of the chief priests prevailed. So, Pilate scourged Jesus, to deliver him as they required, “to do their will.” It was an uproar of the people, led by the chief priests, in their hour of passion, on the Sabbath feast of Passover.

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