Passover began on Nisan 14 on the Hebrew calendar. On our Gregorian calendar, that was sundown Thursday, April 21, until sundown April 22. The first day of Unleavened Bread began on Friday, Nisan 15 or April 22 at sundown. If you think that’s confusing, you’re not alone. The “sundown” part of the equation is confusing to those of us who think of a day beginning and ending at midnight. On the Biblical calendar the day begins at sunset.
Going to back to Genesis 1: 5, we read that God “named the light ‘Day’ and the darkness ‘Night.’ Evening passed and morning came–that was the first day” (GNT).
Many celebrate Passover and the First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the same day. But Leviticus 23 makes a distinction between the two. “The Passover, celebrated to honor the LORD, begins at sunset on the fourteenth day of the first month [a.k.a. Nisan]. On the fifteenth day the Festival of Unleavened Bread begins, and for seven days you must not eat any bread made with yeast. On the first of these days you shall gather for worship and do none of your daily work.” The seventh day of Passover is also a no-work day and a gathering for worship. These no-work days are special Sabbaths that can occur on different days of the week depending upon the year.
We learn in the Book of John that Jesus was crucified and buried before sundown. We read in John 19: 31,”The Jews therefore, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away” (NASB).
The phrase that stands out is “for that Sabbath was a high day.” In other words that “high day” Sabbath was the First Day of Unleavened Bread. If so, Jesus was crucified on Passover and died when the temple lamb was slain and buried before the high Sabbath, (not the weekly Sabbath unless the high Sabbath and the weekly Sabbath fell on the same day), which began at sunset.
He rose from the dead on First Fruits, the first day of the week after the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
“Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.'” First Fruits is a barley harvest. I believe that when the priest waved the sheaf before the LORD, Jesus rose from the dead. Major events in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were aligned with the feast days.
I Corinthians 15: 20 confirms that the Resurrection occurred on First Fruits. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.”