In today’s Judeo-Christian world, Palm Sunday, Pesach/Passover, Good Friday and Easter, all, are scrambled together in an accident of history, the empire of Rome the philosophy of Greece and in there somewhere a kernel of Isra’el and their God Yhwh, the Lord. These festivals, for Jews and Christians, have become through time the most important festivals each year.
Jesus/Yeshua was a Jew from the remaining tribe of Isra’el: Judah. He is said to be, in the New Testament: both human flesh with all the limitations of being material and also sent by the God Yhwh, occasionally being referred to as the Son of God.
Raised in a Galilean family of Jews, he went to Synagogue on Sabbath and made the annual pilgrimage Festival journeys to Jerusalem each year. You might recall his being lost by Mary and Joseph his mother and father, on the way home from Jerusalem when he was twelve. As a boy he would have memorised large chunks of scripture, possibly all of Torah and the Mishnah.
So his parents were Jews (see the “Christmas” stories in the Gospels). His people were Galilean Jews and later all his disciples and apostles were Jews. But they were not Jewish in the manner of Jews today. These were Jews of the First Century, living under Roman “protection” during the time of Pax Romana.
Their culture was unavoidably not pure, few are. Greek was probably spoken and the Greek translation of the Old Testament (Septuagint) in regular use. The New Testament writers used it for their quotations from the Old Testament. And we also know that Jesus/Yeshua spoke aramaic while Hebrew was the language of the Sacred Scriptures and used in the religious discourse of the day. Latin was used for dealing with the Roman protectorate (imperial politics).
Power was always in flux between the Saducees, High Priest, Pharisees King and others. Some groups splintered off and the Dead Sea Scrolls give us insight into the life of the Essenes and more. As long as life continued peaceably, the Roman Soldier remained in his garrison.
Among the Festivals, Pesach/Passover came in the Spring at the beginning of each year. Life began again following the privation of winter. Whole villages and communities journeyed down to Jerusalem and Jesus/Yeshua and his followers were not left behind. The time came when he was again not among the returning crowds winding their way back North after the Festival.
Jesus/Yeshua spent the evening before he was executed on a Roman cross, sharing a last Pesach/Passover meal with all of his followers (see Acts 1:15). That Pesach meal would not have been as it is eaten by the Jews of today in diaspora or in Israel.
The Temple was still standing in Jerusalem. In the afternoon of preparation day the group, sharing Pesach/Passover together with Jesus/Yeshua, washed in one of the baptism pools of Jerusalem. Two of them walked a lamb, a perfect lamb, up to the Temple and joined the throng to offer their lamb in the temple. Its throat was cut, the blood collected and thrown against the Altar by a priest and the lamb flayed before being carried back to the room (a Katalyma) in which it was to be eaten after dark.
Outside a fire was being prepared so that after the sun had set, the roasting of the lamb began. Meanwhile, indoors the lamb was being attached firmly to a spit in readiness for that roasting. Others were preparing more food, specific to Pesach/Passover and the tables laid out.
Eventually Jesus/Yeshua joined them, and evening prayers said. The women went in to light and bless the oil lamps before the men filed in to sit in their assigned places to enjoy the meal and remember that their God Yhwh had not neglected his covenant with Abraham but had rescued Isra’el out of Egypt, setting them free by means of His outstretched arm and his mighty hand (Ex12). Then…
…Jesus/Yeshua the Jew ate his last Passover/Pesach with his Jewish followers in memoriam.