Bible Answer

Three Separate Passovers Recorded in John

Is the passover account in John a different event than the passover recorded in Luke? How do we know?

In his Gospel, John records three Passovers. These three Passovers occur in the three years of Jesus' earthly ministry. John alone recorded the three separate Passover celebrations. John mentions the first in John 2, the second Passover in 6:4 and the third one in 11:55; 12:1; 13:1; 18:28, 39; and 19:14. This third Passover was the one that occurred on the night before Jesus died, and it is the one recorded by all four Gospel writers in conjunction with the Last Supper and the death of Jesus.

The first Passover is only recorded in John's Gospel, and it may have been the Passover of April 18, AD 29, the first year of Jesus' public ministry. Jesus always celebrated the Passover because He was a Jew who obeyed the Mosaic Law (Deut. 16:1-8), in keeping with His mission to fulfill the Law.

In his account of that first Passover, John records Jesus running out the money changers:

John 2:12  After this He went down to  Capernaum, He and His  mother and His  brothers and His  disciples; and they stayed there a few days.
John 2:13  The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus  went up to Jerusalem.
John 2:14  And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.
John 2:15 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables;
John 2:16 and to those who were selling  the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making  My Father’s house a  place of business.”
John 2:17 His  disciples remembered that it was written, “ ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.”

Compare this account to Luke's account of Jesus's doing the same thing two years later:

Luke 19:45  Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling,
Luke 19:46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘ AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’  but you have made it a ROBBERS’  DEN.”

We know this incident is different than the first for two reasons. First, Jesus' words are different in Luke's account than in the first incident recorded in John 2. Secondly, John's Gospel records his incident in Jesus' first visit to Jerusalem on Passover, while Luke records it during Jesus' third Passover visit.

We should have no problem with the thought that Jesus repeated His actions in the temple, and therefore two different Gospel writers record it in two different moments. If seeing money changers in the temple grounds angered Jesus once, it stands to reason it always make Him angry.