Passover is the time of year that the Jewish people remember their miraculous release from slavery in Egypt. It was instituted by God and the details are very specific as recorded in the book of Exodus.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:1-2).
This should get our attention. The first month on the Jewish calendar is Nissan and on the 10th day of Nissan a lamb was to be chosen.
“Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats” Exodus 12:5.
The lamb was to be perfect and was to be cared for. On the fourteenth day of Nissan the chosen lamb was to be killed and his blood put on the side posts and the upper door post of each household where the lamb was to be eaten. That night the Lord would move through the land of Egypt and the firstborn of both man and beast would die. The blood of the lamb was the only protection for the household. Only obedience to God would allow the firstborn of a household to be protected.
“And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever” (Exodus 12:14).
It all happened just as God said and the Israelites were freed from bondage. God wanted them to remember what He did for them. Passover is celebrated to this day but there is a much deeper meaning to Passover. It was fulfilled by Jesus.
The Passover story is familiar to us and it is prophetic. Like all of the Jewish feasts, Passover is about Jesus. This important feast celebrates the Israelites being set free from Egyptian bondage, but by allowing Himself to be sacrificed, Jesus set us free from the bondage of sin and death. When He rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey He fulfilled many prophecies, including one in Daniel which foretold the exact day He would be hailed as the Messiah.
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times” (Daniel 9:25).
Calculations based upon this prophecy reveal that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the exact day foretold in Daniel. When He traveled to Jerusalem on that final journey He knew that the time was right and He would be hailed as the Messiah, but then He would be sacrificed…crucified. Years before this John the Baptist had recognized Him as the Lamb of God, and Jesus truly is our perfect Lamb.
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Jesus truly was the once for all sacrifice to take our sin away. There is no more monumental event in history than Jesus’ crucifixion, except for His resurrection.
Jesus rode on a donkey colt into Jerusalem and the people hailed Him as Messiah…the people had chosen Him. Unlike the Passover lamb that was treated gently from the time of selection until its quick sacrifice, Jesus would not be treated kindly. In those final few days He would have disputes with the Jewish leaders and ultimately be betrayed by one of the twelve men who followed Him. After His arrest He endured beatings, scourging, mocking, and pure brutality.
They spit on Him, pushed a crown of thorns onto His head, and put a purple robe on Him to mock His claim to be King. Pilate stood Him before a crowd of angry people and asked them if he should set Jesus free or a robber named Barabbas. The crowd called for the release of Barabbas, but gave the frenzied cry “Crucify Him!” when Pilate asked them what he should do with Jesus. Then, the Lamb of God was sent to the slaughter.
“And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst” (John 19:17-18).
The Passover lamb was slaughtered quickly, but “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” was beaten unmercifully and then nails were pounded into His hands and His feet. He hung on the cross for hours, dying slowly.
He looked down at His mother and gave the responsibility for her care to John and He watched as the Roman soldiers gambled for His garments. In spite of all that was done to Him, His love and forgiveness was not shattered.
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots” (Luke 23:34).
His forgiveness is still available to us today.
Jesus had gone to Jerusalem knowing full well what He faced there, but He went willingly. At the last meal He shared with His disciples, He told Judas to go and do what he had to do…to go and betray Him. He kept silence during the illegal trial and the beatings. He carried His cross to His own crucifixion.
Jesus, God the Son, had never been separated from God the Father because He was sinless and perfect, even in His human form. But as He hung on that cross He took our sins upon Himself and for the first time ever the perfect Lamb of God felt separation from God the Father because sin separates us from God.
“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is being interpreted, My god, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).
The sin that you and I should be condemned for was fully paid for on the cross. Jesus’ blood was shed for each and every person who has ever lived and who ever will live. It’s up to each of us individually to accept or reject that gift of salvation. That gift is free for the asking, but cost Jesus dearly. Jesus fulfilled prophecy with precise timing, and after all things were accomplished, He chose the timing of His death.
“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost” (John 19:28-30).
It was finished. The blood of the Lamb was shed for you and me. We can look back and see the fulfilled prophecies and know that only His blood can redeem us. Those who followed Him were not so sure. They had followed Him and believed He was the Messiah, but now He had died. They feared that they would be the next ones crucified because they had followed Him.
For many reasons the burial was swift and they were unable to tend to His body the way they should have. At the first hint of light on the first day of the week a handful of women went to care for the body. Their grief was heavy as they walked to the tomb.
A large stone had been placed at the entrance and they weren’t sure how they would be able to move it, but on they went. When they reached the tomb they were met with an astonishing sight. The stone had been rolled away!
“And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:5-6).
Can you imagine their joy? Jesus was risen from the dead! He’s alive!
From Exodus to Daniel to the Resurrection, the date is clear. God has gone to great lengths to establish when the Passover is to be celebrated and therefore when Christ was hailed as the Messiah, offered as the perfect sacrifice, and resurrected. In spite of that most Christians choose to celebrate Christ’s victory over the grave on a different day called Easter.
That day is not related to the Jewish Passover. It occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox. That day is based upon a pagan celebration and the traditions surrounding it have nothing to do with Christianity. Is it wrong to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection on this pagan holiday? Each person needs to decide individually.
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).
We belong to Christ and therefore we have freedom. Jesus fulfilled the Law and we need to be careful that we don’t return to the Law because that is not where salvation is found, but the date of His final entry in to Jerusalem, the day of the crucifixion, and the day of the Resurrection all seem important to God. We need to pay attention.
Salvation is through Christ, but we need to honor Him in all our ways. Does coloring eggs and eating chocolate bunnies make you a pagan? No, but you need to be sure that you are identifying with Christ. We know that His sacrifice was during the Passover celebration which foreshadowed Him. It seems important to God that we know when Christ’s victory over death occurred.
This year, 2016, Passover begins at sundown on April 22. Take time to read through Exodus chapter 12 and then read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ final week and also read through the Resurrection. Christ took our sins upon Himself and won the victory over death. Never forget that or take it lightly.
The blood on the door posts of the Jewish households so long ago protected them from death on that night of the first Passover. The blood of “…the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” applied to your heart is the only means by which you can be protected from eternal death. Celebrate our true Passover Lamb.
God bless you all,