When Jesus walked this earth, there was a group of people who followed Him. From that group He chose twelve men to walk closely with Him and learn the lessons He had to teach. These men were Jewish and knew what the Law required of them, but weren’t scholars who knew the Law inside and out. As they followed Jesus, they saw Him heal the sick, raise the dead, and miraculously feed thousands of hungry people with a small amount of food. Every year they went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. This was a very important feast, and a man was required to celebrate in Jerusalem if at all possible.
On one such occasion in approximately 32 A.D., they had finished their meal, and Jesus led them to Gethsemane where He would pray.
“And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; and saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death; tarry ye here, and watch” (Mark 14:33-34).
Prophecy would be fulfilled that night, and Jesus was about to face the most horrendous torture imaginable. His request was that His friends stay there and give Him support. He would soon become the Sacrificial Lamb and shed His blood on the cross. He would die for our salvation.
His disciples were unaware of the importance of what was happening. They had shared an enjoyable meal, but were troubled by Jesus’ words as they ate. One of the twelve would betray Him that night.
“The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born” (Mark 14:21).
Judas would betray Him for 30 pieces of silver just as Zechariah prophesied. Jesus had spoken of His own death, and Peter had assured Him that no matter what, he would never deny Jesus. Brave words from the man who would deny knowing Jesus three times that night. Prophecy was being fulfilled all around them, but these men were unaware. When Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to stay there and watch, they didn’t understand how important it was to Jesus that they were there. Whether they slept or were awake, prophecy would be fulfilled, but Jesus wanted them to be awake.
“And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?” (Mark 14:36-37).
His closest friends fell asleep when they should have been alert. Prophecy was being fulfilled, and His followers slept.
Passover was established by God many centuries before the days when Jesus walked the shores of Galilee. Famine had struck the land, and Jacob and his family moved to Egypt where they found food. When the famine was over, they stayed in Egypt; over time the small group of people had grown in number, and Pharaoh enslaved them. Still, the Israelites flourished. The slavery was cruel, and the time came when God stepped in to free them.
He called Moses to go to the Pharaoh to demand that Israel be set free. After turning the Nile River to blood, sending a plague of frogs, and many other plagues, there was one more plague to come. Death of the firstborn of every household. It wouldn’t matter if the household was Jewish or if it was Egyptian, death would come. God never leaves anyone without hope, and He had a plan to protect all who would obey.
“Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house” (Exodus 12:3).
The month they were to do this was Nissan. The lamb they chose had to be without blemish. It was chosen on the tenth of Nissan, and they were to keep it until the fourteenth. On that day, the chosen lamb of each household would be killed.
“And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it” (Exodus 12:7).
The blood of the lamb was their protection from certain death.
They were then directed to make a quick meal and eat the lamb, but they were to be ready to leave in a hurry. “And thus shall ye eat it with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover” (Exodus 12:11).
God knew that Pharaoh wouldn’t have the blood of the lamb on his door, and his firstborn would die.
“For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. and the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you when I smite the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:12-13).
It happened just as the Lord said. Death came to the house of anyone who didn’t have the blood of the lamb, including Pharaoh’s. This final plague caused him to give the Israelites their freedom. The Lord directed that they were to remember that day.
“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 forever” (Exodus 12:14).
Little did those people know that the lamb they sacrificed was a foreshadowing of the perfect Lamb of God whose blood would take away sin and death when applied to the heart of a believer.
After the Israelites were set free, they left quickly. When they came to Mount Sinai, Moses went up on the mountain and God gave him the Law.
“In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread” (Leviticus 23:5-6).
God established these feasts, and others, and they all foreshadowed Christ. Those who took part in the first Passover didn’t know it was a “picture” of the future Messiah, nor did the people who followed Jesus. They went to Jerusalem each year to celebrate the Spring feasts, but didn’t recognize that these feasts would be fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Peter, James, John, and the others were living at a time in history when prophecy was being fulfilled, but were unaware of what was happening.
Many prophecies were on record regarding the birth of the Messiah which Jesus had fulfilled. The Messiah would be born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem, and so He was.
A prophecy by Daniel told the exact day that Jesus would enter Jerusalem and be hailed as Messiah by the people. Had the disciples paid attention, they would have known that the prophecy in Zechariah was fulfilled when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt and the people lined the streets shouting “Hosanna”!
Zechariah also prophesied that He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. Had they paid attention, they would have known that Judas had fulfilled this prophecy when he left the dinner party to betray Jesus.
Had the disciples understood Isaiah chapter 53 they would have known what was about to happen. They didn’t believe prophecy was being fulfilled, and so they slept.
Just as prophecy had said, Jesus was arrested, beaten beyond recognition, and crucified. He fulfilled Passover on the dates established by God when the Israelites were set free and confirmed in the Law given to Moses. Then He fulfilled another Jewish Law:
“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it” (Leviticus 23:10-11).
Firstfruits takes place on the first day of the week after Passover. That’s the day Christ arose from the dead.
“And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun” (Mark 16:1-2).
They came prepared to tend to the body of Jesus, but what they found was an empty tomb. Jesus Christ had risen from the dead! Hallelujah, Christ arose!
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21).
Prophecy given by God is always fulfilled exactly as He says. Jesus is our Passover Lamb who shed His own blood to take away our sin. That sacrifice must be accepted by each person individually. By placing your faith in His death, burial, and resurrection you have applied His blood to the doorpost of your heart, and you have gained eternal life.
The prophecies that Jesus fulfilled at His first coming are statistically impossible for one man to fulfill by coincidence. When that man is God incarnate, then the impossible is possible. Even though His disciples should have been aware of the prophecies that were being fulfilled before their very eyes, they slept. Sadly, many of His followers today are sleeping.
End-time prophecy is being fulfilled today; and for those who are awake, we know that the end of time is approaching quickly.
“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap” (Isaiah 17:1).
Have you seen pictures of Damascus lately?
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3).
If you can’t see this happening today, then you’re asleep. God’s wrath is coming, and it’s all been written in prophecy. Christians have the assurance that we will not see God’s wrath but will be taken in the Rapture prior to that final week of earth’s history, which Daniel prophesied. Only the blood of Jesus will give you protection from God’s judgment.
Are you sleeping? Are you like the disciples and sleeping when you should be alert? The fact that we are nearing the end of time should wake up every Christian with the urgency to share the Gospel before it’s too late. If you’re sleeping, it’s time to wake up.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.
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