I’m not Jewish, I haven’t grown up in a Jewish community and I’m not familiar with many Jewish customs. But, as I’ve been reading through the Old Testament, I’ve found myself in a crash course of Jewish customs. And, in a way, I’ve been learning about my own spiritual lineage.
My readings, and my Gospel Project small group, have had me studying Exodus at just the right time. With Easter only weeks away, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the Passover Lamb.
Passover is a Jewish holiday which commemorates the day when God told the Israelites, who were enslaved in Egypt, to sacrifice a lamb and paint their door posts with its blood. At this point in the story, nine plagues had come upon Egypt as an appeal to Pharaoh to let God’s people go. Pharaoh wouldn’t budge. In a tenth and final plague the Spirit of the Lord was going to descended on Egypt and strike down the all the firstborn in the land, Scripture tells us. Those with the Passover lamb’s blood on their doors would be spared. You can read the whole account for yourself in Exodus 12:
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
You may have many questions about this passage. We invite you to ask anything in the comments below or, if you prefer, via email. For the purposes of this post, I want to draw out one truth about the Passover lamb.
Though we aren’t as familiar with animal sacrifice in the Western world, especially in twenty-first century America, we do have an idea of justice. Wrong is done, things should be made right. You see, Scripture tells us that no one is righteous – or in other words no one seeks to do right. “Doing right” ultimately means no one gives God the honor He deserves. Where does the Passover lamb come into play? The Bible teaches us that God is just as well as gracious. In His grace, the Lord prepared a way for the necessary sacrifice to be made. He planned for His own Son, Jesus, to be the sacrifice for our sin – yours, mine, and all humankind. John the Baptizer, the man who heralded the coming of Jesus in the New Testament, immediately recognized the significance of Jesus Christ:
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
As Christians, we celebrate Easter with the same solemness and jubilation as the Jews celebrated Passover. Just like God made a way – one way – for the Israelite in Egypt to be spared from God’s judgment, God has made a way – one way – for us to be spared God’s judgment forever in the person and work of Easter. The Resurrection, which we celebrate on Easter Sunday, is God’s affirmation that Jesus’ sacrifice was enough. Our debt of sin has not only been paid, it has been accepted. During this season of Lent, take time to reflect on the significance of the Passover lamb. Is the Passover lamb significant to you? If not, why not? If so, consider joining our Berea, KY church community on Easter Sunday to celebrate our risen Lord!