I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.
Introduction: The Passover and the Christian
I love this sermon illustration which I found on the website sermonillustrations.com submitted by Thomas Lindberg. He writes:
"In his book Written in Blood, Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance for recovery was a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.
"Would you give your blood to Mary?" the doctor asked. Johnny hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, "Sure, for my sister." Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room--Mary, pale and thin: Johnny, robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned. As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny's smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube.
With the ordeal almost over, his voice, slightly shaky, broke the silence. "Doctor, when do I die?'
Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled when he'd agreed to donate his blood. He thought giving his blood to his sister meant giving up his life. In that brief moment, he'd made his great decision. Johnny, fortunately, didn't have to die to save his sister. Each of us, however, has a condition more serious than Mary's, and it required Jesus to give not just His blood but His life."
The truth is that God hates sin. It is rebellion against a holy God and the punishment for sin is death. Not just physical death but a separation from God forever in a place of punishment called Hell. We were on our way to a horrible future except for the fact that Jesus became our substitute. He took our sins upon Himself. Here is what moodybible.org, the website of Moody Bible Institute, has to say about this:
"According to the Scriptures, sin must be paid for. When Jesus Christ died, he suffered as a substitute in the place of and on behalf of fallen humanity. Christ's death made it possible for men and women to be declared righteous, based on their faith in Him. Christ's death was not merely a statement against evil or an expression of love, but a payment that satisfied God's demand."
The death of Christ is the most important salvation event in the history of mankind. But many don't realize that our Lord's death was foreshadowed by another historical event that took place almost 1500 years before His sacrifice on the cross occurred. This incident, which is known as the Passover, took place around 1451 B.C and was the night before God miraculously delivered His people Israel out of bondage and began the process of leading them into the promised land that He had given to their ancestor Abraham.
Let us look a little more closely at what happened on the night that the Lord saved the people of Israel out of bondage in order to fulfill His plans for them of becoming a great nation by which all other nations would be blessed. Then we can compare that with the ultimate salvation event on the cross.
I. Story of the Passover
It will help to understand the Passover if we have a little background for why it took place. If you remember, it was because of a famine that God lead the family of Jacob, whom God renamed Israel, into Egypt. One of Jacob's sons, Joseph, had been made the second in command under Pharoah and, with the help and direction of the Lord, had saved Egypt from this famine that took place during his rule. And due to Joseph's power and authority, the people of Israel were allowed to settle down and prosper there in Egypt, in the land of Goshen.
But Joseph and that whole first generation of Israel's descendants died as the little family became a huge host of people. There arose, in time, a Pharaoh who didn't remember Joseph or what had happened under him (Exodus 1:8). And the Pharaoh got very uneasy about the size of the people of Israel, fearing that they would try to take over Egypt. So, he made them into slaves to control them.
However, God didn't forget His people, so He raised up Moses to redeem Israel out of the land of slavery and to take them into the land promised to Abraham so that He could make them into a great nation.
In order to force Pharaoh to let the people go, God brought upon Egypt 10 plagues, corresponding with the various false gods that they worshipped. The 10th plague was the death of the firstborn sons, including Pharaoh's son since Pharoah himself was considered to be a god.
Here is an explanation from the website chabad.com. It tells us:
"Passover (a contraction of the words “pass” and “over”) is a translation of the Hebrew word Pesach, which means to “skip” or “jump.”
What is the source of this name?
As God was poised to take the Israelites out of Egypt, He instructed Moses to tell the people of Israel to prepare by bringing a sheep into their homes. On the night that He was about to bring death upon the Egyptians, the Israelites slaughtered the lambs and ate them with matzah (a flat cracker-like food which is made without leaven), and maror (bitter herbs).
They were also instructed to take the blood of the lamb and smear it on their doorposts, as a sign to God that this was an Israelite home, to be passed over, while death was visited upon the firstborns in all other homes. This is what gave the Passover sacrifice (and holiday) its name.":
Here are the words of the Lord about this event, recorded in Exodus 12:23-28. It says:
“For the LORD will pass through to smite 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 come into your houses to smite you. “And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. “When you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. “And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians but spared our homes.’” And the people bowed low and worshiped.
Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
II. The Passover and Jesus' Death on the Cross
Passover and the “Feast of Unleavened Bread” are mentioned 56 times in the Old Testament and 30 times in the New Testament. The one time (in the KJV) that the English word “Easter” occurs (Acts 12:4), the Greek used there is actually the word for Passover.
But it is the New Testament that establishes the relationship between Jesus, the Messiah, and the Passover of the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul himself, in talking to the Corinthians about breaking fellowship with a believer who continually sinned by sleeping with his father's wife, uses this comparison. The Corinthians were not only letting this man be there in their midst and not rebuking his behavior but were bragging about how tolerant they were in accepting him despite his lack of repentance. Paul says this:
"Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
In John 1:29 John the Baptist recognizes Jesus as the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. I Peter 1:19 calls Jesus a lamb without blemish or spot.
The book of Hebrews establishes that Jesus was completely without sin, thus showing his spotless nature as well, making him the perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 4:15).
In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John sees Jesus as a lamb who looks like it had been slain (Revelation 5:6)
To add to all of this, Jesus was crucified during the time that the Passover celebration was observed (Mark 14:12).
Further, the website gotquestions.org tells us this about Jesus as our Passover lamb. It states:
The Bible says believers have symbolically applied the sacrificial blood of Christ to their hearts and thus have escaped eternal death (Hebrews 9:12, 14). Just as the Passover lamb’s applied blood caused the “destroyer” to pass over each household, Christ’s applied blood causes God’s judgment to pass over sinners and gives life to believers (Romans 6:23).
As the first Passover marked the Hebrews’ release from Egyptian slavery, so the death of Christ marks our release from the slavery of sin (Romans 8:2). As the first Passover was to be held in remembrance as an annual feast, so Christians are to memorialize the Lord’s death in communion until He returns (1 Corinthians 11:26).
III. The Passover Today
In looking at this service today we find that for the past 3000 and more years the Passover has become the most celebrated and widely observed ceremony in Jewish history. This eight-day Jewish holiday of Passover is celebrated in the early spring. Though it memorialized the time that God lead Israel out of Egyptian bondage and made them into a nation, ultimately it was to be a a sign pointing Israel to the coming incarnation of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Though, sadly, most of the Jewish people missed that significance when Jesus, their Passover lamb, was on earth and most still do so today as well. The apostle John even said that Jesus came unto his own and his own did not receive Him (John 1:11).
In our world today, millions of Jews will celebrate the Passover Seder this year, which is a Jewish ritual service and ceremonial dinner held for the first night or first two nights of Passover. I say this because, if you are in Israel, it is only celebrated for one night. This is a meal that Jesus and his disciples would have celebrated themselves their entire lives and it was at this feast that Christ implemented what has become known as the Lord's Supper.
In addition, many non-Jewish believers in Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah also still celebrate this feast, even as the early Church, (both Jewish & Gentile believers being one in the Messiah), did almost 2000 years ago.
I write this study in the first day of 2022, so this year Passover will be April 15 - 23. And just like in years past the people of Israel will celebrate the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. Pesach or Passover will once again be observed by avoiding leaven and will be highlighted by the Seder meals that include four cups of wine, eating matzah and bitter herbs, and retelling the story of the Exodus.
And yet, once again, most will miss the true significance of this most awesome ceremony. For those of you who have Jewish friends who don't know the real Messiah, it is all right to wish them a "happy Passover!" a "Joyous Festival" or a "Good holiday!" But at the same time, we need to be praying for them that their eyes might be opened by the Ruach HaKodesh (The Holy Spirit) to see the true meaning of the Seder and that Yeshua is the real Jewish Messiah, God’s Passover Lamb! Also, if the proper situation arises, we should tell them what we believe by faith about Jesus.
Today there are an estimated 100,000 Messianic Jews worldwide claiming Jesus as Messiah and about another 200,000 partly Jewish or Gentile relatives and friends who worship in their congregations. God may have temporarily set the people of Israel aside as a nation, but He still saves all who come to Him by faith in Jesus Christ. So, don't assume that God won't answer your prayers and use your words when you speak with the Jewish people.
As we conclude this message, I am intrigued by what the late pastor Adrian Rogers from Love Worth Finding Ministries had to say about Jesus, the lamb of God. He said:
"Did you know that for centuries Passover lambs were raised in Bethlehem? In those shepherds' fields outside Bethlehem, a very special breed of sacrificial lamb was raised and nurtured to be brought to Jerusalem at Passover to be slaughtered to cover the people's sins. How fitting that Mary's Lamb, God's perfect Lamb, the Lord Jesus, would be born there! And He was born in a stable. How fitting that a sacrificial Lamb would be born in a stable! This Lamb came to be the final Passover lamb, the one sacrificed for sin forever. Your destiny, my destiny, the destiny of the world was wrapped up in Mary's little Lamb."
Today, if you have never trusted Jesus, know this that He is alive again from the dead and is coming again, not as a lamb but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is coming like a lion to put down all sin and rebellion and to set up an eternal kingdom of righteousness that will never end.
You too can have a part in this kingdom and will, by faith, live forever in the joy and the peace which He will bring to the universe.
If you do know the Passover lamb, never forget to thank Him for His death on your behalf on the cross of Calvary. And you can do that by living a righteous life of faith as His Holy Spirit gives each of us the power to do.
May we all live our lives, not for ourselves, but for the honor and glory of our Passover lamb who has taken away our sins and has given us a new life that will never end. For He alone is worthy of our honor and our service!
© 2022 Jeff Shirley