Christ Our Passover

It is written:

1 Corinthians 5:7-Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

The church at Corinth had some members of the church who were involved in very public sexual sin. Paul encouraged the Christians to practice church discipline in these cases, trying with these extreme measures to convince the Christians who were living in these lifestyles to repent (1 Corinthians 5:5). The Apostle also reminds the church that Jesus had sacrificed Himself for us, saving us from our sins and becoming “our Passover.”

What did this mean?

The Passover was a Jewish holiday celebrated yearly in Israel. This focused on how God had delivered the children of Israel from their slavery in the land of Egypt. The famous “Ten Plagues” that God had sent on the Egyptians devastated the Pharaoh’s people who stubbornly refused to let the Jewish slaves go free. The final tenth plague was where God sent the avenging angel to kill all the firstborn in the land.

On the eve of this horrific event, the Lord instructed the people of Israel to slaughter a lamb use its’ blood to mark the doors of their homes. When the angel would see the blood, it would “pass over” the home and no one therein would die.

These acts of God were designed to try and lead the Egyptian people-including Pharaoh himself-to repentance.

Exodus 7:5-And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.”

Writing of the significance of “the name,” the Expositor’s Bible Commentary has noted:

“Not only will Israel know what is meant by the name Yahweh, but so will the Egyptians. It will be as Jeremiah 16: 21 described what it was to know “the LORD”: “Then they will know that my name is the LORD.” In addition to understanding the significance of the tetragrammaton (yhwh), these miracles will also be an invitation for the Egyptians to personally believe in this Lord. Thus the invitation is pressed repeatedly in 7: 5; 8: 10, 22; 9: 14, 16, 29; 14: 4, 18—and some apparently do believe, for “a mixed multitude” (12: 38, KJV) leaves Egypt with Israel.” (Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Tremper Longman III, David E. Garland, Exodus: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 144 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

Another researcher has noted:

“The chapters that follow show how the God of Israel sought, through the plagues, to get Pharaoh to “know” him (Ex 7:5, 17; 8:10). The Hebrew word for “know” here carries with it the idea of relational and redemptive knowledge. Yahweh, the God of Israel, wanted Pharaoh and the Egyptian people to experience his truth and life-giving grace. The plagues were designed to show the uselessness of the Egyptian deities.’ By demonstrating the impotence of the Egyptian gods, Yahweh sought to free Pharaoh and the Egyptians from this burden and grant them the opportunity to turn to him, the Creator and Redeemer. In other words, God was trying to evangelize Pharaoh and the Egyptians!’ This is quite different from what I want God to do, since I do not desire the salvation of such a sinner. I think a better idea would be to send in the angel of death to assassinate him. But the God of Israel and the Father of our Lord Jesus is different: he patiently seeks Pharaoh’s salvation. Moreover, the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart does not overturn this view of things, since the hardening does not automatically determine what will happen. The Hebrew word for “hardening” means to strengthen, so hardening does not render a person unable to repent. This is easily seen by the fact that God hardens the hearts of Pharaoh’s servants (Ex 10:1), yet they understand what God is doing and implore their master to release the Israelites (10:7). Furthermore, God several times uses conditional language regarding ing Pharaoh (8:2; 9:2; 10:4). Such “if” language makes no sense if only a negative decision by Pharaoh is possible. Evidently the divine strengthening of Pharaoh did not override Pharaoh’s decision-making powers. The plagues were for redemptive and not merely retributive purposes. Truly God has never delighted in the death of the wicked. Punishment came to the Egyptians, but not before God did all he could to bring redemption into the situation.” (Gabriel Fackre, Ronald H. Nash, & John Sanders, What About Those Who Have Never Heard? Three Views on The Destiny Of The Unevangelized, 27 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press)

Some may argue that God was not trying to evangelize Pharaoh and the Egyptians because God would “harden the heart” of Pharaoh (Exodus 4:21). However, a study of the Exodus shows that God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart did not preclude Pharaoh from being capable of believing in God and repenting. Indeed, we are told that God hardened the hearts of Pharaoh’s advisers along with Pharaoh and yet they repented (Exodus 10:1-7).

On this fact, Prager notes:

“This verse proves that God’s “hardening” Pharaoh’s heart did not deprive Pharaoh of free will. God also hardened the courtiers’ hearts (Exodus 10.1), yet, unlike Pharaoh, they decided the Israelites should be allowed to leave Egypt.” (Dennis Prager, The Rational Bible: Exodus, 113 (Kindle Edition); Washington, DC; Regnery Faith)

Within the Passover holiday, there are many details that foreshadowed the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

First, let’s think about the timing of the Passover and Jesus’ death.

The Jewish Passover took place on the fourteenth of Nisan:

Leviticus 23:5-On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.

This was in between the months of March and April. Because the Jewish calendar is based on a lunar cycle, the actual day of the month changes each year.

The actual day of the Passover was followed by the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread. As such, the Passover was often considered the entire feast itself.

Luke 22:1-Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover.

The Gospels tell us:

Mark 15:42-Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath,

Luke 23:54-That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.

John 19:14-Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”

Jesus died at 3:00 p.m. on that Friday.

Matthew 27:45-Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.

At this “ninth hour” (i.e., 3:00 pm), Jesus died as He said these words:

John 19:30-So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Amazingly, look what was happening in the Jewish Temple at this exact time:

“In the time of Jesus, the high priest, on the 10th of Nisan, would go to Bethany to choose an unblemished lamb and bring it into the temple to be inspected for four days. As the lamb was brought to the Eastern Gate, pilgrims would line the sides of the road leading to the gate and wave the palm branches and say “Baruch Ha Shem Adonai,” which means “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” quoted from Psalm 118: 26-27. At 9 AM on the fourteenth of Nisan, the lamb was tied to one of the horns of the altar. At 3 PM, the high priest would slay the lamb while saying the words “it is finished.” These specific words are spoken at any “shelem” or peace offering.” (Ken Johnson, Ancient Messianic Festivals And The Prophecies They Reveal, 37 (Kindle Edition);

When the people of Israel were covering their homes in the blood of the lamb, it formed an interesting pattern: a cross!

“When Egypt’s judgment was imminent, God commanded the sons of Israel to mark the doors of their dwellings with the blood of the Passover lamb. This blood painted on the doors set apart the houses of those who believed and obeyed God from the houses of those who did not. The “basin” mentioned in Exodus 12: 22 is not like containers used today. It is taken from the Egyptian concept of sap, meaning the threshold or ditch which was dug just in front of the doorways of the houses to avoid flooding. The people placed a container in the ditch to prevent seepage. The Israelites killed their Passover lambs right by the doors, and the blood from the slaughter automatically ran into the depression of the basin at the threshold. When they spread the blood with the hyssop brush, they first touched the lintel (the top horizontal part of the doorframe), then each side post (the vertical sides.) In doing this, they went through the motions of making the sign of a bloody cross, the prophecy of another Passover sacrifice to come centuries later. Thus, the door was “sealed” on all four sides with the blood of the lamb, because the blood was already in the basin at the bottom. Arthur Pink sees this as a picture of the suffering Messiah Himself: “Blood above where the thorns pierced His brow, blood at the sides, from His nail pierced hands; blood below, from His nail pierced feet.” (Ceil & Moishe Rosen, Christ in the Passover/Christ in the Feast of Pentecost/Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles Set, 275-288 (Kindle Edition); Chicago; Moody Publishers)

Even more amazing, the actual form of the lamb itself pointed to the cross.

“The lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. For one spit pierces right through from the lower parts up to the head, and another one pierces the lamb across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb. (Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.215.)

In so many amazing ways, the Passover points us powerfully to Jesus Christ. His death, burial, and resurrection on the third form the basis of salvation for those who believe in Him, repent of their sin, and are baptized into Him (Acts 2:37-47). For those who have done so, it is time to return to the Lord if you have turned away from Him in sin (1 John 1:7-2:2).

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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