Last night I did something I have never done before. I prepared a Passover Seder meal for our family. We started by reading the original institution of the Passover in Exodus 12. We stood there in our robes and sandals with sticks as our walking staffs. I had saved some blood from the lamb I roasted, and we painted that around the front door. Then we went upstairs (my son’s suggestion to be like eating in the upper room) to eat the Passover meal. We ate the bitter herbs to remind us of the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt. We dipped the bitter vegetables into the salty water to remind us of their tears while in bondage. We broke and passed the unleavened bread to remind us that the Israelites fled quickly. We ate of the lamb, the spotless lamb, chosen as the sacrifice, whose blood would cover over them as God’s judgment passed through the land.
It was a beautiful reminder of the reason why Jesus left Heaven to come down to earth. But the Passover instituted in Exodus and observed since then was just a picture. A symbol. The perfect had not yet come. The real Passover Lamb had not yet been sacrificed.
Jesus did not come to abolish the law or the Scriptures, but to fulfill it. Christianity is an extension of Judaism, the final conclusion to the cliff-hanger given in Malachi for the story God began in Genesis. God had promised out of His love for His creation to provide a remedy for the brokenness that sin had caused.
God said in the garden that one day a Savior would come to crush the head of the serpent forever. He promised Abraham that through him all nations would be blessed. He promised David that of His kingdom there would be no end. And when God rescued His people from slavery in Egypt it was a perfect picture of the rescue that would one day be for all people.
God instructed the Israelites to observe this Passover feast and told them that they should “keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.” (Exodus 12: 14) This is the feast that Jesus was having with His disciples in the upper room.
Though they didn’t understand it at the time, Jesus was showing them how He was fulfilling the Passover by being the sacrificial Lamb. He said, “This is my body broken for you and this is my blood poured out for you,” yet they still did not understand.
After the resurrection Jesus interpreted to the disciples on the road to Emmaus “all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 23:27) And to the disciples in the upper room He said, “’These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’” (Luke 23:44-47).
It is from understanding the Old Testament – the Scriptures – that we can see what Jesus was doing. He was the perfect, spotless Lamb who went willingly and silently to the altar. It is His blood that covers over us and protects us from the wrath of God’s just judgment on our sin. It is by His sacrifice that God breaks the chains of our slavery to sin. It was His body broken and His blood poured out so that we could live.
But, just like the Egyptians, if you refuse the blood of the Lamb, if you refuse to acknowledge the one true God and trust in His promises, then you will face the just judgment of your sins.
The Egyptians didn’t listen to the warnings God gave them. They trusted in their own strength, in their false gods, and in their own wisdom. They did not trust in God’s mercy and did not fear God’s wrath. That is a terrible place to be in because both of those are very real things. Do not delay in turning your heart to God and trusting in the blood of Jesus to cover over your sins.
During this festival, the time of Jesus had finally come. The perfect, unblemished sacrifice would be made, only this time it would be once and for all. As John the Baptist proclaimed, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."
Over the next few days, as we remember the sacrifice Jesus made, I want to leave you with a few verses from the book of Hebrews that tie together the Old Testament Passover lamb to the New Testament Lamb of God.
But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?