February 22, 2022
Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?" (Matthew 26:17).
The Feast of Passover is a reminder of how God delivered the Jews from slavery in Egypt. More importantly, it is a memorial of God’s power to redeem His people from sin. (Leviticus 23:4-5) These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD's Passover.
Passover (Pesach), along with the Feast of Unleavened Bread (they are celebrated together), are the first annual festivals commanded by God for Israel to observe (Exodus 12). Today they involve a special meal called the Seder in which unleavened bread, fire-roasted lamb, and bitter herbs are eaten (Exodus 12:8). They are one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays and are 1 of 3 ‘pilgrimage’ festivals in Scripture that required Jews to travel to Jerusalem to observe the feast. It is a 7-day celebration in the spring beginning on Nisan 15th (on the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox, i.e. mid-April).
God sent Moses to the Egyptian Pharaoh (Exodus 6:1-8) demanding that he let my people go (8:1). When Pharaoh refused, God unleashed ten plagues on the land of Egypt (7:14 - 12:32). The tenth and worst of the plagues was the death of all the firstborn in Egypt (12:28-32). On that fateful night, God told the Israelites to sacrifice a spotless lamb and mark their doorposts and lintels with its blood (12:21-22). Then, when the Lord passed through the nation, He would ‘pass over’ the houses painted with the blood (12:23). The blood of the lamb saved the Israelites, and anyone else who had the blood painted on their house, from death since it kept the destroyer from entering their homes. From then on, every firstborn son of the Israelites belonged to the Lord and had to be redeemed with a sacrifice (Exodus 13:1-2,12; Luke 2:22-24). Today, Jews all over the world celebrate Passover in obedience to the command of God.
Passover and the story of the exodus have great significance for Christians also. This drama of redemption from slavery has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:17). The Israelites who, in faith, applied the blood of the Passover lamb to their homes becomes a model for us. Jesus is our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7; Revelation 5:12). He instituted the Lord’s Supper during the Passover meal (Luke 22:7-8). He was crucified at the same time the Passover lambs were being slaughtered. His shed blood on the cross saves us from spiritual death. When we, by faith, accept His sacrifice for sin, we are redeemed from slavery to sin. Just as it was not the Israelites’ ancestry or good standing or pleasant nature that saved them, it is not by us or our good works that saves us. It was only the blood of the lamb that made the Jews exempt from death, and it is only by the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, that saves us from sin and death (John 1:29; Revelation 5:9-10). Amen.