Feasting with God #18
Our True Passover
Text: Exodus 12:3b-11
3b[E]very man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. 7Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and inner parts. 10And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.
Passover is almost universally considered to be the highest of all the Jewish festivals. Every year when it is celebrated, it recalls the first time it was celebrated, when the Israelites were preparing to be freed from their slavery in Egypt. It is a festival to commemorate the Lord’s providence and care for his people, and his promise for their deliverance.
But this festival has been fulfilled. At its institution it was designed to prepare the Israelites to be delivered from bondage, and each celebration thereafter was to prepare them again for the greater deliverance. Look closely at the recipe for this festival, and we’ll see what it means.
Each household was to take “a lamb…without blemish”: a perfect lamb without any defect or imperfections to be found. Then this lamb was to be killed, its blood used to mark the doorposts and lintels of the houses, then roasted and eaten entirely by the family—and eaten “in haste,” “with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand.” So, being ready to get up and leave at a moment’s notice, the families were to eat the meat of a perfect lamb whose blood marked their houses.
Of course, we know from the rest of this story in the book of Exodus, at midnight while these people were inside celebrating the Passover, all the firstborn in the land of Egypt were being killed by the angel of God. But this death passed over the houses that had the blood of the lamb marking them. This all foreshadowed something greater, and that greater thing has been fulfilled.
The true Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, was killed just after the celebration of a Passover around 2000 years ago. His disciples had been given his flesh and blood to eat and drink when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. Then, a night that seemed to last from Friday evening until Sunday morning left Jesus’ disciples in fear. But when the dawn came on Easter Sunday, their Teacher came to them and led them out of their hiding places, taught them about the joy of God’s deliverance, and told them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).
You see, Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God, whom God selected to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. Now, those who are marked by Jesus’ blood will be passed over by death, so that our deaths lead only to eternal life. We come out of our temporary, earthly homes, in bondage to this sinful world, rising to new life in our Lord Jesus. Because our baptisms have washed us in the blood of the Lamb, we are delivered by God. Because we are strengthened by the meal of Christ’s body and blood, we are prepared for the journey through this world to our resurrections.
For Christians, the festival of Passover is a reflection of the time that God delivered his covenant people from slavery, and also an illustration of how God ultimately delivered the whole world from slavery to sin. With our belts around our waists, our shoes on our feet, and our walking sticks in our hands, we can now be ready to go through this world in the confidence of our Savior, who leads us to eternal life.
Dear Jesus, our true Passover Lamb, help us always to look to your sacrifice for our confidence in this sinful world. Help us to look to our baptisms, to your holy Supper, and to your Word for our strengthening as we march on to our resurrections. Help us to deliver that same message to others, so that when the Last Day comes, many others may be marked in your blood and brought into eternal life. In your name we ask all this. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.