Recently, we have seen the shelves at the supermarkets stacked with towers of matzos as well as all sorts of kosher foods for Passover. The next aisle over we saw rows of stuffed, plush Easter bunnies, lambs, baskets, chocolate eggs and cards with lilies and crosses. The Jewish families have gathered around their tables to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. Christian families focused attention on the death of Jesus and celebrate his resurrection.
What does the Passover have to do with "Easter"? Long before there was a Jewish Passover, the Apostle John tells us, the "Lamb [of God was] slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). How could that be? If a lamb is for redemption of man and man was not even placed on the earth yet, the slain Lamb would have to have been only in the mind of God as part of a plan of salvation. Later when sin actually did enter the world, God would reveal a glimpse of how much the Lamb would cost Him. Father Abraham was told, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest...and offer him there for a burnt offering (Gen. 22:2).
But the momentous exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt was a magnificent drama of God's plan of salvation in careful detail. The whole nation was enslaved to the cruel taskmasters of Egypt. They groaned many years under this oppression. Finally, the due time for deliverance arrived. Moses instructed the children of Israel to carefully select a lamb for each household. It was to be slain, roasted with fire, while its blood was put on the doorposts and lintels of each house.
The firstborn of each family was in jeopardy of death if there was no blood sprinkled on the doorposts. But the angel would "pass over" those houses where it was sprinkled. While standing up with staff in hand, the Israelites were to eat a lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The next morning the whole nation was delivered out of Egypt. The miraculous opening of the Red Sea allowed the children of Israel to pass through safely. This was the Passover of the whole people of God in addition to the firstborn.
Today Jewish families emphasize in their Seder celebration the passing over of the nation into freedom. Since the destruction of the temple, though, the lamb is not slain. But the bitter herbs and the unleavened bread are on the table. The cherished account of the Passover is read.
Christ Our Passover
"Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;...let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." 1 Cor. 5:7, 8
Keeping the Jewish tradition, our Lord Jesus sat down with his apostles at the "last supper" actually to partake of the Passover. At the end of the meal, Jesus took a piece of unleavened bread and the cup of wine left over after the meal. "And he took the cup and gave thanks, and said, take this, and divide it among yourselves...And he took bread and gave thanks and brake it and gave unto them saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:17-20).
For the disciples, it was difficult to comprehend that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Passover sacrifice. They heard but did not understand that the unleavened bread represented Jesus' body and the wine his blood. Hours later Jesus was to sacrifice that life on the cross and become that slain Lamb. As often as his disciples had celebrated the yearly Passover, Jesus now asked them to observe a new celebration to take its place.
The Body of Christ
Jesus could have said more, but he knew his disciples could not bear to know much more yet (John 16:12). But in due time the Apostle Paul opened more understanding on the unleavened bread and the cup for the followers of Jesus. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion [participation] of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread" (1 Cor. 10:16, 17). Can it be? The followers of Jesus not only partake of Jesus, but are part of the loaf themselves (though they contribute no merit to the sacrifice).
Yes, the followers of Jesus not only take to themselves the righteous merit of Jesus to be justified, but they are invited to be sacrificed with him. "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1). How could human beings have anything "holy" to sacrifice? By faith, the Christian personally accepts Jesus as his Savior and is made righteous and holy. Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow him.
Most Christians understand we are to fight against sin even though we are justified in Christ. But most do not understand that we have the privilege of dying with Christ as part of his body, his sacrifice. Most Christians understand that we are called the "firstborn," also "the first fruits." But most do not follow through to understand that the whole world of mankind will be the later born, the after fruits. Just as in Israel of old, the firstborn were passed over first; later was the Passover of the entire nation. Now is the night of the Christian's deliverance. In the morning of God's Kingdom, the billions of earth will be delivered from their bondage of sin and death.
The Jewish people have missed part of the big picture. They mostly concentrated on the deliverance of the nation; the firstborn Passover is not stressed. How appropriate! Though as a nation they missed the calling to be part of the firstborn, they will be the leaders of all people in God's Kingdom on earth for the second Passover. So the Jewish Passover is really a complete moving picture of the drama of salvation.
Where will you be in that drama?
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