Jewish people celebrate one of their most important feasts, the Passover, on the fifteenth day of the Jewish first month (Nisan 15) usually between March and April in our western calendar. The Passover signifies the Lord’s salvation for Israelites from the hands of Egyptians by killing all their firstborns but protecting His people who followed His instructions by sprinkling blood of the sacrificial lambs on their doorposts and the lintels of their houses in which they were commanded to eat the lamb (Exodus 12:7, 8). The blood would be a sign for Israelites on their houses and no plague would befall upon them to destroy them when the Lord struck the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:12-13, 12:22-23; Psalms 78:49).
How the Passover Lamb foretells Jesus as God’s perfect Lamb
In Exodus12:3 and 6, the Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are, each one, to take a lamb for themselves, according to the fathers’ households, a lamb for each household….You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to slaughter it at twilight.”
In Exodus 12:11, 12, the Lord said: “Now you shall eat it in this way: with your garment belted around your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in a hurry—it is the Lord’s Passover. For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and fatally strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the human firstborn to animals; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord.”
As mentioned above, a new Jewish day begins at twilight, “on that night” in Exodus 12:12 would have been Nisan 15. It was on this day Israel left Egypt in haste, the day God redeemed the Israelites out of slavery. The lamb of the Passover was chosen on Nisan 10 and kept until Nisan 14 and then slain. The blood of the lamb would be sprinkled on their doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which the Israelites ate the lamb.
In Matthew 21:1–11, Mark 11:1–11, Luke 19:28–44, and John 12:12–19, Jesus descended from the Mount of Olives towards Jerusalem, and the crowds laid their clothes on the ground to welcome Him as he triumphantly entered Jerusalem. The triumphal entry is traditionally commemorated on Palm Sunday.
Mark 11:11-18 records: “11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late. 12 On the next day, when they had left Bethany … 15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple,… 18 The chief priests and the scribes heard this and began seeking how to destroy Him…”
Therefore Jesus first entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, i.e. Nisan 9 but returned to Bethany with the twelve. On the following day, i.e. Monday (Nisan 10), he came to Jerusalem again and cleared the temple. The chief priests and the scribes decided to kill Him (Jesus being ‘chosen’ to be killed) on the same day.
Can you recognize how amazing the Bible is! The time sequence fits perfectly that the Lamb of God Jesus Christ (John 1:29) was chosen on the tenth day of Nisan month (Nisan 10, Monday). He was unblemished and His enemies could not find any flaws on testing Him in the following days of the week. Jesus was later arrested and crucified on the Cross in the morning of Friday, i.e. exactly on Nisan 14! He later died between 3:00-5:00 pm on the same day before the Sabbath (Saturday). If this is the case, Jesus should have had the Last Supper with his disciples on Thursday (Nisan 13). The chronology fits perfectly well with that of the lamb of the Passover. Jesus resurrected on the third day, i.e. Sunday (Nisan 16). All these tied in well with the chronology of Jesus’ death and His resurrection, and the very first Passover. The salvation of all mankind by our Lord Jesus is amazingly foreshadowed by the first Passover events that described the deliverance of the Israelites’ firstborns from death. It was the blood of the lamb.
Similarities between Jesus and the Passover Lamb
There are some (in fact over ten) amazing similarities between Jesus and the Passover Lamb, I will try to list out some of them in the table below:
|The Passover Lamb||Jesus|
|Without blemish||Exodus 12:5 without cuts, bruises or deformities.||1 Peter 1:18-19 Sinless|
|In the prime of life||Exodus 12:5 one-year old adult lamb and in the prime of its life.||Jesus died at 33-year old young man in the prime of His life|
|Male||Exodus 12:5 male lamb or goat.||Jesus came to earth as a man.|
|Everyone||Exodus 12:3-4 everyone should eat the lamb and the whole household enjoyed together.||All individual need redemption and the fellowship that results from redemption.|
|Unbroken bones||Exodus 12:46 The Israelites were not allowed to break the bones of the Lamb, not during the cooking and not during the eating.||John 19:31-36 Jesus’ bones were never broken during His ordeal on the cross and not by the soldiers who handled His body.|
|No leftovers||Exodus 12:8-10 Nothing of the lamb was to be kept overnight.||John 19:31 Jesus was taken off the cross on the same evening of his crucifixion.|
|Blood of the Lamb on lintel and doorposts||Exodus 12:7, 12-13, 22-23 Whoever stayed in the house behind the blood of the lamb was safe from God’s judgment against the Egyptians.||Romans 5:8-10 Whoever stays with Jesus and does His will, the blood of Jesus will keep them safe from judgment.|
|Freedom||The lamb opened a way to freedom for Jews from years of slavery in Egypt.||Colossians 1:13-14; Romans 8:1-2 Jesus’ sacrifice sets us free from the bondage of sin.|
|Remember, celebrate and pass on||Exodus 12:14, 24 and 27 Israelites are to observe the Passover throughout the generations.||Mark 14:12-26 The Last Supper will also be observed and remembered by Christians of all generations as the Holy Communion.|
The foreshadow of better things to come
The book of Hebrews reminds us that the Old Testament sacrificial system is only the shadow of the good things to come (Hebrews 9:20-22, 10:1). The Passover lamb was the shadow of Jesus Christ who is the real and perfect lamb of our salvation (John 3:16). It is amazing to find that 1,500 years after the first Passover in Egypt, Jesus Christ the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world was chosen on Nisan 10 and sacrificed on Nissan 14. It perfectly echoed the same sequence of events at the first Passover which is remembered by all the Jews.
Exodus 12:14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord – a lasting ordinance”.
Exodus 12:24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants”.
And in Exodus 12:26-27, the message was once again repeated: ”And when your children ask you, ’What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then you tell them ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians’”. Then the people bowed down and worshipped.
The Lord has spoken 3 times in this short passage in the Scripture (Exodus 12), reminding His people to commemorate the Passover deliverance as an ordinance. Much of the Jewish nation nevertheless, even when we see the events unfolding, have not come to recognize the immensity of such a command and remembrance.
Indeed we as Christians hold on to the one belief that we are saved through His blood on the cross. We commemorate our Lord’s sacrifice and celebrate the Lord’s victory over death during this Easter period.
One cannot but marveled at His great mercy and grand design, to save mankind from our sins and iniquities, through the blood of His beloved son, with everything being mapped out right from the beginning of time.
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