Reading: Ezra 6:1-22
Focus: Ezra 6:19
On the fourteenth day of the first month, the exiles celebrated the Passover.
Passover. What is Passover? Isn’t it some Old Testament tradition? Do we really even need to know about it? I’m going to suggest that it’s just as important in the New Testament as it was in the Old Testament… there’s so much more to it than just tradition.
Passover (also called the Feast of Unleavened Bread) is an Old Testament tradition celebrating the release of Jews from slavery in Egypt. The first Passover was an action issued by God during the last plague in Egypt, that all Jewish families sacrifice a clean lamb, and paint the blood of that lamb on their doorposts. If they did this, God would spare the firstborn son in that household from death. The lamb in the original Passover was to be a “male without defect,” and none of its bones were to be broken. That’ll be important in a minute.
Now fast forward about 1400 years. Jesus was arriving in Jerusalem 5 days before Passover was to be celebrated there. He was Jewish, remember? Traditionally, the sacrificial lamb was chosen 5 days before the Passover celebration. Are you making the correlation here? The people of Jerusalem thought Jesus was to be their political freedom, not their spiritual freedom… they didn’t get it.
On Thursday of that week, Jesus celebrated the Passover dinner with his disciples – we call it the Last Supper. During this time, he told the disciples that there would be a new covenant (a new agreement)… that he would be sacrificing his body and his blood for their attonement.
The next day, the day Jesus was crucified, the Passover lamb was also sacrificed. All of the Jewish traditions stayed in place… the ram’s horn was blown at 3:00 pm to remind people to pause and contemplate the sacrifice being made for their sin. At the moment that horn was blown, Jesus said “it is finished” from the cross. At that same time, the temple veil, the literal separation between unclean and holy, was torn in half. There was no more separation between God and man.
Jesus became the ultimate sacrificial Lamb – the male without defect, and without broken bones. Our outward acknowledgement of of the “Lamb of God” saves us from death, just as it did at the original Passover. Ultimately, it’s the sacrificial death and, more importantly, the resurrection, that declares us clean before God and allows us to have an eternal relationship with Him.
Father God, thank you for your sacrifice. I acknowledge that I am so unworthy, but I’m so grateful for a personal relationship with you. I know that it is through Jesus that you see me as clean, in spite of my sin, and I accept your gift of forgiveness. Help me to live a life worthy of your sacrifice, Jesus. In Your Holy name I pray, Amen.