Jesus is the Reality of the Passover Lamb, What Does that Mean?
The Passover Lamb’s Sacrifice
On the evening of the 14th day of the first month of the sacred calendar around 1498 B.C., God commanded the Israelites to keep the Passover in order to emancipate them from their life of slavery in Egypt and free them from the hands of Pharaoh. At the core of the Passover ceremony is the sacrifice of the lamb.
… the Lord gave the following instructions … “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you … each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household … “Take special care of this chosen animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month … must slaughter their lamb or young goat at twilight … take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses … “These are your instructions for eating this meal… Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the Lord’s Passover … On that night I … will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal … But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.(NLT Exodus 12:1-13)
That evening, the Israelites worked diligently according to God’s command. Each family prepared a one-year-old lamb with no defects. They then slaughtered the lamb they had prepared and put the blood in a bowl. The blood of the lamb was put on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses using hyssop branches (Exodus 12:21-22, 28). In order to save the firstborn sons of the Israelites, a lamb was sacrificed instead of the firstborn.
That night, Pharaoh wept aloud at the loss of his precious crown prince. The plague did not just occur at the royal palace. All the firstborn of the Egyptians were killed and even the firstborn of all the livestock died (Exodus 12:29-30). Except for the houses that had the blood of the Passover lamb on it, all of Egypt was filled with great wailing that had never happened before. Only after this terrifying and frightening ordeal did Pharaoh grant Israel freedom. The Egyptians who had been arrogant also pushed for Israel’s freedom. (Exodus 12:31-36).
The point to pay close attention to is the lamb was sacrificed for the freedom of Israeli people. 600, 000. This was the number of strong young men at that time (Exodus 12:37). Even if it is assumed that 600, 000 households slaughter one sheep each, as many as 600, 000 lambs will be sacrificed. The weight of the blood shed by this enormous number of lambs, can never be small.
Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Feast remain until morning.(Exodus 34:25)
However, this is strange. Although there is no mistake that the emancipation of Israel was through the ‘blood of a lamb without defect,’ God said it was the ‘blood of my sacrifice.’ Not only is it difficult to estimate how great the Passover lambs’ blood that was shed is, its meaning is God’s blood shed on the cross for us.
Jesus Christ, the Reality of the Passover Lamb
In Israel, in the Old Testament times, the lambs used as sacrificial offerings symbolized Jesus Christ, God who came in human form. In the letter the apostle Paul sent to the Corinth region, he wrote, “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” and testified to the world that Jesus is the reality of the Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). Prior to this, even John the Baptist testified that Jesus was “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Up until then all the lambs whose blood was shed countless times instead of the people of Israel, symbolized Jesus, the sacrificial offering who would atone for sins of humankind.
For a long time of 1500 years, the Passover was celebrated by sacrificing a lamb, sprinkling its blood, roasting the meat over a fire, and eating it, and on that day of that month Jesus gave bread and wine, which symbolized His ‘flesh’ and ‘blood’ to eat and drink (Matthew 26:17-19, 26-28). He revealed that He Himself was the sacrificial offering of the Passover lamb.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”… When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer (on the cross) … And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.(Luke 22:7-8. 14-15, 19-20)
As the reality of the Passover lamb, Jesus sealed the New Covenant Passover bread and wine with His flesh and blood which were to be torn and shed on the cross. He opened the way to those who participated in this ceremony so that they could be clothed with the merits of His blood. It is just like how the people of Israel in the old times received salvation through the Passover lamb’s blood.
What Sacrifice Did Jesus, the Lamb, Make?
Jesus … knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”… And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.(Luke 22:39-44)
After finishing the New Covenant Passover ceremony, Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane and was very anxious and tormented because His death was approaching Him. He cried out for a long time. As he prayed, His sweat like drops of blood fell to the ground. Medically, it is said that when a person is under extreme mental stress, sometimes the skin’s capillaries burst and their sweat becomes like drops of blood and ‘hematidrosis;1 a blood sweating condition,’ can occur. This is how sorrowful and in despair Jesus felt.
The crucifixion was known as the most brutal punishment in the Roman Empire at that time.2 Before the Romans carried out the crucifixion, the prisoner was tied to a stake and flogged on their back. According to the biblical dictionary, the tips of the whip (The Roman scourge, or also called the ‘flagrum’ is a short whip made of leather) had small pieces of metal, glass fragments and knotted with bones. As a result, it is said that the prisoner suffered fatal injuries such as torn flesh and muscles with the sharp tools attached to the tips of the whip3, 4. A third century historian by the name of Eusebius described a flogging by saying, “The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.
Jesus Christ, God who came as a human being, had His flesh torn with whips, His blood shed (Matthew 27:26, Mark 15:15), and He dragged the heavy and rough wooden cross step by step to Golgotha (John 19:17). As soon as Jesus arrived, the Roman soldiers fastened His hands and feet on the cross and nailed them to the cross with large nails.
There they crucified him… knowing that everything had now been finished…Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.(John 19:18-30)
The last words Jesus left for the multitude of people looking at Him was, ‘It is finished’. What did Jesus accomplish? Jesus said He came to this earth to give His life as a ransom for the sins of many people (Mark 10:45). The words ‘it is finished’ means that all the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets about Jesus were fulfilled, and at the same time, Jesus fulfilled His mission as a sin offering for the forgiveness of humankind’s sins.
Jesus proclaimed the way to receive the forgiveness of sins on the night of the Passover (Matthew 26:17-28). And just as the Israelites ate the meat of the Passover lamb and participated in the blood, and so enjoyed the freedom of emancipation, Jesus allowed those who eat the flesh and partake in the blood of Jesus, the reality of the lamb, to enjoy the freedom of the forgiveness of sins.
There’s an American idiom, “Freedom is not free,” to express gratitude to the military for defending individual liberty. It means that freedom is not given for nothing. Forgiveness of sins cannot be obtained automatically and for nothing. The New Covenant Passover established through the sacrifice of Christ who is the reality of the Passover lamb, His blood and pain, commemorates Christ’s suffering and is a precious promise that must be kept until the end of the world (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). And in this last age of the Holy Spirit, this precious promise is continuously being kept only in the World Mission Society Church of God.
- What Is Hematidrosis?, WebMD
- The history and pathology of crucifixion, PubMed
- The Roman Scourge, Bible History
- Jesus wasn’t the only man to be crucified. Here’s the history behind this brutal practice., Live Science
- First Corinthians Bible Commentary – a Bible commentary on First Corinthians, pg. 713, Brad Price