The Passover Lamb

The Passover Lamb

Day 7 – The Passover Lamb

Read Luke 22:7-23; Exodus 12:1-28; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8

The biblical writers often used unique imagery and descriptive titles to illustrate a particular characteristic of Jesus. In fact, Jesus Himself used imagery quite often to describe Himself (i.e. “the vine” John 15; “the Good Shepherd” John 10; “the light of the world” John 8, etc.). Each of these titles depicts a unique quality about Himself.

Though each is significant in its own way, arguably the most powerful imagery of all, as it relates to the Easter story, is the one the Apostle Paul employed in 1 Corinthians 5. It is one that had been foreshadowed hundreds of years earlier–the Passover Lamb. Paul says, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7).

In its larger context, Paul is imploring the Corinthian church toward holy living–to put away sin from among them–to cleanse and purify their hearts of the “leaven of malice and evil” because of the completed sacrifice of the Passover lamb. To gain some perspective, Exodus 12 fills us in on the historical traditions involved in the Passover.

Leaven, as we know, is simply yeast. Yeast spreads throughout the dough to make it rise. The Lord commanded that the bread of the Passover be prepared without yeast to illustrate the hastiness in which the Israelites were leaving Egypt (Ex. 12:33-34, 39).

In addition to the leaven, Exodus 12 sheds light on this Passover lamb to which Paul alluded. Notice a few details:

  • “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old” (12:5).
  • “The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight” (12:6).
  • “They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts” (12:7).

Now, fast forward to the night before Jesus’ crucifixion. He is with His disciples in the upper room and He is initiating the Last Supper.  He breaks the unleavened bread and passes it around proclaiming, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). He then takes the cup and passes it around saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). What was happening here? What was Jesus really saying?

As Jesus passed the bread and the cup, the disciples would have understood its connection to the Passover meal. In fact, it was the Passover meal. Passover began at sunset on Thursday, the very night they gathered. In essence, they were participating in the Passover in its fullest consummation.  The importance of the timing of these two events (the Passover celebration and the Last Supper) cannot be overstated. They were, in fact, God-ordered and God-ordained. They happened simultaneously. As Jesus prepared to go to the cross, Jerusalem was bustling with activity as people prepared to have their lambs slaughtered for the yearly atonement of their sins. What Jesus was demonstrating to His disciples was reinforced both by the act and the timing of the act. He was proclaiming Himself to be the Passover lamb. He was telling them that His death on the cross (in less than 24 hours) would be the perfection and the completion of the sacrifice.

Scripture says that when Christ, our Passover lamb, died on the cross He literally “became sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). And Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by a single offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” These verses communicate the same truth that we saw earlier in 1 Corinthians 5:7. What is that truth? That you and I can be made righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice.  No longer must we live as slaves to the leaven of sin. His sacrifice was final. No longer must we bring a yearly sacrificial lamb to the slaughter.  Christ completed that work. Now, when God looks at us, He sees the righteousness of His Son, the Passover lamb, applied to us.

Challenge Questions:

  • How does the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus relate to our daily living of holy and pure lives?
  • Does anything about the Passover instituted in Exodus 12 shed new light for you on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross?
  • Take some time to thank Jesus for being the completion of the sacrificial system. Thank Him that we no longer have to offer the blood of lambs and goats to atone for sin.