Passover: Yeshua (Jesus) the Lamb of God

Excerpt from: J.K. McKee’s Moedim published 2013 by TNN Press. This resource is available for purchase here.

The second of the Biblical moedim that God prescribes is Pesach, or Passover. It is specified, “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover” (Leviticus 23:5). Of all the Biblical holidays, this is probably the one with which most Christians are familiar. Their familiarity with Passover is no doubt due to the fact that the Exodus of the Ancient Israelites from Egypt is one of the most important themes in the Bible,[1] as it depicts the Holy One of Israel as the God of freedom, able to deliver people from slavery, but also as it depicts our Exodus as born again Believers from death in sin to new life in Yeshua.

The Angel of Death would pass-over the homes of the Egyptians, and if the blood of the lamb were not over the doorposts, the firstborn would die. Using this typology in relation to our faith in the Messiah, if we do not have His blood covering us, then we will suffer the second death—eternal damnation.

Observance of Pesach in ancient times is specified in the Torah. Here were just some of the requirements:

  1. Families were to sacrifice a blameless lamb for their household: “each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household” (Exodus 12:3, NIV).
  1. The blood of the lamb was to be placed on the doorposts and lintel of the house: “Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it” (Exodus 12:7).
  1. When eating of the Passover lamb, families were to eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs: “They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs” (Exodus 12:8).
  1. Passover was to be observed for all of the generations of the Israelites: “It is a night to be observed for the LORD for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the LORD, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations” (Exodus 12:42).

Exodus 12:26-27 issues an important instruction: “when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’ And the people bowed low and worshiped.” Knowing the scenes of the original Passover are to cause God’s people to approach Him with great awe and reverence.

Passover was originally to be celebrated and remembered as a time when God showed His mighty power to the Egyptians and delivered His people into freedom. It is, in essence, Israel’s first national holiday. It is to be a special time when we are to honor our Heavenly Father for the deliverance of the Ancient Israelites from their slavery in Egypt, and how He spared the firstborn by the shed blood of the lambs. It is something that we are to instill in offspring so that they might remember the power of God. J.H. Hertz describes this in more detail:

“The children of successive generations are to be instructed at Passover as to the origin and significance of the Festival. In the Seder service on the first two nights of Passover, this command has found its solemn realization. In it we have history raised to religion. The youngest child present asks the Questions, which are answered by a recital of the events that culminated in the original institution of Passover. Education in the home is thus as old as the Hebrew people.”[2]

We must all admire the tenacity of the Jewish people for instilling this, as particularly witnessed in the Passover traditions of the haggadah, the traditional order of service used for one’s Pesach meal at home and/or with one’s congregational community. [3] Hopefully, as many of today’s non-Jewish Believers come to the realization that they too can take a hold of Passover, they will see the need of similarly instilling Scripture as all of our history to future generations— because as Messianic Believers in Yeshua, Passover has a greater significance and importance than just the Exodus from Ancient Egypt.

The events surrounding Passover are significant to all people of faith. The Apostle Paul wrote the Corinthians, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:1). Every person who partakes of salvation in Israel’s Messiah benefits from the Exodus— and even more!

Pesach has a great significance as it relates to the sacrifice of the Messiah for the forgiveness of our sins. Yeshua is the blameless Lamb of God. John the Immerser proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), and the Apostle Peter wrote that the redeemed are covered “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Messiah” (1 Peter 1:19). Most important, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “For our Pesach lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed” (CJB). Yeshua’s sacrifice for us is to be understood as a blameless Passover lamb, killed so that we can have His blood covering the doorframe of our hearts.

Yeshua’s Last Supper meal was in actuality a Passover seder. This is recognized by many Christians today who are beginning to celebrate and remember Passover in their churches, as a useful educational tool for reconnecting with the Old Testament. This is often how many evangelical Believers (including my own family) get exposed to the  Messianic movement.

For people of faith, Yeshua’s Last Supper is often one of the most important scenes in Scripture, depicting the agony that our Lord endured prior to His execution (Matthew 26:39). The importance of Passover is seen in how the Messiah told His Disciples, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).[4]

The Last Supper is summarized for us in Matthew 26:18-19; 26-28:

“And He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, “The Teacher says, ‘My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.’”’ The disciples did as Yeshua had directed them; and they prepared the Passover…While they were eating, Yeshua took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.’”

Commemorating Passover today should be a great time of remembrance and celebration for us as Messianic Believers, as well as a time of reverent severity. We remember the Exodus from Egypt, and we remember the Last Supper and sacrifice of Yeshua on the cross for the remission of our sins. We remember the original Passover in Egypt, and compare it to what happened at Golgotha (Calvary). We see a great correlation of the Ancient Israelites being brought forth from bondage into freedom, and born again Believers being brought out of sin into forgiveness.

In addition to remembering Pesach for the events of the past, we also remember it for the future. Yeshua told His Disciples, “‘for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, ‘Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes’” (Luke 22:16-18). We still recognize that there is a future Passover coming, when the cycle will be complete, as the Messiah will be ruling and reigning from Jerusalem.

 

Endnotes:

[1] Consult the J.K. McKee’s article “The Message of Exodus.”

[2] J.H. Hertz, ed., Pentateuch & Haftorahs (London: Soncino, 1960), 257.

[3] Consult Joseph Tabory, JPS Commentary on the Haggadah (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2008), for an overview of the traditional Passover haggadah, as well as its historical development and use in the Synagogue.

[4] From this Last Supper is derived the common Christian practice of communion with the bread and the wine—although in its proper context the Lord’s Supper should be practiced with matzah or unleavened bread, not leavened bread, and probably only once a year during the seder meal. Consult the FAQ on the TNN website “Communion.”

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