All four of the Gospels report that Passover was approaching as their stories lead us to the eventful days preceding Jesus’ crucifixion. The feast of Passover was and is significant to the entire account.
We associate Passover with the Israelites’ departure from Egyptian slavery found in Exodus 12. The Lord appointed this time to be the beginning of a new year for His people. On the tenth day of this month, they were to take a lamb, separate it from the flock, and designate it as their Passover lamb. From the 10th day until the 14th day, the lamb would be examined for any blemish or defect, because the lamb to be slain had to be perfect.
On the 14th day, guided by very specific instructions, the people prepared a meal on the night they would be granted their freedom. The Pascal (Passover) lamb was a central element in that meal, and its blood was put on the door frame and lintel of each Jewish dwelling so that the death angel would “pass over” them.
Passover continued to be a major feast throughout the Old Testament and was very much a part of Jesus’ heritage.
As this particular Passover approached, Jesus life was about to climax. We know from Scripture that Jesus “earnestly desired to eat this Passover” with his disciples (Luke 12:15).
As the days led up to this celebration, Jesus told His disciples that he would suffer and die. He tried to prepare them, but they would hear none of it. They protested the very thought. Jesus knew this Passover would be His last one on earth. He knew He would complete this festival through his death. The shadow of things from the Old Testament was about to be fulfilled in Him.
There were other thoughts about this Passover, thoughts from those who sought to arrest Jesus. They wanted Him off the streets and out of their hair. They were making plans how they could take Him, but they said, “It must not be during the Feast” of Passover for fear the people might riot (Mark 14:2 emphasis mine).
But the One who overrules all other thoughts and plans had a destiny for this Passover. God the Father was about to provide the Lamb that Abraham spoke about as he journeyed to Mt. Moriah to offer up as a sacrifice his only son. Isaac asked his father “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham spoke prophetically and replied, “My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for the burnt offering,” (Genesis 22:8 KJV)
To fully comprehend the significance of the Passover holiday as it relates to our season of Easter’s resurrection, we must see in it the picture of Jesus, the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world.
While we don’t know the exact date of Jesus birth, we can know with certainty that His death was during Passover as the gospel writers give us the detail of the time and the season.
We will celebrate Palm Sunday tomorrow, April 17, commemorating the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey while the people waved palm branches and proclaimed “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
That sacred journey almost 2000 years ago would have been the 10th day of the first month of the Jewish new year, the day each family picked out a lamb for their Passover supper. On that day, Jesus allowed Himself to be proclaimed as the Messiah that was to come. He essentially was “picked out” to be the Passover Lamb.
He would be examined, accused, and tried. But Pilate’s voice still echos the truth, “I find no fault in Him.”
Christ, our Passover, a Lamb without blemish, would be sacrificed in just a few days, a sacrific that woud ultimately “proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,” (Isaiah 61)
This is the first in a series on the Passover. I hope you will come again. I would love to hear your comments.