Jesus – The Passover Lamb Of God

Exodus 12:3-4
‘On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.

John 1:29
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

1 Corinthians 5:7
For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

1 Peter 1:18-20
18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

When God does something, He always does it well. This is magnificently illustrated in the glorious fulfillment in Christ of the Passover Lamb.

Moses had been given clear instructions about the sacrificial lamb to be slain at that historical first Passover meal. This memorial Feast was powerfully instituted at the time of the Israelites miraculous deliverance from Egyptian bondage after four hundred and thirty years of slavery.

Animal sacrifice may not be your ‘cup of tea’. In fact it was never God’s either (Isaiah 1:11)! Yet, because of His consuming love for us, He sent His only Son to be the fulfillment of Passover sacrificial lamb offered up for our sakes as a fulfillment of the covenant requirements. He went to these lengths to ensure that we got the message.

Consider the following comparisons between the lamb of sacrifice in Moses time as recorded in Exodus 12:1-51 and the dramatic fulfillment of this covenant meal in Jesus Christ the ‘lamb of God’.

Vs 3 – It was to be a lamb, and Christ is the Lamb of God (John 1:29).
Vs 5 – The lamb was to be a male of the first year, mature and in its prime. Christ was mature at age thirty (Numbers 4:3) and was offered up as the supreme sacrifice in His prime (Luke 3:23).
Vs 5 – The lamb was to be without blemish which speaks of Jesus’ purity – a lamb without spot (1 Peter 1:19).
Vs 3, 6 – The lamb was ‘set apart’ for four days. Jesus entered Jerusalem four days before The Passover Feast (Matthew 21:1-10) and was set apart or examined by both the people and the authorities.
Vs 6-9 – The lamb was to be slain at twilight. Jesus died at three in the afternoon or twilight according to Jewish time (Matthew 27:46).
Vs 21 – The elders picked out the lambs for themselves. Jesus was put up for trial by the elders of the day – the Sanhedrin (John 18:3).
Vs 46 – No bones of the lamb were to be broken. Jesus did not have His bones broken when He was crucified (John 19:33-36).

There is no doubt that Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb of God slain for us at the cross for the salvation or wholeness of our whole spirit, soul and body (3 John 2).

God’s choice of a lamb as the animal for sacrifice speaks of Christ’s meekness and innocence. This was something that the farmers and animal herders of the day would understand. Jesus laid down His life for us on purpose. He was dependent on and fully submitted to His Heavenly Father’s leadership and chose to drink of the cup of suffering without trying to defend His position.

Isaiah 53:7
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.

Victimized on our behalf


He was victimized so that we might become victors. God has eternally confounded the wisdom of man with the seeming ‘foolishness’ of a lamb (Jesus dying on the cross) being slain. Through this situation of apparent helplessness and defeat, great victory has come for all who will humble themselves to receive Him (John 1:12). Through death, Jesus conquered him who had the power of death.

Hebrews 2:14-15
14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

The Spotless Lamb

For the Passover sacrifice to satisfy God’s demands it had to be perfect. That is why Jesus was intensively inspected by all in His life and ministry.

First, he was inspected (tempted) by satan at the start of His three and half year ministry. Then time and again the religious people of His day tried to find fault with Him and His mission. Then third, Jesus was subjected to six or seven distinct inspections depending on whether you count Pilate’s dealings with Jesus as one or two events.

Consider the following inspections that Jesus ‘passed’ in His last hours before the crucifixion in more detail.

1. King Herod admitted that Jesus was without blame (Luke 23:13-15).

2. Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest (Caiaphas) obviously found no fault with Jesus as he passed Him on to son-in-law (John 18:12-14, 24).

3. Caiaphas, the high priest, then inspected Jesus and no fault was found in the spotless lamb (John 18).

4. Pilate, a gentile, examined Jesus also and on two occasions declared that he could find “no fault” in Jesus (John 18:28-38 and John 19:4).

5. The centurion assigned to Jesus’ crucifixion scrutinized Jesus and concluded that He was truly the “Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).

6. Even the thief on the cross had the sense in the end to conclude that Jesus had done nothing wrong (Luke 23:40-42).

Every single inspection resulted in a confession of Jesus’ innocence as the spotless Lamb of God. God made Jesus who knew no sin to be made sin for us in a great spiritual exchange.

We were guilty of sin and deserving of judgment, whereas Jesus was perfectly righteous and undeserving of any judgment. Yet it was God’s plan to satisfy the claims of justice in the eternal courts of heaven by sending Him to the cross on our behalf. We (the guilty) are now saved by Jesus (the innocent) in the greatest act of love ever. It is this amazing grace which we celebrate at The Lord’s Supper.

2 Corinthians 5:21
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Dramatic Two Way Transfer

On the cross, Jesus supreme act of sacrifice accomplished both the removal of our sins and the impartation of His righteousness to us. It was dramatic two way transfer.

With this one act Jesus also fulfilled all the five offerings required under the Levitical law, which historically were ‘shadows’ pointing to His perfect offering made ‘once and for all’ (Hebrews 9:12). Here we focus on only two of the sacrifices: the ‘sin’ and ‘burnt’ offering (Leviticus 1-4).

First, the sinner was to bring his ‘sin offering’ to the priest to be inspected for any blemish. Then, the sinner was to lay his hands on the animal (a bull if the whole nation sinned, a male kid / lamb if a ruler sinned, and a female kid / lamb or two turtle doves if a commoner sinned) and the animal was sacrificed and the sinner’s sin was transferred ‘away’ from the sinner into the animal.

Identification And Access

This act of identification meant that the sin of the offerer was transferred to the lamb and the innocence (or righteousness) of the lamb was transferred to the offerer. At the conclusion of the sacrifice, the focus was to be on the fact that sin had now been atoned for, and that all that remained was the imputed or transferred righteousness. The ‘price for sin’ had been paid and God’s justice fully satisfied.

Second, the other main offering called the ‘burnt offering’ (Leviticus 1:9) also involved a sacrifice of an unblemished animal that resulted in the transfer of God’s favor by means of the sacrifice on the altar. Here the emphasis was on the righteousness being transferred towards the person in question. This offering was like a ‘sweet aroma’ to the Lord, and signified acceptance into His presence. The sin offering, you might say, took away the negative or minus, while the burnt offering brought the plus to the recipient.

A lot of people struggle to accept how large God’s heart is towards us. They focus on the shortcomings they still see in their own lives instead of looking at the one who has paid the price to set us free from the things that hold us back from walking with God in the abundant life Jesus so freely offers all who repent.

It is important to see both sides to what Jesus has done. Not only do we have forgiveness of sin, but also righteousness or right standing with God at His right hand in Christ. We have access to the Lord’s presence through Jesus’ perfect sacrifice alone, and not through our efforts or ‘self righteousness’. We are encouraged to freely receive all that has blessed us with in Christ, and not hold back. ‘Oh ye of little faith’ is not a compliment. God wants us to enjoy all that He has paid such a high price for.

Celebrate His Grace

As you celebrate the Lord’s Supper / Passover / Easter, remember that whatever God does, He does well. The good work He has started in you, He will bring to completion as you open up to the greatness of His grace and favor in Christ.

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