The first Passover had three important elements – the selection of a lamb, the application of the blood, and the eating of the meal. Here are three takeaways from each.
First, Jesus is our perfect, precious, priceless substitute sacrifice chosen for us. Everything in the Passover story informs and prepares us to understand and appreciate all Jesus did for us.
It was not an easy decision for a poor Hebrew family in slavery to give up their prized lamb in obedience to God’s command. Their strongest yearling had the most promise of producing needed income and resources for years to come. On that night, the best lamb they had became a substitute, dying in their place so that they might live.
In the same way, God made the most costly sacrifice of all out of love for us. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” Knowing how we would fall short, God still loved us. Though we deserved his judgment, to save us, he gave the very best. I love all of our six kids equally, and they bring us great joy. I know we have a quiver full, but I would never in a million years give even one to save someone, especially one wayward, lost, ungrateful, and rebellious. But God gave his one and only. Romans 5:7-8 says, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Notice those last four words, “Christ died for us.” Throughout the Bible Jesus is called the “Lamb fo God.” One thousand years before his birth, the prophet wrote in Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter…” John the Baptist called Jesus in John 1:29, “…The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world…”. In Revelation 5:12, the saints and angels sing around the throne, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain…”
It was no accident that Jesus was crucified on Passover. As Jews selected their lambs for slaughter and celebrated the meal to commemorate their deliverance from Egypt on what was called “The Day of Preparation,” Jesus the Lamb of God was crucified like a common criminal between two thieves (Mark 15:42). The Lion of Judah could have called a legion of angels to prove his claims and rescue him. But the lion humbled himself, became the lamb, and died in our place.
His death and resurrection forever transformed the sacred Passover meal. Jewish believers, steeped in rigid tradition, did the unthinkable. They changed their most famous festival, to participate in a new meal with foreigners from all walks of life. Together they ate the bread and drank the cup, remembering Jesus’ body and blood, celebrating a new covenant of grace.
This might shock you, but some blood is more valuable than others. We buy worms at our local gas station for bait. We hook the worm in hopes of catching a largemouth bass. We filet our catch over our garage sink and fry it in a pan – a little canola oil, salt, pepper, flour, and lemon juice. Some of my kids can’t believe I would do something so cruel in our home. I remind them how much they love Chick-fil-A. Then I think about the blood a mother sheds to bring a new baby into the world. New life doesn’t come pretty, wrapped in ribbons from Nordstrom. But most precious of all is the blood of Jesus, God’s Son.
1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” When the New Testament mentions the blood of Christ, it is another way of describing his death. It helps us picture the awful price he paid for our redemption. Of far greater value than silver, gold, rubies, and diamonds, we were purchased most extravagantly, by the priceless blood of Jesus. His death is precious because the sinless Son of God clothed himself in humanity to die on a cross as our substitute. Now the lowest, the least, and the lost can be raised and seated with him in heavenly places. Ephesians 2:6, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”