Passover is just around the corner. It’s a time that I really look forward to each year as we reflect upon the story of God’s deliverance of His people from the hand of the Egyptians. If you don’t know the story, Google it and get ready to be amazed.
The centerpiece of Passover is of course the lamb. You can read about it in Exodus 12 if you’re interested. The lamb would be carefully chosen by each family, kept in the house until the fourteenth day of Nisan, and then be slaughtered. The blood from the lamb was to be placed on the doorposts and lintels of the house and they were to eat the roasted lamb as a family.
“Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” Exd 12:13
So, the families that followed these instructions were spared from the plague that God sent to Egypt. That night, the angel killed the firstborn son of every household but passed over the houses that had the blood on the doorposts. It was the plague that persuaded Pharaoh to let God’s people go. Thus, the Jews celebrate this miraculous event to this day.
The first lamb sacrifice in the Scriptures is in Genesis and it progresses throughout the Scriptures. We read that there must be the shedding of blood for the remission of sins.
Gen 4 – A lamb was sacrificed for a single person: Abel
Exd 23 – A lamb was sacrificed for a family: Passover
Exd 29 – A lamb was scarified for the whole nation: the continual consecration by the priests
John 1 – A lamb was to be sacrificed for the whole world: John proclaimed “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
One of the specific instructions for the Passover lamb says in Exd 12:46 “nor shall you break one of its bones.” Very interesting. This speaks prophetically of Jesus…
A Roman crucifixion was designed to be excruciatingly painful. The torture would last for up to 36 hours before death finally came to the executed. The Scriptures say that Jesus died in just six hours. Because it was the preparation day for the Passover, the Jews asked Pilate if he would have the legs broken of the three people being crucified so that they would die faster. After all, it was a holy time in Jerusalem and nobody wanted to see people being crucified during the festivals.
It was actually a merciful act when Romans broke the legs of those being crucified. See, crucifixion brought spasms and eventually paralysis to the pectoral muscles. This would make it impossible to breathe. A man being crucified would then give himself a sort of artificial respiration. He would do this by placing his weight on the nail in his feet and lifting his body up a couple inches. This would allow him to exhale before dropping his weight back down.
So, the soldiers broke the legs of the men on either side of Jesus that day. When they came to Jesus, he was already dead. Instead of breaking his legs, they pierced his side with a spear to ensure that he was really dead. This fulfilled the prophecy from Psalm 34 that Messiah would not have a bone in his body broken.
Amazing! Did you know that Jesus actually died on the fourteenth day of Nisan? Yep, He became the perfect spotless Lamb and was sacrificed that day for the whole world. The very day that the Israelites were celebrating Passover and slaughtering the lambs, THE Lamb gave his life so that we could live. His blood is sprinkled on “the doorposts of our hearts” if we’ll simply believe that it is so. For my Jewish friends, may I challenge you to consider this and even study with an open mind? The Passover is a celebration of what God did thousands of years ago in Egypt but was also a prophetic celebration of the perfect Lamb: Messiah. Study the Scriptures, ask God to reveal the truth to you, and you’ll see for yourself.