Christ, Our Passover

Yesterday, we considered types and antitypes. The example we discussed pertained to the flood of Noah and how it prefigured or foreshadowed New Testament baptism. We explained that many Old Testament events and practices foreshadowed certain events and practices in the New Testament.

Today, I want us to contemplate ten ways in which the Passover lamb foreshadowed Jesus as the Lamb of God. Let's begin by reading I Corinthians 5:7,8 - "Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed, Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." The three words, "Christ, our Passover", are rich in meaning. Paul is pointing out a type/antitype relationship here. If Jesus Christ is our Passover, then Paul is saying that there are some similarities between the two. The Passover is the type and Jesus is the antitype; the Passover is the shadow and Jesus is the substance. The Passover lamb foreshadowed Jesus as the Lamb of God (cf. John 1:29)!

I believe it is accurate to say that this type/antitype relationship between the Passover and Jesus is one of the clearest in the Bible. There are so many similarities between the two that it is almost impossible to miss the correlation! We will examine the correlation in detail in this lesson in an effort to fully understand what Paul meant by referring to Jesus as our Passover.

Approximately 3500 years ago, the Hebrew people were enslaved by the Egyptians. God raised up Moses to deliver them from Pharaoh. The Egyptians had already suffered nine plagues from Jehovah and were close to suffering the worst of all--the death of the firstborn! God announced to Pharaoh in Exodus 11 what would happen if he didn't free the nation of Israel. Namely, all of the firstborn of both man and animal would die at midnight. Of course, the Lord had no intentions of killing the firstborn of His own people, so He told them what they needed to do to be protected from this plague.

The first thing to be done was for each household head, the father, to select a lamb (Exo. 12:3). This foreshadowed the heavenly Father choosing the Lamb that would die and be of benefit to His spiritual house. According to John 3:16, God's love caused Him to give His Son. In the same chapter, we also see that Jesus was sent by God the Father, implying that God had selected Him for the task (3:34). When the Israelite fathers selected lambs, this foreshadowed God the Father selecting Jesus as the Lamb.

Although the Passover lamb was chosen by the father on the tenth day of the first month (Exo. 12:3,4), it was not to be offered until the fourteenth day (12:6). These four days allowed sufficient time for inspection to make absolutely certain that there were no imperfections in the lamb. Jesus, as the Lamb of God, was also inspected before He was sacrificed. In a very real sense, He was always being inspected by the people and religious leaders. Of course, Pilate inspected Jesus personally on that Friday morning of His crucifixion. He then declared to the Jewish mob: "You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man..." (Luke 23:14). The inspection of the Passover lamb foreshadowed the inspecting of Jesus before His crucifixion.

This truth is implied by the prior point. The lamb was inspected to make sure there were absolutely no imperfections. The lamb could not be blind, lame, sick, scarred, or even spotted--if it was going to be offered to God, that is. Such an animal would not be acceptable to God. God only wanted the best (cf. Mal. 1:8). In fact, He required that the Passover lamb be a male and only one year old (Exo. 12:5). A lamb at this age did not represent infancy and it did not represent old age. Rather, a one-year-old male lamb represented strength and virility. This type of lamb fittingly foreshadowed Jesus' death at the prime of His life. Jesus was only 33 years old and was likely strong and masculine since He labored as a carpenter until the age of 30. Jesus was God's best; He was without blemish. I Peter 1:18,19 says - "Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." The fact that the Passover lamb was without blemish foreshadowed Jesus being without blemish.

According to Exodus 12:6, each family's Passover lamb was to be killed at twilight. Now you might be inclined to think that the typology breaks down here, but it doesn't really. According to Matthew 27:45,46, there was darkness over all the land from noon to 3 P.M., which implies that there was light once again after 3 P.M. Jesus died at approximately 3 P.M. (cf. 27:50). Thus, the time at which Jesus died could perhaps be called "twilight" since it was probably neither dark nor light (but in the process of transitioning from one to the other). Killing the Passover lamb at twilight seems to foreshadow Jesus' death at the time between darkness and light.

Special care was to be taken to insure that none of the Passover lamb's bones would be broken (Exo. 12:46). Jesus died on the cross and did so without having any of His bones broken (John 19:36). Had He not died quickly on the cross, He would have undoubtedly had His legs broken like the thieves (cf. 19:32). Their legs were broken in order to cause suffocation and speed up the dying process. The typology here is undeniably clear since it was prophesied in the Old Testament that the Messiah's bones would not be broken (Psa. 34:20). This prophecy, like all others in God's word, was fulfilled! The only exception to this would be the few prophecies yet to be fulfilled that pertain to the Day of Judgment. The fact that the Passover lamb's bones were not to be broken foreshadowed that none of Jesus' bones would be broken either.

One of the most interesting aspects of this type/antitype relationship, between the Passover lamb and Jesus as the Lamb of God, has to do with blood. Exodus 12:7 instructed - "And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two door posts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it." In a moment, we will learn the reason why this was done, but for now it is sufficient to note that the Passover lamb's blood had to be applied. In a similar manner, the blood of the Lamb of God must be applied today. According to Revelation 1:5, Jesus "washed us from our sins in His own blood." The blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross must be personally applied in order for one's sins to be washed away. The Passover lamb's blood had to be applied, and this foreshadowed the need for Jesus' blood to be applied.

Now, continuing the thought from the prior point, ask the question: "Why?" Why would God want them to put the blood all around the door frame? Exodus 12:13 supplies the answer - "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." The blood was a sign for them; it indicated where safety was. When God saw the blood, He would not take the firstborn's life in that house, but He would pass over to the next house. That is why they called this whole event the Passover. 12:22 reveals another important detail regarding the application of the blood - "And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning."

Put all of those facts together. They took the Passover lamb's blood and applied it to the doorframe. Thus, when they entered that house for the evening, they passed through the blood, so to speak, and entered the house of safety! They were safe as long as they stayed in the house sealed with blood. But, if they left before morning they would not be protected; they would be in grave danger. The same is true today regarding Jesus' blood. His blood was shed so that those who enter and remain in His spiritual house, the church, will be safe! His blood protects us from the plague of sin and its consequences. However, to leave His church is to abandon the protection of His blood! I John 1:7 implies this truth - "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." As long as we walk in the light (that is, live faithfully as a child of God), Jesus' blood cleanses us from sin! But, the implication is that if we don't walk in the light (that is, if we live unfaithfully to God), then we are not cleansed from sin and we are without hope!

So, we know that Jesus purchased the church with His blood (Acts 20:28), and, as we saw in Revelation 1:5, when the blood of Christ is applied to an individual, his sins are washed away. But, how is the blood of Christ applied to an individual? The answer: conversion! When one hears the gospel, believes it, repents of his sins, confesses faith in Christ, and is baptized into Christ's death (Rom. 6:3), it is then that he comes in contact with the blood of Christ. Christ shed His blood as He died, and thus, to be baptized into His death is to come in contact with His blood in a spiritual sense. We've answered our question. The blood of Christ is applied to an individual when he becomes a Christian--namely when he is baptized to have his sins forgiven (Acts 2:38)! The ability of the Passover lamb's blood to save from the plague foreshadowed the ability of Jesus' blood to save from the plague of sin.

Exodus 12:8,9 teaches - "Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire--its head with its legs and its entrails." Part of the Passover feast included making a meal of the slain lamb. In the New Testament, the parallel continues when we consider the memorial of the Lord's Supper. Note the correlation between eating the Passover lamb's flesh and symbolically eating Jesus' flesh - "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body'" (Matt. 26:26). Jesus wanted His apostles to see the connection between the Passover and His sacrifice on the cross; after all, they had just finished eating the Passover meal moments before! The eating of the Passover lamb's flesh foreshadowed the symbolic eating of Jesus' flesh as the Lamb of God.

The Passover was intended to be a memorial. God instructed the Israelites to keep the Passover feast "to the LORD throughout your generations" (Exo. 12:14). The focus of the memorial was clearly on the lamb (as a consideration of the prior points bears out).

Today, Jesus Christ is clearly the focus of a very important memorial--the Lord's Supper. As Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 26:26-29, the unleavened bread would represent His body and the fruit of the vine would represent His blood. They were to eat of these two items to remember Him; to remember how He gave His body and shed His blood for the sins of the world! The focus of the Passover was the lamb, which foreshadowed Jesus, the Lamb of God, being the focus of a different memorial--the Lord's Supper.

The Passover was to be kept faithfully (Num. 9:2-4). In order for this to continue happening year after year, the memorial would have to be taught and explained to their children (Exo. 12:26,27). The same is true with the Lord's Supper memorial. We must keep it faithfully ourselves and teach our children about its significance. We should teach our own flesh and blood offspring as well as spiritual children in the Lord's church (i.e., babes in Christ).

But, how does one keep the Lord's Supper faithfully as a memorial? What is involved? How often should the memorial be observed? We have answered these questions in a prior feature lesson entitled: "The Lord's Supper", (02/26/2005). We encourage you to study it on this point.

Friends, it is plain to see that Jesus is the antitype to the Old Testament Passover. We've seen so many parallels, and perhaps there are others. The Passover feast was very important while the Old Testament was in force as a law system for the Jews, but such is no longer the case. The Passover was merely a shadow; Christ is the substance (cf. Col. 2:16,17). For Christians, Jesus, the Lamb of God, is our Passover! Let us always endeavor to be unleavened for the Lord (i.e., pure and without sin)! Let us not give in to malice or wickedness but strive for sincerity and truth at all times (I Cor. 5:7,8). Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.