Reading from the gospel of Luke:
14 And when the hour came, (Jesus) reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:14-17, 19 ESV
Long before Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, the people of Israel had been in Egypt for 430 years, beginning with the famine foretold by God through Pharaoh’s dreams. Initially, their time in Egypt was a prosperous one for the Israelites, but it evolved into an painful experience of hardship and servitude. When God ultimately moved to bring them out from slavery against the will of Pharaoh, He began to do so through a series of intense plagues. By doing this, God demonstrated that He, alone, is the ultimate authority over all creation and over all the false gods of the Egyptians.
The text in Exodus states that through the plagues, the Lord “hardened” Pharaoh’s heart. It was clear from the start that Pharaoh’s heart was already quite hard towards the Israelite slaves, as he had harshly increased their work burdens the first time they requested time off from their labor to worship Almighty God. Pharaoh and the Egyptians worshiped many gods, and they had no regard this new One. The hardness of Pharaoh’s heart would only increase with each successive plague God sent his way, until finally his defiance broke on the night of the tenth plague, the Passover.
The Passover is a night of both freedom and judgment. It resulted in the death of all the first born of Egypt, from Pharaoh’s palace to the most humble household, leading to their surrender and complete freedom from slavery for God’s people. Hundreds of years later, Jesus would celebrate the Passover with his disciples during the Last Supper, which symbolized His own death as God’s only begotten Son who would bring eternal freedom to all those who believe in Him.
Throughout the Bible, the sanctity of blood is emphasized. We are told that life of both people and animals is in their blood. To honor the scripture, Jewish law states that any kosher food source must be drained and the blood not eaten. Blood was also splashed upon the altar during Old Testament sacrifices as a cleansing for sin, making them holy in God’s sight. Hebrews 9:22 tells us that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission (or forgiveness) of sins.
To avoid God’s judgment in Egypt during the night of the first Passover, it was necessary for the Israelites to take the blood of an innocent lamb and spread it upon both sides and the top of the doorposts at the entry door of the house. In a sense, this blood covering was representative of the shape of a cross, foreshadowing and pointing to the future sacrifice of Jesus. When the angel of death came by each homes’ entrance that Egyptian midnight, it would “pass over” the house if it saw the blood on the doorposts. If this faithful sacrifice was not in evidence, God’s judgment was imposed upon the household.
Similarly, when the time of our own death comes, God will look for the sacrifice of Jesus’ cross covering our lives. With the blood of Christ as our covering, all the judgment for our sins has been placed upon Him, and the punishment that we deserve will “pass over” us as we are made worthy to reside in God’s eternal presence.
We need not understand everything about the necessity of a blood covering in order to know that God is serious about it. With the first Passover lamb in Egypt as well as at the Passover supper of the Lamb of God at Holy Communion, the Lord testifies to the gravity of and need for this sacrifice in order to bring each of us to a freedom from judgment. Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection have lovingly provided for us the way to live eternally with Him. In our faithful surrender to Christ we experience a “Passover” from death to life.
Have you made peace with God through the Passover lamb of Jesus Christ? If not, I encourage you to invite him into your heart today. He loves you deeply.
In Christ, we will still face trials and tribulations, but we are free from sin judgment.
We may fall short in our desire to obey Him, but we are free to turn to Him for forgiveness, turn away from our sin, and to again experience the joy of His presence and fellowship with us. He then wants us to share with others the same grace and forgiveness that we have received.
Lord Jesus, we turn to You for complete forgiveness and freedom from our sins today. We rely upon Your grace and mercy, extended to us through Your loving sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead. May You be praised and glorified forever. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.