Exodus 12:21-27 (NIV) 21Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down. 24“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’ ” Then the people bowed down and worshiped.
John 1:29-36 (NIV) 29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” 35The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
The Passover celebration, instituted by God in Exodus 12, is one of the most significant events in the Hebrew calendar. It memorializes how God spared His people from His judgment of the Egyptians. It also marked the beginning of Israel’s journey from slavery towards the promised land God had prepared for them. And the entire celebration centres around the blood of a lamb.
Animal sacrifice did not begin with Passover. This act of worship appears frequently in the book of Genesis. But Passover institutes the sacrificial system for the people of Israel as a whole. To be spared from death, the oldest member of each family had to find shelter in a place where the blood of a lamb had been applied to the doorway. No alternative way of avoiding God’s wrath existed. The lambs had to die so that the children of Israel might live. And this annual celebration became a legal requirement for God’s people, memorializing His salvation and deliverance for all future generations.
Hundreds of years later, two firstborn children of Israel met by the Jordan River. John the Baptist, the oldest son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, saw his cousin Jesus and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” It turns out that Passover was not the end of the story but the beginning. Passover merely foreshadowed God’s bigger plan, that all who are covered by the blood of the Lamb would be spared from God’s wrath.
Passover was a celebration of preparation, much like Christmas is. The Israelites ate the meal dressed for travel, with their shoes on their feet. As you prepare for the holidays, do you have any baggage you need to get rid of? Is worry, fear or busyness preventing you from fully experiencing God’s blessing? As you begin your week, think about how you need to rearrange your schedule to focus on what is most important. Ask God to show you if any areas of your life are outside of His protection – beyond the limits of what pleases Him and brings honour to His name. Remember that doing too many good things often prevents you from focusing on what is best.
Memory Verse: Revelation 5:12b (NIV)
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”