Jack Graham - Christ Our Passover
Let me invite you to take God's Word now and turn with me to the book of Exodus, the twelfth chapter, Exodus chapter 12. And once again we are going to remember the Gospel of God and reflect upon the depths of this good news in Christ. The twelfth chapter of Exodus gives us a dramatic presentation of God's Gospel. it contains a clear type, a prototype, if you will, of our redemption in Christ provided by the blood of the Lamb. Now in the Bible Egypt is a picture of the world and the world system. Pharaoh's a symbol of Satan himself. And the bondage, of course, represents the bondage of sin. So you have a vivid picture here, don't you, of the world, the flesh and the devil, and how mankind is in bondage, enslaved there. The children of Israel cried out to God and God heard their cries. But they waited and they waited and they waited and no deliverance came until the day God raised up Moses on the backside of the desert and sent him to Pharaoh to say, "Let My people go".
I want to remind you that God hears your cry today. You may find yourself struggling. You may find yourself in darkness. You may find yourself in a deep pit, in a hole, and you wonder if there's a way out. And you've cried out to God again and again. I want to promise you the same God who heard the cry of Israel hears your cry today. He loves you and He's a personal God who knows your heart and knows your need. Cry out to Him! So those Israelites waiting on the promise of God were patient and persevered. God sent His servant Moses before Pharaoh and demanded and commanded that the people of Israel, the children of Israel be released. And God gave Pharaoh an opportunity to do just that, to repent and respond to His message. But Pharaoh continued to harden his heart again and again and again!
So God, because of the hardness of the Egyptian's hearts sent them shock and awe by a series of plagues, wondrous judgments that came upon the Egyptians in the land of Egypt. They were thunderstruck by these judgment miracles. And just to review them quickly: first came water that turned to blood in all of Egypt. Can you imagine the stench and the wretchedness? And then there were frogs everywhere: in their cereal, in their coffee, their tea. Frogs! And then came the plague of gnats. Now that's one of the big questions in life. You know, when we get to heaven and we say, "Lord, what about this? What about evil and suffering? What about the devil? Why didn't you kill the devil"? Maybe some people want to ask God, "God, why were there gnats"? I don't know. I'm sure it has something to do with the ecological system in some way, but these gnats then infested. And then there were flies, filthy flies everywhere. Then the fifth judgment came as the death of the livestock in Exodus chapter 9. You can read of all these plagues, it's wonderful dinner conversation in 7, 8, 9 and 10 of Exodus. But then came boils on the bodies of the Egyptians.
And let me just pause to say that all of these plagues afflicted the child, the the Egyptians and not the Israelites. The Israelites were protected and preserved. They lived in the land of Goshen and they were not judged by these plagues. These plagues came upon the Egyptians and their households. Boils, and then came hail and then came locust. And then the ninth plague was a terrible plague: it was darkness so deep you couldn't see your hand in front of your face! Midnight darkness! Verse 12 of Exodus chapter 12 tells us that all of these judgments were direct hits upon the Egyptian deities, these idols and gods that they worshipped. This last one in particular, the darkness. They worshipped in Egypt the god of Ra, the sun god. So when God took the sun out for days there was darkness, they realized that there was only one God who was great and all powerful and He is the Lord God Almighty. But after this Pharaoh still rejected God's word, so God is about to send one final, dreadful, terrible, horrible judgment which would be the death of the firstborn sons who lived in all of Egypt.
Now in this case... Now listen up, this is important! This was universal in Egypt. While the other plagues were inflicted upon the Egyptians only, this judgment would come upon the firstborn in all of Egypt, including the slaves who lived there, the Israelites who lived there. Look in Exodus 11, the fourth verse and following: "So Moses said, 'Thus says the Lord: About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle.'" And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again.
A judgment upon the firstborn, and yet in the midst of this darkness and the plague of death that is to come, God made provision for all who would believe, and in particular His people, now numbering over 2 million living there. We find good news! We find God's Gospel in the midst of this judgment in Egypt! From the beginning God has been saying without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin! That the only way that we could be redeemed is by the blood of another! And God conditioned mankind to receive this message by the sacrifice of these animals, and specifically the lamb.
Maybe you wonder when you read the Bible: "Why so much blood, for goodness sake? Why all of this blood"? Because God was preparing the world for the Passover Lamb, the perfect Passover Lamb, the Savior of the world, Christ, our Passover. And He does it through a lamb. The lamb was required because the people were facing judgment. They were enslaved and needed to be emancipated. The firstborn would die. Imagine, if you have a firstborn son, hearing the word that your son was to die! I can't imagine that fear, the horror of that! But you know in a spiritual sense it is by our first birth that we all die? By our first birth God rejects the first birth. You may say, "Well, my first birth was pretty good. Wealthy family, good upbringing, religious family! Had a lot of gifts and talents and money growing up! First birth was good"! Not in God's eyes spiritually. The first birth demands a second birth. Jesus said, "You must be born again".
And by the way, the Passover is always called in the Bible "the Lord's Passover". It is God's Passover. This is not man achieving his own deliverance, but it is what God has done. God in His grace and His mercy chose to provide a way to passover in judgment. How? The lamb is chosen. Look in verse 5 of Exodus chapter 12: "Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. A lamb without spot or without blemish". In other words, the lamb was to be selected and scrutinized. Not just any lamb, but the best that you could find! One that is chosen and pure and is perfect as you can get it!
First Peter chapter 1, verse 19 tells us about Jesus. That He was a Lamb without blemish or spot; that we are saved, then, by the precious blood of Christ. When Jesus walked among men He was tested, He was questioned constantly, He was evaluated, He was scrutinized, He was studied. Because He was the Lamb of God everyone was looking at Him to see if He was the One that God had promised. And yet while His own rejected Him, God accepted Him, and the Father said, "This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased". Even when Pilate judged Him on the day of His death, Pilate said, "I find no fault in this man". Even the one who betrayed Him, Judas, the disciple who betrayed Him said, "I have betrayed innocent blood". Even the devils in hell know that God's Son is pure! The pure and perfect Lamb of God; that He is without sin! Jesus Himself said, "Who among you can accuse Me of sin"? No wonder the Bible says, "For our sake He was made sin for us Who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God". Or this in 1 Peter 2:22 "He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth". Or this one: "You know that He appeared to take away sins and in Him there is no sins".
You say, "Is this important"? It is essentially important. If Jesus had committed sin He could not have become our Savior. He could not be the pure and perfect Lamb of God. It is in the sinlessness of Christ that God has provided a pure and perfect Lamb, a chosen Lamb. In fact, chosen before the foundation of the world! Picked and prepared by God Himself! You've heard me say many, many times that Jesus was not an accident or a victim of His circumstances, but He was the Lamb of God given by God, and giving Himself, voluntarily laying down His life for us. He is a chosen Lamb. But not only notice that the Lamb is chosen, but the Lamb is condemned. Look in verses 6 and 7 of Exodus 12: "And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. Then they shall take some of the blood and put on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat".
The lamb was not to be just admired or studied or examined or imitated. The lamb was chosen to be condemned. When the Israelites picked the lamb it was a lamb to be slain. For four days the lamb would live in the household of the Israelites. This was the provision of the Passover. Take the lamb, bring the lamb into your household. It was in that sense to be identified with the family. In one sense it became a kind of family pet. I don't know about you, if you give your kids a puppy for Christmas and try to take it away from them in four days, you got a problem. But for four days they attached themselves to this lamb and identified with this lamb, becoming a part of the family. But the lamb was condemned because the lamb was, a living lamb could not save. The lamb was to die so that the blood could be spilled and that the blood could be put on the doorposts of the house.
Remember, we're not saved by learning lessons from the life of Christ, as beautiful and as wonderful His life was and is, we're not saved by His life; we are saved by His death, by receiving life from His death. So the lamb must be slain. Now forward thousands of years to the Last Supper. When our Savior Jesus is observing, yes, the Passover one final time with His disciples. It's an upper room, it's sundown, about 6 o'clock. And in Luke 22, verse 19: "Jesus took the 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.'" By the day of Jesus a custom among the Jews, a tradition among the Jews in the Passover had developed in the breaking of the bread. They would take a loaf, the master of the feast, and break it from both ends and then take the middle piece and serve it.
Remember when Jesus walked with those disciples along the road to Emmaus after His resurrection, and we are told that they recognized Him in the breaking of the bread. It's always fascinating to me because there must have been something in the way that our Lord broke the bread. Until that moment they didn't know who He was in His glorified state, and somehow their eyes were blinded by their tears and their disappointment that Christ had died. They didn't know that He had been raised from the dead. But in the breaking of the bread, so that night Jesus broke the bread and most likely as is the custom took the middle portion and many Bible scholars believe that that is a powerful picture of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the three pieces, with the middle piece being the Son of God. So He would have taken that middle piece and broke it and then gave it to the disciples.
And then in Luke 22, verse 20: "And likewise the cup, after they had eaten, saying, 'This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.'" Another tradition that took place through the generations of Jews is that they would set a chair at the table that was known as the Messiah's chair, and set a plate and a cup which was the Messiah's cup and plate, in anticipation of the One who would come and deliver them! And so Jesus would have taken the Messiah's cup because He is the Messiah. And from that cup served His disciples the fruit of the vine. And from there Jesus took the cup to Jerusalem, to Gethsemane, rather, for He prayed with blood-sweat drops, "Father, if there be any way let this cup pass from Me". It was the sin of the world in that cup, yours and mine. What was breaking and distressing the body and the heart of Jesus there in the garden was the weight of our sin.
When you read this entire account of the Lamb of God being slain from the foundation of the world and for our sins. Don't feel sorry for Jesus; feel sorry that it was our sins that crushed Him! We should repent of our sins because our sins crushed Him and broke Him and bloodied Him! From there in the garden He was arrested and tried overnight and into the day. By 9 AM the next morning he was carrying the cross to Calvary to Mount Moriah, to Golgotha. There he was nailed and crucified. And about 3 o'clock in the afternoon He cried out "Tetelestai, it is finished"! And in the same hour that Jesus was crying out, "It is finished" the Passover lambs all across the households of Israel were being slain. That moment Jesus, the final and fully the Passover Lamb, had died. And the sacrifice was done. The lamb is condemned, but the lamb is to be confessed.
Look at verse 7 of Exodus 12: "Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. And take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning". And at the Passover the blood then was applied to the doorposts as even in a cross with the hyssop. Verse 13 says: "The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see", mark this in your Bibles, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt".
The blood of the Lamb must be confessed. That is, it is to be appropriated and applied! They took it and put it on the front door. If an Israelite had put it on the back door, he and his household would have been condemned. The firstborn would have died. The destroyer would have come. Had he put the blood inside on a closet, same is true, death would come! He could have decorated his front porch with lights and candles and diamonds and gold and the death of the angel would come. But if they put the blood in the wide open, on the front of the door to say this is a household of faith. We believe our God. Application. The blood must be applied. You must receive. You must believe the blood of Christ, receive Him as your Savior and openly confess it. Always openly confess it. Put it wide open on the front door where everyone can see your faith.
"If we confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead, we will be saved". Jesus said, "If you confess Me before men, I will confess you before the Father in heaven. But if you do not confess Me before men neither will I confess you when I come with My holy angels". Confess Christ openly! Make your confession public and follow Him! And then finally the Lamb is celebrated. Look at verse 14: "This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast". The people are now feasting upon this lamb. The lamb that is slain becomes their meal. And in this sense not only do we confess the Lamb because of His blood and sacrifice, but we possess the Lamb. We eat of His flesh and drink of His blood spiritually. We contain the Lamb! We ingest Him into our lives. The Lamb lives in us!
First Corinthians 5:8: "Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleaven bread of sincerity and truth". Are you a sincere believer? Do you truthfully follow Christ? Before you drink of this cup and eat of this bread examine your heart, as Paul said: "Let every person examine himself". Are you sincerely and truthfully a follower of the Lamb? Or 1 Corinthians 10:16: "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not the participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ"? We celebrate and consecrate ourselves before God today. We share His love and His life together. The Lord's Supper, like Passover, is both a feast and it is a fellowship! We are sharing Jesus together today! Therefore we say worship Him! Worthy is the Lamb! Worthy is the Lamb!
Revelation 5:11: "Then I looked, and I heard around the throne (This is future tense) and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb.'" The Lamb will be celebrated therefore, throughout all eternity! We will never ever get over what Christ has done for us! "Worthy is the Lamb"! They are saying it with a loud voice. If you don't like church loud, you're not going to like heaven very much. There's a time to be quiet; there's a time to praise! "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing"! The Lamb that is chosen, the Lamb that is condemned is now celebrated because the Lamb reigns. "There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins. And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains".