April 22, 2016
Passover – The First and Most Important of the Jewish Feasts

In the Scriptures, we find more than 40 references to God delivering His Chosen People from their bondage in Egypt—a retelling of the story of His power defeating their enemies through the plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea. This powerful demonstration of God at work in the world was one that He wanted His people to remember, and that is just as true for us as it was for the Children of Israel in Old Testament days. When God commanded Moses to institute seven annual observances for the Jewish people, the first and most important and Messianic of all of them was the Feast of Passover. While each of the Feasts has lessons for us regarding the life and work of Jesus, the Passover is particularly clear in this regard. This annual celebration marks the beginning of the religious year on the Jewish calendar and is a reminder of the deliverance of the Children of Israel from bondage in Egypt. The first Passover meal was held on the night of thetenth and final plague in the days of Moses. Despite all the plagues that had already brought pain and suffering on so much of his country, Pharaoh continued to refuse to let the Israelites leave their slavery and servitude. The final plague would be devastating to the land—the death of all of the firstborn.
To ensure that their firstborn would not be slain, the Israelites were commanded to kill a lamb and place its blood on the doors of their homes. Those homes with blood on the door would be passed over, and death would not enter. There must have been an enormous amount of fear and confusion that first night as the Israelites ate their meal. When Pharaoh realized the extent of the destruction Egypt had suffered because of his obstinacy, he finally allowed the Israelites to leave. Soon, he would change his mind and pursue them to the Red Sea where the Egyptian army was drowned in the waters that had been parted for the Israelites to escape. The God of Israel had demonstrated conclusively that He was the one true God—and He did not want His people to ever forget it. That is why He commanded Moses that a Passover meal be held each year “throughout your generations.” Each time the Israelites observed the Passover, they would be reminded that their God had heard and answered their prayers and delivered them from slavery. Their hearts were to be filled with gratitude that God had worked in such a miraculous way, not only freeing them, but also sparing their children from death. But there is much more to the Passover. It does not just look back to the Exodus; it also looks forward to the coming of the Messiah. In a sermon on the Passover, the great theologian Charles Spurgeon said, “We commence, first of all, with the lamb. How fine a picture of Christ. No other creature could so well have typified Him who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. Being also the emblem of sacrifice, it most sweetly portrayed our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A child would at once perceive the likeness between a lamb and Jesus Christ, so gentle and innocent, so mild and harmless, neither hurting others, nor seeming to have the power to resent an injury.” When Jesus went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist, the evangelist described him this way: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus ate the Last Supper—the Passover meal—with His disciples in the Upper Room. Despite knowing all that was about to happen, Jesus said, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). The symbolism of the meal was not fully realized that night by the disciples. Even though Jesus pointed out that the bread and wine represented His body and His blood, and though He had told them He would be killed, they had not really grasped what was about to happen. It was only later that they understood the significance of that last Passover meal with the Savior. Since that time, Christian churches have observed communion in remembrance of what Jesus did and said during that Passover meal. The Apostle Paul gave this instruction to the church at Corinth: “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). This year Passover will be observed beginning on the evening of April 22nd. The importance of this special celebration has not been diminished by the passing of time. All of us need to be reminded of the great work of God in delivering us from
the bondage of sin through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, His Son, and the promise that He will one day return.

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