The Passover Lamb

Now during the day He was teaching in the temple, but during the night He would go out and spend it on the mount called “of Olives.” And all the people would get up early in the morning to come to Him in the temple to listen to Him.

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was drawing near. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people.

And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, who belonged to the number of the twelve. And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad and agreed to give him money. So he consented, and began seeking a good opportunity to betray Him to them apart from the crowd.
Luke 29:37-30:6 LSB

By Wednesday the Sanhedrin is plotting to find a way to kill Jesus. Matthew and Mark record that they wanted to do it after Passover because they were afraid the crowds would riot. Thomas and Gundry write:

“Their schedule of action was accelerated, however, when they received an unexpected offer of cooperation from one of the twelve…This enabled them to arrest Jesus privately…In this way God’s predetermined schedule for the Lamb of God to be slain on the Passover, and not after, (Matt. 26:2) was kept.”1

The Signs on the Door

Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever.”
Exodus 12:21–24

Exodus 11–12 describes the last of the ten plagues that God brought upon Egypt. The final plague is also the best known of the ten—the death of the firstborn of both people and cattle.

“For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the LORD.”
Exodus 12:12

In Exodus 11 and 12, God gave explicit instructions for the first Passover: the Hebrews were to put the blood of a slain, unblemished male lamb on the two doorposts and lintel of their homes.

The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and 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.”
Exodus 12:13

Now it came about at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle.

Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead.
Exodus 12:29–30

It is no coincidence that Jesus’ crucifixion took place at Passover, because the Passover lamb of Exodus was a type of Jesus Christ. Indeed, John the Baptist calls Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the Apostle Paul calls Jesus our Passover Lamb, and in Revelation Jesus is called the Lamb twenty-seven times!

If you’re unfamiliar with the terms type and antitype, Edmund Clowney explains them as anticipations of God’s final salvation in Christ in his discussion of Peter’s reference to Noah in 1 Peter 3:

“Peter continues to relate the time of Noah to that of the church by appealing to typology. The inspired authors of the New Testament find in the Old Testament history not merely instances of God’s saving power, but also anticipations of his final salvation in Christ. By providing the ark, God saved Noah and his family from the judgment of the flood. That deliverance, however, did not in itself give eternal life to the eight persons that were spared. Like the exodus liberation, it was a symbol of God’s final salvation from all sin and death. Peter uses the term ‘antitype’ to describe the relation of the new to the old. (3:21; NIV’s verb symbolizes translates the Greek noun antitypos). This use of ‘type’ and ‘antitype’ is itself figurative, drawn from the striking of coins or the impression of seals. ‘Type’ describes either a matrix from which an impression is made or an image created. In the letter to the Hebrews, the typology is vertical. That is, the heavenly realities are called the ‘type’ and the earthly symbolizes the ‘antitype’. The tabernacle in the wilderness was therefore the antitype of the heavenly sanctuary. In Paul’s letters and here in 1 Peter, the typology is horizontal in history: the Old Testament is the type, and therefore Christ’s fulfillment is the antitype.”2

The Passover lamb anticipated the Lamb of God. The Passover lamb was slain so that God would pass over the people of a house marked with blood and not visit them with a judgment of death. This week we remember the death of the Lord Jesus for His people and celebrate His Resurrection. God passes over those who believe in His Son and does not visit us with the judgment we deserve for our sins because Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb, was slain for us.

On the next day, he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
John 1:29 LEB

Agnus Dei

James Tissot, The Signs on the Door.
J. M. W. Turner, First Born Plague
Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Death of the Pharaoh’s firstborn son (Ex. 12:29).
Francisco de Zurbarán, Agnus Dei.
LSB: Legacy Standard Bible New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs (Steadfast Bibles, Irvine CA: 2021).
1Robert L. Thomas and Stanley N. Gundry, A Harmony of the Gospels (HarperSanFrancisco: 1978) 205.
2Edmund Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1988) 164–165.

Copyright ©2014–2022 Iwana Carpenter

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