Article: Jesus the Passover Lamb

Last Sunday we heard the story of Jesus coming to Jerusalem.

Jesus didn’t live in Jerusalem, but he spent the final week of his life in the capital city of Israel.

It was customary to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover during the time of Jesus. Passover is the primary covenant between God and his chosen people. The Passover covenant originated in Egypt when the Israelites were slaves and God set them free.

Artwork by Alex Levin.

Every year since the time of Moses the people of Israel celebrate the Passover and remember God’s faithful promise to free the children of Israel from bondage.

Jesus appears to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, but he knows something else is going to happen. He even says so… multiple times.

  1. From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Matthew 16:21

  2. When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief. Matthew 17:22

  3. Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” Matthew 20:17-19

Jesus knew why he was going to Jerusalem and it wasn’t only to celebrate the Passover. He came to die.

In the celebration of the first Passover in Egypt (found in Exodus 12), God commanded the people to sacrifice a lamb to eat and smear the blood of the lamb on the doorposts as a sacrifice to God. Those who carried out that command were released from slavery and eventually made their way home to the Promised Land.

Jesus symbolically became the new Passover lamb. On the night of Passover, Jesus instituted Holy Communion that establishes a new covenant rooted in the blood that he will shed on the cross.

The covenant of Jesus frees us from the bondage of sin.

When Jesus died on Good Friday, his atoning sacrifice was complete and those who trust in him are forgiven and set free to be the people of God. As forgiven children of God, we can eventually make our way home to heaven where Jesus awaits our arrival.

God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. Romans 3:25

At the very beginning of Jesus’ public life, John the Baptist already knew that Jesus would become a Passover lamb for those who trusted him.

The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

We are free because Jesus took on the burdens that weigh us down.

God bless you,
Pr. Ben