The phrase, “Lamb of God,” has become a part of our Christian lingo. John the Baptist, as he sees Jesus walking toward him says, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). In the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, a passage sometimes called the Gospel in the Old Testament, describing the Messiah, the prophet writes, “Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). This was the passage that the Ethiopian eunuch was reading when Philip preached Jesus to him. (Acts 8:32-35) The book of Revelation uses “Lamb” to describe Jesus more than thirty times. Jesus and “Lamb” are intrinsically connected and the significance of that connection is Passover.
In Exodus 12, the story of the first Passover begins with instructions regarding a lamb. “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household’” (Exodus 12:3). The instruction is that a lamb is taken into each household on the tenth day of the first month, which is the Hebrew month of Nisan. Imagine what this first Passover might have looked like more than three thousand years ago. It’s the tenth of Nisan and the family is together in their dwelling, a mother and three children, perhaps between five and ten years old. Then the Papa, the head of that family unit, the head of that little community, brings into the family dwelling a little lamb. The children go bonkers. They squeal with delight as this new member of the family, their new family pet, settles in to become part of that community. The Papa on the other hand is very somber. He knows what is in store for this new member of the community. Remember what Exodus 12:6 said? “You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.”
John 12 can be seen in a very real sense as a parallel to Exodus 12, the first Passover. The tenth of Nisan, the day the lamb is selected and brought into the community, is the day Jesus enters Jerusalem, presenting himself as the King Messiah and ultimately as the Lamb of God. John describes the scene in John 12:12-15: “On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion, behold, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” Just as the first Passover lamb is brought into each household, each community to be examined to make sure he was as he was supposed to be, perfect, spotless, without blemish, so also Jesus came into the house of Israel and he would be examined over the next four days to see if he indeed was who and what he was supposed to be.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is the fulfillment of Passover. Like the first Passover lamb who redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt, Jesus’ death on the cross, on Passover, has redeemed us from slavery to sin. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed,” and just like that first Passover it was very personal. Just as the Israelites at the first Passover had to personally apply the blood of the Lamb to the doorposts of their houses, so also each individual now needs to personally apply the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God to the doorposts of their hearts. Have you made Passover personal? I pray that you have.
Dr. Rich Freeman is Vice President of Chosen People Ministries. chosenpeople.com.