CHRIST, OUR PASSOVER
If an event occurred of such great importance that you wanted it to always be remembered
by every generation, what could you do to make that event unforgettable? Let's suppose your
grandfather and grandmother just married before the Second World War began, and they were
citizens of Poland. Both of them were only Children. When the German army invaded and
crushed Poland, all members of their families were killed, and they were sent to a death camp in
Germany. They were the only two living members of their families, and they knew that they were
in the camp to die.
For reasons they have never known, an unknown person of high rank created a way for
them to escape the death camp and to make it to the allied forces, which sent them to America,
where in time they became citizens. Without that incredible escape, their families would have
ceased to exist. Every descendant in their family will literally owe their existence to that escape.
So they are determined that every descendant of theirs in all generations will know and remember
that escape, will know and will remember that they owe their existence to that escape.
How would you accomplish that? How could you create such a powerful remembrance?
How could you pass it down from generation to generation? What about an annual family
reunion where the story is told each year? Can't you hear the third generation saying, "I don't
want to go and be with those strangers and listen to that same boring story one more time?"
What about a book? Who would print it, who would distribute it, and who would read it?
How could you do it? Someone says, "What you need to do is to establish a memorial
practice. At the same time each year, all descendants need to do the same thing at the same time
and teach their own family about the escape. "Do you think that would do it?"
There is a fact that I have noticed about memorials. I wonder if you have noticed that
same fact. As long as people are living whose lives actually touched the events or the people of
the events, the gratitude is alive and strong. But one generation later the significance of the
memorial begins to fade. It is then easy for the memorial to become a ritual without meaning. In
time, it is easy for the meaningless ritual to become a habit, then a neglected habit.
There have been two things God wanted His people to remember in every generation.
God literally wanted His people to be unable to forget both things. (a) God never wanted Israel to
forget their release from Egyptian slavery. (b) God never wanted Christians to forget the death of
Jesus. In His desire to make both unforgettable, God established a memorial to each. This
morning I want you to consider the parallel between both of those memorials.
- The Passover was God's established memorial to forever remind Israel that He by His power
delivered them from slavery and made them a nation.
- Exodus 12:1-49 contains God's instructions which prepared Israel to observe the first
Passover feast the very night that they would be freed from Egypt.
- That very day was used to mark and determine the first day of the Jewish calendar.
- Literally, the way the Israelite people were to begin every new year was by
remembering God's deliverance from Egyptian bondage.
- The night of the Passover feast marked the beginning of their freedom, the
beginning of their becoming a nation, and the beginning of their calendar.
- Before that first Passover night, God had already performed 9 mighty acts in Egypt
which showed His great love for Israel and His great dissatisfaction with Egypt.
- The night of the Passover feast was to be the occasion of the 10th and most
devastating act of God.
- God Himself was going to pass over Egypt and kill the firstborn male of every
family and of all the livestock.
- Every Egyptian family simultaneously would experience grief that night.
- However, every Israelite family would be protected from this death event by
properly observing the Passover meal.
- The families who did precisely as God instructed them would be protected from
- What were these preparations which had to be observed?
- Every family was to kill a year old lamb or goat at twilight that day. (12:3-5)
- They were to take some of the blood of the sacrifice and smear it on both the sides
and the top of the doorframe. (12:7)
- They were to roast the whole lamb--feet, head, and entrails intact, and to eat the
roasted lamb with unleavened bread and bitter vegetables. (12:8,9)
- They were to eat the entire lamb that evening--what they could not eat, they were
to burn. (12:10).
- They were to eat it fully clothed, sandals on, walking staff at their side--prepared
to travel at a moment's notice, and they were to eat quickly. (12:11).
- It would be after they smeared the blood on the doorframe and while they were eating that God would pass over Egypt.
- Every house which did not have the blood on the doorframe would suffer the death
of the firstborn male of the family and their livestock.
- Every house which did have the blood on the doorframe would experience no
- Every year thereafter on this same night, all Israelites would again eat the same type of
meal which was eaten that evening when God passed over Egypt and brought death to
all the firstborn Egyptian males. (12:14).
- Then the next seven days would be days of unleavened bread.
- In the future, all yeast was to be removed from their houses for those seven days.
- If an Israelite ate yeast in this period, he was to be cast out of the nation (12:15,19)
- The only work that was permitted in these seven days was work essential to
maintaining life. (12:16).
- Repeatedly, the seriousness of keeping the Passover as a continual memorial to Israel's
deliverance is stressed in clear, certain terms.
- It must be kept every year! (Exodus 23:15-18; 34:18; Numbers 9:2-5)
- They must not eat leavened bread! (Exodus 12:8; 15-20; 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:3)
- If a ceremonially clean Israelite did not keep the Passover, he was to be cut off from
the nation. (Numbers 9:13)
- If an Israelite ate leavened bread in this week, he or she was to be cut off from the
- Some of Israel's most important and powerful understandings were rooted in that first
Passover night in Egypt.
- The Passover feast was a reminder of the night God passed over their homes and set
- The bitter vegetables reminded them of the bitterness of their lives in slavery,
(Mishnah, Pesahim, 10:5)
- The unleavened bread reminded them of how quickly they had to flee, and of the day
and night flight from Pharaoh's army in the wilderness--it was the bread of affliction
- Thereafter all firstborn males born of their livestock and their children belonged to
God, because God had spared all the firstborn of Israel the night he passed over Egypt.
- Listen to the declared purpose of this feast for future generations as given in Exodus
12:24-27: And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children
forever. And it will come about when you enter the land which the Lord will give you, as
He has promised, that you shall observe this rite. And it will come about when your
children will say to you, "What does this rite mean to you?" that you shall say, "It is a
Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt
when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes."
- The first thing Israel did when it crossed the Jordan River into Canaan and set up
camp was to circumcise all the uncircumcised men of Israel and thereby renew their
covenant with God. (Joshua 5:2-9)
- The second thing they did was observe the feast of the Passover. (Joshua 5:10-12)
- The feast of the Passover reminded Israel of many things:
- It reminded them of how much God loved them.
- It reminded them that God, not themselves, had given them deliverance from slavery.
- It reminded them of how desperate their situation in Egypt had been.
- It reminded them that they were a nation, that they had freedom, that they had
prosperity, and that they had a country only through the goodness and help of God.
- It reminded them that they were totally dependent on God for all they were and all they
- In Scripture, there is a clear association between the Jewish Passover and the death of
Jesus on the cross.
- Consider the parallels.
- The Israelites were in slavery in Egypt---the world was in slavery to sin.
- The Israelites sacrificed an unblemished lamb to create the means to escape death;
God sacrificed his unblemished Son to create the means of our escaping spiritual
- The blood of the Passover lamb successfully protected them from physical death--the
blood of Jesus successfully protects us from spiritual death.
- The Passover night gave Israel their freedom--the death of Jesus on the cross gave us
- Israel's deliverance from Egypt was fashioned by God through blood and death--our
deliverance from sin was fashioned by God through blood and death.
- Israel was given a memorial feast to observe so that they would never forget the
Passover event--we are given a memorial feast to keep to forever remind us of the
crucifixion, the Lord's Supper.
- Israel was to keep the Passover with clear memory and understanding of what God did
for them--we are to keep the Lord's Supper with clear memory and understanding of
what God did for us.
- If an Israelite abused or neglected the Passover, he cut himself off from Israel--if we
abuse or neglect the Lord's Supper, we cut ourselves off from the family of God.
- This strong relationship between the Passover and the crucifixion of Jesus is no mere
- Matthew, Mark, and Luke state that Jesus was eating the Passover with His disciples
when Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper. (Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke
- The only reason that we use unleavened bread when we take communion is because
we know unleavened bread was used in the Passover meal.
- John 18:28 states that Jesus died on the afternoon the Passover lambs were being
slaughtered in preparation for the Passover meal.
- As all Israel were offering their lambs in remembrance of God freeing them from
Egypt, God was offering His lamb freeing the world from sin.
- Years later Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:7, Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.
- I want you to focus carefully on an essential truth.
- When an Israelite family gathered in the evening on that appointed day to eat the
Passover meal, what was to be the meaning, the significance of that occasion to the
- It was the declaration, "I am an Israelite, a member of that earthly nation which
God Himself freed from Egyptian slavery."
- "I am a member of the nation and people of God."
- "By the goodness and love of God, I have a special relationship with God and with
all who have accepted His deliverance."
- "All who were delivered, all who keep this feast this night are my family--we are
brothers together in Israel."
- "We are a people of divine purpose and divine destiny."
- The Passover was intended by God to bind Israelites together as a nation, as a
people, as God's own community.
- When a congregation of Christians gather together on Sunday, the day Jesus rose from
the dead, and together take the Lord's Supper, what is to be the meaning, the
significance of this occasion to each individual Christian?
- It is the declaration, "I am a Christian, member of the spiritual nation which God has
freed from the slavery of sin."
- "I am a member of the spiritual nation and people of God."
- "By the grace and love of God, I have a special relationship with God and with all
who have accepted His deliverance."
- "All who have been delivered from sin, all who partake of this communion are my
family--brothers and sisters together in Christ."
- "We are a people of divine purpose and divine destiny."
- The Lord's Supper by God's intent is to bind Christians together as a spiritual
nation, as a people, and as God's own community.
- Listen carefully:
- Matthew 26:26-28--And while they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a
blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat this is My body."
And He took a cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, "Drink from it, all of
you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is to be shed on behalf of many for
forgiveness of sins."
- 1 Corinthians 11:20-30 (read)
- Every Sunday when we take communion, the Lord's Supper is to remind us of many
- It reminds us of how much God loves us.
- It reminds us that God, not our lives and actions, has delivered us from the slavery of
- It reminds us of how desperate our situation in sin had been.
- It reminds us that we are God's spiritual kingdom, we are free, we have every spiritual
blessing, and we have heaven as our home only through the goodness and help of God.
- It reminds us that spiritually we are totally dependent on God for all we have and all
By the design and intent of God, it is the memorial of the Lord's Supper which is to bind
us together as God's people and God's family; it is the Lord's Supper which gives us the greatest
of all reasons for loving each other.
May God have mercy on that Christian who makes the Lord's Supper a meaningless ritual,
who eats a bit of cracker and sips a bit of juice to do his religious duty. The failure of many to
understand the meaning of communion still results in some being spiritually weak, some spiritually
sick, and some spiritually dead.
transcribed by Christy Hesslen
EXALTING CHRIST, Chapter One
Preface Chapter Two
table of contents
Copyright © 1992, David Chadwell
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