Let us go back in time, well before the birth of Christ, to a time when the Israelites were slaves to the empire of the Egyptians, to the time known as the Exodus, to a time when God through a series of plagues and miracles set his chosen people free from the oppression and tyranny that stood over them like a dark cloud.

 

It was not the miracles that set the captives free but it was blood that set them free.  Let me explain:

 

Exodus 12:21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in the basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to strike down the Egyptians; when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down.

 

This event prefigures the one we recall today – the death of Jesus Christ.

 

Let me just pick a few features.

 

1)      First the hyssop

 

Exodus 12:22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in the basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning.

 

[demonstrate]

 

And in the crucifixion of Christ, a mirror:

 

John 19:29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

2)      unbroken Bones

In Exodus 12:46

46 [the Passover lamb] shall be eaten in one house; you shall not break any of its bones.

And in the crucifixion of Christ, a mirror:

John 19:31 Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.

3)      Thirdly the protection by the spilling of blood

In Exodus 12:23

For the Lord will pass through to strike down the Egyptians; when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down.

And at the crucifixion, a mirror

John 19:34 one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.

And from Jesus in the Last Supper:

John 6:53 "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you.

It is the blood which covers. It is the blood which protects. It is the blood that transforms.

The destroying angel passed over the houses marked with the blood of the Paschal Lamb, so the wrath of God passes over those whose souls sprinkled with the blood of Christ.  As the paschal lamb was killed before Israel was delivered, so by the death of Christ, we have redemption through his blood.[1]

Just as the blood of those lambs caused the people of Israel to be spared from God’s wrath, the Lamb of God redeemed us asHis people from the penalty that was due for our sin.

The gospel writers - the disciples – recognised the link between the Passover event and the death of Jesus and we should too.

John records at the start of his Gospel  that  John the Baptist sees Jesus and exclaims, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!" (John 1:29) And John repeated this identification on the following day (1:36).

John expects his readers to be familiar with the Exodus passage about the Paschal Lamb. In using that name, John identifies Jesus as the true Paschal Lamb. He expected they will make the connection

In the Mosaic Law the paschal lamb was not a sin offering. It was a special sacrifice immediately tied to Israel's deliverance from Egyptian slavery. It represented—-if you like—-the embodiment of liberation from slavery. But it is important to note that the angel of death did not visit those who were covered by the blood of the paschal lamb.

The blood of that lamb marked the doorposts of the houses of the Israelites, so that the angel of the Lord would spare those houses the dreadful tenth plague which was visited on Egypt on the night of Passover.

This new Lamb of God, however, does more than free the Israelites from servitude in Egypt. He is the Suffering Servant of the Lord, described in the Book of Isaiah as a sin offering. This new Paschal Lamb takes away the sins of the whole world. He does not perish for one people only, but to gather into one all the scattered children of God.

Just as the blood covered the Israelites from the angel of death, the blood of Jesus that liberates us from the curse of death – the angel of death passes us by.  “O death, where is thy string”

This imagery of the lamb ties John's theology to that of Paul, who wrote to the Corinthians, "Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed." (1 Corinthians 5:7)

 It ties John also to Peter, who declared our redemption by "the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:19). [2]

This similarity between the paschal lamb of Exodus and the identification of Jesus as that lamb is borne out by the revelation to John in his vision:

Revelation 5:Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, … the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, [sang] a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.” …and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders…singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

 

With the institution of Communion Jesus refers to his body as the bread and his blood as the wine.

 

Luke 22:19 Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Jesus is referring to himself as the paschal lamb which must be slaughtered with Passover and be eaten by his disciples. The paschal lamb became the covenant animal and the Holy Communion a covenant meal. Interesting is Christ’s reference to the new covenant of his blood. Remember the prominent role of blood in the covenant-forming at Sinai (Ex. 24:8).

 

The killing of Jesus as the paschal lamb will take place at Golgotha the next day.

 

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is the most important part of the forming of a new covenant. Paul interpreted Christ’s crucifixion as taking on him the curses of the law in order to redeem mankind.

 

Gal. 3:13

 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us,

 

With the new covenant the curse of the old covenant is removed by Christ. He became the new King on the eternal throne. At once two old covenants were superseded: the curses of the Sinai covenant were removed and the promise of the Davidic covenant fulfilled.[3]

 

Today we remember; today we take part in the New Covenant; today we remember the death of Jesus, the Paschal lamb.



[1] The treasury of scripture knowledge: Five hundred thousand scripture references and parallel passages. (Dt 16:1)

[2] Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon , All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/view/christ-as-the-paschal-lamb

[3] Fensham, F. C.  Covenant, Alliance. In New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 236).