Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Passover lamb: The protecting blood

"Abba," a voice asked, "what are you doing?" He felt a tug at his clothes, and he turned to see his son.

"Well, I'm about to put this blood—", he held out the bowl he was holding, "—on the frame of the door with..." His son had picked up the hyssop and was absentmindedly removing its leaves. He snatched it from the boy and continued, "...with this! Tonight the Lord is going to send a destroyer through the land. But we'll be safe in our house once it's been covered in blood."

"Whose blood is it, Abba?"

"Do you remember that lamb that I picked out a few days ago? It is the lamb's blood!" He pointed over at the fire. "Tonight we will feast on the lamb and its blood will protect us!

The boy's gaze shifted back and forth between the roasting lamb and the bowl. Finally, he looked up at his father. Then he burst into tears. "But why?", he sobbed, "that was my favorite lamb! You said he was special!"

He knelt down and took his son's face in his hands. "Because, my son," he explained, "I want you to live!"

The Passover is the defining moment of Jewish history. It marks the beginning of the Jewish calendar and it now commemorate their deliverance from Egypt. The first time it was celebrated, however, it was in preparation for that deliverance. The final plague was about to come upon Egypt: every firstborn, both man and animal, was going to die. Only those protected by the blood of a Passover lamb would be safe. The Israelites had been promised that, when the Lord saw the blood, he would pass over a doorway and not allow the destroyer to enter that house. God himself would protect his people from death on the basis of the blood of a spotless lamb.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians that Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us. It was during Passover that Christ would institute a feast of his own, one that would commemorate a greater deliverance. But on that night it was first celebrated, it was eaten in preparation for that deliverance. Later that evening, Jesus would be taken into custody, beaten, mocked, and eventually crucified. His blood is our protection. In Romans 3:25 we read that, on the basis of Christ's blood, God has passed over our sins. God himself has saved us by the blood of a spotless lamb!

(Exodus 12; 1 Corinthians 5:7)