What is the Passover Celebration?

We are meditating on the last days before the crucifixion of Christ, so now we come to the day before, when Jesus reclined at table for one last Passover meal with His disciples. Before we talk about it, we have to explain what needed to happen for each of us to have a place in heaven. To break the hold of Satan’s enslavement of the human race, a substitutionary sacrifice was required. The sentence for rebellion against the moral law of God is that of death (Ezekiel 18:4), i.e. separation from God. In His love for all men, God planned before the foundation of the world that He Himself would come as a substitute and pay the price to buy us back by His blood, i.e. a life for a life. Without the shedding of blood, there is no redemption (Hebrews 9:22). When Peter the Apostle preached on the Day of Pentecost before thousands of people, he told them:

“This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:23).

The cross of Christ was not a mistake for God. He does not make mistakes. The plans of evil men against Jesus were allowed to take place in order to bring about the plan of redemption to all who will place their trust in Christ. This was clear to all the early believers:

27“Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen(Acts 4:27-28).

Satan and evil men conspired against the Messiah and were culpable [deserving punishment] for their act, but behind it all, it was all part of God’s plan for He Himself to be a substitute to pay the price of deliverance. Jesus said, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded” (John 10:18). Twelve hundred years prior to the crucifixion, God foreshadowed what He would do at the cross by delivering the children of Israel from Egypt. We call the event which commemorates the deliverance of the children of Israel the Passover, i.e. the beginning day of a seven-day celebration called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The day Jesus sat down with his disciples for the Last Supper was the Passover meal that commemorated what God did in Egypt.

It will help us in our understanding of the Last Supper passage if we can get a picture of what it was like to be a Jew and living in Egypt in the days of Moses. The descendants of Jacob, renamed Israel, had been living in Egypt for four hundred years when a new Pharaoh came to power in that land and forced the children of Israel into cruel bondage and slavery. When the Israelites began to cry out to God under their heavy workloads, God raised up for them a deliverer, Moses. When Pharaoh would not allow the Israelites to leave Egypt, God displayed His power through Moses by executing judgment on Egypt’s false gods through ten plagues. While the Egyptians endured much, God’s protection was over the Israelites. As the plagues got increasingly worse, God told Moses that there would be one more plague, and after that Pharaoh would command them to leave:

22Then say to Pharaoh, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Israel is my firstborn son, 23and I told you, Let my son go, so he may worship me. But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son’ ” (Exodus 4:22-23).

The last plague that God sent was to put to death all the first-born children in all of Egypt. God told Moses that He would protect the Israelites if they would slaughter a lamb as a substitute and put the blood of the lamb upon the lintel and sides of the door frames of their houses. The blood would be the sign of a substitute lamb instead of the first-born of the families of Israel.

12On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. 13The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt (Exodus 12:12-13).

The night Jesus sat down with his disciples, was a celebration of what God did in supplying a substitutionary lamb that would deliver the Israelites from judgment. Something that Christ himself would now do.

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. To view, click here. Click on study 59. The Last Supper (Luke 22:7-34). Keith Thomas

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