Christ Our Passover
William Nicholson, 1862
A METAPHORICAL SKETCH
"Christ our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us!" 1 Corinthians 5:7
The Passover was a solemn festival of the Jews, and was instituted to commemorate the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, and the Divine regard to them when the destroying angel passed through the land. See Exodus 12:11, 14, 29-51. How fearful was the manifestation of Divine wrath against Egypt's obdurate king! That dreadful event, the death of their first-born, shall break his stubborn heart, and release the Israelites from his galling bondage.
While thousands of Egypt's oldest sons shall fall dead all around them — they shall be safe, and live. The blood of a lamb sprinkled on their door-posts, indicated to the angel of vengeance as he rapidly passed to destroy, that the inhabitants of the house had by sacrifice, propitiated the Divine favor, and that God had become their salvation. So great was the deliverance, that the Passover was to hold it in remembrance forever. To some, this ceremony may appear weak and unmeaning, but faith penetrates the outward veil, and discerns the hidden mystery of Christ's redeeming love, even as Moses "by faith kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood," Hebrews 11:28.
The Passover was a prophetic type, a very expressive image of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Hence the text. Consider,
I. The Paschal Lamb As Typical of Christ, with regard:
1. To the victim. It was a lamb. Exodus 12:3.
Just so, Jesus Christ is called "a lamb." John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:19. That animal is a fit emblem of him who was taken from among men; raised up from among his brethren — and like that lovely creature, did injury to none, though he received it from many. The lamb is useful both in life and death, being at once our clothing and food. The lamb is the emblem of innocence, meekness, and resignation — and these virtues were embodied in the disposition and conduct of our Redeemer. See Isaiah 53:7; 1 Peter 2:23.
2. The Paschal lamb was to be a male of the flock of a year old, and without blemish, the choice of the flock, Exodus 12:5. This typified the dignity, excellence, and infinite purity of the Divine Lamb.
The Paschal lamb was to be taken out of the flock — signifying that Christ should be taken from among men, or from among his brethren, Deuteronomy 17:15; and be of the seed of Abraham, according to the flesh, Hebrews 2:14.
It was a male of the flock, of a year old. Just so, Christ is "a Son given unto us," and suffered in the flower of his age; he was sacrificed in the vigor of life, and in the strength of his manhood, without blemish and spot. He was a perfect character. "He did no sin, and in his mouth deceit was never found."
Though descended from an impure race of ancestors, he brought no stain into the world; he contracted not the smallest taint of evil from his converse with evil men, or from the temptations by which he was assailed. "He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners." Hebrews 7:26. Judas and Pilate attested his innocence, etc.
3. The Paschal lamb was selected from the flock, as the appointed and proper victim.
Just so, Christ was selected by the Father, as the only proper agent to effect the redemption of man. "Him has God the Father sealed." Jehovah "raised him up," "anointed him," and "sent him" into the world. "I have exalted one chosen from among the people." See Acts 2:23.
4. The Paschal lamb was to be separated from the flock four days before it was slain.
Jesus was crucified at the end of four thousand years of the world, cut off in the fourth year of his ministry, and entered Jerusalem four days before his crucifixion, and precisely at the time of the Passover!
5. The Paschal lamb was to be slain. It was slain by the officiating high-priest.
Christ was put to death in the flesh; and as the great High-priest, he offered himself to God. Hebrews 7:24; 9:11-14; 10:9, 10.
The Paschal lamb was to be slain in the Evening. Just so, Christ was sacrificed in the evening of the day; in the evening of time, in the latter age or dispensation of the world.
The Paschal lamb was to be roasted with fire. A consuming fire, the emblem of God's wrath against sin. It was the emblem of those sufferings so intense and overwhelming, as seen in the garden, and on the cross. Psalm 22:14, 15.
The Paschal lamb was to be sacrificed before the whole assembly. Just so, Christ was crucified at one of the great festivals of the Jews — the feast of the Passover — and was made a spectacle to men, to angels, etc.
6. No bone of the Paschal lamb was to be broken, and none of it was to be left until morning. One lamb was to be offered for each family, and if its members were too few to eat a whole lamb, two families were to join together. In the time of Josephus, a paschal society consisted of at least ten people to one lamb, and not more than twenty.
To accomplish prophecy, the soldiers did not break the legs of Christ, as was usual with those crucified, John 19:32, 33. Also to fulfill prophecy, he was taken down from the cross the same evening in which be died.
II. The Efficacy of the Blood of the Paschal Lamb, as Typical of the Efficacy of Christ's Blood.
1. The blood of the Paschal lamb was to be sprinkled on the door-posts of their houses, Exodus 12:22, that it might be a visible indication of their interest in the Divine favor — of what the Lord had done, and what he was about to do for them.
Just so, the blood of Christ must be sprinkled on our consciences, Hebrews 10:22. If we have a saving interest in his precious blood — it will be visible. The blood of the Redeemer will be seen upon us in its effects. By pardon — by justification — by peace — by joy in the Holy Spirit — by rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God. 1 John 1:7; Hebrews 12:24.
2. The blood of the Paschal lamb was to be applied with a bunch of hyssop.
Representing the hand of faith applying the blood of Jesus, John 3:36. Hence we are pardoned and justified by faith, Romans 5:1, etc.
Mr. McEwen beautifully observes: "Christ is dead in vain to us, unless applied by faith unto the conscience. His blood must not be sprinkled behind the door, for we must publicly profess that we are not ashamed of the cross of Christ; nor below the door, for it must not be trodden under foot; but above, and on every side, on all that we are, on all that we have, and on all we do. Indeed, by his all-penetrating eye, the doors of the house and heart are seen with equal clearness."
3. The sprinkling of the blood was the guarantee of future safety. It protected the Israelites from the destroying angel.
Just so, Christ's blood protects from everlasting perdition. Had an Israelite despised the ordinance of the Passover, and not sprinkled his door-posts, he would have shared the fate of the Egyptians, Exodus 12:29.
The sprinkling of the blood was their salvation. So it is with all believers now; the blood of Christ is their only sanctuary from guilt and exposure to divine wrath. They do not fear them, but rejoice in perfect salvation. They do not fear Satan, for when he sees the sprinkling of Christ's blood upon the soul, he is vanquished. They do not death, for his precious blood has extracted its sting. They do not judgment, for the Redeemer's blood will cause them to appear there without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Divine justice, the destroying angel, will pass by them, discerning their saving interest in the new covenant. And while he pours his vials of wrath upon those who have despised the Divine sacrifice — they shall enter into the joy of their Lord.
Let the Christian look more to the blood of the Passover. The haughty tyrant of Egypt was often alarmed by the awful prodigies wrought by Moses; but never was he thoroughly subjugated until the blood was sprinkled. Then the prey was taken from the mighty. In vain he pursues the Israelites; for never more shall they wear his chain. So the teaching of Christ, his miracles, and his prophecies, struck terror into the Prince of darkness, but never was he thoroughly repulsed, until on the cross Christ spoiled principalities and powers, etc. Even so shall his people overcome, by having recourse to his all-conquering blood, Revelation 12:11.
III. The Celebration of the Passover, as Typical of Christian Participation.
1. It was to be eaten.
Just so, Christ is to be spiritually received. There must be a participation in the benefits of his sacrifice. See this stated, John 6:54-56; 1 Corinthians 11:24.
2. The whole lamb was to be eaten, and no part left.
Just so, Christ must be received . . .
in all his offices — as a prophet, priest and king, etc.
as our wisdom, righteousness, justification, sanctification, etc.
in all his ordinances and precepts.
3. It was eaten by the Israelites. That is, by God's redeemed people.
None can relish Christ, but believers. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be!" Romans 8:7. "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14
4. It was eaten with unleavened bread, and with bitter herbs.
The unleavened bread indicates sincerity and truth. The bitter herbs typify the bitter sorrows and sufferings of Christ — the bitterness of contrition for sin, and the bitter tribulations through which believers would have to pass.
5. It was to be eaten in haste — and in an attitude of preparation for their departure to Canaan. See Exodus 12:11.
The loins girt, and feet shod, signifying the girding up the loins of the mind, and the preparation of the Gospel of peace, or a readiness to every good work. The staff in hand implies that here we have no continuing city, and that we must "look for and hasten unto the coming of the day of God." Christians must be making daily progress towards the land of everlasting bliss.
6. As the Passover was commemorative of a very great deliverance — so the Lord's supper is designed to show forth the Lord's death, etc. Contrast Exodus 12:14, 26, 27, with 1 Corinthians 11:23, etc.