************ Sermon on Exodus 12:1-13 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on April 18, 2003

Exodus 12:1-13
"The Feast of the Passover"

We all know about rehearsals. We have rehearsals for weddings. The bride and groom practice walking down the aisle, they practice their vows, they practice their kiss, they practice walking out without stumbling down the steps.

We have rehearsals for graduations. The students march in and they march out. They practice walking up on the stage. They practice sitting down together. They practice the song they are going to sing.

Special music people have rehearsals when they run through their pieces.

I rehearse my sermons a couple of times before the congregation hears them. I did a rehearsal for my first celebration of the Lord's Supper as a pastor; I ran through the entire service just so I knew what was coming and what to do. I even did a rehearsal for my first baptism.

Rehearsals. We all know they are not the real thing. Brides and grooms don't get married at rehearsals, students do not graduate, and cats are not really baptized.

We continue our study this evening of the Feasts of Israel. I just love what God tells Moses to say to the people about these feasts:
(Lev 23:2) "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.
In the Hebrew, that phrase "sacred assembly" actually means rehearsal.

I need to tell you that the Feasts are only rehearsals. They are not the real thing. Using the phrase of Paul in Colossians, they are only shadows with the reality being found in Christ (Col 2:17).

All of the Feasts of Israel are about Jesus. They not only point forward to Him but are also fulfilled in Him. And, that is especially true for the Feast of the Passover.

I The Passover in Old Testament Israel
A As you know, Israel lived in Egypt for 430 years many of those years they were in bondage. God sent Moses to lead them out. As they prepared to leave the land they were going to leave under blood.

Already before Moses arrived in Egypt God told him what was going to happen. God told Moses to tell Pharaoh,
(Ex 4:22-23) "Israel is my firstborn son ... Let my son go, so he may worship me ... but you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son."
You know what else happened the ten plagues: the water of the Nile changed to blood, the frogs, the gnats, the flies, the plague on the livestock, the boils, the hail, the locusts, and the darkness. However, the death of the firstborn was the worst of the judgments. As a firstborn, I've never cared for that last plague it always struck too close to home; I'm sure every firstborn here feels the same way. Terrible, terrible destruction was visited by the Lord upon the land of Egypt before Pharaoh would finally let God's firstborn son go to worship Him.

B The firstborn of every family and even the firstborn of the cattle were to be struck down by the Lord's Angel. But there was an exception the exception was those people who by faith did certain things.

Those people whose firstborn was not taken were to take a male lamb an unblemished lamb, a lamb without defect. The lamb was to be slaughtered and its blood was to be collected. In those days there was a trench outside of the door and in the trench there was a collection pot. And it was designed so that water would not run into the house. When you slaughtered the lamb you were to slaughter it at the door of your house so that blood ran into the trench and from there into the collection pot. You were then to take a bunch of hyssop, which was a local plant, and you were to dip it in that collection pot at the front door of your house, and you were to smear the blood above the door posts and on the sides of your door. When the Angel of the Lord saw that blood he would pass over that house and household and not visit death upon the firstborn.

Some would dismiss this story of the Passover and the blood as a kind of superstitious ritual. But it was nothing like that. It was an act of faith. It was an act of faith that said "We believe that what God says is true. And that God will spare those who trust Him."

It is pretty clear from reading the story that not all Israelites believed this. There were some who did not and their firstborn died.

C As part of the Passover, the Israelites were to also eat the lamb in family units. With it they were to eat bitter herbs representing the bitterness of their bondage and slavery and unleavened bread representing that they were leaving the old leaven or life of Egypt behind. And they were to eat it not at the kitchen table, but at the counter; not seated, but standing; they were to eat it dressed and ready to go, camel and donkey and cart loaded representing the haste with which they left Egypt so that there was no time to sit down for a family meal.

II The Passover at the Time of Jesus
In most of the history of the Old Testament the Israelites observed the Passover in one form or another. By the time you get to the New Testament and to the days of Jesus the Passover was still celebrated but had also developed certain practices.

By the time Jesus was walking the earth, the Jews did not smear blood on the doors anymore. That had gone away.

They did sacrifice a lamb. But not necessarily in the same way. Now it was more of a national festival. So the priests would gather at the Temple and the high priest would slay one lamb on behalf of the whole nation. Those Jews who could make it to Jerusalem also slaughtered a lamb.

And, they didn't necessarily do it in family gatherings as was done in the past; rather, they did it in a grouping of 10-20 people; you needed at least 10 and could have no more than 20. The reason was that you had to eat the entire lamb and could not have any leftovers like we have after Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. This meant that Jesus and His 12 disciples constituted a family unit; they qualified to have a lamb for His last supper.

In connection with this, very often at the time of Jesus there was also another practice the "crowned sacrifice." The lamb was to be killed in a certain way. His throat was to be cut and the blood was to be collected in a bowl. And then he was gutted, the intestines taken out. He was roasted vertically on a pomegranate stick. And the intestines were draped around the head while the roasting process was being done. That is called a "crowned sacrifice." This way every part of the lamb was consumed. Because as you read with me in our Bible reading, every bit was to be eaten or burned the intestines, the fat, everything (Ex 12:10).

They still used bitter herbs and unleavened bread.

They also drank four cups of wine during the Passover meal. The first was called the "cup of blessing," the second was called the "cup of wrath," the third was called the "cup of redemption," and the fourth was called the "cup of the kingdom" this fourth cup is the one Jesus said He would not drink until He came again in the power of His kingdom (cf Lk 22:18).

III The Passover as Fulfilled in Christ
A So, what does all of this have to do with Jesus on this Good Friday?

I want to bring you back to the book of Exodus and remind you of the regulations regarding the celebration of the Passover. And then I want to show you how they were fulfilled in and through Christ.

First, we notice in verse 3 that the animal chosen for the Passover was selected on the tenth day of the month and was introduced to the community.

I want you to take note of the timing of this. On the tenth day of the month the lamb was brought out. Now, do you remember when Jesus entered Jerusalem in triumph on Psalm Sunday? The dating of His entry into the city was the tenth day of the month, precisely the time that the priest introduced the Passover lamb to the people. Like the lamb, Jesus was introduced to the people. And He spent time that week going in and out among them in the Temple courts and meeting the blind and lame.

I want you all to start thinking of the words of John the Baptist: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (Jn 1:29). Jesus is the Passover lamb. He is the reality and all other Passover lambs are the shadows.

B Second, we are told in verse 5 that the lamb must be "year-old males without defect."

In fact, the lamb was introduced to the community so that all the people would notice that it was without defect. All the people had a chance to look the lamb over, to make sure, to become convinced, that this lamb was pure, without defect, without flaw, that it fulfilled the Law of God.

Again, I want you to think of Jesus. He was challenged and tested frequently. By the elders and chief priests and scribes. By Pilate. By Herod. By Annas. By Caiaphas. He was even tested by Judas. And in every case they found nothing wrong with Him. In order to crucify Him they had to trump up charges against Him. Why? Because He was a lamb without blemish.

Again, I think of the words of John the Baptist: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (Jn 1:29). Jesus is the Passover lamb. He is the reality and all other Passover lambs are the shadows.

C Thirdly, on the day of preparation for the Passover, on the fourteenth day, the high priest took the lamb that had been tested and checked over and approved by all the people and brought him to the altar and tied him to the altar at 9 o'clock in the morning. From 9 o'clock in the morning until "twilight" the lamb was staked out in preparation for slaughter. This meant that in the days of Jesus the Passover lamb was brought to the altar at 9 in the morning and was slaughtered at 3 in the afternoon.

Now, on the other side of the wall from the Temple at 9 in the morning, at the very time the priest was staking out the Passover lamb on the altar, Jesus was led out to be crucified on a vertical stake.

Again, I think of the words of John the Baptist: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (Jn 1:29). Jesus is the Passover lamb. He is the reality and all other Passover lambs are the shadows.

D Fourthly, the actual killing of the lamb was to be done by the high priest. And it was be done with the recitation of a very carefully worded document that ended with these words, as he drew the knife across the throat of the lamb: "It is finished."

At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, at the very moment when the high priest cut the throat of the lamb in order to collect its blood and said the prescribed words ending with "It is finished," Jesus on the other side of the wall was breathing His last and said "It is finished."

Again, I think of the words of John the Baptist: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (Jn 1:29). Jesus is the Passover lamb. He is the reality and all other Passover lambs are the shadows.

E Lastly, I want to remind you that Jesus, too, was a "crowned sacrifice." Remember the crown of thorns so cruelly thrust upon His head?

Again, I think of the words of John the Baptist: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (Jn 1:29). Jesus is the Passover lamb. He is the reality and all other Passover lambs are the shadows.

IV The Passover and Us
A I want you to be clear about this: the Passover reminded Israel, and on this Good Friday it reminds us, that deliverance is costly. It costs blood. Look at the price Israel had to pay the blood of its lambs. Look at the price God had to pay the blood of His only begotten Son. Israel saw all this blood an unbelievable amount of blood. Blood everywhere. Flowing on the ground into the trench and the collection pot and then smeared over the door and on the sides of the door. Even at the time of Jesus the blood was visibly gathered in front of the people. The throat cut, the blood collected, the hyssop dipped.

To be saved and delivered and rescued is a costly undertaking.

B Second, the Passover reminded Israel, and on this Good Friday it reminds us, that we have been saved and delivered and rescued. You need to realize and recognize there has been deliverance from bondage. In recognition of this, Israel had to eat and taste the bitter herbs.

Israel had been delivered from its bondage to Pharaoh and Egypt. We have been delivered from our bondage to sin. If you are in Jesus Christ, then you have been set free free from sin.

C Third, the Passover reminded Israel, and on this Good Friday it reminds us, that the blood of the Lamb covers us from God's searching judgment. Egypt was not covered and lost its firstborn. What a sad night in all the Egyptian households! But Israel was covered. The Angel of death and wrath, the Angel of God's holy judgment, did not strike any home covered with the blood of the lamb. The blood of the Lamb, the Lamb of God, also covers us so that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). There is power, power, wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb.

Congregation, the Passover Lamb has been slain. He was brought out four days early so He could be tested and found to be without defect. He was staked out that morning at 9 o'clock. He was killed at 3o'clock in the afternoon. By His providence, God arranged history so carefully.

Jesus is the reality the shadows, the rehearsals, prophesied. He is the Lamb which all the earlier Passover lambs looked forward to. It cost Him His blood and His life but we are set free from bondage and we are covered from God's holy wrath.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page