Summary: The death of Christ is the fulfillment of the Passover sacrifice for sinners.
Title: The Passover Lamb (Easter in the O.T.)
Text: Exodus 12:1-20
Truth: The death of Christ is the fulfillment of the Passover sacrifice.
Aim: To clarify and celebrate that salvation is an act of God in Christ.
Life ?: What does the Passover tell us about Christ?
I read about a church in Norway called “The Church of the Lamb.” It got its unusual name because at the pinnacle of the steeple of this old, wooden church is a beautiful carving of a single, solitary lamb. Many years ago when the church was being built, the story goes, a workman was laboring up at the very top of that steeple when he suddenly slipped and lost his balance. He fell a great distance to the street below. But at that very moment, going through the narrow streets of that little town was a flock of sheep, and he fell on the back of one of those sheep. The lamb broke his fall and he was hardly injured, but in the process the sheep was smashed and died. As a tribute to that one lamb, the workmen carved a lamb into the steeple of that church, and that is how it got its name “The Church of the Lamb.” (David Dykes)
The Passover is the story of another lamb that gave its life so someone could live. The word “Passover” means “to pass over; to spread the wings over, to spare; preserve; protecting.” It refers to a specific event in the history of Israel when God’s judgment passed over Israel and the Lord stood guard protecting those who trusted in Him. The death of Christ on the cross is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Passover sacrifice.
Nine times the Lord commanded Pharaoh and Egypt to free the Israelites from slavery so they could return to their homeland. Nine times God judged Egypt with plagues that directly challenged and humiliated Egypt’s gods. The one true God of the Hebrew slaves proved Himself more powerful than any of the false gods of Egypt. Still Pharaoh refused. This is the tenth and final judgment. It will be so devastating and terrorizing that the Egyptians will beg the Israelites to leave the land.
Moses gathered the leadership and told them how to prepare Israel for this coming judgment. They would kill a one-year-old male lamb. They would take a hyssop branch and apply the blood of that lamb to the doorposts and lentil. It would not be on the doorstep. They were not to trample on the blood but be under the blood.
All the family was to gather in the home. None were to leave the house that night. During the night God was to pass through the land with the angel of destruction. As He would come to a house with the blood applied, He would pass over it and order the angel not to enter it. In this way, God spared all who were under the blood from the judgment of God. The Passover is an Old Testament picture of the provision of salvation that Jesus Christ provides from the cross and the grave.
What does the Passover tell us about Christ?
I. CHRIST IS OUR SUBSTITUTE FOR SIN
A substitute was provided for the firstborn male of the family. Only the firstborn males were in danger. The firstborn in many cultures are considered special, and in Egypt, they were considered sacred. In Exodus 4:22 God called Israel his firstborn. Pharaoh had instituted a policy of drowning all the males of Israel in order to control Israel’s population. God returns Pharaoh’s judgment on his own family and nation.
The substitute for the firstborn male was a one-year-old lamb. They were instructed to examine the lamb for 14 days to see if it had any defects or diseases. Jesus’ life was examined to see if there was any sin in Him and even his enemies confessed they could find no fault in Him.
A one-year-old lamb, I’m told, has reached its peak of health and strength. It is not too weak nor has it begun to decline. Jesus wasn’t crucified as a developing teenager or a man of declining strength in his middle age years. He was at the full measure of his strength in his early thirties.
The lamb was to be slain at twilight. That represents the time when the first light of the stars appears. This would be from 3-6 p.m. We know Jesus was riveted to the cross at 9 a.m. and died at 3 p.m. At that time thousands of lambs began to be sacrificed for Passover. The Gospel writers were careful to give us the time of these events so we’d make the connection that our Passover Lamb was dying for us on the cross.