Passover is coming, and I want to invite you to take a moment of contemplation. Out of all the Jewish festivals, Passover holds the most significant meaning for Christians because God’s gift of life through the coming Messiah is illustrated within the drama of a literal life and death situation.
As you may recall (Ex. 11:1-8), God had told Moses that every Israelite family must sacrifice a lamb, and place the blood of that lamb on the doorposts of their homes. If they would not, the firstborn male of their home would die when the angel of death came over Egypt. Imagine you are in Egypt in the days of Moses. You are in a pasture as a Jewish father, taking his twelve-year-old son out to find a one-year-old lamb.
“What are we doing, Dad?" the boy asks.
"We are going to get a prize sheep."
"What for, Dad?"
"You will see."
They find the best lamb in the flock, and bring it back to the shed. The boy sees his dad get the machete. "What are you going to do, Dad?" the boy asks again.
"I am going to slaughter the lamb."
"What did the lamb do, Dad?"
The father thinks long and hard, and tries to form his words very carefully. "Son, the lamb didn't do anything, but our nation has sinned against God. He is about ready to exercise justice, and pass judgment on all of us. But God said that it we find an innocent third party, an innocent unblemished lamb, the lamb's blood will act as a covering for us."
The son thinks about this, and says, “Dad, that sounds unfair. What happens if we don’t sacrifice the lamb?”
With a solemn look at his son, the father speaks, "If we don't sacrifice the lamb, and place its blood on the doorpost of our house, you will die at midnight."
For this little boy, death is literally coming to his doorstep ready to snuff him out. Death has never been so close or so real. He obviously does not want to die, and that’s where he appreciates the way out. The only way for him to live is by the intervention of an innocent third party. It’s a no brainer for the boy- blood is going on the doorpost. But how profound is his love for the sacrificial lamb?
As I’m writing this, I’m recovering from a plague- the flu. I feel that I’ve been brought back from the brink of death also. Praise the Lord for that! When my throat was like scouring steel wool; sinus throbbing and burning; body weak and limp; blurry eyes, dizzy, and coughing my lungs out, I appreciate God’s intervening grace to bring back me from death.
Passover was meant to have a powerful visceral experience of life and death all within a short duration of one day. Anything less than this, we’ve short changed the value and appreciation of the third party. Passover focuses on the third party, a foreshadowing of Calvary where Jesus was killed, where the blood spilt on the wooden posts, and when the terror passed over the entire humanity.
We ought to contemplate more on these words…
“Behold! The Lamb of God
who takes away the sin of the world!”