A Sacrifice Sufficient For All My Sin
Special meals are still a way in which we mark the beginning of new relationships (like weddings) or celebrate anniversaries (like birthdays). The Feast of Unleavened Bread was a week long holiday (our word derives from 'holy-day') to celebrate God's provision for the Israelites as they fled from Egypt through the Red Sea - eating only the specially prepared unleavened bread - a dense bread made without yeast that would not 'go bad' on the hot journey (Exodus 12:17-20). Before they had crossed the Red Sea, God commanded that they must recall God’s deliverance every year by eating unleavened bread for a week (Exodus 13:3-10).
That feast was preceded by a one-day Feast of Passover, which celebrated the night when the angel of death killed the firstborn in every household in Egypt, but 'passed over' the houses marked by the blood of a sacrificed lamb. Those who did not sacrifice the lamb experienced God's judgement, while those who did were saved. Read the whole story in Exodus 12:1-42. It is the story of obedience in trusting that the blood of a sacrificed lamb would cover the believing households. When Jesus came to be sacrificed at a Passover festival it was so that all who believe in Him, those who receive and welcome Him (John 1:12), might be saved from their sins and live with Him for ever (Romans 10:8-11).
The timing of the events in this passage, on the Thursday of what we now call Holy Week, was not coincidental. The Passover meal was not just to be a remembrance, but a prophetic pre-enactment of the death of Christ - the ultimate Passover Lamb (1 Peter 1:18-20). The disciples rightly assumed, despite all the plotting against Jesus, that He would want to celebrate the feast. Luke 22:14-15 shows His great eagerness. But what the disciples thought was a tradition to remember 1500 years previously, was really to prepare them for its prophetic fulfilment the following day - salvation day for all who will believe (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Today, when spiritual beliefs of many kinds jostle for acceptance, there is little certainty about who God is or how to become acceptable to Him. So, it is a great relief to know that Jesus is not just our model for behaviour and ethics, but our sacrifice for sin and therefore the Saviour of all who will put their trust in Him (John 1:12; 3:14). We please God by choosing the Lamb of God as our sacrifice - so that God's wrath will pass over us. When doubts come, it is the cross alone that provides objective evidence of God's mercy to sinners, and the resurrection is the evidence of His grace in giving us new life. Without that reassurance our faith will be weak; with it we can be strong to tell others.
© Dr Paul Adams