The advent of Jesus Christ culminating in His death, burial, and resurrection is the pivotal event that altered the reckoning of human history. Measuring time is now “B.C.” – “Before Christ” and “A.D” – “In the Year of Our Lord.”
The shadow of Easter, Passover, also changed the actual calendar for a group of people. Passover was the celebration of Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian captivity. The Exodus from Egypt was so instrumental to Israel that they changed their time system because of it. The Jewish religious new year starts in the month that Israel’s deliverance occurred.
The altering of human chronology is not the main significance of Passover however. Read the Passover account below in the first paragraph noting the underlined items, then its explanation in the second paragraph, and finally the parallels in Jesus Christ to see the true deliverance from captivity.
Exodus 12 1The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt,2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight (“between the evenings”). 7Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9. . .11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you.
In the Jewish religious calendar the month of “Nissan” is the first month. God commanded each man of the family to select an unblemished lamb on Nissan 10 and examine it for defect until Nissan 14. On Nissan 14 the lamb was to be slaughtered at “twilight.” “Twilight,” however, does not mean the same thing to us as it did to the Hebrews. The exact Hebrew phrase is, “between the evenings.” This phrase refers to the point between the sun’s initial descent in the west (noon-3p, “first evening”) and its final setting (3-6p “second evening”). Therefore, “between the evenings” is a reference to 3:00p. In the doorway, the father would have laid his hand on the lamb, thereby identifying himself with it symbolically. The father would cut the throat of the lamb, and apply its blood to the doorposts. The mother would roast the lamb for a special meal. The day changed to Nissan 15 at sundown (approximately 6:00p) and the Passover meal was to be eaten then.
The night of the 15th, the Israelites in Egypt ate the lamb with bitter herbs and unleavened bread according to the commandment (Ex. 12:8). One was to eat with his staff in hand and his sandals on his feet. This was symbolic of the “hurried nature” of the feast.
That same evening, the angel of death passed over each house and killed the first born of every household that did not have the blood of the Passover lamb on its doorposts. The Israelites were saved by the blood of the lamb and by eating the lamb that night.
Parallels with Jesus Christ
At the beginning of Passover week, Nissan 10, Jesus most likely looked down from the Mt. of Olives and watched the communal Passover lamb pass by in the annual procession of priests, musicians, dancers, and pilgrims singing Psalm 118 (read). Jesus descends from the Mt. of Olives, mounts a donkey (symbol of a King of Peace, not war), and the chosen lamb of God enters Jerusalem following the same route as the Passover lamb (Palm Sunday).
For four days, for all to examine, Jesus sat and taught in the Temple courtyard. The Sadducees (Mt. 22:23-33; Mk. 12:18-27; Lk. 20:27-38), the Pharisees (Mt. 22:15-22; Mk. 12:13-17; Lk, 20:19-26) and others asked Jesus their most difficult questions. They attempted to find fault in him, but they could not. Pilot could not find any basis to charge Jesus in any wrongdoing (Jn. 18:38, 19:4; 1 Pet 1:19). Jesus was the unblemished lamb of God.
On the morning of Nissan 14 at the third hour (9:00a), the lamb in the temple was bound to the altar (Psalm 118:27). At the same time, outside the walls of Jerusalem, Jesus was both tied and nailed to the tree (Mk 15:25). For six hours, both the lamb and Jesus awaited death. At the ninth hour (3:00 p) the temple high priest ascended the altar in the Temple, took his knife, and cut the throat of the Passover lamb, pronouncing the words “It is finished.” The Passover lamb is classified as a peace offering (Lev. 7:11-21) and this phrase was pronounced at the end of every peace offering in temple tradition. Simultaneously, Jesus uttered the same words as He gave His life.
Jesus kept the appointed time of the Passover feast to the very hour. Just as the Passover lamb had delivered Israel from the plague of death, Jesus the messiah has provided deliverance from death by His blood. Those who have applied the blood of Christ to their hearts and have eaten of the Passover lamb by faith are delivered from the destructive plague of eternal death. Praise the Lord!
When you experience the Passover personally, your entire reckoning system changes also.
I encourage you to read Psalm 118 in light of the events of Jesus’ Passover sacrifice.