It was the night of the great killings. On the eve of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt yearling lambs were sacrificed and their blood spread on the door posts of their homes believing that the angel of death would pass them over. And so it happened. The angel of death entered countless homes in Egypt, including Pharaoh’s palace home, to kill their firstborn sons and daughters while passing over the Jewish homes marked by the blood of the lamb.
Do you think it was coincidence that Jesus’s last night on Earth was the night Jews celebrated their upcoming freedom from Egyptian slavery? Jesus did not think so. Here is what He said to His friends, at the beginning of the Passover (Hebrew: Seder) meal (Luke 22:14-16):
“Then, when the time came, he took his seat at the table with the apostles, and spoke to them, ‘With all my heart I have longed to eat this Passover with you before the time comes for me to suffer. Believe me, I shall not eat the Passover again until all that it means is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’”
Jesus was anxious to celebrate the Seder meal with His closest friends, the apostles who have been with Him 24/7 for the past several years. He wanted to spend some quality time with them before He died. But then something remarkable happened: Going through the rituals of the Seder meal Jesus took on the role of the sacrificial lamb. In other words, He identified with the Passover lamb (Luke 22:19-20):
“Then Yeshua took bread and spoke a prayer of thanksgiving. He broke the bread, gave it to them, and said, “This [the lamb’s body] is my body, which is given up for you. Do this to remember me.
When supper was over, he did the same with the cup. He said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new promise made with my blood.”
When Jesus stepped into the role of the lamb He revealed the true meaning of Passover: The blood of the lamb spread on wooden door posts was a forerunner of the blood of Jesus spread on two wooden beams centuries later. The lamb was sacrificed and His blood shed to ward off the angel of death – and the angel of death will pass us over today if we believe in the sacrifice of Jesus. Death in the sense of separation from God has been overcome once and for all on the day Jesus rose from the grave.
Jesus’s death and resurrection wrote history, and nothing has been the same ever since. The world took notice by changing their calendars. The idea of counting years is not a new one, but the idea of syncing up where everybody starts counting definitely is. To have an international standard based on a traditional reckoning when Jesus was born (the A. D. and B. C. system) is a phenomenon which goes to show what a profound impact Jesus has made. His precious gift, which keeps on giving, is celebrated with every Communion: our friendship with God.