January 29, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, ‘This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 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. 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. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then 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. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 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.’”—Exodus 12:1–11 (NIV)
Have you ever been part of a production—a musical, concert, play, dance recital, ballet, choir, or even a graduation or wedding? What do these all have in common? In order for any production to go off without a hitch, there needs to be a rehearsal—or many rehearsals. Why? So we can be prepared for the real thing.
In today’s passage, we read God’s script for a divine drama and the rehearsals that were to take place. It begins with God establishing a new calendar for the Israelites. This was the start of a completely new life than anything they’d known. It was a dramatic way of saying that everything from this moment on would be different. That month is known as Nisan—for those who use the Gregorian calendar, it always falls between March and April.
And the major event that kicked it all off? The final plague of Egypt, where the Lord would strike down the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, only passing over the homes that had the blood of a year-old spotless lamb. Why a year old? Because by the time it was sacrificed, it was part of the family, something to be cherished, mourned, and shared with others. Thus, this final plague in Egypt began the Passover, which they were to celebrate every year.
Now, you may be asking, “How was the yearly Passover that was instituted after what happened in Egypt a rehearsal? Wouldn’t it be a commemoration?” Yes, but it would also be a rehearsal. In fact, the actual night of the Passover, which the Jews commemorate to this day, was itself a rehearsal. For what, you ask? For the fulfillment of God’s gospel promise!
Well, fast forward 1,500 years. After almost two millennia of Passover celebrations, with the symbols of unleavened bread, bitter herbs, bricks, wine representing blood, and a slain, unblemished lamb, the true Passover became reality in the work of Jesus Christ!
On the altar of eternity, which was in actuality a cross reserved for a criminal, the Good Shepherd and Son of Man, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Seed of Abraham and Son of David, the Great I AM and Lamb of God gave His life and spilled His blood in order to cover the sins of the world. “God presented Him as the atoning sacrifice through faith in His blood, in order to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had passed over the sins committed beforehand” (Romans 3:25 BSB).
Today, we don’t rehearse the Passover anymore. Instead, we get to celebrate and commemorate the true Passover every time we take communion. In this beautiful tradition (established by the Lord Jesus Christ during the Last Supper, which was actually a Passover seder!), we’re invited to reflect upon and remember what the Lord Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb, our exodus from the land of sin and death, did to bring us into a new life of freedom in His eternal kingdom!
Pause: Why is communion such an important practice for Christians? What weight should celebrations, festivals, holidays, and traditions carry in the life of a believer each and every time they come around?
Practice: The next time you get to celebrate communion with your local church family, truly remember the significance of what you’re doing. Remember the cup of wrath and death Jesus took upon Himself so you may pass from death to life! Remember the blood He spilled and His body that was broken so you may be made whole and new!
Pray: Heavenly Father, I praise You and lift up the name of Your Son, Jesus, the Passover Lamb who has given me life, freedom, and hope for eternity! May I never forget the precious cost and infinitely high price that was paid for my deliverance from sin and death to forgiveness and eternal life. By Your Spirit, help me to never lose sight of the power and reality of the gospel. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.