Jesus arrived in Bethany six days before the Passover (John 12:1). In Israel, everything stops for the Passover festival. At the time of Jesus, Jerusalem swelled in size from one to two and a half million people, with pilgrims arriving worldwide. Jesus waited in Bethany until four days before Passover, presenting Himself to the Jewish people as the Passover lamb on the tenth day of Nisan, in fulfillment of Moses' command:
3Tell 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. 4If 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 is. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight (Exodus 12:3-6 Emphasis mine).
God instructed the Jewish people to take a pure, spotless lamb for each household on the tenth day of the month and keep it until the fourteenth day. During that four days, the lamb was observed and inspected as to its worthiness as a substitute for the family. In the days when Israel was enslaved in Egypt, God said that He would judge the Egyptians for not releasing Israel from their slavery. The Lord told the Israelites that a destroying angel would go through Egypt and that judgment would not fall on the Israelite homes if the blood of a substitute lamb were on the doorposts and lintel (Exodus 12:12-14). If the destroying angel saw no sacrificial lamb's blood on the door, the angel took the lives of every firstborn. The blood was a sign that a substitutionary, sacrificial lamb had been slain for the occupants of the house.
As Israelite families commemorated that first Passover that delivered them from Pharaoh and Egypt every year, they remembered how they were protected by the blood of the slain lamb (Hebrews 11:28). Messiah would endure four days of inspection by the religious elders and the people before He was crucified as the Passover Lamb to deliver them from the slavery of Satan and sin. Jesus was crucified while the Passover lambs were being sacrificed for the Passover on the fourteenth day of Nisan.
The blood of an innocent lamb had to be shed for the Israelites to leave Egypt, the place of slavery. In the New Testament, the writer of the book of Hebrews writes, "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22). The lamb was to be pure and with no spot or defect. Of course, this was a shadow picture of what God was going to do when Jesus the Messiah came. His blood would make atonement for all who trust His sacrificial death to deliver them from slavery to sin and Pharaoh/Satan. In the plan of God, Messiah is the One slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), the Lamb of God, innocent, pure, and with no fault or defect. Thank God for His deliverance! Keith Thomas
Shortened from the series on the Book of Luke, study 52. The King Comes to His Temple.