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What is the Passover Celebration?

We are meditating on the last days before the crucifixion of Christ, so now we come to the day when Jesus reclined at the table for one last Passover meal with His disciples. Before we talk about it, we need to explain what needs to happen for those who repent of sin and turn toward Christ. God needed an innocent substitutionary sacrifice to break the hold of Satan's enslavement of the human race. The sentence for rebellion against God's moral law is death (Ezekiel 18:4), i.e., separation from God, the source of all life. In His love for all men, God planned before the foundation of the world that He would come as a Substitute and pay the price to buy us out of Satan’s slave market by His blood, i.e., a life for a life. Without the shedding of blood, there is no redemption (Hebrews 9:22). When Peter the Apostle preached to thousands of people on the Day of Pentecost, he told them:

This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:23, Emphasis added).

The cross of Christ was not a mistake for God. He does not make mistakes. The plans of evil men against Jesus were allowed to bring about the plan of redemption for all who place their trust in Christ. This plan was clear to all the early believers:

27“Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen(Acts 4:27-28).

Satan and evil men conspired against the Messiah. They were guilty for their actions, but God had a plan for a Substitute to pay the price of deliverance. Jesus said, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded” (John 10:18). Twelve hundred years before the crucifixion, God foreshadowed what He would do at the cross by delivering the children of Israel from Egypt. We call the event commemorating the deliverance of the children of Israel the Passover, i.e., the beginning day of a seven-day celebration called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This Last Supper meal was what Jesus sat down to with His disciples.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed (Luke 22:7).

It will help us understand the Last Supper passage if we can get a picture of what it was like to be a Jew and live in Egypt in the days of Moses. The descendants of Jacob, renamed Israel, had been living in Egypt for four hundred years when a new Pharaoh came to power in that land and forced the children of Israel into cruel bondage and slavery. When the Israelites began crying to God under their heavy workloads, God raised a deliverer for them, Moses. When Pharaoh would not allow the Israelites to leave Egypt, God displayed His power through Moses by executing judgment on Egypt’s false gods through ten plagues. While the Egyptians endured much, God protected the Israelites. As the plagues got increasingly worse, God told Moses that there would be one more plague, and after that, Pharaoh would command them to leave:

22Then say to Pharaoh, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Israel is my firstborn son, 23and I told you, Let my son go, so he may worship me. But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son' " (Exodus 4:22-23).

The last plague that God sent was to put to death all the firstborn children in all of Egypt. God told Moses that He would protect the Israelites if they would slaughter a lamb as a substitute and put the lamb's blood upon the lintel and sides of the door frames of their houses. The blood would be the sign of a substitute lamb instead of the firstborn of the families of Israel.

12On 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. 13The 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 when I strike Egypt (Exodus 12:12-13, Emphasis added).

The night Jesus sat down with his disciples was a celebration of what God did in supplying a substitutionary lamb that would deliver the Israelites from judgment. Something that Christ would now do. Let's talk some more about this tomorrow. Keith Thomas

Taken from the series in the Gospel of Luke. Click on Study 59. The Last Supper.


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