The Bible is extraordinarily clear that Jesus is, indeed, our Passover Lamb and the ultimate fulfillment of what the Lord Himself instituted in the Old Testament. Why is this so significant?
In Leviticus 23, God outlines the various feasts of the Lord for the children of Israel, and none is without significance. In fact, every one of these feasts—what the Bible calls “holy convocations”—has incredible significance for all believers today, whether Jews or Gentiles.
Here is a very brief snapshot of these holy days and feasts, and their eternal significance:
- The Sabbath: a holy day of solemn rest, a principle that applies to all believers today and forever (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15).
- The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread: Jesus Christ is our Passover, sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7) and He was crucified on the actual day of Passover. In response, all believers are to live “unleavened” lives, holy to the Lord, in sincerity, righteousness and truth (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)
- The Feast of Firstfruits: Jesus was raised from the dead and became the “firstfruits” of all of those who will have died in the Lord, giving us hope for eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:20-23), and He was raised from the dead on the very day the Jews were observing the feast of firstfruits, the day after the first Sabbath following Passover.
- The Feast of Weeks: also called Pentecost, the very day the Holy Spirit was poured out on believers and the New Testament Church was birthed (Acts 2).
- The Feast of Trumpets: signifying the second coming of Jesus, a day when “no one knows the day or the hour” and a trumpet will sound, signaling both the return of the Lord and the gathering of all believers (Matthew 24:29-31; 1 Corinthians 15:50-52).
- The Day of Atonement: Jesus, our High Priest, is the fulfillment of this holy day, having made atonement for us in His own blood and granting us access into the very presence of God (Hebrews 9:6-16; Hebrews 10:11-14).
- The Feast of Tabernacles: Jesus, leading up to this feast as well as on the very day, made statements indicating that He is the High Priest of this holy convocation and thus the Messiah (John 7:1, 37-42) and will send the Holy Spirit to all believers living en route to the promised land of His eternal presence and promises.
Let’s take a closer look at the significance of Passover.
Christ, Our Passover
“For indeed, Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7)
Jesus is our Passover Lamb and He is the ultimate fulfillment of the Feast of Passover. There is also compelling evidence that Jesus fulfilled the Passover on the very days mentioned by God Himself when He instituted the original Passover in Exodus. Though the dates are in no way vital, and though not all scholars agree on the specific dates, it is a very interesting study. Click here to view a timeline.
Regarding the Passover, in Exodus 12, God clearly designates two specific dates, each having significance. These dates are the tenth and fourteenth days of the first Jewish month known as Abib/Nisan (Exodus 12:2,3,6). Here is why this is significant:
God gives very clear instructions to Moses and the children of Israel that on the tenth day of the first month every family must select a Passover lamb, and it was on this day (the tenth day of Nisan) that many scholars believe Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey. And a great multitude, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took palm branches and went out to meet Him, and cried out a Messianic declaration, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Isreal” (John 12:12-13). On this day, Jesus, the Passover Lamb, was clearly displayed to the world. Since then, many have received Jesus as their Passover lamb. Today, Christians observe this day as Palm Sunday, and may we continue to display Jesus to the world for many more to receive and accept who He is and what He has done.
Then God stated that on the fourteenth day, the Passover lamb must be killed. The gospels record that Jesus was crucified at the third hour (9 a.m.) and died at the ninth hour (3 p.m.) on the day of Passover (the fourteenth day of Nisan), which also landed on the Preparation Day of the Sabbath (Friday). The precise timing of the crucifixion of Jesus is extraordinary in light of the Passover. While the chief priests were in the temple preparing to sacrifice the Passover lambs, Jesus was nailed to the cross. And six hours later, as the priests began killing the Passover lambs, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “It is finished” and died on the cross as our true Passover Lamb. What an extraordinary—and precise—fulfillment of Bible prophecy! Today, believers all over the world observe this day as Good Friday.
Here’s something important to keep in mind. Though some of the historical dates and times may not be crystal clear above dispute, the Bible is extraordinarily clear that Jesus is, indeed, our Passover Lamb and the ultimate fulfillment of what God Himself instituted in Exodus 12. “For indeed, Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Why is this so significant?
God reveals something quite extraordinary immediately following the original Passover event (i.e. the tenth plague and departure from Egypt). In fact, while the children of Israel were still departing from Egypt and observing the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, God says in Exodus 13:2, “Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.” Moses picks it up in verse 13 and says, “…set apart to the Lord all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have, the males shall be the Lord’s. But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.”
What is the significance of this passage? Most often, whenever this portion of Scripture is explained, it has been described merely as a principle regarding the tithe. And though the principle of the tithe is definitely present and may be applied as such, the specific context is in direct connection to the Passover. In fact, God Himself brings it back up in Exodus 34, and once again it is in the context of the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Exodus 34:18-20 says, “The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time of the month of Abib (or Nisan); for in the month of Abib you came out of Egypt. All that open the womb are mine, and every male firstborn among your livestock whether ox or sheep. But the firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb. And if you will not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem.”
The context is quite clearly a principle in relation to the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. But what is the significance? And what does this have to do with Jesus? Simply put, its all about redemption. Let’s break it down.
The Hebrew word for redemption literally means to redeem, to buy; to cause the freedom or release of a person or subject from bondage or ownership; to pay off debt. In some contexts the redemption has a special focus of salvation and relationship to the Lord as a person now owned by God; the action of saving or being saved from sin, error or evil.*
In this passage, God is clearly stating how redemption works. Notice, “All that open the womb are mine, and every male firstborn among your livestock whether ox or sheep. But [here’s the contrast] the firstborn of a donkey [which is an unclean animal] you shall redeem with a lamb. And if you will not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem.” (Exodus 34:19-20).
God is clearly stating that an ox or a lamb is an acceptable offering and sacrifice, but not a donkey. It is an unclean animal, unfit for a sacrifice. But interestingly enough, God has no desire for the donkey to die. In fact, He clearly states that the donkey may be redeemed by a lamb. In other words, to redeem the donkey and let it freely live, a lamb must die in its place. However, if the donkey is not redeemed and a lamb does not die in its place, you shall break its neck. In other words, the donkey must—and will—die if it is not redeemed by a lamb. What does this have to do with Jesus?
Christ, Our Redeemer
“For indeed, Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
John the Baptist said about Jesus in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” He said it again in verse 36, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Jesus is called the Lamb of God throughout Scripture, including the book of Revelation. Very clearly, Jesus is the Lamb of God.
Now think about the triumphal entry. All four gospels record that when Jesus, the Lamb of God, was riding into the city of Jerusalem on the very week He would be crucified, He was riding on—you guessed it—a donkey! Think about it! The Lamb of God riding on a donkey! Coincidence? Not a chance! In quoting Zechariah 9:9, Matthew’s gospel says, “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, lowly and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.'” This was intentionally orchestrated by God. What is the significance? In light of Exodus 13 and 34, the picture is beautiful: The Lamb of God is about to pay the price to redeem mankind! Jesus Himself, our Passover Lamb, will die in place of a people born in sin—to redeem us! Here are just a few of the many Scriptures that secure this truth:
Titus 3:13-14 says, “Jesus Christ . . . gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people.”
1 Peter 1:18-19 says it this way (and may it hit your heart and spirit in a profound way), “. . . you were redeemed, not with corruptible things like silver or gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot.” This is a remarkable description perfectly matching the qualifications God set forth in Exodus 12:5, “Your lamb shall be without blemish.”
It doesn’t get much more clear than that! We have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ—as a lamb without blemish. Amen!
The book of Revelation gives us a glimpse into the reality of worship in heaven by those who have been redeemed by Jesus. They fall down before the Lord and sing, “You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation. And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).
And yet—as wonderful and truly remarkable as this is—there is another side to this as well. One that brings a sobering reality. Remember, God said that if the donkey is not redeemed, its neck must be broken. In other words, the donkey will die if not redeemed. And every person who does not receive the free gift of redemption through the blood of Jesus will also die. John 3:16 states both sides very clearly, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” The free gift of redemption (dying in our place) is available to every single person, but the gift must be believed, received and accepted. Otherwise, that person will die in their sin. They will perish and live eternally in hell, because they did not accept Jesus as their substitute for redemption. But to those who will believe and receive the free gift of redemption through Jesus, will have eternal life. Eternal life is real! We will either spend it in heaven or we will spend it in torment.
Jesus, knowing that we were all born in sin, came and died in our place to redeem us, so that none of us will have to perish, but that all can spend eternity with Him. He is the Passover Lamb, and He has redeemed us!
Will you accept Him as the fulfillment of your Passover Lamb?
Receiving Jesus as Your Lord and Savior
If you have not made Jesus the Lord of your life—or perhaps you said a prayer some time ago, but for one reason or another you find yourself not truly living for the Lord—now is the time to make the change and fully accept what Jesus has provided for you. He already died in your place. All you need to do now is personally respond. The Bible says that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. This simply means you need to believe that Jesus is alive and confess with your mouth that He is Lord.
It’s time to receive His free gift of redemption. Pray this prayer aloud and mean it in your heart:
Dear God, thank You for tugging at my heart today. You have been trying to get my attention because you love me. I confess to You that I have sinned and I need forgiveness. I believe in You and Your Son Jesus. I believe in my heart that He died in my place to redeem me and give me eternal life. I believe You raised Him from the dead and that He is alive today. I confess today that Jesus is Lord. I give my life to Him. I choose this day to live for Jesus. I know I’m not perfect and I may make mistakes, but I know that you love me and will help me become the person you have called me to be. I love you. From this moment forward, I am a follower of Jesus Christ. Amen.
If you prayed this prayer for the first time or if you made a recommitment to the Lord, this is not the end. This is the beginning. The beginning of a brand new life. Find a good, solid, Bible-teaching church and attend every week. Get involved. Buy a Bible and begin reading it. The Gospel of John is a good place to start. Attend Bible studies. Pray. Make new friends who will encourage you in your new walk with God. And most importantly, continue to grow in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
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*Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament)