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Christ Our Passover
“And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you...And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.” (Exodus 12:1-51)
Our Lord Jesus said, “Moses wrote of me” (John 5:46). Indeed, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). As we read the 12th chapter of Exodus, all who are taught of God are compelled to say, as Phillip did to Nathaniel, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45). The best commentary ever written upon this passage is 1 Corinthians 5:7-8.
“Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Everything that took place on that memorable night when God brought Israel out of Egypt with a high hand and stretched out arm, and everything involved in the Jews’ annual feast of the passover in the Old Testament was designed and intended by God to be a typical representation and picture of our Lord Jesus Christ and the redemption of our souls by him. As Israel was preserved from death and delivered out of Egypt by the blood of the paschal lamb and the mighty arm of God, so God’s true Israel, all the host of his elect, has been delivered from death and hell by the sacrifice of Christ our Passover, and shall be delivered from all bondage by the arm of God’s omnipotent and irresistible grace.
Following the Holy Spirit’s commentary on this passage in 1 Corinthians 5, I want to show that “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” — We are not in any way tied to those Old Testament laws, ceremonies, feasts, holy days, and sabbath days. To observe those things today is to say that Christ has not yet come, and redemption is not yet accomplished. The practice of those Old Testament, ceremonial, legal ordinances in this gospel age is nothing short of base idolatry. We worship God in the Spirit, trusting Christ alone as our Savior, the true Passover Lamb, who is sacrificed for us! By his one great sacrifice, we are sanctified.
Christ our Passover
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, is our Passover. The purpose of the Old Testament Scriptures was and is to set forth the Lord Jesus Christ in his glorious person and work as our Substitute and Savior in pictures and prophecies. Without question, one of the clearest and most instructive pictures of Christ in the Old Testament is the paschal lamb. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, by whose death all God’s elect are delivered from sin and bondage and death forever.
“Paschal Lamb, by God appointed,
All our sins on Thee were laid.
By almighty love anointed,
Thou hast full atonement made!
All Thy people are forgiven
Through the virtue of Thy blood,
Opened is the gate of heaven,
Peace is made ‘twixt man and God!”
The passover victim was a lamb. — “Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house” (v. 3). This is a picture of our Lord Jesus in his humiliation. He who is the eternal, almighty God became a lamb, the Lamb of God, that he might redeem us with his blood. — “Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world!” Throughout the Scriptures our Savior is presented to us under the figure of a lamb (Genesis 4:4; 22:8; Isaiah 53:7; John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-20; Revelation 5:12).
The lamb slain had to be a male of the first year and a lamb without blemish. — “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats” (v. 5). It had to be a male, a ram of the sheep or of the goats, but not a ewe — a ram. By man came sin. By man righteousness must be established. A man brought death. A man must obtain life. It must be a ram of the first year (v. 5), in the prime of life. And it had to be without spot. None but that Mighty One chosen of God (Psalm 89:19) could accomplish redemption for us. But might alone could not redeem our souls. The sin-atoning Savior must be holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
This lamb of sacrifice had to be separated from the rest of the flock. — “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening” (v. 6). Christ was set apart in the counsel and decree of God as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). He is the Lamb chosen out of the flock (Psalm 89:19). Four days before he was crucified he rode into Jerusalem (the place of sacrifice), and was set apart from men. Upon examination, he was found even by his enemies to be a Lamb with no fault in him.
The paschal lamb had to be slain in the evening of the fourth day after its separation (v. 6). It must die a violent death in the evening of the fourteenth day of the month. At the appointed time (Romans 5:8; Galatians 4:4), in the fourth day of time — the 4000th year since creation, Christ died for the ungodly. The lamb had to be killed at Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:5-6). So Christ set his face like a flint to go up to Jerusalem as the time of the passover drew nigh. It had to be violently slaughtered. So our Savior was violently slaughtered for us under the fury of God’s holy wrath. The lamb had to be roasted with fire (v. 8); and the Lamb of God was roasted in the fire of divine justice. Not a bone of the lamb could be broken (v. 46); and not a bone of the Lamb of God was broken (John 19:33-36).
In every detail of our Savior’s death, the Scriptures were fulfilled. The types, promises, and prophecies of the Old Testament are so minute and given in such detail that none can dispute the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled them, except those who choose to deny the recorded facts of history (Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:23-28; 13:26-30).
The blood of the slain lamb had to be sprinkled upon the doorposts and the lintel (v. 7). As the father of every household in Israel sprinkled the blood upon the door of his house for the salvation of his family, so our heavenly Father, by the power and grace of his Spirit, applies the blood of Christ to the hearts of his elect at the appointed time of deliverance (Hebrews 9:14; 10:22). What a striking picture this is of the sprinkling of the blood of the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 12:24), teaching us that his precious blood must be applied as well as shed, personally applied to each of God’s elect, just as the blood of the lamb was to be applied to every house of the children of Israel (Romans 5:11). Robert Hawker rightly observed, “The blood of the sacrifice must be applied as well as spilt. An unapplied ransom is no ransom. An unapplied Savior is no Savior (Hebrews 9:19-20).”
Only God the Holy Spirit can do that for us. When he sprinkles the guilty conscience with the blood of Christ, guilt is removed from the conscience, because he makes us to see and know the Savior’s blood is enough, that by his blood alone justice is satisfied and iniquity is purged. The blood sprinkled speaks peace to our souls.
Yet, every person in the house was required to eat the roasted lamb for himself (v. 8). Only those who ate the lamb were delivered from death. All who ate the lamb were delivered. All for whom blood was shed ate the lamb and walked out of Egypt, and walked out with Moses (representing the law of God) leading the way!
Truth and justice cry as loud
As God’s love with Jesus’ blood,
“Every sinner bought with blood
Must escape the wrath of God.”
Justice, mercy, truth and love,
Shining bright in Jesus’ blood,
Make secure our place above,
One with Christ! Approved of God!
Let His praise forever swell —
Jesus has done all things well!
By His sin-atoning blood
He both saves and honors God!
God commands us to eat the Lamb. That means it is alright for us to do so. — God commands us to believe on Christ (1 John 3:23). That means it is alright for you to believe! If you eat the Lamb, his blood was shed for you; but this is something only you can do. You must eat the Lamb for yourself (John 6:51-56)
Every soul under the blood was saved by the blood. — “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt” (v. 13). Someone died in every house in Egypt that night, “for there was not a house where there was not one dead” (v. 30). But the destroying angel did not enter a single house where the blood stained the door. None of those for whom blood was shed died in Egypt that night. Yet, “there was not a house where there was not one dead.” Either personally or representatively, the firstborn of every house died.
The firstborn represents the whole family. And this is God’s law concerning the firstborn. — The Lord God declares, “All the firstborn are mine” (Exodus 22:29; 34:18-20; Numbers 3:13). As it was in Egypt, so it is now. Justice passes by none. All must suffer the wrath of God. All must die. Either personally or representatively, we must face the angry, hot wrath and justice of the holy Lord God. Someone must die, either me or a Substitute, either you or a Substitute! The blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, stops the destroying angel, the executioner of divine justice, at our door. The blood says, “Touch not this house!” The blood atoned for our sin. The blood pacifies the wrath of God. The blood satisfies divine justice. The holy, infinite justice of God cannot require more than the life’s blood of the Lamb of God (Romans 8:1-4; 5:9-11).
The Lord God said, “When I see the blood I will pass over you!” When were we delivered from the wrath of God? When God saw the blood upon the Door (Christ) of our house! How long will this thing last? As long as God sees the blood on the Door! When did God see the blood on the Door? He saw the blood long before we saw it. He sees the blood when we see it. He sees the blood even when we cannot see it. His eye is always on the blood. — Always! Blessed be his name forever! He will still see the blood in the Day of Judgment. Christ is our Passover.
“Christ our Passover is sacrificed.” — Not was sacrificed — “Is sacrificed!” That means his one sacrifice is enough, that its effects are lasting and perpetually meritorious and effectual, and that no other sacrifice will ever be made. The Jews of old had only the picture, the promise, and the prophecy. We have the Passover. The type, being fulfilled, is abolished forever. The law, being fulfilled, is abolished forever (Romans 10:4). The sins of God’s elect, being nailed to the tree, are abolished forever! Justice, being satisfied, demands the deliverance of all for whom the Paschal Lamb is sacrificed. Our God declares to his chosen, “Fury is not in me” (Isaiah 27:4). All God’s elect are now redeemed forever (Hebrews 9:12; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 3:18). Being redeemed means that we are delivered from the curse of the law, forgiven of all sin, made righteous and reconciled to God.
This is not a fanciful dream, but the blessed reality of grace! Christ, the Paschal Lamb, died; and all for whom he died are redeemed and delivered from all possibility of curse or condemnation (Galatians 3:13; Romans 8:1, 33-34).
“Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace,
Or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sin away,
A Sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they!”
“Christ our Passover is sacrificed.” But for whom was this great sacrifice made? The Holy Spirit answers that question most emphatically in the last two words of 1 Corinthians 5:7—”FOR US.” — “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us!” No lamb was provided, no sacrifice was made, no blood was shed for the Egyptians, only for Israel, for all Israel, but only for Israel, God’s chosen people whom he had purposed to redeem, promised to redeem, and came to redeem.
Blood was shed only for those who came out of Egypt that night. Even so, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, is not a Passover Lamb slain for all the world, but “for us” who are delivered by his blood. The Son of God did not, in any way, or to any degree, die to redeem and save those who yet suffer the wrath of God in hell. His sacrifice was made for and effectually secured the eternal salvation of all for whom he died.
There is not a hint of universal redemption in the Book of God. Every text referring to the redemptive work of Christ, every type of redemption in the Old Testament, and every statement about the consequences of our Lord’s death at Calvary declare plainly that he died for a specific people, and that all for whom he died were effectually redeemed by his blood. — “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us!” — “For us” whom he came to save (Matthew 1:21). — “For us” who are God’s elect (Romans 8:29). — “For us” his church (Ephesians 5:25-27). — “For us” his sheep (John 10:11, 15, 26). — “For us” who believe on him. — “For us” who shall be with him at last in heaven (Romans 5:9-10).
Why are we so dogmatic and insistent in declaring that the Lord Jesus Christ actually redeemed all for whom he died? Why do we so dogmatically assert the doctrine of particular, effectual redemption? Why do we insist, in the teeth of universal opposition from the religious world around us, upon the doctrine of limited atonement? Why must we constantly denounce as heresy the hellish doctrine of universal (useless) redemption? Just suppose it was true that Jesus Christ died for the purpose of redeeming every person in the world, and that some of those for whom he died perished in hell!
Where then is the love of God? Does God not love his own elect anymore than the rest of the world? Does he not love Jacob more than Esau, and Peter more than Judas? Universal redemption reduces the love of God to nothing. What kind of love must that be which does not save men from hell, when it is able to do so?
Where then is the wisdom of God? The sacrifice of Christ in the place of his people is “the manifold wisdom of God.” But what wisdom is there in the plan of saving sinners by the death of Christ, if some of those for whom Christ died are not saved?
Where then is the justice of God? The death of Christ in the place of sinners was the satisfaction of divine justice. But what justice is it that demands a double payment for the same crime? Can God in justice slay his Son in my place and slay me, too?
Where then is the power of God? If Jesus Christ, God the eternal Son, tried by his death upon the cross to save every person in the world, and some of them go to hell, in spite of his best efforts, what power does he have? Does not God Almighty have power to forgive sin, take away unbelief, and give faith to whom he will?
Where then is the immutability of God? Can God at one time love a man so greatly that he gave his only begotten Son to die in his place, and at another time burn with such hatred, wrath, and anger against that same man that he sends him to hell? Did he not say, “I am the Lord, I change not”?
Where then is the glory of God? The ultimate end of God in redemption is his own glory; but if some of those for whom Christ died suffer in hell eternally, he is robbed of his glory.
Know this, if Jesus Christ died in the place of any man who suffers the wrath of God in hell for his own sins, then that awful absurdity must follow, — that “Christ died in vain!” Perish the thought! The Son of God did not fail in his work. He accomplished an effectual redemption. Every soul from whom Christ died shall believe the gospel; and all who believe shall have eternal life.
The Lord God specifically commanded that the blood of the passover lamb was to be sprinkled upon “the two side posts and the upper door post” of each house in Israel (v. 7), but not a drop was to be spilled upon the threshold. Why? Because the blood must never be trampled under foot as a common, or unholy thing (Hebrews 10:29).
Keep the Feast
“Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast.”
“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).
The passover feast was in many ways similar to the Lord’s Supper. Indeed, our Lord Jesus seized the symbolism of the last passover supper to establish the gospel ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. But 1 Corinthians 5 does not refer to the Lord’s Supper. 1 Corinthians 11 tells us plainly that the Lord’s Supper is not a feast, and is not to be kept as a feast. The passover feast was a picture of the life of faith. The keeping of the feast referred to here is a spiritual thing. Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, we feed upon him as our Passover Sacrifice. We eat his flesh and drink his blood, constantly, by faith (John 6:51-57).
A feast implies both plenty and joy. In Christ there is plenteous redemption. In him there is an infinite supply of grace. Let us therefore feast upon him with the joy of faith. The feast of faith must be eaten with bitter herbs of godly sorrow and true repentance (Zechariah 12:10), as the passover was (v. 8).
This feast of faith cannot be kept with the old leaven of malice and wickedness (enmity and hypocrisy). It must be kept with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. The old leaven of nature must be purged. Being born again by God the Holy Spirit, we must put off the old man and put on the new. God cannot be worshipped, except by those who worship him in the Spirit and in the Truth (Ephesians 4:21-24; Titus 3:3-5; John 4:24; Philippians 3:3).
As leaven sours the loaf, so malice sours the life. As leaven ruins, so wickedness destroys. As leaven swells, so hypocrisy swells the hearts of men with pride. Let us put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, putting off our old, carnal Adamic passions. Spirit of God, sweep the leaven of nature away, that we may worship God with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
This feast of faith is a feast of expectation and hope. The Jews ate the passover with their coats on their backs, their shoes on their feet, and their staff in their hands. They ate it expecting to go out of Egypt that night. That is what it is to keep the feast. It is living upon Christ with the expectation of deliverance, having our loins girt about with the girdle of Truth, our feet shod with the gospel of peace, the coat of Christ’s righteousness upon our backs, and the staff of faith in our hands. We keep the feast by reckoning ourselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God. We keep the feast with an eye upon eternity and the land of promise. “Christ” is “our Passover.” “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” — “Therefore let us keep the feast.”