The Passover Lamb

Growing up, I loved Easter Sunday. We dressed up in our new dresses, ate the candy from our Easter basket, went to church, and spent the day with family eating a lot of food.

I grew up hearing the same story every year of Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection. I’m not sure how much it really meant to me until I was out of college.

I remember hearing a song called Watch the Lamb by Ray Boltz in the late 1990s. It was an amazing song, which really helped me put myself in that moment of time. (Here’s the video https://youtu.be/UNT1AThOgME)

I heard little about the Jewish feasts, the Passover Lamb, and the Jewishness of Jesus in church. So, I began reading and seeking people who could fill in the gaps of my understanding.

The Lamb of God

Years ago, while reading the first chapter of John, I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me about the passage. That passage was John 1:35-36.

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!

John 1:35-36

Suddenly, the Holy Spirit helped me understand that John prophesied about Jesus. John could not have known without the Holy Spirit that Jesus was the Lamb of God.

Many years later, I heard a familiar story from Genesis explained in a way I had never heard. Genesis 22 recounts the story of Abraham taking Isaac to Mt. Moriah to sacrifice him. In Genesis 22:7, Isaac wanted to know where the lamb for the sacrifice was. Abraham told him, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”

In Genesis 22:11, an angel stopped Abraham from killing his son. When Abraham looked up toward the land, he saw a ram caught in the bushes by its horns. This ram became the sacrifice.

Why does this matter?

Rabbis and priests read this story to thousands of people every year. The Hebrew words lamb (seh) and ram (ayil) are very different and do not rhyme like they do in English. As a result, once the people heard how Abraham said the LORD would provide a lamb, the Jewish people waited for a lamb–a type of Joseph or a suffering Messiah. As John pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God” he was letting his disciples know this was the Lamb they were waiting for.

Passover

On the tenth day of Nisan, before the Passover feast, the Jews brought an unblemished lamb into their houses. They cared for the lamb until they took it to the priest for slaughter on the fourteenth day of Nisan at the ninth hour or three o’clock in the afternoon. The Levites hung the slain lambs on a hook with their forearms stretched out like a crucifixion and skinned them. They called this the day of preparation. The Passover started at 5:30 pm or sundown (the 15th of Nisan).

Before Passover, the priests hung the slain lambs on a hook with their forearms stretched out like a crucifixion and skinned them. They called this the day of preparation. #ThePassoverLamb #ThisSideofHeaven

You already know that the Sabbath or Shabbat takes place every week from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. The Jews also had other Shabbats. The first day of the Passover feast was a Shabbat. There were six additional Shabbat days, each one of those occurred on the day of each of the other six feasts. That created two Shabbats on each of the weeks having a feast, in addition to two preparation days, since no one worked on either of these Shabbat days.

The Triumphal Entry

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!

Luke 19:38 ESV

We see in Luke 19, John 12, and Matthew 21, the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on what would have been Sunday, the 10th of Nisan–the same day families took their lamb into their homes. The family tested the lamb to make sure it was free of blemish. That is exactly what we find in Luke 20. The priests and scribes challenged Jesus’ authority as a way of testing Him.

On the day of preparation before the Passover Feast, Jewish families cleaned their houses to remove any traces of leaven or yeast. Of course, this represented sin.

After Jesus came into Jerusalem, He entered the Temple and cleansed it.

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

Matthew 21:12-13 ESV

The Last Supper

On the evening of the 14th of Nisan, Jesus sent His disciples to prepare the Passover for them.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” 10 He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11 and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’

Now, remember, the day began at sundown. On the 14th of Nisan, the following afternoon, they slaughtered the lamb.

The significance of the man carrying a jar of water is that he was an Essene. They were a certain sect of Judaism who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, who didn’t marry–hence they carried their own water–and celebrated Passover the day before the Orthodox Jews.

Jesus would have celebrated Passover the day before all the other Jews because He was the Passover Lamb.

If you have never been to a Passover feast or commonly called a Seder Meal, please do it sometime–it is so worth it, especially with a Messianic Rabbi leading it. It all points to Jesus the Messiah!

After Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, they went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. The soldiers arrested Jesus that night and took Him to Annas, first. They then took Him to the high priest where they questioned Him, and the soldiers mocked and beat Him.

At daybreak on the 14th of Nisan, they took Jesus before the assembly of elders, scribes, and the chief priest (Luke 22:66).

Then, they led Jesus to Pilate, His armed guards, who were Jewish, didn’t go into the governor’s headquarters because it would defile them, and they could not eat the Passover feast (John 18:28).

Of course, we know Pilate sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion.

 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13 So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.

John 19:12-16 ESV

As you can see from this verse, it is the eve or Preparation Day of Passover (Thursday, the 14th of Nisan about 12 pm).

The daily sacrifices would end soon about one or two o’clock in preparation of the slaughter of the Passover lambs.

 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this, he breathed his last.

Luke 23:44-46 ESV

Jesus died the ninth hour or about three pm, while the priests slaughtered and hung the Passover lambs on a hook with their front legs spread out as if crucified.

Jesus had to die on a cross at the very time the Passover lambs were being killed to be the Lamb of God. He is our unblemished, perfect Passover Lamb who took away the sins of the entire world with His precious blood.

Jesus had to die on a cross at the very time the Passover lambs were being killed to be the Lamb of God. He is our unblemished, perfect Passover Lamb who took away the sins of the entire world with His precious blood. #ThePassoverLamb #ThisSideofHeaven

Everything that happened during the Passover, Jesus fulfilled PERFECTLY! God is amazing.

He wanted His people to see the feast they kept for thousands of years was all about His Son. Yet some missed it.

Please don’t miss the precious gift God has given–His Son.

The Tomb

 Since it was the day of Preparation [Thursday], and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. (Emphasis mine)

John 19:31 ESV

As I already said, Jesus died on the day of Preparation for the Passover. The Sabbath, mentioned in the above verse, is the day of Passover.

The Resurrection!

John tells us as Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, she saw two angels.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.

John 20:11-12 ESV

Imagine, as Mary looked within the tomb at those two angels sitting there where Jesus had lain. She was told He was not there. He had risen! Hallelujah, Jesus arose on Sunday morning!

But, look at this.

In Exodus, God gave Moses directions to build the Ark of the Covenant and Mercy seat.

You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold…. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. 20 The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be.

Exodus 25:17-20 ESV

Can you imagine? God looked down through history to the day His Son would be laid in a tomb. He sees Him lay there for three days and three nights until His Resurrection. He sees Mary come to the tomb, the angels–God placed at each end–sitting there facing one another with their wings spread out over the place Jesus’ bloody body had been.

Then, He told Moses to build it.

The Bible is such an incredible book!

However, there is no One like our Savior, Jesus the Christ. He suffered and died a horrible death for you and me, because He loves us. Take time this week to thank Him for all He has done and will do.

Remember, He was thinking of you and me on that cross.

Reference

Here’s a link to a great site about the Jewish Passover: https://rabbiyeshua.com/articles-by-kehilat/item/10-passover-lamb

Happiness is….

For the past eight weeks, we have been looking into the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. The other day, I read Psalm 32 and noticed it begins with the same wording as Matthew 5.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Psalm 32:1-2 ESV

While looking for a commentary about these verses, I came across an article from “Working Preacher” called The Pursuit of Happiness.

The Hebrew word, ashre, translates into Blessed are. The Working Preacher described it as Happiness is… This is an interesting translation of the word. You can read it here.

What comes to mind when you hear happiness is?

I found these quotes during a quick online search:

Happiness is a warm puppy.

                  …having you in my life.

                  …being weird every now and then.

                  …the privilege of friendship.

                  …letting go of your worries.

                  … not out there, it’s in you.

What would you say happiness is? To me, happiness is laughing with my family.

The Bible is full of these Blessed are /Happiness is statements.

There are Beatitudes in Deuteronomy, Job, Jeremiah, Psalms, Revelation, and probably others.

Let’s look at a few other examples I found in the Bible, and my Happiness is interpretation below them.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

Jeremiah 17:7 ESV

Happiness is the man who trusts in the Lord…

Isn’t true happiness being able to fully trust in Someone? Knowing our Father will never lie, cheat, hurt, or disappoint us is a wonderful feeling. I was thinking the other day, if I truly believe God can not lie, then everything He has told me is truth. Everything He has promised He will do, because He has to–He. Can’t. Lie. Lying would go against His holy and perfect nature.

Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.

Job 5:17 NIV

Happiness is getting corrected by God…

This isn’t exactly a quote we would make into a poster and paste on our wall, right? No one really likes correction or discipline. However, I would prefer the Lord correct or discipline, me now, in this life, rather than in eternity. Hebrews 12:6 says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

In addition, Hebrews 12:11 tells us, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

A number of years ago, I developed a bad attitude with my pastor (Many others saw my poor attitude, as well). It didn’t seem to matter to him what I wanted to teach because he would either say he taught it or he was going to teach it. To me, it seemed as if he didn’t want me to teach at all.

One Sunday morning during worship, I grumbled to the Lord. I complained how my pastor wouldn’t let me teach or lead any groups. As a result, I felt useless and angry. Suddenly, I heard the Lord’s voice inside me, AND it was neither gentle nor caring. Sternly, He answered me, “Your pastor didn’t say ‘No,’ I DID!”

If I could have crawled under my seat, I would have. God made it clear I needed to quit grumbling about the pastor and accept his answer. This was the closest to having the Lord yell at me as I have ever gotten. I won’t forget it either. But God changed my relationship with my pastor for the better through this. I realized all the things I thought he was doing, he wasn’t. I publicly apologized for my bad attitude.

Godly discipline yields fruit–and happy children.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Ps. 34:8 ESV

Happiness is the man who takes refuge in the Lord…

A refuge is “a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.”

I have a picture my mom took on my fifth birthday. I wore a little flowered dress with a bow in my hair sitting on my dad’s lap. That was my safe place.

My dad died almost thirty years ago. One day as I prayed, feeling lonely and a bit depressed, the Lord reminded me of that picture. He spoke to my heart and told me I sit on His lap in much of the same way I sat on my dad’s as a little girl. My Father sees me as His little girl and He holds me when I am happy or sad. The Lord protects me, comforts me, speaks to me and loves me. He is my refuge. The words the Lord spoke to me gave my heart peace, and also joy and happiness.

Here’s the last one for now…

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2 ESV

Happiness is not walking with the wicked, standing in the way of sinners, or sitting in the seat of scoffers, but delighting in the Law of the Lord…

1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'” That’s certainly a good reason not to walk, stand, and sit with people who will corrupt us. How many people have you known who didn’t regret following others into trouble?

I looked up the word happiness online. As I read over the definitions given, I realized God, in His Word, gave us the true meaning of Happiness. It is not following Him in a half-hearted, on-again, off-again, when-it-is-convenient way.

What if true happiness is being poor in spirit, peacemakers, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, being meek, mourning over our sin, being merciful, getting persecuted, taking refuge in the Lord, getting corrected by God…#ThisSideofHeaven #Beatitudes #HappinessIs

What if true happiness is being poor in spirit, peacemakers, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, being meek, mourning over our sin, being merciful, getting persecuted, taking refuge in the Lord, getting corrected by God…

You get the picture.

We will never find true happiness by looking at the world around us. It comes from looking up.

It comes from gazing past ourselves to the One who is the meaning of happiness.

Jesus.

Happy are the Pursued…

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Matthew 5:10-11 ESV

Years ago, a recruiter contacted me because he saw my resume online. He called asking me to come in for an interview for a state-of-the-art histology lab in Cleveland–even offering me the salary I desired.

This company pursued me for my skills.

We use the word pursue in many ways. Pursue is one of those words which has a negative or positive meaning.

Matthew 5:10 uses the Hebrew word radaph (pronounced raw-daf’) for persecuted. It means to run after (usually with hostile intent; –chase, put to flight, follow (after, on), hunt, (be under) persecute(-ion, -or), pursue(-r).

As I sit here writing these words my mind is going in many directions as far as where to take this post. I haven’t written much in the hours I have sat in front of this laptop! I feel the Lord taking me in a direction I really didn’t intend to go.

And that direction is the topic of persecution.

Persecution is not too far off in our future. You don’t have to be a prophet to know that.

As I read and re-read related verses these stuck out to me most:

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,  while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

2 Timothy 3:12-13 ESV

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

John 15:18 ESV

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

John 15:20 ESV

If we’re honest, we recognize the signs of the times. It won’t be long before every sold-out Christian/Jesus-lover will be insulted, falsely accused, and/or persecuted.

In this Beatitude, Jesus said people will persecute us for the sake of righteousness and Him. What does that mean?

I’m sure you understand what Jesus meant.

But, I can’t help but think of another verse right now.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.

Matt. 7:21-23 ESV

Why will Jesus say to many, who have cast out demons, prophesied, and done mighty things, “I never knew you”? Because they did not do the will of the Father.

The will of the Father includes being sexually moral and pure. It is holiness. When it comes down to it, the will of the Father is for us to be nothing like the world and everything like Jesus! It is every characteristic Jesus spoke of in the Beatitudes.

When it comes down to it, the will of the Father is for us to be nothing like the world and everything like Jesus! #HappyarethePursued #ThisSideofHeaven #TheBeatitudes

We live in a world where it is not politically correct to talk about Jesus or to tell people they are sinners. If we want, we can find a church and Bible version that suits our worldview. Many claim to be Christians. But are all who claim that title, righteous?

So, what does it mean to be righteous?

In my post on the Beatitude, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” I explained righteousness this way:

Tsedeq [the Hebrew word for righteousness] has the idea that desperate people like those who are starving or dying of thirst will hunt for God’s righteousness or justice as a person would for food and water.

Do you Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness?

Here is the way Jeff A. Brenner describes righteousness. But, let me say this first, evil, according to the Hebrew language, is to depart from God’s way–righteousness is the exact opposite.

A righteous person is not one who lives a religiously pious life, [which is] the common interpretation of this word, he is one who follows the correct path, the path (way) of God.

https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/definition/righteous.htm

The CORRECT path and way.

Jesus is that way and the Father puts us on the path of His choosing. The only way to be righteous is through the righteousness of Jesus. The only way to know God’s path and to avoid departing from it is to be in the Word.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6 ESV

Who or what do we love the most? That is who we worship. What is the promise in this Beatitude? The Kingdom of Heaven.

Going back to the title of this post…Why are the pursued/persecuted happy? Because they know Who they belong to. This world will persecute those who stand for God’s truth and ways.

I can’t think of a better verse to demonstrate how Jesus’ disciples lived out this Beatitude.

The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.

Acts 5:4 NLT