THE PASSOVER DURING THE GOSPEL AGE

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten  Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have  everlasting life" (Jn.3:16).

Almost  2,000 years ago, the Creator God came to earth and  became the  ultimate sacrifice for humanity. As a human he suffered vile indignities, excruciating torture, violent beatings, scourging, crucifixion, and the shame of a public execution.  He suffered rejection by his own people, and injustice at the  hands of religious and civil authorities. He was the victim of  political expediency and religious hypocrisy and he was murdered by those that professed to follow the law of God.

To  the majority of people today, the observance of  the  Passover  presents  no problem because they do not believe it exists. However, to those who have come to understand the importance of the annual festivals in relation to the plan of God for humanity,  it is  an  extremely important event that should be  understood  as well as observed.

In order to understand the Passover that Jesus instituted for his followers,  an  explanation of the prophetic  events  surrounding Jesus'  death  must be given and four basic  questions  must  be answered:

1. Why did Jesus observe the Passover before his death?

2. Why did he institute new rituals and symbolism for the Passover?

3. What do these new Passover rituals and symbolism mean?

4. Why and how should a Christian observe the Passover?

Behold the Lamb of God

As  John the Baptist was preaching the coming of the Messiah  and baptizing those who were repentant, he saw Jesus coming and said, "Behold  the Lamb of God, which takes away the  sin of the world" (Jn.1:29 KJV). See also verse 36.

It is important to remember that all of the prophetic meaning  of the  Passover  pointed toward a time when the Creator  God  would come to earth to redeem and save humanity.

John's  announcement  that Jesus was the prophetic  Lamb  of  God formally  set  into motion the progression of events  that  would culminate  in  the fulfillment of all the prophecies  concerning  the Passover Lamb and the redemption of humanity.

Christ, the Lamb Without Blemish

"Because  it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy. And  if  you call  on  the Father, who is without respect  of  persons  judges according  to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as you know that you were  not  redeemed with corruptible  things,  as silver and gold,  from  your  vain conversation  received by tradition from your fathers;  But  with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without  blemish  and without  spot: Who truly was foreordained  before the  foundation of  the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,  Who by  him do believe in God that raised him up from the  dead,  and gave  him  glory;  that  your faith and hope  might  be  in  God" (1.Pet.1:16-21 KJV).

Flesh, Bread, and Blood

During his ministry, Jesus spoke of himself as being the prophetic fulfillment of the Passover lamb for Israel, which includes the symbolism of flesh, bread, and blood.

John 6:31-33, 47-58 KJV

"Our  fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is  written,  he gave  them  bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus  said  to  them, Truly,  truly, I say to you, Moses gave you not that  bread from heaven; but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the  bread of God is he which comes down from heaven,  and  gives life to the world" (vs.31-33).

"Truly,  truly, I say to you, he  that believes on me shall  have, everlasting life" (v47).

In  verses 31 through 47, Jesus speaks of himself as the one  whom the  Father  sent to give and sustain life. He also says that  it  is through  a  belief in him (Jesus) that a person is granted eternal life.

"I am that bread of Life" (v48).

"Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is  the  bread which comes down from heaven, that a man  may  eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (vs.49-51). See Rev. 2:17.

The Word Bread

The  Hebrew word for bread is 'lechem', which means any food necessary for human survival (Matt.4:4; 6:11). It is  interesting that the prophecies about Jesus' birth said that the Messiah who would be  the  literal and  symbolic bread of life would be born in Beth-lechem  (i.e., Bethlehem), which means house of bread.

Jesus came from heaven to give spiritual life that is eternal:

"Who  ever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal  life; and  I  will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh  is  meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh,  and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. As the living Father has  sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me,  even he  shall  live by me. This is that bread which came  down  from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he  that eats of this bread shall live for ever" (vs.54-58).

See our study entitled "Not Discerning the Lords' Body" for a full explanation of what it means to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man.

THE PASSOVER UNDER THE NEW COVENANT

Passover 30 A.D.

The  Passover season of 30 A.D. began much as it had in  previous years.   Thousands  of pilgrims from all over the  world  crowded into Jerusalem, and because they were concerned with preparing for the  Passover, they did not realize that this  particular Passover would be the  most important event in all of human history. It was on this Passover that the Lamb of God would be sacrificed.

Because  of a problem in determining the first day of  the  first month of the sacred calendar in 30 A.D., the Calendar Court sanctioned  two Passover observances that year. This  rare  situation allowed  Jesus  to observe the Passover with  his  disciples  and to institute  new rituals before fulfilling the prophetic  meaning of the Passover Lamb the next day on the second Passover. See our study  paper concerning which day is the Christian  Passover,  for details of the Calendar Court's decision.

The Tenth of Nisan

Matthew,  Mark,  and John recorded that before  the  Passover, while Jesus was in Bethany having supper, a woman anointed  Jesus for  his  burial. Matthew and Mark record that she  anointed  his head, and John records she anointed his feet. All three  recorded that Jesus  said he was being anointed in preparation for his  burial, but only John records that this event took place six days before the Passover. See Matt.26:6-13; Mk.14:3-9; Jn.12:1-7.

Remember that the Passover lamb was selected on the tenth day  of the first month and sacrificed at the end of the 14th day  before sunset;  then, it was eaten at the beginning of the  15th  day just after sunset.

This anointing of Jesus by Mary, which happened six days before the Passover, was no accident. It was very important to the  fulfillment of the prophetic symbolism of the selection of the  lamb at the first and subsequent Passovers.

When John recorded that it was six days before the Passover  that Jesus  was  anointed  for his burial, he was doing  so  with  the knowledge that there had been two Passovers that year. Jesus had kept the  first Passover with his disciples, while many  of  the Jews (Jn.2:13; 6:4; 11:55) had kept the second Passover (i.e., the one on which Jesus was crucified).

Using  inclusive  counting, the day Jesus was  anointed  for  his burial would have been the 10th day of the first month, which  was the  same day that the Passover lamb was selected and  set  apart for its sacrificial death.

Note:

The following chart shows inclusive counting of six days which include the anointing of Jesus for his burial and his crucifixion and burial on Friday afternoon during the second sanctioned Passover of 30 A.D..

The King Comes

On the day after being anointed with oil, Jesus entered the  city riding on a colt which fulfilled the prophecy of  Zechariah:

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of  Jerusalem:  behold,  your King comes to you: he is just,  and  having salvation;  lowly,  and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt  the foal of an ass" (Zech.9:9 KJV).

As  Jesus began  his entry into Jerusalem, his disciples  rejoiced and  proclaimed him as the Messiah who was coming in the name  of the Lord (Lk.19:35-38):

"And  some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to him.  Teacher, rebuke  your disciples. And  he said to them, I say  to you,  If these should be silent, the stones will cry out. And  as he drew near, seeing the city he  wept over it"  (Lk.19:39-41 Para.). See Matt.21; Mk.11; Lk.19; Jn.12.

Jesus knew who he was and why he had come to earth; however, no one else knew or understood who he was or why he  had come (except perhaps John the Baptist). The priesthood and religious leaders whose sacred trust it was to preserve God's word in its purity and meaning had, instead, perverted  God's law and worship system. Therefore, the Jews  did not understand the prophetic meaning of the  Passover's  rituals and symbolism.

Because  of this, the people did not recognize who Jesus was  nor his reason for coming. The Jews of Christ's day were waiting  for the advent of a Messiah who would deliver them from their physical bondage and restore the kingdom of Israel to power. They were not looking for the Messiah to come and sacrifice himself for the sins of humanity.

TWO DAYS UNTIL THE PASSOVER

"And  it happened when Jesus had finished all these  sayings,  he  said  to his disciples, You know that the Passover is  after  two days, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified" (Matt.26:1-2 Para.).

There are two significant things to learn from these  scriptures:

1. The festival that Jesus and his disciples observed is acknowledged as the Passover and not some other observance.  

2. Jesus  knew that he would  be betrayed and would die  on  the Passover.

These scriptures set the stage for the events that would occur during the  Passover ceremony that Jesus observed and the Passover that the Jews observed.

The Conspiracy

Over the centuries the Jews had seen many false messiahs come and go; however, Jesus was different. He  came with  great  spiritual power and a message of repentance. This message of repentance was especially  offensive  to the religious  leaders,  because  Jesus accused  them of leading the people into sin and away  from  God. Because  Jesus did not fit their idea of what the Messiah  should be and they perceived him to be a threat to their  religious authority and political power, they wanted to kill him. See Mk.11:15-18; 12:1-12; Lk.19:45-48; Jn.5:1-16; 8:37-40.

"Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes,  and the  elders of the people, to the palace of the high priest,  who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus  by subtlety,  and  kill him. But they said, Not on the  feast  day, lest there be an uproar among the people" (Matt.26:3-5 KJV).

"After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of  unleavened bread:   and  the chief priests and the scribes sought  how  they might take him by craft, and put him to death. But they said, Not on the  feast  day,  lest there be  an  uproar  of  the  people" (Mk.14:1-2 KJV). See also Lk.22:1-2.

The sequence of events just prior to Jesus' death are very important to understand for the following reasons:

1. In order to fulfill the prophecies concerning the  sacrificial Lamb of God, which was to be slain for the sins of humanity, each event  had to occur in its proper time frame and in exact detail. See Matt.5:18.

2. These events show that, in 30 A.D., there were two  consecutive Passover observances sanctioned by the sacred  calendar court.

Judas the Traitor

"Then  one  of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went  to  the chief  priests, And said to them, What will you give me, and  I will  deliver  him to you?  And they covenanted  with  him  for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to  betray  him"  (Matt.26:14-16  KJV).  See also   Mk.14:10-11; Lk.22:3-6.

Here,  we see the first part of the prophecy concerning the  price paid for the betrayal of Jesus.

"And I said to them, If it is good in your eyes, give my price;  and if  not,  let  it go. And they weighed for my  price,  thirty  of silver" (Zech.11:12 Para.).

The conspirators did not want to kill Jesus on the first or  last day  of the feast of Unleavened Bread (see Jn.11:55-57). According  to  their tradition, this act would have caused them  to  be guilty of defiling holy time. However, when Judas came forward to betray  Jesus before the feast, their problem concerning  defilement of the festival day was solved. Therefore, they seized  this opportunity.

This  is an extremely important point, because Jesus was  actually killed  on the preparation day of the second sanctioned  Passover during the ceremonial process of  killing the Passover lambs, just as it had been prophesied. See Isa.53:7.

THE DISCIPLES PREPARE THE PASSOVER

"Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to him, Where will you that we prepare  for you to eat the Passover? And he said, Go into the city to such  a man, and say to him, The Master says, My time is at hand; I  will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples" (Matt.26:17-18 KJV). See also Mk.14:12-15; Lk.22:7-12.

Jesus and his disciples accepted  and  acknowledged this day as being  before the Passover meal and the first day of the spring feast  (Matt.26:17; Mk.14:12; Lk.22:7); they understood  this  day  to be the preparation day for eating the ceremonial Passover meal (Matt.26:17; Mk.14:12; Lk.22:9) and they knew, without a doubt, that the Passover lamb must  be  killed before the evening of the first day of  the  spring  festival (Mk.14:12; Lk.22:7):

"And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready   the  Passover" (Matt.26:19  KJV).  See  also   Mk.14:16; Lk.22:13.

These  scriptures show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus  and his disciples were making preparations to keep the Passover  ceremony,  which included the killing and eating of  the  sacrificial lamb.  To claim that Jesus who was the Creator and law giver  did not know which day was the Passover is illogical and a  denial of the clear meaning of these scriptures.

The disciples  prepared for the Passover as they were  instructed by  Jesus.  But what did it mean to prepare  the  Passover?  What preparations were necessary? Exactly what did they have to do before eating the Passover meal?

The following preparations had to be completed in order to observe the Passover:

Note:

Would the priests have accepted the sacrificial lamb's blood and sprinkled this blood on  the altar if the day was not an authorized Passover? Absolutely not!

If  Jesus and his disciples  prepared  and  ate the  Passover  as  they  said they did, the  lamb and  all other  arrangements would have been  performed according to and in harmony with the law of the Passover.

Jesus and the Disciples Eat the Passover

With  all  of the preparation completed, the  lamb  roasted,  the bitter herbs and unleavened bread set in their places, the  Passover was ready to be eaten.

Just after sundown,  thirteen men sat around a table in  Jerusalem eating the Passover with varying degrees of joy and apprehension. They  ate  with joy because of what the Passover  meant  to  them historically. They ate with apprehension, because of the events  that  occurred  prior  to and upon their arrival in  Jerusalem  and  the  sober and thoughtful mood of Jesus:

"And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said to them, With desire I have desired to  eat this Passover with you before I suffer: For I say to you, I  will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God" (Lk.22:14-16 KJV).

THE WASHING OF FEET

During  the  meal,  Jesus rose and took off his  outer  garment; then, he took a basin of water and a towel and began to wash the feet of the twelve disciples. This act of humility further illustrated his sober and thoughtful mood.

By washing his disciple's feet, Jesus instituted a completely  new  and  different ritual. But what is its purpose, why is it necessary, and what is the lesson that should be learned by this ritual?

The following are a few of the many references to the washing of feet  in the scriptures, along with the reasons for its performance:

Custom of the Day

In  the time of Jesus, it was the custom for the host  to supply water with which his guests could wash their own feet, wash the  guests' feet  himself,  or  have a servant or slave wash  them.  Jesus explains  this new Passover ritual, by using  the  example of a humble servant  as an example of the attitude that is required of  those who serve God.

Jesus Washes Their Feet

John 13:4-17

"He rose up from supper, and laid aside his garments. And  taking a  towel,  he  girded himself. Then he  put water into  a  basin,  and  began  to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe  them with the towel with which he  was girded" (vs.4-5 Para.).

This action by Jesus was totally unexpected by the disciples  who believed Jesus was the prophesied Messiah and had come to Jerusalem  to  liberate the Jews and establish the Kingdom  of  God  on earth.

"He then came to Simon Peter. And that one said to him, Lord,  do you wash my feet?" (v6 Para.).

Peter's  response to what Jesus was doing was perfectly  logical, given  his belief of who Jesus was and the Jewish  customs  concerning who washed feet.

"Jesus answered  and said to him,  What I am doing you do not yet know. But you will know after these things" (v7 Para.).

Not  only  did Peter not understand what Jesus was doing, but it  is also highly unlikely that any of the disciples understood.

"Peter said to him, You may in no way wash my feet forever. Jesus answered him, Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.  Simon Peter said to him,  Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head" (vs.8-9 Para.).

The  performance of this ritual is so important that to not  take part in it will result in a person being excluded from participation in what Christ is doing on earth.

"Jesus  answered, A person who has had a bath needs only to  wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though  not every one  of  you. For he knew who was going to betray  him,  and that is why he said not everyone was clean" (vs.10-11 NIV).

Before a festival observance, it was customary for a person  to bathe  themselves. Peter and the others had obviously done  this; therefore,  Jesus' reference to Judas shows that the  washing  of the feet has a spiritual rather than a physical meaning.

It  is apparent that eleven of the disciples had the right  attitude  toward Jesus, but Judas did not. However, to one degree  or another, they all lacked the spiritual quality for which the  act of washing another person's feet was symbolic.

"So after he had washed  their feet, and had taken his  garments, and  was set down again, he said to them, Know you what  I  have done to you? You call me Master and Lord:  and you say well;  for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet" (vs.12-14 KJV).

Jesus who was the Creator God is the Redeemer and Savior of  the new  agreement with national Israel and the rest of humanity. He is  truly  the Master and Lord of all whom the  Father  calls  to salvation because he sits at the Father's right hand (Heb.8:1); he is the first son of the Father's New Creation (Rom.8:29) and he  holds  the  office  of High  Priest  before  the  Father (Heb.2:14-16; Rom.8:33-34; 1.Jn.2:1-2).

"For  I have given you an example, that you should do as  I  have done  to  you. Truly, truly, I say to you,  The  servant  is  not greater  than his Lord; neither he that is sent greater  than he that sent him" (vs.15-16 KJV).

Here,  Jesus clearly says that what he has done is an example  for the disciples to follow in their relationship with each other, and it is to be done  on  subsequent  Passover  observances.  See Matt.28:19-20; 1.Pet.2:21.

What is the Lesson?

In  order  to understand the important lesson that is  taught  by this  ritual, it is necessary to understand something  about  the disciples before to their conversion.

The  disciples  of Jesus were just like other  people,  they  had their  likes and dislikes, their good and bad habits  and  qualities, their own attitudes as to what was right and wrong, acceptable, and unacceptable, and many other characteristics that  made them unique individuals. However, as with all humans, they also shared many similar personality traits.

One of the human traits that can be very destructive, if not managed properly, is that of competition for authority and position. This  human trait is unacceptable to God and must be overcome by all those who are called to salvation.

Striving for Position

In  Matthew, Mark, and Luke, there are a number of  accounts  that show  the  concern among the disciples as to which one of them  was going to get the greatest reward and position of authority in the Kingdom of God:

"Also  a  dispute arose among them as to which one  of  them  was considered  the  greatest. Jesus said to them, The kings  of  the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them  are  called Benefactors. But you are not to be  like  that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest,  and the  one who rules like the one who serves. For who  is  greater, the one who is at the table or he who serves?  Is not the one who is  at  the  table?   But  I am among you  as  one  who  serves" (Lk.22:24-27 NIV).  See  also Matt.18:1-4;  20:20-28;  23:1-12; Mk.9:33-35.

Because  Jesus understood that the human desire for position  and authority  for the wrong reasons is against the law of  love,  he explained many times through parables  the attitude a person should have concerning positions of authority:

"When  he noticed how the guests picked their places of honor  at the table he told them this parable: "When someone invites you to a  wedding  feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more  distinguished  may have been invited. If so, the  host  who invited both of you will come and say to you, Give this man  your seat. Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place.  But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so  that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend move up  to  a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presences of  your fellow  guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be  humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Lk.14:7-11 NIV). See also Lk.18:9-14.

In  this parable, Jesus spoke of the Father as the one  who  calls the  elect to the marriage supper of the Lamb of God and he showed that  it is the Father who bestows rewards and positions  of authority in the Kingdom. Each person who is called to salvation must patiently wait (i.e., serve) with humility, knowing that  the Father will reward them according to their works. See 1.Cor.13:1-12; Col.2:18-23; 3:1-14; 1.Pet.5:5-6.

Joy and Happiness Through Humble Obedience

After commanding them to perform the washing of feet, Jesus  said that those who understand and perform this ritual will be happy:

"If  you  know  these  things, happy are  you  if  you  do  them" (Jn.13:17 KJV).

In  verse  17, the English words 'know' and 'happy' are  from  the Greek words 'eido'  and 'makarios'. 'Eido' can mean  'to  see,  know, perceive,  be sure, or understand;  'makarios' can mean 'an overwhelming joy  and  happiness that comes  from  fulfilling  a charge'.

If a person truly perceives and  understands the spiritual implications  of this ritual, and practices its lesson of  humble service  to  the Father and his people, they cannot  help  but  be happy.  This kind of joy and happiness can only come through participation in the Father's call to salvation and the knowledge  and  assurance  that there is a divine  reward  for  humble obedience.

This  ritual not only illustrates the type of attitude  a  person must have toward serving the household of God but also the attitude  that a person must have toward their service to God as they fulfill  their responsibilities and  functions  within  the church.  It also shows the type of lifestyle that is pleasing to God.

Humility and Service

Philippians 2:3-8

"Do  nothing  out  of selfish ambition or vain  conceit,  but  in humility  consider  others better than yourselves.  Each  of  you should  look  not  only to your own interests, but  also  to  the interests of others" (vs.3-4 NIV).

"Let  this mind be in you, which was also in Christ  Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And  being found in the fashion as a man, humbled himself, and became obedient to death even the death of the cross" (vs.5-8 KJV).

There are many scriptures that show what true humility is and how to acquire this personality trait. The acquisition of true humility  comes from having a true understanding of  God's  plan and love for humanity and following the  instructions he has given to acquire a humble attitude:

"For  not  the hearers of the law are just before  God,  but  the doers of the law shall be justified" (Rom.2:13).

When Jesus had finished washing his disciples' feet, he began  to say  things  that seemed unusual to the disciples.   Even  though they had been his companions for over three years, his  disciples had never seen him like this.  He began to speak of his  betrayal by one of them, his impending death and glory that would  follow, and  the love that they should have for one another. All of  this seemed very confusing to them because they were expecting him  to establish national Israel as a world power again and to reign as king.

MORE NEW RITUALS AND SYMBOLISM INSTITUTED

THE UNLEAVENED BREAD

During  the first Passover, the Israelites ate the lamb  with  the unleavened  bread  for physical nourishment as well  as  for  the prophetic symbolism that it represented for the future.

The prophetic and symbolic meaning of the lamb and the unleavened bread  were slowly revealed over many centuries  through  various writings  and the prophets. At Jesus' last Passover meal,  he explained  the true prophetic meaning of the sacrificial  lamb  and the  unleavened bread to his disciples as he instituted  the  new Passover rituals and ceremony.

The Breaking of  Bread

"And as they  were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it,  and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body"  (Matt.26:26 KJV).

"And  he  took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave  to them,  saying,  This is my body which is given for you:  this  do in remembrance of me" (Lk.22:19 KJV). See also 1.Cor.11:23-24.

During  the first Passover, the Israelites ate the lamb as a symbol  of  a life  that had been given in order to spare them from death and as  a source of nourishment that would give  them physical life-giving energy as they left Egypt.

Jesus said, "For  the  bread of God is he which comes down from  heaven,  and gives  life  to the world, and  I am the bread of  life:  he  that comes to me shall never hunger" (Jn.6:33,35).

Those  who come to Jesus through the Father's call to  salvation (Jn.6:44,65)  and truly believe the message he  taught  are spared  from  eternal death (Jn.6:50). The  life-giving  power  of Christ provides spiritual nourishment and strength to sustain the  believer  as they leave their former life of sin and grow toward spiritual maturity.

The Broken Body of Christ

Jesus  broke the unleavened bread, which contained the  symbolism of sinlessness, and he explained that it was a symbol of his own body that would be broken. He did this in order to show the coming fulfillment  of the prophecies concerning the   destruction of his  body as the Redeemer and Savior of humanity.

Physical Perfection

Under  the sacrificial system, all sacrifices were to be as  physically  perfect  as possible; only those that conformed  to  God's standards of perfection were acceptable to God. See Lev.22:20-24; Deut.15:19-21.

Not  only was Jesus free from spiritual imperfection  (sin) but also physical imperfection. Therefore, he was an acceptable sacrifice for humanity's sins and physical imperfections.

The  broken   unleavened bread of the new Passover  replaces  the sacrificial  lamb's body of the Passover that was observed  by  ancient Israel. Moreover, the broken unleavened bread represents the broken body of Jesus Christ, which  he willingly gave for humanity.

THE WINE AND THE BLOOD

"And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them,  saying, Drink you all of it; For this is my blood of the new  testament,  which  is  shed  for  many  for  the  remission  of  sins" (Matt.26:27-28 KJV).

This cup is the new agreement in my blood, which  is  being poured out for you" (Lk.22:20).

"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had  supped, saying,  This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do  you, as  often  as you drink it, in remembrance  of  me" (1.Cor.11:25 KJV).

The Blood of the Covenant

After  the Israelites left Egypt and were camped at the  foot  of Mount  Sinai, they made an agreement with God to do  whatever  he told them. In return for this obedience, God promised to give them tremendous blessings.

Moses  wrote this agreement in a book, read the agreement to  the people,  and  they again agreed to do whatever  God  required  of them. Then, Moses sprinkled the book and the people with the blood of sacrificial animals; thereby, ratifying and sealing the agreement  with blood.

The  blood that was sprinkled on the people and  the  agreement was symbolic  of the blood of Jesus Christ, which  would  forgive their sins and ratify and seal the new agreement between God the Father and those of his New Creation. See Acts 20:28;  Eph.1:5-7; Col.1:12-14, 20; Heb.10:19-22.

The Blood of Forgiveness

The  violation of God's law requires that the violator be put  to death (Ezk.18:4,20; Rom.6:23). before the new  agreement,  the Creator  God allowed the life of an animal to be substituted  for the life of the violator in order to cover their sins  and  hide them  from his sight. The blood of the Passover lamb on the  door frame  of  the  Israelites' homes  on the first  Passover  was  a literal and symbolic covering for their sin.

In  order  to form a new and better covenant  (Heb.8:1-10) that included the forgiveness of sins (Isa.43:11; 45:21),  this same Creator God of the original Passover sacrificed his own life as a substitute for the life of those who violate the law  of God.

It is through Jesus Christ's sacrifice and intercessory authority with the Father that we can have our sins forgiven and  forgotten by the Father. See Psa.103:8-13; Isa.1:18-19. Refer to our  study paper concerning salvation and atonement for sin, which explains the  reason why the sacrifice of Christ was necessary.

Notice what the writer to the Hebrews says about the sacrifice of Christ being the ultimate and final sacrifice  for the  forgiveness of sin:

"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the  mediator of the new testament, that by means of  death,  for the redemption of the transgressions that were under  the  first testament,  they  which are called might receive the promise  of eternal inheritance" (Heb.9:14-15 KJV).

The Death of the Testator

"For  where a testament is, there must also of necessity  be  the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men  are dead:  otherwise it is of no strength at all while  the testator lives" (Heb.9:16-17 KJV).

In  order  to  bring the new agreement into force,  Jesus  had  to fulfill  the  prophetic symbols concerning the Passover  and  the prophecies  concerning the Messiah. He did this through his  life and death.

Because  of Christ's righteous and sinless life, he could not  be put  to  death  for his own sin; therefore, he  was  the  perfect sacrifice for the sins of others. And because he was the Creator of all things,  his life was worth far more than  anything  he  had created. Therefore, his blood, which contained his life, could  be substituted  for the life of a sinner. It could purge away  sins as  well  as ratify and seal the new agreement with  a  repentant sinner.

Ratified and Sealed with Blood

"Whereupon neither the first was dedicated without  blood. For  every command according to the law being spoken by Moses  to all  the people, taking the blood of the calves and  goats, with water  and scarlet wool and hyssop, he sprinkled both the  scroll and  the people, saying, This is the blood of the covenant  which God has enjoined to you" (Heb.9:18-20).

The Blood Covenant

"To  the general assembly the church of the first-born which  are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the  spirits  of just men made perfect. And to Jesus the mediator of  the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks  better things than that of Abel" (Heb.12:23-24 KJV).

Those  who are under the new agreement during the gospel  age  of salvation do not have to offer animal sacrifices because they are  found righteous through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

The Atoning Blood of Christ

"But  this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for  sins  forever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Heb.10:12 KJV).

"So  shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall  shut  their mouths  at him: for that which has not been told them shall  they see;  and  that  which they had not heard  shall  they consider" (Isa.52:15 KJV).

The  blood of Christ atones for the sins of humanity and  is the blood by which a new agreement is ratified  and  sealed with national Israel and the rest of humanity.

The Temple and Vessels

"And likewise sprinkled both the tabernacle and the service  vessels  with  blood. And almost all things are  cleansed  by  blood according to the law; and apart from shedding of blood no remission occurs" (Heb.9:21-22 Para.).

The  sacrificial  blood of dedication under the  first  agreement with national Israel was symbolic of the purifying nature of  the blood of Jesus Christ. The purifying blood of Christ's  sacrifice  is applied to the elect children  of  God before their becoming  holy objects  dedicated to God's service.

"John to the seven churches in Asia: Grace to you and peace  from the  One  who is, and who was, and who is coming,  and  from  the seven spirits which are before his throne, even from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the Firstborn from the dead, and the  Ruler the kings of the earth. To him loving us, and freeing us from  our sins  by  his  blood" (Rev.1:4-5 Para.).  See also  Eph.1:7; 1.Pet.1:18-19; Rev.7:13-14.

It is extremely important for anyone who is seeking salvation  to understand  and believe who Jesus Christ is and that  he  sacrificed  his  sinless life to pay the penalty for their  sins.  See Rom.3:9-23; 6:20-23.

The  scriptures say that all have sinned and are waiting  to  be executed  under a death sentence. In order to escape this  execution, a person must have their sins forgiven and be justified (made innocent) before God the Father.

The Bible also says that the only way to have one's sins forgiven is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Without belief in Jesus Christ, no one can be saved.

Jesus our Creator, Redeemer, and Savior                     

"I,  even  I,  am the Lord; and beside me  there  is  no  Savior" (Isa.43:11 KJV).

"Thus  says the Lord, your redeemer, and he that formed you  from the womb, I am the Lord that makes all things. . ." (Isa.44:24 KJV).

"I the Lord am your Savior and your Redeemer, the mighty  One of Jacob" (Isa.60:16 KJV). See also Isa.45:21; Hos.14:4.

"For  God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain  salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1.Thes.5:9 KJV).

"For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost  [humanity]" (Matt.18:11 KJV).

"This  is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,  that Christ  Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom  I  am chief"  (1.Tim.1:15 KJV).

JUSTIFIED BY HIS BLOOD AND SAVED BY HIS LIFE

Paul  spoke  to the Romans and Colossians about  God  the  Father redeeming  us by sending his Son to give his life as payment  for the sins of humanity. He says that we are reconciled to God the Father by the  blood of  Christ  and we shall be saved from death  through  him. Notice  also that we are made innocent before God the  Father  by the  death of his Son and we are saved  because Jesus lives:

"For  we yet being without strength, in due time Christ died  for the  ungodly. For one will with difficulty die for a just one—for perhaps one even dares to die for the sake of the good one––but God  commends his love to us in that we yet  being  sinners, Christ  died for us. Much more, then, being justified now by  his blood,  we shall be saved through him from wrath. For being  enemies, we  were reconciled to God through the death of  his  Son, much more  being  reconciled  we shall be  saved  by  his  life" (Rom.5:6-10 Para.).

Colossians 1:13-22 KJV

"Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has  translated  us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we  have  redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who  is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every  creature" (vs.13-15).

Christ the Creator

"For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones,  or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:" (v16). See also Eph.3:9.

Reconciled by His Blood

"And  he is before all things, and by him all things   consist. . .. And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him  to reconcile  all things to himself, by him, I say, whether they  be things in the earth, or things in heaven" (vs.17-20).

Reconciled by His Flesh

"And  you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your  mind by  wicked  works, yet now has  reconciled in the  body  of  his flesh  through  death,  to present you holy  and unblamable  and unreproveable in his sight:" (vs.21-22).

It is through the sacrificial  body  of  Jesus Christ—the Creator God—that we are reconciled to God the Father and are able to have our death sentence removed.

Jesus Speaks of His Betrayal

As Jesus began to prepare his disciples for his death, he mentioned the prophecy in Psalms concerning the one who would  betray him to be killed so that,  after  his death  and  resurrection, the disciples would  have  confirmation that he was indeed the prophesied Messiah:

John 13:18-32 KJV

"I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that  the scripture may be fulfilled, he that eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me [Psa.41:9]. Now  I tell you before it comes, that, when it is come to  pass, you  may believe that I am he . . .. When Jesus  had said  this,  he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Truly, truly,  I say to you, that one of you shall betray me" (vs.18-19, 21).

"Then  the disciples  looked one on another, doubting of whom  he spoke.  Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom  one of his  disciples,  whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to  him, that  he  should ask who it should be of whom he spoke.  He  then lying on Jesus' breast said to him, Lord, who is it?" (vs.22-25).

"Jesus  answered,  he it is, to whom I shall give a sop,  when  I have  dipped it.  And when he had dipped the sop, he gave  it  to Judas  Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop   Satan entered into him.  Then said Jesus to him, That you do, do quickly" (vs.26-27).

In  verses 26-27, we see the prophetic fulfillment of Psalms  41:9 as Judas eats the Passover bread given to him by Jesus.

"Therefore,  when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son  of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God  be  glorified in  him,  God  shall  also glorify  him  in  himself,  and shall straightaway glorify him" (vs.31-32).

The Greek word from which the English word 'glorified' is  translated is a very complex word, which has a number of meanings  depending  on the context in which it is used. This word can be  used to denote  the testing of something as well as supreme splendor as in the glory of God.

There can be little doubt as to what Jesus intended when he spoke of  being  glorified, because he knew that he was  approaching  the final  test of  his loyalty and obedience to God the  Father.  By becoming  victorious  in his final test,  he  would  receive supreme  and divine splendor (i.e., glory) as a spirit  being  in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus to Die Soon

Jesus speaks of his death and return to his  Father in heaven; then, he gives a new commandment to them to love each other:

"Little  children, yet a little while I am with you, and I go to him that sent me.  You  shall seek me: and as I said, Where I go, you cannot come; so  now I say to you. A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know  that  you are my disciples, if you have  love  one  to another" (Jn.13:33-35 KJV). See also Jn.7:33-36;  8:12-25.

After telling his disciples that he is going to die and return to heaven, Jesus tells them to love one another as he has loved  them. But what kind of love did Jesus have for his disciples?:

"O  righteous  Father, the world has not known you:  but  I  have known you, and these have known that you have sent me. And I have declared  to them your name, and will declare it: that  the  love wherewith  you  have  loved me may be in them,  and  I  in  them" (Jn.17:25-26 KJV).

Before being  human, Jesus was an immortal, spirit-being  who possessed  the  highest form of existence—life  that  springs forth from itself, never dying nor decaying.

This  immortal  being who was not subject to  death,  voluntarily emptied himself of his glory, power, and immortality to become  a mortal  man in order to live a sinless life as an example for  us to follow. He then sacrificed his life in an agonizing death  as payment for the sins of all humanity.

This  is the kind of love that Jesus had for his  disciples  and still has for all of humanity. His love is the ultimate love any being can have for another. This kind of love holds nothing  back and is willing to give all for those who are loved:

"This  is  my commandment, That you love one another, as  I  have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I  command you. Henceforth I call you not servants;  for  the servant  knows not  what his lord does: but I  have  called  you friends;  for  all things I have heard of my Father I  have  made known  to you . . . These things I command you, that you  love  one another" (Jn.15:12-15,17 KJV).

Jesus  reminds his disciples of the new law that he had given  to them  and  tells them that it is by this personal  quality  that people  will  know  that they are his followers.  True  love  and concern  for another individual is a rare thing and is indeed  a sign of those who follow Christ. This kind of love is a  manifestation  of God's holy spirit working within an individual. It  is the  same kind of love that God the Father and Jesus Christ  have exhibited in providing a way of salvation for humanity. This kind of love is truly selfless and puts the  welfare of others before one's own welfare. See 1.Cor.13:1-13.

1.John 3:10-12,14-16 Paraphrased

"In  this the children of God are manifest, and the  children  of the  devil: whosoever does not righteousness is not of God,  neither he that loves not his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love  one  another" (vs.10-11). See also verse 23.

"Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and killed his brother. And why did he kill his brother? Because his own works were evil, and his brothers righteous" (v12).

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we  love the  brethren.  He that loves not his brother  abides  in  death. Whoever hates his brother is as a murderer: and you know that  no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we  the love  of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we  ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (vs.14-16).

Peter to Deny Christ

"Then Jesus said to them, All you shall be offended because of me this  night:  for it is written, I will smite the  shepherd,  and the  sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad . . . Peter  said to  him, Though all men shall be offended because  of  you,  yet  will I never be offended" (Matt.26:31-33 KJV). See also Jn.16:32; Zech.13:7.

Jesus tells the disciples that they would desert him  because of  what has been prophesied and what would shortly come to  pass. Peter  declared  that he would never desert Jesus. To  this  Jesus says:

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for you,  that your faith may not fail: and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren. And he said  to him, Lord, I  am  ready to  go with you, both into prison, and to death. And he  said,  I  tell  you, Peter,  the cock shall not crow this day,  before  you shall deny that you know me three times" (Lk.22:31-34 KJV).  See also Mk.14:27-31; Jn.13:36-38.

The Passover Ceremony Concluded

After the completion of the old Passover rituals and the institution of new rituals for the new Passover, Jesus and his disciples concluded  the  Passover  observance  by  singing  a  hymn.  See Psa.115-118.

"And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount  of Olives"  (Matt.26:30 KJV).

SUMMARY

It  is very important to remember that Jesus was the Creator  God who came to become the perfect sacrifice for the sins of  humanity; therefore, he had to keep the law perfectly in order to be  a sinless sacrifice. Moreover, Jesus and his disciples observed the Passover in complete compliance with the law.

Jesus   did  not come to change the rituals and  symbols  of  the Passover; he came to fulfill their prophetic symbolism and  meaning, which he did through his crucifixion and death on the day that followed the first  Passover  as most of  the Jews were observing the second  sanctioned  Day  of Passover.  See 1.Cor.5:7 "Christ our Passover is  sacrificed  for us" and Heb.10:1-19.

During his last Passover observance, Jesus reminded his disciples of  many of the things he had taught them. He also spoke of  some of the prophecies concerning him as the Passover lamb and the Messiah. He foretold some of the events that would soon take place and he instituted  new rituals and symbols to be observed and  performed by his followers after his death and resurrection.

The  new rituals and symbols that Jesus instituted are  not  prophetic  patterns for a future fulfillment as the  prior  Passover symbols were. They are to be observed with contemporary  meaning and serve as reminders of Jesus'  sacrifice  for  the redemption of humanity, the institution of the new agreement, and that his followers are to be servants.

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w22