March 18, 2023

Subject: Jesus Christ in the Passover Part 1 – Salvation through Substitution

1Corinthians 5:7 “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us.”

Ed Croteau

This year’s Passover, a 7-day celebration, begins at sunset on April 5th and ends at nightfall on April 13. It commemorates the historical event of God’s deliverance of the Jewish nation out of Egyptian slavery. But the Hebrew word for Passover, “Pesach”, also refers to the “paschal lamb” sacrificed at the Jerusalem Temple during each subsequent Passover, as a temporary atonement for the sins of the Jewish people.

As we lead up to the Jewish celebration of Passover and then the Christian celebrations of Good Friday and Easter, we will start in this first of several articles to show how God’s biblical plan for the salvation of both Jew and Gentile has been fulfilled in one Person – Jesus Christ – through these celebrations.

Is coincidental that the New Testament records Jesus Christ entering Jerusalem at the start of Passover and then being crucified just 2 days later? Did Jesus just happen to die during Passover?

The Bible tells us the answer – no. He did not come to Jerusalem that final time just to celebrate Passover. He came to be our Passover. As the apostle Paul says plainly in this week’s verse: “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us.” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

What does our verse mean? How was Christ our Passover, whom God sacrificed for you and me? To find the answers, we must go back to the Old Testament book of Exodus – the historical record of the first Passover – to see why the Passover was originally instituted and why Jesus Christ is its ultimate fulfillment.

In his article ‘How Jesus fulfilled the Passover – Salvation through Substitution’, Justin Dillehay takes us through the history of the Passover in Exodus: “The setting is Egypt, and the mood is chaos. Egypt has just been devastated by a series of 9 plagues. And this isn’t just a string of tough luck. God is judging Egypt.

More than that, God is keeping a promise (Exodus 2:23–25). He has sworn to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that their children would have the land of Canaan for an inheritance (Genesis 15:18–21), yet they have been stuck in Egypt for centuries. It’s time for God to get them out and bring them home.

But there is one last plague, the most severe of all. With the previous plagues, Israel has been exempted. Their cattle didn’t die (Exodus 9:6). Their crops weren’t hailed on (Exodus 9:26). Even their land didn’t go dark (Exodus 10:23). They didn’t do anything to avoid those plagues. God simply aimed away from them.

The final plague will be different. God will be aiming at everyone this time. Apart from some unforeseen provision, God is going to strike down all the firstborn in Egypt, including the firstborn of Israel. Why?

Although Israel is God’s chosen people, and although they’ve been oppressed for centuries, the truth is they are also sinners. Ezekiel 20:4–10 tells us they’d even been worshiping the false gods of Egypt!”

Before God can save anyone, their sins against Him must be accounted for. God is not like mankind. He is holy and pure in thought and deed. He cannot simply ignore the sin of the Israelites and the Egyptians.

Dillehay continues: “The 10th plague shows how God is holy and just. But the Passover shows how God is also merciful. On that first Passover, God devised a way where He could be both just and merciful at the same time. We might call it ‘Salvation through Substitution.’ Exodus 12 explains how God provided for sin.

Take a mature, 1-year-old male lamb without blemish, with no flaw (Exodus 12:3-6). On the 14th day of the month (the night when the death angel kills the firstborn), kill the lamb and put its blood on your doorposts (Exodus 12:7). When God sees the blood, the death angel will pass over your house (Exodus 12:13).

That’s the meaning of the ‘Passover.’ God spares Israel’s firstborn sons, not because they are better than Egypt’s sons, but because a spotless lamb dies in their place and its blood covers their door. It is ‘Salvation through Substitution.’ In the New Testament, the meaning of Passover is the meaning of Good Friday.”

We see this in Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Both Egyptians and Jews are sinners. Both deserve the death angel taking their firstborn sons. But God’s free gift is the Passover Lamb, who brings life by simply trusting in its saving blood.

As John the Baptist announced at Jesus’s arrival, “Behold, the (Passover) Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29). Next week, we will see how Jesus is the Lamb in the Passover meal.

Ed Croteau is a lay pastor and resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the LS Tribune, on Facebook and his website