LENT: Passover - Bigger Than a Household
Friday, March 22 2019
In the New Testament we read: “The next day John (the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
In the Old Testament we read: “The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt … Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household … If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat.” (Exodus 12:1,3,4)
When the Israelites were going to celebrate the first Passover, God commanded that each Israelite family take a lamb to sacrifice. Specifications were given for the lamb, as well as what to do with the blood and the meat. But there are two interesting things in the instructions given to each family for the lamb they were to sacrifice.
First, in that moment in history we read that there were 600,000 men among the Israelites (Exodus 12:37), and so we can assume that there were approximately 600,000 sacrifices of lambs, one for each family, with one man as the head of every household. That’s a lot of sacrifices!
And secondly, as it says in verse 4 of Exodus 12: “If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat.” What a curious thing: God gave specific instructions if the family was too small for a whole lamb. Normally we worry if we have too little food, but we almost never get concerned if we have too much. God did take this reality into consideration.
¿So, what could these two truths mean?
First, we see that in the Old Testament Passover was celebrated every year; and each year, hundreds of thousands of lambs were sacrificed to commemorate how the angel of death “passed over” the houses of the Israelites. Now in the New Testament, we live in a different reality expressed in Hebrews 10:12: “… But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins …” We no longer need thousands of sacrifices, year after year, so that God can “pass over” our sins – the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross, only one sacrifice, made one time, is more than enough to take away the sin of the entire world.
Secondly, we see that the Lamb of God, the Messiah of Israel, Jesus Christ, was too big for only the house of Israel. This is why the Gentiles were also included in the promises and covenants of God through the blood of the Lamb. In Ephesians 2:11-13, Paul explains it this way: “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
This is Jesus the Christ. He is the Lamb of God that “… has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9:26b) He is the Lamb of God that is bigger than any family, or household or community, or city or nation; He – only He – is sufficient to take away all the sin, of all the world, forever.
Dear friends: let’s give thanks to God the Father and to our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ for being the one and only sufficient sacrificial Lamb. And let’s remember that He is too big for just our families and our households; He is more than sufficient for those that surround us as well. This year, in this season of Lent, let’s invite those around us to share the Lamb of God with us. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God …” (John 1:12)
(Thanks to Marty Waldman for the ideas in this reflection …)
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