Posts Tagged ‘Good Friday’

Why Is Good Friday Good?

April 19, 2019

Here is one of the best essays that I have ever read!

Why Is Good Friday Good

Copy of post:

“It is finished,” He cried. This work of Christ on the cross is called by theologians the doctrine of the atonement. The atonement is really at the heart of the gospel and the heart of Christianity itself, and I’d like to examine various aspects of the atonement, and show how each one is important for us in our Christian walk.

Expiation

A first aspect of the atonement is expiation. This is not a word we hear very often, but expiation refers to the removal of guilt. Because Christ endured the full curse of the law, he has born our guilt. We have had our guilty sentence removed. He has freed us from the burden that we had earned under the law.

Paul touches on this aspect in 2 Corinthians 5:21 when he says that Christ was made sin for us in order that we might be made the righteousness of God. That is, Christ was treated as sin, he was given what sin deserved, that is death, so that we might instead be given what righteousness deserved, which is life. Isaiah 53 also teaches this: “he has surely born our griefs and sorrows…upon him was laid the iniquity of us all.” Christ has taken our guilt from us; he has expiated us.

And this is crucial for us in our Christian life. Have you have ever lingered under a sense of looming guilt for your past sins? Have you had thoughts, deep down, that come up and tempt you to believe that God really doesn’t love you? Have you ever felt like God is punishing you for your foolishness, that there is an angry Father keeping you down, holding back his love, because you’re still a sinner–that because you’re still struggling with this sin or that sin, God is punishing you for your rebellion by holding back good things?

Well, the doctrine of expiation reminds us that our guilt has been removed. All of it. Christ has removed it completely by bearing it in his body on the cross. You’re not being punished again for sins that have already been removed, for guilt that has already been dealt with. You’re free in Christ.

God is not punishing you for something in your past. Indeed, if Christ has truly expiated our guilt on the cross, if he has truly removed our guilt and curse from sin, then God would be unjust to punish you again for something that has been removed. God cannot condemn you with the law once you have been declared not-guilty. Divine double jeopardy is impossible. Once the Son frees you from guilt, you are free indeed.

Remember your freedom from guilt the next time your feelings start to condemn you. Tell yourself again that you have been declared not guilty in Christ. Speak to yourself from Scripture, and ignore false feelings that try to put again upon you the yoke of the curse that was the result of the law. The doctrine of expiation ought to help us every day. It should help us to sleep at night. It should help us when our feelings condemn us. It should help us when the world would try to declare us guilty. Christ has cleared us from the sentence of guilt that we so rightfully earned.

Propitiation

Second, another aspect of the atonement is propitiation. Propitiation is another word that we don’t hear often these days. It is very much related to expiation; indeed, we might call it the other side of the same coin. If expiation was concerned with us and our guilt, then propitiation is concerned with God and his righteousness. Propitiation means the absorption or the appeasement of God’s wrath toward sin. Christ has taken the full weight of divine wrath that was earned by us because of our sin.

We see this idea throughout the Bible. For example, Isaiah 53 again says:

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

The apostle Paul does something similar in 1 Thessalonians 1:10, where he says Jesus “delivers us from the wrath to come.”

John uses the exact word “propitiation” in his first letter. 1 John 2 says that Christ “is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 4:10 likewise says, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Christ has taken the wrath that was earned by God’s people and absorbed it in his body. He felt the punishment that we deserved. He suffered that we might be free.

This is a doctrine that the world hates. They hate it because it assumes that there is an absolutely holy God who judges sin. They hate it because the doctrine assumes that they will be punished; indeed, they will feel wrath from God because of sin.

This doctrine is important for us to know because we can be tempted by Satan to believe that God is not happy with us. Our feelings and the lies of this world can lead us to believe that the bow of God’s wrath is still aimed at us, that we really have not been forgiven, and that can lead us to cower and fear. We can come to doubt our own salvation, and doubt the very goodness of God himself. But knowing that Christ has truly propitiated for the sins of his people means that we can rest in God’s goodness shown toward us. We must remind ourselves that God’s wrath is not aimed at us, even when we suffer or are afflicted. Even when times get tough, this is not the wrath of an angry God punishing you for sins, this is the tender guidance of a faithful Father who is seeking your good, even through the trials.

God does not fly off the handle. God does not hold grudges against you. God does not say that he forgives you and then pour out his judgement upon you. God is steady and unrelenting in his wrath against sin, but that wrath is not aimed at you because it has been assuaged by the work of the Son in your place. Trust that God is a good and loving Father to you, and that he has no hint of wrath stored up for you, only goodness and love.

Reconciliation

A third aspect of the atonement is reconciliation. This is a word that is much more familiar to us. On the cross, Christ has brought reconciliation between us and God. He has brought former enemies together and made them friends. This is really what the word atonement means. Atonement comes from an old English word that literally meant to be made “at one,” to be united, to be reconciled. We were at war with God. We were hated enemies, seditious traitors, having no hope of even coming into his presence to talk about peace. We were outside of the realm of his grace, and branded as enemies of the state. But Christ on the cross has made a way for us to be reunited with our God.

Romans 5:10-11 speaks of this reconciliation: “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Similarly, Colossians 1:19-20 speaks of this work of reconciliation: For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

God has made a way for us to have peace with God through the work of Christ on the cross. If you believe, you are no longer God’s enemy, but God’s friend. He no longer has ill-will toward you, but only blessings. He no longer feels hostility toward you, but only feels charity. No more enmity, only amity.

Believer, rest in the reconciliation that Christ has provided for you. Consider the great blessing this is for us; that we have been brought near to God. We’ve been made friends with him, and friends don’t mistreat one another. Friends look out for each other’s best interests. Friends defend one another. Friends provide for each other’s needs. This is what God does for us. He doesn’t mistreat us. He looks out for our best interests. He defends us. And he provides for our needs. Praise God and thank him for the reconciliation that he has provided for us in Christ.

Satisfaction

A fourth aspect of the atonement is satisfaction. When we hear that word now we usually think of something like happiness, or gratification. Like, “he smiled with satisfaction when he was finished mowing the grass.” But the word has a much stronger meaning. It usually refers to the payment of a debt. Indeed, the Greek word used here for “it is finished” is actually a transactional term. In that day, when you’d finish paying off a debt, they’d give you something like a receipt that said tetelestai across the top of it: “It is finished.” The debt has been paid in full.

That’s what Christ has done for us. In our sinful rebellion, we had robbed God of what was due to him. The service and obedience, the allegiance and faithfulness that should have been given to him, was taken away and given to another, the God of this world, Satan. We robbed God of the glory that ought to have been given to him. And that made us debtors to him. We owed him a debt we could never repay. But Christ on the cross made up for the debt that we owed. He makes the payment of his very own life to pay our debt in full.

Colossians 2:13-14 says: “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,  by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Christ has canceled our record of debt. He has removed our file from the divine claims department, and stamped “paid in full” across our records. We don’t owe a single penny. You’ve been vouched for, you’ve been covered. Christ has completely removed our debt.

Believer, have you considered the debt that Christ has paid on your behalf? Do you praise the Son for his willingness to take on your foolish balances? Meditate on what the Son has removed from you. Contemplate the gift of the Son and his sacrifice. Thank God that the debt has been removed, because none of us could ever have removed it on our own. None of us had the means to pay for it. Indeed, the Bible says that none of us even had the inclination to remove the debt, if it weren’t for the work of the Holy Spirit. We were, prior to Christ, sprinting down the path toward hell, running up an even higher tab with each sin, sinking ourselves deeper and deeper into divine debt. But God, being rich in mercy, because he loved us, showed us the great debt that we owed him. He pulled us out of the mire of sinful debt, he nailed our invoice for sins on the cross, and he placed us back on a right standing at the cost of his very own Son.

That is the love of the Father. Not merely that he would be willing to buy his own enemies out of a debtor’s prison, but that he would do it even at the great cost of his very own Son’s life. Believer, don’t take for granted the great work of God on your behalf. Don’t neglect so great a salvation and spoil it on the sinful temptations of this world. Don’t rack up again a debt of foolishness that will bring nothing but suffering to you and dishonor to the Father. Walk in the path of faithfulness, and honor the One to whom we owe a debt that we could never afford. Rest in the work of satisfaction that the son has done on our behalf.

Substitution

A fifth aspect of the atonement is substitution. This aspect has been woven through all the other points thus far, and is really the most marvelous of the aspects of the atonement. Christ stands as a Substitute for those he came to save. The Bible speaks of this in many places. 2 Corinthians 5 tells us that God made him who had no sin to be sin for us. 1 Peter 2 says that he himself bore our sins in his body on our behalf. Even at the Last Supper, Jesus said, “this is my body which is broken for you.”

Christ’s work was done in our place. He was willing to give up everything and become nothing so that we might be saved. He stood in our place, even while we were sinners. He was the final Passover lamb that was slain, his blood spreading over his people so that their lives would be protected from the angel of death. He was the scapegoat that was cursed and sent outside the gate so that we might have our sins forgiven. He is our Substitute, that we might be treated not as we deserve, but as he deserved. Praise God for his inconceivable substitution.

Redemption

A sixth aspect of the atonement is redemption. To redeem something means to buy it back, usually from slavery of some kind. God has worked to free his people from bondage. Christ is our great Emancipator, our great Liberator, who has freed us from the chains of slavery to sin, slavery to the God of this world, and slavery to the cares of this world.

The Bible speaks of this great ransom price that Christ paid on behalf of his people. Matthew 20:28 says that Christ came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. That is, his life was the cost needed to buy back his captured people. Ephesians 1:7 says that we have redemption through his blood. And 1 Peter 1:18-19 says that “you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” Christ redeemed us, bought us out of slavery, paid the ransom needed for our freedom because he loved us. And the cost of that redemption was his very own life. His blood was the redemption ticket. His pain and suffering was our emancipation proclamation. His life was the cost of our emancipation, and his perfection was the cost of our liberation.

Believer, when you are tempted to sin, remember that that you have been freed from slavery. When the temptation comes and it feels so strong–that sin you’ve struggled with for so long, that you feel powerless to overcome, that feels like it has its tail wrapped around your neck–remind yourself that you have been freed. You’ve been bought out of slavery to that sin. It is no longer your master. Remember that Christ’s work on the cross has liberated you from the power of sin. You don’t have to give in. You don’t have to succumb to the temptation. You’re freed from sin’s dominion. And you’ve been given the Holy Spirit to help you fight. You’re no longer trapped by your flesh; you canbattle against it. You’ve been redeemed from the power of sin, and you’ve been liberated from slavery to it. Praise God that he is a redeeming God! Thank him for the redemption we have through Christ Jesus.

Victory

A final aspect of Christ’s work on the cross victory. Christ is victorious.

This part of the atonement has been called Christus Victor throughout church history, especially in the early church, and it refers to Christ as the conquering King. Christ has defeated his enemies, subdued the cosmic foes, and succeeded in accomplishing his mission. Christ’s people–indeed all of creation–were under the power of the Evil One. But, because of Christ’s victory, Satan and his powers have been dealt the fatal blow, and it was done in the very way that seemed to be his defeat. The world looked on and saw Jesus hanging and dying on the cross, but the moment of his apparent defeat, was only the beginning of his coronation. His path to the grave was the first step in his victory march to Glory.

Colossians 2 tells us that God has “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in Christ.” Christ is the victorious King that has defeated the Villain and saved the hostages.” He is the valiant Knight that slew the Dragon and saved his Bride, the Church. He is the rescuing God that saves a people for himself.

Believer, when you are doing battle against Satan and his temptations, remember these aspects of Christ’s work. Remember that you have been liberated by a victorious King, that you’ve been freed from slavery to sin, that you’ve been forgiven of all your debts, washed of your guilt, and have no wrath looming over you anymore. Preach these truths to yourself when you are weary from battle and tempted to give in to sin. Don’t let the lies of the Evil One distract you by taking away some part of Christ’s atoning work.

 

Hat Tip: Founders.org

Why Is Good Friday Good?

 

The Message of the Cross

April 14, 2017

Last evening, my husband and I decided to watch a movie by Martin Scorsese entitled, “Silence.”  It is very long (almost 3 hours) so we didn’t finish watching it.  Perhaps we will finish it tonight.

My first impression was that although this was a movie about Catholic Christian missionaries in 17th century Japan (where Christianity was outlawed and Christians hunted, rounded up, tortured, and then killed in several awful ways), there was something about it that lacked much redeeming value and in fact, proved to be deeply disturbing.  My husband and I hoped that the last portion of the movie would provide more redeeming value, but my sneak preview of the end of the movie proved to be a disappointment.

The following movie review (spoiler alert!) over at The Christian Post asks the question Why Are Christians Praising Scorsese’s ‘Silence’?

Excerpt:

Certainly the notion that Christ would condone apostasy to end someone else’s suffering is deeply problematic.

Jesus left very clear instructions about renouncing Him, saying: “(W)hoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Matt. 10:33)

As believers, we know this verse, so the moral Catch-22 in Silence creates a great deal of inner emotional turmoil. We cannot accept the decision Rodrigues made, yet how can we not? This is what makes Silence so potentially treacherous.

Catholic author and editor of Aletia, Daniel McInerny, suggests that Silence raises “the sinister possibility that Christian faith and love are internally conflicted, making a lack of integrity, at least in extreme circumstances, inevitable.”

I agree with McInerny. The movie actually reminded me of a quiz my son was given by a public school teacher, which presented numerous no-win moral dilemmas and then required him to choose. The only purpose I could imagine for the quiz was to undermine a Judeo-Christian ethic, especially since it was given as part of a unit on the Salem Witch Trials.

Silence has this same disastrous potential. It raises a serious theological dilemma, but offers no solution — at least not a biblically viable one.

Read entire review HERE.

I can’t be sure, of course, what went on in the mind of writer of the book that Scorsese adapted into this film. However, my own knowledge of the differences between Roman Catholicism vs. Biblical Christianity give me a hint. Catholicism’s traditions include the concept of “Purgatory,” which is not a biblical belief.  Perhaps this answers the question of the Post writer who asked:

Silence also suggests that one can maintain his faith in complete private, and still be saved. Again, I say suggest because the film doesn’t settle issues; it merely raises them. But what is the viewer supposed to conclude about Rodrigues [Note:  one of the Jesuit priests who denounced his faith later in the movie] clutching a cross at the end?

As we solemnly remember Good Friday, we are reminded that Jesus laid down his life for his friends willingly.  He could have called legions of angels to “rescue” Him from the cross.  If He did that, He would have re-entered heaven alone.   Instead He stayed there to rescue all who would believe in Him from the penalty of their sins.  His sacrificial death was accomplished to defeat eternal death and hell for all human beings who would place their trust in Jesus Christ.

In a comment thread on one of my previous posts, I made the claim that Jesus Christ has fulfilled over 300 Bible prophecies.  There are several yet to be fulfilled at His second coming.  I found a site that lists 353 prophecies fulfilled by Christ!

According to the Scriptures: 353 Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Even with all of this evidence, hardened hearts will still refuse to believe in Jesus!  Amazing…isn’t it?

Why is that?

 1Co 1:18

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Even with proof of fulfilled prophecies by Christ, there are those who will continue to refuse the message of the cross.  So, what exactly is missing in those who refuse being saved by the power of God?

No wonder the Holy Spirit guided Paul to write in Hebrews 11:6 the answer to that question.

Heb 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Deep Sorrow Turns to Exuberant Joy – He Is Risen!

April 4, 2015

Mar 16:1

Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.

Mar 16:2

Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.

Mar 16:3

And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?”

Mar 16:4

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large.

Mar 16:5

And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

Mar 16:6

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.

Mar 16:7

“But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

The exuberant joy part of the story!

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Previously written on this post:

Last evening, I attended the Good Friday service at Life Mission Church.  This is a newer, growing church that our son found through a Christian friend who is also in his growth group.  After the two services that I have attended so far,  I can see why attendees are so highly blessed!

Pastor Jobey interspersed Old Testament prophecy passages from the book of Isaiah, Psalms, and Zechariah and shared how they were fulfilled by Christ in the New Testament.

He described the events (and showed clips of the Passion of the Christ on the screen) leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  Such prophecies were written approximately 450 years before the birth of Jesus!

In addition, the live worship band was terrific!  The songs were a great mix of deeply devotional lyrics combined with an almost “rock band” style of music.  I can see why younger people like the services.  However, the attendees were a mix of all generations.

I must admit, this was the best Good Friday service that I have ever experienced!  Congregants were encouraged to come forward near the end of the service and partake of not only the communion elements, but to take a bit of bitter herbs and dip them into the salt water – representing our sins that Jesus suffered and died for which are cleansed by His atonement on the cross that was accepted by God the Father for the remission of sin.  We then took a piece of bread, representing Jesus’ body which was given up for us, and dipped it into the wine which represents the blood He shed for the remission of sins.  Lastly, we had the opportunity to dip our finger into a dish of myrrh as anointing oil.

Biblical Archaeology.org describes the significance of what (and why) the Magi brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the child Jesus.

Excerpt:

Since the early days of Christianity, Biblical scholars and theologians have offered varying interpretations of the meaning and significance of the gold, frankincense and myrrh that the magi presented to Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew (2:11). These valuable items were standard gifts to honor a king or deity in the ancient world: gold as a precious metal, frankincense as perfume or incense, and myrrh as anointing oil.

[…] In addition to the honor and status implied by the value of the gifts of the magi, scholars think that these three were chosen for their special spiritual symbolism about Jesus himself—gold representing his kingship, frankincense a symbol of his priestly role, and myrrh a prefiguring of his death and embalming—an interpretation made popular in the well-known Christmas carol “We Three Kings.”

The myrrh had a sweet fragrance that lasted many hours on my hand.

Finally, the deep sorrow we feel for the pain, suffering, and ultimate death that Jesus endured for us on the cross, turns to exuberant joy because although It’s Friday, Sunday is coming!

If video does not play here, go to:

You Tube: It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming

Hat tip: Biblical Archaeology.org and all links and graphics.

Good Friday: Life Conquers Death

April 3, 2015

April 03, 2015 – Friday

Life Conquers Death

By FRC Senior Fellow Bob MorrisonThere is a tomb. Mary Magdalene approaches it. The others feared to go there. It is a place of death and it could mean death to be known as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, had ordered a heavy stone to be placed at the entrance to the tomb. Let the dead bury the dead.But the stone that sealed the tomb has been removed. She looks inside and is stunned to find the tomb is empty. Then she runs to tell Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved what she has seen. Or has not seen.

She runs. If she were filled with fear, would she run? By running, she will surely attract attention to herself. People will see. Someone may report her.

She is unafraid. She has news to share. Important news.

Mary thus becomes the first person in the world to be a witness to the fact that death has not overcome Jesus. He has overcome death.

In Mary Magdalene, we have a witness to the Risen Lord. No small part of the dignity that Christians have from that moment accorded to women comes from her breathless testimony. Jesus does not appear first to the disciples. He appears instead to faithful Mary.

Just three days earlier, on that fateful, fatal Friday, Jesus was stripped of his robes. The mob mocked him and spat upon him. They placed a crown of thorns on his head. Some king, this Jesus! Is this your King of the Jews?

Hauled before the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, Jesus fears not. Pilate is afraid. The mob that is screaming for Jesus’ blood may turn against Pilate. The leaders of the mob threaten Pilate. “Remember Caesar,” they tell him.

Pilate understands their threat; if he does not give them what they want, and if things get out of hand in Roman Palestine, it is he, Pilate, who will be blamed. He may be the one who pays with his life. He has reason to fear.

He orders Jesus to be scourged.  So severe was flogging in those times that many a victim died under the lash.

But not this Jesus. He survived to stagger His way to the place of the skull, called Golgotha. Today the road is known as the Via Dolorosa, or Way of Suffering.

There is a great outcry today for an easeful death. Lawmakers and advocates are promising to help us go gentle into that good night. They will give us death with dignity.

There could have been nothing of dignity in death on a cross. It was meant to be torture and humiliation. It was made terrible to instill fear.

That is why the Roman roads were lined with crosses, and with dying men nailed on those crosses. Oderint dum metuant was the Romans’ byword: Let them hate, so long as they fear.

Jesus was not afraid of them. He stood unflinching before Pontius Pilate. When Pilate reminds Jesus he holds the power of life and death, Jesus answers with the dignity of a King. “You would have no power over me unless it were given to you from above.” Even at the moment of His great peril, Jesus acknowledges first His Father in Heaven.

Warily, Pilate yields to the mob and orders the innocent One to be crucified. He writes on a placard that will be displayed on Jesus’ cross:

Jesus of Nazareth
King of the Jews

Not satisfied with Jesus’ blood, the leaders of the crowd demand that Pilate change what he has written. “NO! Write this man said he was King of the Jews.”

Wearily, Pilate waves them away. “What I have written, I have written.”

We have had in our own day much experience of governors fearing. Too often, they listen to the howling mobs. Too often, they remember Caesar and forget God.

At home we are supposed to fear losing jobs, advancement, retirement, investments. Abroad, we are taught to fear our airplane being hijacked and flown into a building, or maybe even a mountain.

Fear dominates the headlines; it must not dominate our heads. We are supposed to fear losing those, too. Those twenty-one Coptic Christians lost their heads but they did not lose their souls.

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” Jesus said: “Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Powers and principalities may menace us. But the eternal message of Easter is of life prevailing over death. His perfect love casts out fear. He who conquered death promised us an abundant life. Let’s live it.

He is risen. He is risen, indeed!

Hat Tip: Family Research Council

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How To Know God Personally [Click on link to discover the principles!]

What does it take to begin a relationship with God? Devote yourself to unselfish religious deeds? Become a better person so that God will accept you?

You may be surprised that none of those things will work. But God has made it very clear in the Bible how we can know Him.

The following principles will explain how you can personally begin a relationship with God, right now, through Jesus Christ…

How the Passover/Seder Reveals Jesus Christ

April 3, 2015

While the Christian Holy Week and Passover usually fall near each other, it is not often that Good Friday and the first night of the eight-day Jewish festival are celebrated on the same day. The rare convergence of the observances is a reminder of the historical links between the two religious holidays.

Jesus’ Last Supper is traditionally thought to have been a Passover Seder, highlighting the historical links between the Jewish holiday and the Christian Good Friday observance.

I found the following essay online this morning.  Once again, we see evidence of the eternal connection of Judeo-Christian beliefs that are outlined in the Bible.

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How the Passover / Seder Reveals Jesus Christ

The festival of the Passover has been celebrated by Jews for thousands of years. It is the retelling of the great story of how God redeemed the Jewish nation from enslavement in Egypt.1 The celebration itself was given to the Jews while they were still in Egypt.2 The original celebration centered around the Passover lamb, which was sacrificed and its blood put over the doorposts as a sign of faith, so that the Lord passed over the houses of the Jews during the last plague poured out on the Egyptians – the killing of every firstborn.3 To a large degree, the Passover lamb has been eliminated from the Passover festival (with the only remnant being the roasted lamb shank bone).4 The New Testament says that Jesus is our sacrificial Lamb.5 The Passover lamb was to be a “male without defect,”6 which is the same description given to Jesus.7 In addition, when the lamb was roasted and eaten, none of its bones were to be broken.8 This fact was also prophesized for the Messiah, whose bones were not to be broken.9 It was customary during crucifixion to break the leg bones of the person after a few hours in order to hasten their death. The only way a person could breathe when hanging on a cross was to push up with his legs, which was very exhausting. By breaking the legs, death followed soon by asphyxiation. However, in the case of Jesus, they broke the legs of the other two men, but did not break His, since He was already dead.10

Much of the symbolism of Jesus’ last Passover week is lost to us because we are unaware of the customs of the time. For example, Jesus came into the city of Jerusalem five days before the lamb was killed in the temple as the Passover sacrifice for the sins of the people of Israel. Five days before the lamb was to be sacrificed, it was chosen. Therefore, Jesus entered Jerusalem on lamb selection day as the lamb of God.11 The people did not understand the significance of this, since they greeted Him with palm branches12 and hailed Him as King,13 shouting “Hosanna,”14 which means “save us.” However, they were not looking for a spiritual Savior, but a political savior. Palm branches were a symbol of freedom and defiance, since Simon Maccabeus had entered Jerusalem with that symbolism.15 Jesus’ reaction was to weep,16 since He realized that they did not understand the Messiah’s purpose in coming.

Good Friday was the day of the Passover celebration and the day that the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed. For the previous 1,200 years, the priest would blow the shophar (ram’s horn) at 3:00 p.m. – the moment the lamb was sacrificed, and all the people would pause to contemplate the sacrifice for sins on behalf of the people of Israel. On Good Friday at 3:00,17 when Jesus was being crucified, He said, “It is finished”18 – at the moment that the Passover lamb was sacrificed and the shophar was blown from the Temple. The sacrifice of the lamb of God was fulfilled at the hour that the symbolic animal sacrifice usually took place. At the same time, the veil of the Temple (a three-inch thick, several story high cloth that demarked the Holy of Holies19) tore from top to bottom20 – representing a removal of the separation between God and man. Fifty days later, on the anniversary of the giving of the law (Pentecost), God left the earthly temple to inhabit those who call on the name of Jesus through His Holy Spirit.21

The festival of unleavened bread began Friday evening (at sunset). As part of the festival, the Jews would take some of the grain – the “first fruits” of their harvest – to the Temple to offer as a sacrifice. In so doing, they were offering God all they had and trusting Him to provide the rest of the harvest. It was at this point that Jesus was buried – planted in the ground – as He said right before His death.22 Paul refers to Jesus as the first fruits of those raised from the dead in 1 Corinthians.23 As such, Jesus represents the fulfillment of God’s promise to provide the rest of the harvest – resurrection of those who follow the Messiah.

 

Christian symbolism in the Passover occurs early in the Seder (the Passover dinner). Three matzahs are put together (representing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The middle matzah is broken,24 wrapped in a white cloth, and hidden, representing the death and burial of Jesus.25 The matzah itself is designed to represent Jesus, since it is striped and pierced, which was prophesized by Isaiah, 26 David,27 and Zechariah.28 Following the Seder meal, the “buried” matzah is “resurrected,” which was foretold in the prophecies of David.29

It was during a Passover seder30 that Jesus proclaimed that the meal represented Himself and that He was instituting the New Covenant, which was foretold by Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah.31 The celebration of this covenant has become the ordinance of communion in the Christian Church. At the end of the meal, Jesus took the unleavened bread, broke it, and said that it represented His body.32 Then He took the cup of wine, which would have been the third cup of the Seder – the cup of redemption. He said that it was the new covenant in His blood “poured out for you.”33 It is through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we are declared clean before God, allowing those of us who choose to accept the pardon, to commune with Him – both now and forevermore through the eternal life He offers.

 

References

  1. The entire story can be read in the book of Exodus
  2. See Exodus chapter 12.
  3. Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, He will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down. (Exodus 12:21-23)
  4. The Passover lamb was still sacrificed in the first century, as indicated in the New testament – Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. (Luke 22:7)
  5. Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast–as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:7)
    The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
    When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36)
    For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
    I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14)
    “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death. (Revelation 12:11)
  6. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. (Exodus 12:5)
  7. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
  8. “It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. (Exodus 12:46)
  9. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. (Psalms 34:20)
  10. The soldiers therefore came, and broke the legs of the first man, and of the other man who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs;… For these things came to pass, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” (John 19:32, 33, 36)
  11. The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
  12. On the next day the great multitude who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees, and went out to meet Him, and began to cry out, “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel.” (John 12:12-13)
    And most of the multitude spread their garments in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees, and spreading them in the road. (Matthew 21:8)
  13. saying, “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38)
    And the multitudes going before Him, and those who followed after were crying out, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)
  14. And the multitudes going before Him, and those who followed after were crying out, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)
    And those who went before, and those who followed after, were crying out, “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-10)
  15. Simon Maccabeus entered the Akra at Jerusalem after its capture, �with thanksgiving, and branches of palm trees, and with harps, and cymbals, and with viols, and hymns, and songs: because there was destroyed a great enemy out of Israel� (1 Maccabees 13:51) (see also 2 Maccabees 10:7).
  16. And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, (Luke 19:41)
  17. And about the ninth hour [3:00 p.m.] Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?”… And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. (Matthew 27:46, 50) (see also Mark 15:34-37, Luke 23:44-46)
  18. When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit. (John 19:30)
  19. And behind the second veil, there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, (Hebrews 9:3)
  20. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split, (Matthew 27:51)
    And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:38)
    the sun being obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two. (Luke 23:45)
  21. Acts chapter 2.
  22. And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:23-24)
  23. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20)
  24. And when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.” (1 Corinthians 11:24)
  25. And so they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. (John 19:40)
  26. But he was pierced through for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
  27. For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. (Psalms 22:16)
  28. “And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born. (Zechariah 12:10)
  29. For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay. (Psalms 16:10)
    O LORD, Thou hast brought up my soul from Sheol; Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. (Psalms 30:3)
    But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol; for He will receive me. Selah. (Psalms 49:15)
    I shall not die, but live, And tell of the works of the LORD. (Psalms 118:17)
  30. And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; (Luke 22:15)
  31. “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
    “And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20)
    “I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations, (Isaiah 42:6)
  32. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)
  33. In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you. (Luke 22:20)

 

Hat tip: Son Server.com

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