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Passed Over

The first three Gospels say that on the evening Jesus was to be betrayed he ordered his disciples to prepare for a Passover meal. Jesus wanted his own actions and words to be understood in the light of that traditional feast. The Passover celebrated the deliverance of Israel from cruel slavery in Egypt. But it also recalled how that came about: in God’s plan the angel of death “passed over” the homes protected by the sacrificial blood of a lamb. All the homes in Egypt that did not place the blood of a lamb on their doorposts lost their firstborn sons. So when Jesus took the bread of the Passover meal and said, “This is my body given for you” (Luke 22:19) and when he took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20) we are to remember what the original Passover meant for Israel. Jesus saw his own death as the God-provided sacrifice that averts the wrath of God. He is the true Passover lamb.

What that means is that there is a wrath of God coming upon the world. As there was wailing in all of Egypt so there will be wailing on the earth when it comes. It also means that those who trust in “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” will escape God’s wrath. But it means more than that. It also means that we will escape enslavement to the sin of the world if we put our trust in the sacrifice God provided for our sins. Both deliverances are guaranteed. The latter deliverance, however, involves our choices. We are to “reckon ourselves dead to sin” through the death of Jesus for our sins. We are to leave “Egypt” and live as the people of God.

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