The Passover and Our Lord’s Supper

The Passover ceremony, as originally instituted, is described in Exodus 12:1-28. A lamb without blemish was slain, its blood was sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of the house, while the family within ate the flesh of the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. On that night (the fourteenth of the first month, Jewish time), because of the sprinkled blood and the eaten lamb, the firstborn children of Israel were passed over, or spared from the plague of death which visited the firstborn of the Egyptians. On this account, and because on the next day Israel marched out from Egyptian bondage free, therefore, by God’s command (Exod. 12:41) they commemorate it every year on its anniversary. This was and remains among the Israelites one of the most important of their religious observances. It was the first feature of the “Law” given them as a typical people.

The Israelites saw only the letter of this ceremony, and not its typical significance. So, too, we might have remained in similar darkness had not the Holy Spirit of God given us the key to its meaning by inspiring the Apostle Paul to write the words in I Corinthians 5:7,8: “CHRIST OUR PASSOVER IS SACRIFICED FOR US; THEREFORE LET US KEEP THE FEAST.”

Our attention being then called to the matter by the Spirit, we find other Scriptures which clearly show that Jesus, “the Lamb of God,” was the antitype of the Passover lamb, and that his death was as essential to the deliverance of “the Church of the firstborn” from death, as was the death of the Passover lamb to the firstborn of Israel. (Heb. 12:23) Being led of the Spirit, we come to the words and acts of Jesus at the last Passover which he ate with his disciples.—Matt. 26:26-29; John 6:51-58; Luke 22:15-20

God is very exact, and the slaying of the Passover lamb, on the fourteenth day of the first month, foreshadowed the fact that in God’s plan Jesus was to die at that time. It is remarkable, that God so arranged the reckoning of time among the Jews that it was possible for Jesus to commemorate the Passover with the disciples, and still be slain as the real “Lamb” on the same day. [The Jewish day, instead of being reckoned from midnight to midnight is reckoned, commencing at six o’clock in the evening and ending at six the next evening.] Thus, Jesus and the disciples, by eating the Passover, probably about eight o’clock, ate it “the same night in which he was betrayed,” and the same day he died.

Our Lord instituted his Supper as the remembrancer of his death, and as a substitute for the Passover as observed by the Jews. It is asked why Jesus ate of the typical lamb first? This was done because he was born under the dominion of the Law, and must observe its every requirement. Since he made an end of the Law, nailing it to his cross, we are free from the Law, as relates to either the Passover or the Lord’s Supper—its substitute—but we are of those who esteem it a privilege to celebrate each year the anniversary of our Lord’s death. —I Cor. 11:24-26

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