Grab your Bibles, and let’s go deeper into Exodus chapters 11-15.
My hope today is to help us put into view the larger context for the 10th plague and the Passover. While this was a significant moment of deliverance for God’s people, it held much greater significance for all of mankind and especially for all of God’s chosen people to ever trust in Him for salvation and eternal life with God. To set the table, let’s read a few key passages in Exodus 11 and 12.
Exodus 11:1 The Lord said to Moses, “Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely.”
Exodus 12:1-14 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.”
Understand that this event, the Exodus and the provision of God to free Israel from Egypt’s grip, was talked about worldwide for generations and generations. It would be the most cherished gathering of the Jews and would serve to point the hearts of His people to the One who would forever set them free.
From the beginning, God has had a plan to redeem His elect from the separation and eternal wrath due them for their sin. To do this, He planned for a royal Redeemer to come and die in our place so that we could be free from the eternal penalty of sin and reconciled to God to enjoy Him forever.
God the Son, Jesus, is this promised Redeemer. The Passover not only became the most cherished Jewish practice to honor God and remember what He did to set them free, but it would be the table at which Jesus would establish a new covenant between God and His people.
The Passover that began at the Exodus would point generations to the truer and better Passover Lamb: Jesus Christ.
Turn with me now to the Gospel of John chapter 1, and look with me at verse 29:
John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Here we read “the forerunner of Christ” (John the Baptist) as he announces Jesus as "the Lamb of God," not as "the Word of God," not as "the Christ of God," but as THE LAMB. This is so critical, because the work of the Lamb of God is the very office in which we stood in deepest need of Him.
Before we get to the official work of Jesus as the Lamb of God, let’s look back on God’s divine plan from the beginning to provide the needed Lamb. God, in His providence, uses a lamb all throughout history to make it clear that a sinful people are desperate for a lamb--a Lamb of God.
1. In Genesis 4, we have the Lamb typified, as Abel sacrifices a lamb unto the Lord.
2. We have the Lamb prophesied in Genesis 22:8, when Abraham said to Isaac, "God will provide himself a lamb."
3. In Exodus 12, we have the lamb slain on behalf of the people and its blood applied.
4. In Isaiah 53:7, here for the first time we learn that the promised Lamb of God would be a man.
5. In John 1:29, we have the Lamb identified as Jesus.
7. In the last chapter of the Bible, in Revelation 22:1, we have the Lamb glorified, seated upon the eternal throne of God.
As Hebrews 9:22 says, “… without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” The Bible says in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death …”
We must understand that sin earns death. In the Old Covenant system God put in place, the animal died as a substitute in the place of the sinful people at the hands of the high priest.
Now, here’s the problem: The Bible is also clear that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).
So, what is going on in all of the Old Testament sacrifice and the spilling of the blood of spotless lambs and goats is a foreshadow of the ultimate grace of God that would be provided in Christ alone.
God is pointing to the ultimate sacrifice--the one true Sacrifice--the perfect and satisfactory blood of the Lamb of God, who would take away the sin of the world. All throughout the Old Testament, God is making a way for Jesus--the One who would bring grace upon grace. Oh, how it was the grace of God to give His people this system to point to the fact that He would not just condemn, but He would act in amazing grace!
The whole Old Testament system was pointing forward to what would happen someday in a final sacrifice for sin. Those whom God would save of the Old Testament were putting their faith in the coming Messiah--THE LAMB OF GOD--who would pay the complete and final price for their sin and make atonement for their sin in the only way it could be paid for.
Now, turn to John chapter 2.
Here in John 2, we witness the first miracle of God in flesh. He turned water into wine at the wedding celebration. It is filled with symbolism of what Jesus has come to bring His people.
John 2:9-11 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
This miracle demonstrated not only Jesus’ lordship over creation but was also a picture of what the Messiah would do in His ministry, i.e. take up common elements (like water) and transform them into something special and wonderful for the good of others.
As the wedding celebration carries on, Jesus has another cup on his mind. He has a work to do first that will make possible the true enjoyment of wine at the wedding feast, whereby He and His bride (the church) will have fellowship forever.
John 2:3-4 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”
What is on Jesus’ mind is the cup of wrath. Like God has done from the beginning of time, Jesus is continuing the predetermined rescue mission of His people for the banquet that will outdo all banquets and that will last for eternity!
Before Jesus would drink the wine at the eternal feast with His redeemed, He would have to drink of the cup of wrath on behalf of His people. Yes, as Psalm 104:15 states, God gave "wine to gladden the heart of man." He gave it as a good gift to be enjoyed and eventually to be a part of His eternal celebration, but Jesus came to do a work that we could not do--a work that must be done.
In this, Jesus had to set aside the ceremonial wine and instead drink of the cup of wrath so that we, His chosen people, don’t have to. All of this is pointing to another wedding feast where Jesus is the eternal Bridegroom and His redeemed people are His beloved bride. Listen to the language used later in Revelation 21:
Revelation 21:9 Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.
Jesus is the true Bridegroom! So, the Lord is using the stage of His first miracle at a wedding in Cana to point to the eternal wedding by which Jesus, the Bridegroom, will be united forever with His bride: the church, the redeemed.
Praise God He finished what He came to do! It’s not without real cost that He did this, too.
Turn with me to Mark 14:32-36:
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch." Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."
Praise God that Jesus was obedient to the Father to the point of death.
“Not my will but yours be done.” Do you see? He drank the cup of wrath on our behalf.
This is the gospel of “our Passover.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin …
He took on our sin for His chosen ones! He paid our price. He atoned our sin.
Now, we must also understand, at that moment, the wrath of God due a particular people was satisfied.
The justice of God was met. The holiness of God was respected.
1 Corinthians 5:7 says “… For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
This is God’s amazing plan of redemption for us, His chosen people.
What the Passover meant to the Jews for generations pointed to what the Lord’s Supper means to us today.
It is our opportunity to celebrate the Passover Lamb who drank the cup of wrath on our behalf.
Only in Him do we have new freedom from the wrath of God and are reconciled to Him forever.
This brings us to the new ordinance that Jesus gave to the disciples (and now us, the Church) the night before He was betrayed. At the last Passover meal, God the Son gave His people a new tradition and a new remembrance and a new celebration and testimony to the watching world about how the Lord passed over us and all others who believe in Him for salvation.
May we faithfully practice the new ordinance of the Lord’s Supper as we remember Him and testify of what He has done to pass over His chosen people and bring us new life in God’s eternal kingdom.