By Rev. Dr. William H. Chavis, Jr.
While on earth, Jesus spent time with His disciples to prepare them for His ultimate sacrifice as The Lamb of God. In eternity past, the Lord voluntarily pledged Himself to die a sacrificial death for those He would create by the determined counsel of God (Acts 2:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:8:10; Colossians 1:16).
Once Peter made it known that Jesus was the Messiah (Matthew 16:13-16), Jesus moved immediately to accomplish His promised sacrificial mission. The Passover was the perfect feast to accomplish His mission. Passover speaks of redemption by a Messiah Lamb who has been slain for us.
Passover is a Holy Day observed by Jews that speak to how God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Death passed over those houses that had the blood of an unblemished lamb over the doorpost (Exodus 12:1-14). Passover is essentially a one-day holiday feast. It is followed by a seven-day Feast of the Unleavened Bread on the second day which celebrates Israel’s separation from Egypt (Exodus 12:14-20; Leviticus 23:6). Together both feasts are commonly known as Passover.
Lamb Selection Day was the day that hundreds of lambs, bred especially for Passover sacrifices, were examined by the priests in the temple. The lambs had to be perfect, without blemish or defect. Jesus entered Jerusalem on “Lamb Selection Day”, a week before Passover (John 12:1, 12). Jesus is The Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), and anyone who believes in Him will escape the slavery of sin to eternal life.
Christians celebrate the royal procession of Jesus into Jerusalem (Zachariah 9:9) as Palm Sunday. Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. A donkey symbolizes humility. Riding on a donkey conveyed the message to the crowd that Jesus came as a humble Servant-King. He celebrated the giving of Himself as the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God for sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus was followed by crowds in Jerusalem. They created a royal-procession for Him by spreading their outer garments and branches on the road. They were spontaneously singing joyfully about Him (Mark 11:9-10; Luke 19:36-38). John 12:12 portrays multitudes waving palm branches and chanting “Hosanna.” Hosanna means literally, “Please save” or “Help, please!” Palm branches became symbols of Jewish nationalism and political freedom from foreign rule.
The people did not recognize Him as The Lamb of God. They misunderstood the message of Jesus. They sought a military-political leader to destroy Roman authority. Jesus wanted to provide freedom from their spiritual bondage of sin. The disciples did not understand His mission either (Matthews 16:21-25, 17:22-23).
Luke 23:44 depicts Jesus being crucified at noon (the sixth hour). To symbolically clean Israel of its sins, Jewish priests slaughtered the Passover sacrificial lamb at 3 p.m. At exactly the “ninth hour” (3:00 pm), as the Passover lamb was being slaughtered, Jesus cried out with a loud voice and said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit” (Luke 23:46). Jesus died. The Lamb of God took our place because He is worth the entire flock.
Jesus died for our sins the very day that an unblemished lamb was eaten for Passover. The flawless lamb eaten at Passover is a shadow of Who is the Real sinless Lamb. Eating the lamb at Passover is a picture of believing in Christ Jesus. Today, still, there are many who celebrate Passover without knowing that It is fulfilled in Christ Jesus.
Jesus died on the cross, and was buried (John 19:17-42). On the third day (1 Corinthians 15:4), He triumphantly rose from the grave and ascended to heaven in glory (1 Timothy 3:16).