Passover and Palm Sunday

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29,34).

John the Baptist had been preaching about the coming Messiah, identifying himself as the forerunner Isaiah had promised over 700 years earlier.  Quoting from Isaiah 40:3 John said, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord ‘ “ (John 1:23).

Introducing Jesus to Israel as the Lamb of God was no doubt meant to prompt a comparison between Jesus and the Passover lamb in their minds. Reading about the first Passover (Exodus 12:1-20) from a Christian perspective makes the similarity so clear we wonder how they could have missed it. In fact several hundred Old Testament Prophecies were fulfilled in the life of Jesus and many of these came in the last week of His earthly life during the two events we’ll be celebrating in the next few days, Passover for Israel and Palm Sunday for the Church.

For Christ, Our Passover Lamb, Has Been Sacrificed … 1 Cor. 5:7

By now the Passover story should be familiar to us.  The final showdown between God and Pharaoh was coming. Through 9 plagues God sent to demonstrate His power over the pagan gods of Egypt, Pharoah had remained just as obstinate as God had predicted. The 10th plague, the death of all the firstborn, would break Pharoah’s will and free the Israelites from their bondage, but first they had to be protected from the plague.

On the 10th day of the 1st month God had them select a male lamb for each household and inspect it for 3 days to be sure it had no blemish or defect. Then it was slaughtered, and its blood was applied to the door posts of their homes. That night, behind closed doors in their own house, each family ate the lamb quickly with some bitter herbs and unleavened bread,  not venturing outside.  At midnight the destroying angel came through Egypt and took the life of the first born of every family, except for those who had covered their door posts with lamb’s blood (Exodus 12:1-13, 21-23, 28-30).

The next morning the Israelites were released from their bondage and given the wealth of Egypt, beginning their journey to the Promised Land with God in their midst. They weren’t spared because they were Jewish, or because they had lamb for dinner, but because they applied the lamb’s blood to their door posts believing that it would protect them. They were saved through faith by the blood of the lamb.

Just as the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, we are slaves in this world, held in bondage to sin. On that first Palm Sunday, the 10th of the 1st month, our Passover Lamb was selected by allowing Himself to be proclaimed as Israel’s King for the first and only time in His life. When the Pharisees told him to rebuke His disciples for doing so, He said if they kept silent the very stones would cry out (Luke 19:39-40).  This was the day ordained in history for His official appearance as their Messiah.

For the next 3 days He was subjected to the most intense questioning of His entire ministry lest there be any defects found in His words or deeds. Then  on the 14th He was crucified, releasing us from our bondage to sin, and qualifying us to receive the wealth of His Kingdom.  We are saved through faith by the blood of the Lamb.  But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

The Son of Man Wept, The Son of God Warned

As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city He wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in from every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone upon another because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (Luke 19:41-44).

The prophet Daniel had laid out the schedule for them over 500 years earlier. From the time the Jews were given permission to rebuild Jerusalem after it had been destroyed by the Babylonians, to the coming of the Messiah, there would be 69 periods of 7 years each, or 483 years (Daniel 9:25). History tells us that this permission was given to Nehemiah by the Persian ruler Artaxerxes Longimonus in March of 445 BC (Nehemiah 2:1-9). The Sunday when Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem to the shouts of Psalm 118:25-26 was exactly 483 years later, but by then most of the Jewish leadership no longer took the Bible literally and the validity of predictive prophecy was being denied.

Regardless of their opinion, the Lord held them accountable for knowing when He would visit.  Given that hundreds of additional prophecies of His coming  had already been fulfilled in their midst, we can see His point.  Remember, they were all fulfilled in the span of one lifetime, the one in which He came. There are hundreds more prophecies relating to His Second Coming, and again all will be fulfilled within the span of one lifetime, the one in which He comes (Matt 24:34).  And just as it was then, our leaders no longer take the Bible literally and the validity of predictive prophecy is again being denied.  But regardless of their opinion, the Lord will hold the people of our day  accountable to “recognize the time of God’s coming” just like He did back then.

Who Was That Man?

A few days ago I got an email from someone I assume to be Jewish claiming that Jesus didn’t meet a single requirement to be Israel’s Messiah. I’ve received a number of these over the years and have come to realize they think this way because Israel was looking for a Messiah to fulfill what we know as second coming prophecies.  They wanted the Lion of Judah, a powerful warrior king like David, who could throw off the Roman yoke and restore Israel’s kingdom, because that’s what they thought they needed.   They didn’t think they needed a Savior, so when they got the Lamb of God who came to take away their sins they didn’t recognize Him.

Today, because of a similar denial of the validity of prophecy, much of the world is looking for some version of the Lamb of God.  They want a gentle teacher who will accept us all and promise to show us the way to peace and plenty.  They won’t think they need a conqueror, so when the Lion of Judah comes to utterly destroy His enemies and restore God’s Kingdom, they won’t recognize Him (Matt. 24:30).  Like the man said, “Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 03-23-13

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