This Easter was a bit more special to me than any other thus far because this year God began a conversation with me starting in February that lasted through this month. He opened my eyes through various channels to begin to recognize, understand and appreciate Jesus as the Lamb of God at a whole new level.
Back in February, when I was looking up the portion of scripture that records Jesus’ prayers on the cross I happened to read some of Matthew Henry’s commentary on BibleGateway.com. Here is the excerpt from the blog post I made on February 22nd:
Matthew 27:45-50, Mark 15:33-37, Luke 23: 44-29
What: Prayed “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”. Also prayed, “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit”
When: Right before He expired
Where: On the cross, at about the 9th hour (3 pm).
Why: Christ gave up His spirit willingly, it was not forced out of Him. He willingly obeyed God and took on our sins, although He himself was blameless and holy. Sin separates us from God, Christ had not sinned, our sin which He willingly bore separated Him from God and for the first time He felt what it was like to be apart from God – to be forsaken.
How: Cried out with a loud voice
…From Matthew Henry’s commentary: The manner how he breathed his last; between the third and the sixth hour, that is, between nine and twelve o’clock, as we reckon, he was nailed to the cross, and soon after the ninth hour, that is, between three and four o’clock in the afternoon, he died. That was the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, and the time when the paschal lamb was killed; and Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us and offered himself in the evening of the world a sacrifice to God of a sweet–smelling savour.
The reason I included this significant note in my public prayer observations was because – wow!
I never knew that Jesus died on the cross during the exact hour and on the exact same day that the evening sacrifice was being made for atonement. Not only that, but it was the Passover evening sacrifice! The Passover lambs were of course in memory of the first passover lambs in Egypt whose blood protected the families from the Angel of Death. Christ’s blood protects us from the Angel of Death. His blood protects us from the wrath of God.
Of course God planned it this way because Jesus IS the lamb that makes atonement for the sins of the world so that anyone who believes in Him and accepts this in faith will be saved! Praise the Lord!
Jesus further impressed this into my heart and onto my brain in March. I had started reading the Zion Legacy series by Brock and Bodie Thoene (my favorite authors) back in October. I started reading the last book of the series, “Jerusalem’s Hope” in March right before Easter. This book was amazing…it is a historical fiction writing that puts you in the shoes of three orphan boys, a Roman centenarian, one of the shepherds of Bethlehem and a Pharisee. The book takes place the passover season a year before Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. The historically accurate back drop really helped me understand the political and religious atmosphere that was going on in that region during that time. It also was a huge eye-opener to the significance of the passover lambs. Not only that, but the book also enlightened me to the attention to detail and the enormity of the operation it was for the shepherds each year. I did not realize that Bethlehem was where the passover lambs were birthed and selected for the holy atonement sacrifices. How significant that Christ was born there! Also, I never had put two and two together that the same shepherds who had seen the angels announce the birth of the Messiah would have also suffered through the deaths of their son(s) ages 2 and under when King Herod slaughtered the children. I am soooo thankful I read this book. I feel like I understand the significance of Christ’s sacrifice of himself during passover for our sins sooo much better!
Lastly, I just so “happened” to jump into a middle of a Bible Study right before Easter called “Forever in Love with Jesus” by Kathy Troccolli and Dee Brestin. The week before Easter, the group just so “happened” to be on week 7 which went into depth about the first passover, the paschal lamb and Christ, the Lamb of God! Most significantly I learned from a quote by Darrell Bock which pointed out three correlations between Jesus and the original passover lamb:
1. Not only did Jesus die during the time of the evening sacrifice, but the day before Jesus’ condemnation took place at noon which was the exact time that the priests in Jerusalem were starting to slaughter the passover lambs. I learned from the book “Jerusalem’s Hope” that thousands upon thousands of lambs had to be slaughtered during certain times and before the Sabbath. The lambs had to be slaughtered by the head of the family or family representative. There was literally lamb, after lamb, after lamb slaughtered with group after group entering the temple to make the sacrifice. It was a huge logistical operation!
2. Secondly, I never put two and two together, once again, that the blood of the first passover lamb in Egypt was spread upon the doorway with hyssop. When the centurion’s offered Jesus the sour wine to drink, it was with a branch of hyssop.
3. Also, in Exodus, God commands the Israelites to take special care to break none of the lamb’s bones that they slaughtered, and then after spreading the blood prepared it for dinner. I for one know from my experience in the kitchen of my home that it would take special care indeed to make sure none of the bones were broken during preparation and especially while eating it! The correlation is that none of Jesus’ bones were broken. In fact, this took special care because it was common practice by the Roman empire to break the bones of their crucifixion victims in order to speed the process of death along. The reason being, is that in order to breathe the individual would have to push themselves up in excruciating pain. Once their legs were broken they would suffocate faster. However, Jesus gave up His Spirit before this occurred since He was and is and will always be THE LAMB OF GOD.
How amazing! I marvel at the fulfillment of scripture. How God planned the freedom of His people of Egypt and the passover lamb to point forward in history to the freedom of all mankind with the last Passover Lamb. There are no words, God is amazing. He is glorious! Praise the Lord, the creator of Heaven and Earth!
How humbling it is that God loves me so much that He would teach me this, and help me to better know Him and better worship Him in spite of me being…well me! How great is the Father’s love. How precious it is that He longs to speak to us. To show each of us the depths of His love and of His sacrifice that we may live! All glory, honor and praise be to the Lamb of God who sits at the right hand of the Father!