The story of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt has popped up everywhere in my life the last several months. From sermons to books to Suzy’s blog post last week, I can’t seem to escape it. Because this week is Passover, I figured I’d embrace this recurrent “theme” in my life and write about what God’s been showing me.
As I’ve seen the parallels between the Old and New Testaments, I’ve uncovered a new depth to God’s grace. One of the most powerful examples of this abundant grace can be found in the parallel stories of the first Passover and the Last Supper. Here are excerpts from those stories.
The First Passover: God to the Israelites
Exodus 12:12-14 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.”
The Last Supper: Jesus to his Disciples
Luke 22: 14-20 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
These stories together tell the redemptive narrative of the Bible, and there are many parallels that you can see when you look at them together.
- Specific Instructions: In Exodus, God gives the Israelites specific instructions for celebrating the festival. In Luke, Jesus gives his disciples specific instructions to arrange the celebration of the Passover.
- Body: God requires the entire body of a perfect lamb to be sacrificed in order for death to pass over each household. Jesus gave his body up as the perfect sacrifice in order for death to pass over each of us.
- Blood: The Israelites marked blood on the doorframe as a sign to God so they would be kept from judgment. Jesus’s blood was shed to establish a covenant with his people.
- Freedom: God’s people were enslaved, and he used the Passover to set them free. By the end of the chapter, the Egyptians were begging the Israelites to leave and giving them all their possessions. Jesus willingly becomes the permanent Passover Lamb to set all people free from judgment, condemnation and death.
- Fulfillment: Twice, Jesus excitedly proclaims to his disciples that He is about to fulfill the Passover and bring about the kingdom of God.
This is amazing! God extends his grace towards the Israelites by allowing them to live through sacrificing the blood of perfect lambs. Then Jesus extends his grace by taking the place of the lambs that were taking the place of God’s people. A Substitute for a substitute. Grace on grace. A grace that runs throughout the story of scripture and all the way up to today and then beyond. I’m sitting here trying to wrap my head around this perfect grace that covers over my faults and imperfections. My shame and insecurity. A grace that’s offered freely, that I did nothing to deserve, yet I need so desperately. Would you join me this Passover in remembering and celebrating this grace? Look at Exodus 12 and Luke 22 for yourself and see God’s overwhelming grace that extends to all his people because of his all-consuming love.