Too many people are depending on a living sacrifice to be right with God
All the Gospels are similar in their format: the last day of Jesus’ life is zeroed in on and the writers extend their coverage of this day over many chapters. It’s like they were whizzing through 3 years of His life and then slam the brakes at the last day of His life. Matthew 26 &27, Mark 14 & 15, Luke 22 & 23 and John 13-19.
The flow of events: Chapter 14 begins with the devotion of Mary and ends with the denial of Peter with lots happening in between. Jesus celebrates the Passover with His disciples, predicts His betrayal by one of them, institutes the Lord’s Supper, predicts his disciples will abandon Him, prays that famous prayer alone in the Garden, gets arrested in the Garden where the famous kiss of Judas happens, stands trial and gets condemned and finally the chapter ends with Peter denying knowing Jesus 3 times – just in time for the rooster to crow as Jesus foretold.
This last day stands out in two ways:
First, the omniscience of Jesus. He knows what’s going to happen in the future. Of course: He’s God. He knows a man with a water jar will meet the disciples and take them to the upper room prepared for them. He knows one of them will betray Him. He knows its His last time drinking of the vine with them until the kingdom comes. He knows Peter will betray Him and when. He knows all of them will desert Him. He knows the clambering sound in Gethsemane is Judas leading soldiers to arrest Him. He knows what’s happening to Him is fulfillment of Scriptures. He knows He is going to His death and that He will come back from the grave. He knows that He will return to earth on clouds from heaven with power and glory.
Secondly, Jesus’ last day stands out because of His utter loneliness. Before his clothes are stripped from Him at the cross, He is stripped of all His earthly friendships. He is betrayed by Judas. He is abandoned by the 12 after they professed loyalty to death. He is denied by Peter 3 times – one for each year Peter spent with Jesus. He has to pray alone because they sleep. He stands trial alone and undefended. The only company He had was on the cross with 2 thieves. But even then He was alone, for it was there that He alone was enduring the wrath of God for the sins of man. And finally, when everyone had abandoned Him, even God left Him, “Eloi, Eloi, Lamasabachthani! My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?!” Remember the song?
- The disciples ask the stranger where is the place the Lord is supposed to meet. The man will have a place already setup. God works on both ends. He goes before you to prepare your way. He is the One who gives you success.
Our focus today will be the Passover. We’re going to learn about the Passover in three sections: History, Fulfillment and Applications.
#1: THE HISTORY OF THE PASSOVER (12-16)
Read Mark 14:12-16. The history of the Passover actually predates the first Passover. We must go back further than Moses all the way to Abraham in Genesis 15:13-14. We’ll go from Genesis 15 to Exodus 12 and then finally end up back in Mark 14. So looking at Genesis 15 first we read verses 13-14, “….”
Passover is Promised: God informs Abraham in the future his descendents would be enslaved for 400 years by a powerful nation but then God would deliver them from their enslavement. That’s all Abraham knows, God doesn’t tell him any details of that event – he doesn’t know the name of the nation, the 10 plagues, the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, the angel of death killing all the firstborns in Egypt, the Passover ceremony’s instructions…NOTHING. Just slavery and deliverance.
So the time eventually comes and the Hebrews are enslaved in Egypt under really bad conditions. They cry out to God and He raises up Moses to lead them out of Egypt. You are probably familiar with the account: the burning bush, the meetings with Pharoah requesting to let the Israelites go, the 9 plagues, the stubbornness of Pharaoh.
Then the 10th plague comes. The 10th plague breaks Pharaoh. When the 10th plague comes Pharaoh finally releases the Hebrews to go worship God in the desert. What is the 10th plague? God kills every single firstborn male in Egypt – both high and low and man and animal. Pharaoh’s son will die and so will the little male lamb of the poorest peasant. Not one house in Egypt will escape the touch of death. Not one will be passed by.
With one exception. Those who observe the Passover the night of the 10th plague and follow God’s instructions will not be touched by the angel of death. God told Moses to give the Israelites instructions on what to do that night: get a year old male lamb, without defect or broken bones, slaughter it, smear the blood on the doorposts of the house, roast the lamb and eat leaving nothing til morning, and whatever you do do not go outside. The angel of death would go throughout Egypt at night and any home he saw had the blood he would pass over. The blood of a lamb would protect that home from God’s judgment. The instructions given by God that night have been observed by the Israelites ever since all the way down to the last day of Jesus in Mark 14.
Now the Passover was its own feast, but, the day of Passover also functioned as the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. These two “holidays” always go together. Each year they are celebrated together because their history originated together on the same occasion. The Passover is one day while the Feast of Unleavened Bread is 7 days. For those 7 days every Israelite home is to eat unleavened bread and to go throughout their whole house ensuring there is no yeast anywhere. No yeast is allowed in the home for the full 7 days of the Feast. This is to remind the Israelites that on the Passover night, there was no time to make leavened bread. Things were moving fast as God was orchestrating their emancipation. This annual holiday would “take them back” to that great night of God’s deliverance when they ate unleavened bread. It’s worth noting that most of the time yeast is mentioned in the Bible as a metaphor for sin. We’ll come back to that.
#2: THE FULFILLMENT OF PASSOVER
The Passover was never an end in itself. It’s purpose was to point to the “Final Passover” to end all Passovers. There would come a sacrifice that would end all sacrifices. There would come a blood that would end all blood. There would come a Lamb of lambs, a Final Lamb to end all lambs. John the Baptist cried out “See! See! Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” (Jn 1)
- “For Christ,” 1 Corinthians 5:7 says, “is our Passover Lamb and He has been sacrificed.”
- “You were redeemed…” 1 Peter 1 says, “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
- Turn to Hebrews 10:11-14….which says, “…”
The ritual of the Passover was implemented to build anticipation of the coming Lamb of God. It has always pointed to Jesus Christ.
Now we will get there in the next few weeks, but, this Passover night in Mark 14 is the last Passover in history. While over a million lambs were slaughtered on that day, the only Lamb that counted was Jesus.
Interestingly, this last Passover meal in Mark 14 was also the first Eucharist meal. One ended and another began. The old concluded and the new was inaugurated.
#3: THE APPLICATIONS OF PASSOVER
First, God’s Judgment is coming. Just like death went throughout Egypt on that night, a day is coming when death will go throughout the world.
Second, the necessity of blood. Death passed over any house that had the blood of a lamb. The point here is the need for a blood sacrifice, a death sacrifice. The Bible speaks of death sacrifices and living sacrifices. Death sacrifice requires death, living sacrifice requires living in devotion to God. Too many people are depending on a living sacrifice to be right with God, to have Him “pass-over” their sins in that they are trying to “live” a good enough life. But if that were possible Jesus would NEVER have been sacrificed. His death was a sacrifice on your behalf. His blood has been shed for you. Just like the blood was in a basin and needed to be applied to the doorposts, so the blood of Jesus was spilled for you but you need to apply it to your life. You apply His blood by believing in Him for your salvation. You quit thinking you can live right before God, and starting right now you accept Jesus’ death on the cross for you. Starting right now you realize the necessity of His blood for God to pass-over you when Judgment comes.
Third, Freedom follows Pardon. Sanctification follows Salvation. The Israelites were pardoned that Passover night. They were spared death and passed over. But they left Egypt early the next morning and followed God out of their former enslavement. Not one Israelite stayed in Egypt – not one liberated Hebrew stayed in the land of slavery. They left.
What should you see in this? If you have come to Christ and have been spared by His blood then leave the former life you led behind. Get up and follow God. You were a slave to sin as much as the Hebrews were slaves to the Egyptians. But you’re free now. Get up and get going with God out of that life.
Notice that there is to be no yeast found anywhere in Israel when they celebrate the Passover and Unleavened Bread. If you belong to Christ, let there be no yeast in your life. The Hebrews earnestly rid their homes of yeast. Be just as earnest to rid your life of sin to be pleasing to your Savior.
Fourth, the need for Reminding. God instituted the Passover to remind all future generations of what He did. Otherwise it would fade into history to be forgotten. Jesus gave us Communion and Baptism to be continual reminders of what He did for us.
Fifth, Salvation is on God’s terms. God did not spare a single Hebrew in Egypt merely for being a Hebrew. He only spared those Hebrews who followed His instructions regarding the blood of the lamb. He would have struck down along with the Egyptians any Hebrew who disregarded His requirements. If anyone wanted to be Passed Over, God set the terms.
Today if you want to be Passed Over, God has set the terms for you: you must put your faith in Jesus Christ. He shed His blood for you. He was your substitute.
Illustration: Richard Wurmbrand, author of Tortured For Christ, says that when he was imprisoned by Communists in Romania he knew a man named Pastor Haimovici. Pastor Haimovici was revered by all the prisoners – believers and non’s alike. Why? Wurmbrand explains. The prisons could get quite crowded. The guards were not able to keep track of everyone’s names. So when a prisoner had broken some prison rule he was supposed to get 25 lashes with a whip. The guards would call the prisoner’s name but they didn’t know him from Adam. They just knew that someone named Richard or John or Brad was supposed to be beaten. More times than anyone could count Pastor Haimovici would step forward and take the 25 lashings for the other prisoners.
That’s Jesus. Your name was called for punishment. He stepped forward and received what was yours. Now’s your time to step towards Him and receive Him. Salvation is on His terms. Faith is the only condition.