A Message of Salvation-From Exodus To The Resurrection And Beyond
Part 1: To reflect on what Jesus did for us at Calvary, His abundant love and mercy.
Part 2: How the Passover Seder relates to Jesus' sacrifice for us.
PART 1 (The passion, resurrection and salvation)
-- Jesus came down to earth from His Heavenly throne on Christmas.
-- He spent over thirty years living with humanity. His mission on earth was to teach the people God's Ways and to show them God's abundant love for them.
-- His triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey fulfilled the prophecy of Zech 9:9-10, where it says: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you, He is just and having salvation. Lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey ... He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth."
Q: Why did Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, make His triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey? Why not enter on a horse or a camel like the royalty did at that time? National shrine.org says this:
"Donkeys were portrayed in the Bible as symbols of service, suffering, peace
and humility. The donkey symbolizes Jesus' coming in peace; coming to seek
and to save the lost. And donkeys protect the herd from predators."
Experts say horses feel safe when donkeys are among them because the donkeys 'kick the predators' in order to 'defend the herd.'
They go on to say: "Donkeys all over the world share one curious feature — they have a 'cross' on their backs, running down their spines and across their shoulders. No other animal except the mule bears this 'cross'.
People have said God blessed donkeys with this 'shadow of the cross' on their backs because of the 'love' that donkey had for Jesus and 'the service' it rendered to Him on that blessed day.
Q: And why did the people spread palm branches along Jesus' path? Why palm branches for Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem?
A: Palm branches were considered to be symbols of victory and triumph. Jesus was about to conquer sin and death one week later, at Calvary. And as Jesus entered the city, the people shouted 'Hosanna in the highest.'
In Hebrew, Hosanna is a plea "To save or to rescue." "In the highest," means to save and rescue us to the highest degree - which is the salvation of our souls." So, Hosanna means, 'Save us unto salvation!'
When we say, 'Hosanna,' we are making a plea to God. But, when we say 'Hallelulia,' we are giving praise to God.
-- Jesus demonstrated the Father's power and mercy by:
(1) Teaching and preaching God's ways and His word; (2) Healing the sick; and (3) Casting out demons from those who were demon-possessed.
Matt 4:23-24 tells us: "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of disease among the people ... they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them."
-- Jesus was delivered up to the leaders of His own people, in the hope He would be sentenced to death. The Pharisees were unable to find anything Jesus did that was worthy of death. So, they delivered Jesus to Pilate hoping Pilate would find a reason to crucify our Lord.
The people were willing to trade Jesus' sinless life to spare the life of a known criminal, Barabbas.
-- The Roman soldiers attempted to humiliate Jesus byplacing a purple robe of royalty onto His shoulders and a crown of thorns on His head.
-- Jesus was then beaten and tortured by the soldiers to the point His face was unrecognizable. Isa 52:14 tells us: "So His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men." Beaten beyond recognition!
Question: "How much does Jesus love us?"
-- His flesh was torn through scourging with whips. The whips had a sharp stone attached to the end of each cord in order to inflict more damage. Jesus received 39 lashes for us -healing all our physical and spiritual infirmities.
Isa 53:5 says: "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed."
Q: Why 39 lashes? Why not 25, or 30, or 50? Deut 25:2-3 says: "...then it shall be, if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, that the judge will cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence, according to his guilt, with a certain number of blows." "Forty blows he may give him and no more ..."
So the most blows given to a wicked man were 39, because the people feared they may exceed the maximum number of 40 blows and be punished by God for their disobedience.
-- Jesus was then made to walk the streets of Jerusalem, battered and with torn flesh, weakened from the torture. He was made to carry His heavy cross of wood to Calvary, where He was crucified. Isa 53:8 says: "For the transgressions of My people He was stricken."
We are God's people. Jesus went through all that torture ... for us ... that we might 'forever' be with Him in heaven.
An observation: How many who call themselves 'believers,' yet, by their words and actions, treat Jesus' act of love on the cross ... as a common thing? They disrespect God and the things of God, by deliberately participating in things the bible tells us not to participate in, or do things God says He hates. These 'believers' are full of self-will, not surrendered to God's will.
-- Jesus became the 'Lamb of God,' sacrificed for us all ... so that all who believe on Him and in His atoning work on the Cross ... would have eternal life.
Isa 53:11-12 declares: "He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities ... Because He poured out His soul unto death ... And He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." (Justify = not guilty as declared by the 'Judge.')
--Then, on the third day, God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. Sin and death were forever defeated. The chains used by the enemy to enslave were broken. Jesus came to set the captives free (Lk 4:18) --- Free from addictions, mental anguish and depression, and anything else the enemy throws at us.
In 1Cor 15, the apostle Paul declares: " ... that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures ... that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day ... and that He was seen by over 500 brethren at once ... But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." "For since by man (Adam) came death, by Man (Jesus) also came the resurrection of the dead." "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive."
Our Lord's resurrection was a miraculous demonstration of God's power as well as His incredible love for us!
1. Jesus' sacrifice at Calvary paid the penalty for the sins of mankind ... in full ... once and forever. Jesus was truly the 'Passover Lamb.'
2. Jesus' sacrifice paved the way to heaven for mankind, who could never get there because of their sin. Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." "No one comes to the Father except through Me," not through Buddah, or Allah, or by good works, or by being a good person.
Many of us have heard: 'If a person can get to heaven through good works or by being a good person, then Jesus' death on the cross was in vain.
3. Jesus' sacrifice brings salvation and everlasting life to all those who believe on Him and who call upon His name. Rom 10:13, "Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
4. Jesus' sacrifice brings freedom to the captive by breaking Satan's chains ofcruelty upon those enslaved by him through any type of persistent sin.
5. Jesus' sacrifice and the shedding of His blood brings justification and sanctification to a lost world ... to all those who call on His name.
'Thank-you, Lord, for what You have done for us and continue to do in our lives!'
'Thank-you for guiding us to the finish line by Your mercy and grace!'
PART 2 (The Last Supper - The Passover Seder)
'The Last Supper' held in the Upper Room by Jesus and His disciples was in reality, the Passover Seder, in celebration of 'The Passover.'
Q: Why would Jesus want His last supper on earth with the disciples to be in the setting of the Passover Seder? Was it just coincidence? Or,
Q: Was it because of the similar act of redemption as to how God delivered the Israelites from bondage through Moses, to what God was about to do for all humanity through His Son, Jesus?
The author writes this in Scripture Paths Bible Studies of Exodus:
"Exodus stands at the heart of the Old Testament as the greatest example of the saving acts of God before Christ ... the salvation of Israel through blood (the Passover lamb) and through power (the splitting of the Red Sea). The Exodus is the central event of the Old Testament as the Cross is of the New Testament."
Q: Did God have to send ten plagues upon Egypt in order to deliver the Israelites from captivity? Couldn't He have sent a spirit of slumber upon the Egyptians until the Israelites escaped? Just as He did to the two soldiers guarding Peter in the jail cell?
We know from the Book of Exodus before God delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, He sent the ten plagues to Egypt. Why? In order to demonstrate His power to Pharaoh and to all the Egyptians,
So, Pharaoh would release the Israelites from captivity;
So, the Israelites could worship God without the constraints imposed by slavery.
Q: Why did God choose to send such 'unusual' plagues as flies, frogs, boils, darkness? (Num 33:3-4)
Each plague God sent was associated with a god the Egyptians worshipped:
1. Plague of flies - Associated with their god, Khepri, who was made with his head in the shape of a fly. And some Egyptians would wear a 'fly amulet' for their 'protection.' It's almost as if the God of Israel chided them, 'You want to worship flies, here, take these flies and worship them!'
2. Plague of frogs - Associated with the goddess of fertility, Heqt, portrayed with the head and body of a frog.
3. Plague of boils - Associated with the Egyptian god, Isis, their god of medicine.
Isis was powerless to stop the plague or to heal the boils and sores sent by the One, True God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
4. Plague of darkness - Associated with Ra, their sun god. Ra was unable to stop the darkness God sent to cover the land of Egypt.
There was an Egyptian god for every plague the God of Israel sent to Egypt, demonstrating His infinite power and the complete inability of their gods to come to their rescue.
Before God sent the tenth and final plague, He instructed Moses to have the Israelites paint their doorposts with the blood of a sacrificed lamb. The angel of death would then 'pass over' the houses protected by the lamb's blood.
This, of course, gives special meaning to us as Christians that the blood of Jesus, the ultimate sacrificial 'Lamb of God', when painted over the doorpost of our heart, saves us from eternal death and brings us into everlasting life. Rom 6:23 says: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
During the Passover Seder, several elements are used which have symbolic meaning to both Jews and Christians. But, the meaning differs between the Jewish and Christian faiths.
The matzoh, or unleavened bread, is eaten during the Seder in remembrance of the haste in which the Israelites had to depart from Egypt. They were unable to wait for the leaven to make the bread rise. Therefore, matzoh is an important part of the Passover Seder reminding everyone of the haste in which the Israelites had to leave Egypt.
To the Christian, leaven represents 'sin.' Jesus was without sin, without any leaven. His life was without blemish. The matzoh is pierced in the baking process with tiny holes in it. This represents how Jesus was pierced when nailed to the cross. And the stripes on the matzoh represent the 'scourging' Jesus took for us.
Isa 53:5 says: "And by His stripes we are healed."
At the beginning of the Seder, the leader places three pieces of matzoh into a bag containing three pockets:
--A piece of matzoh is placed into pocket #1 and is neither eaten nor seen after that point.
--A second piece of matzoh is then broken in half. One half is placed into pocket #2 of the bag while the other half is wrapped in linen, usually a linen napkin. This half piece of matzoh is called the 'Afikomen.'
--The third piece of matzoh placed into pocket #3 is eaten during the Seder along with the other elements.
To the Christian, the three pieces of matzoh represent the 'Trinity'; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The first piece of matzoh placed inside the first pocket represents the Father whom no one can touch or see. The second piece of matzoh broken into two pieces represents Jesus' body that was broken for us. The "Afikomen" wrapped in linen represents Jesus' burial. The third piece of matzoh is eaten by all throughout the Seder and represents the Holy Spirit.
In my experience after attending years of Passover Seders, almost all unbelieving Jews are blinded to this representation.
Rom 11:8,25 tells us those in the Jewish faith, unless God opens their eyes of faith, will be blinded until they recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Then, they will mourn for the One who was pierced for them.
Traditionally, the leader of the Seder hides the Afikomen so the children who are present search for it at the end of the meal. The child who finds the Afikomen bargains with the leader as to how much he or she will be paid for its return. The payment when we were growing up was anywhere from fifty cents to two dollars.
After payment is received, the Afikomen is eaten by all in attendance. 'Afikomen' is usually translated to mean 'dessert.'
Some bible scholars see a similarity between the child's payment for the 'Afikomen' with how the Roman soldiers drew lots for Jesus' clothing as He shed His cleansing blood on the Cross.
Other elements of the Passover Seder include: a Shankbone from a lamb (Zeroa), Bitter herbs (Maror), Sweet paste (Charoset), Vegetable (Karpas), a hard boiled egg (Beitzah), a small bowl of salt water, and red wine.
The shankbone at Passover represents the sacrificed lamb whose blood was painted on the doorpost, so the angel of death would pass over that house.
But to the Believer, it represents the broken body of our Lord, God's sacrificial lamb, whose atoning blood was shed for all those who believe and who paint His blood on the doorpost of their heart.
2. Bitter herbs, typically represented by horseradish, reminds those at the Seder table of the bitterness the Israelites felt while being held in captivity 400 years.
To the Christian, the bitter herbs might represent:
Bitterness while being held captive by Satan. Only the atoning blood of Jesus sets the captive free. Bitter herbs could also represent walking through life in bitterness before accepting Jesus and His forgiveness.
3. Charoset, a sweet paste made from apples, nuts, spices and a small amount of red wine, represents the mortar the Israelites used to build structures for the Egyptians while enslaved.
To the Believer, Charoset represents the sweetness of the relationship each of us has with Jesus and the sweet redemption His sacrifice offers.
4. Vegetable (Karpas) is traditionally represented by parsley. During the Seder, each participant dips his portion in the salt water, then eats it. Parsley looks similar to the hyssop used to paint the doorpost with lamb's blood on that first Passover.
To the Believer, the Karpas (hyssop) was used by the Roman soldier to give Jesus vinegar rather than water- after Jesus said He thirst while hanging on the Cross.
5. A hard-boiled egg (Beitzah) is included in the Seder. It, too, is dipped in the salt water before eaten. The egg represents:
Mourning for the pain of slavery. But, it also represents life and hope for the future. The egg is round with no end, just like the circle of life that has no end.
To the Christian, the egg symbolizes eternal life; life without end and a hope for the future, but only through Jesus, our Lord.
6. Salt water represents:
The tears shed by the Israelites while in captivity, and their Red Sea crossing on their way to the Promised Land.
To the Christian, salt represents purification and preservation. Christ gives to us salt that purifies and preserves all who have the faith and trust in Him to bring us to the finish line.
7. Four cups of red wine are consumed during the Passover Seder (by the adults), and each cup has its own symbolic meaning.
The four cups represent the four promises of God as to how He would deliver the Israelites.
In Exodus 6:6-7, God spoke to Moses and said: "Therefore say to the children of Israel: 'I am the Lord'; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God." "Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians."
So, The first cup represents "I will bring you out."
The second cup, "I will rescue you."
The third cup, "I will redeem you."
The fourth cup, "I will take you as My people."
And a separate cup of wine is typically placed on the table in front of an empty chair. This cup is left untouched and offered to the prophet, Elijah. According to Jewish tradition, Elijah will show up at an unexpected time to announce the coming of Messiah. And during the Seder, Elijah is referred to by his Hebrew name, 'Eliyahu.'
The bible declares Jesus was perfect in all His ways. So, He must have kept all the feasts God commanded the Jews to follow. So, Jesus and His disciples would have celebrated the Last Supper in the tradition of the Passover Seder.
But, the changes Jesus brought to the Last Supper, that Passover seder, gave added meaning to Passover with the establishing of, the New Covenant.
It's uncanny how the Passover Seder has always been a representation of Jesus' sacrifice and His death. But, again, those in the Jewish faith who do not believe in Jesus as their Messiah, are unaware of this relationship.
So, whereas, the Old Covenant was written on stone, the New Covenant is written on the hearts of men.
Examples of Jewish unbelief, hardened hearts, and blindness to the truth:
1. I recently asked my sister if she would like to begin a bible study with me. "Maybe" was her reply. "But remember, I'm an Old Testament girl." I reminded her both testaments were written by Jewish men with the possible exception of Luke.
2. In my experience, many in the Jewish faith don't want to listen to Christians talk about their faith in Jesus. But, if they do listen, it's usually out of politeness. Why such hardness?
Perhaps because of the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, Pogroms in Europe, Hitler's concentration camps, the KKK, as some examples of their distrust in Christians.
It seems they, somehow, hold Jesus responsible for the actions committed by people who claim they are Christians, but act like barbarians for Satan. They produce rotten fruit.
It's beyond sad that all unbelievers, both Jew or non-Jew, are missing out on the love and hope Jesus offers them ... and the eternal life they won't receive without their Savior. 1Jn 2:23 says: "No one who denies the Son can have the Father ..."
In Matt 26:19-20, it says: "So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve." And in verses 27 and 28, "Then He (Jesus) took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.' "
Was it just an accident the last meal Jesus would eat with His disciples while
on earth happened to be the Passover Seder?
Is it mere coincidence the Passover elements are symbols of both the Exodus and Jesus' sacrifice for us?
And is it any wonder, knowing the love and compassion Jesus has for humanity, that His arms were stretched wide on that cross welcoming all men unto Himself - as He was dying for us!
LET ALL MEN DECLARE, LET EVERY TONGUE CONFESS, JESUS IS LORD!