• Christ Church, Willesborough

First Sunday after Easter Morning Service (24 April 2022) Exodus 12:1-13


Last Sunday, we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself as the Passover Lamb on the Cross. Today, based on our Old Testament reading, I would like to meditate on how the Passover celebration is relevant to us. There are many similarities between the Passover meal and the Holy Communion that we celebrate today.

We know the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and were afflicted in the foreign land. When God’s predetermined time came, He separated Moses to lead His people from their bondage land to the promised land. We are familiar about the events and plagues when Moses and Aaron spoke to Pharoah about allowing the people to go. The Pharoah did not listen to them and hardened his heart. Even after seeing the plagues and seeing God’s mighty power, the Pharoah’s heart was hardened unto the end. In this situation, the LORD God gave a few instructions about celebrating Passover to His chosen people and made a covenant with them. The LORD God asked them to select a lamb without blemish on the tenth day and kill it on the fourteenth day to celebrate the LORD’s Passover. They then had to “take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it”. They had to roast the flesh with fire and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. When the Israelites obeyed and celebrated the LORD’s Passover, the LORD God smote the first born of the Egyptians. Pharoah permitted the Israelites to leave Egypt. There were five key points in the instructions given by the Almighty Father for the Passover meal: lamb without blemish, the blood, roast the flesh with fire, unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

Celebrating Passover was an everlasting commandment to the Israelites. Jesus also followed the commandment. He celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples and made a new covenant with all of us through His precious blood. Passover celebration was the symbolic representation of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

A lamb without blemish had to be sacrificed on the Passover day. Hebrews 7:26 and 27 say, “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself”. Jesus, who was without any sin, offered Himself as the sacrificial Lamb.

In order to be saved from the Lord’s wrath and to leave their bondage land, the Israelites had to sprinkle the blood and strike on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses. We read this in Exodus 12:23–25: “For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever”. When the Passover lamb was slain and its blood was on the lamp posts, the Egyptian first born died. The Israelites were free to leave their bondage land. They proceeded to journey to the promised land Canaan. Jesus was sacrificed as the Passover Lamb and shed His blood for us. When we are washed by His blood, our old sinful man dies. We are freed from our bondage of sin. The Passover was to be repeated every year. We are to repeat this process of being cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God whenever we are convicted by the Holy Spirit. If we do this, we will be on our journey to inherit our eternal life in the kingdom of God.

The Israelites were asked to eat unleavened bread during the Passover meal. When Jesus ministered in this world, He said in Mark 8:15, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod”. In Matthew 23 we can read more about the characteristics of the pharisees. Jesus condemned the pharisees because they shut the kingdom of heaven to others; devoured widows' houses; worked to win souls but they led their souls to eternal death; gave importance to offer gifts but failed to offer themselves; paid tithe but omitted other parts of the law; bothered about outward cleansing and not inward holiness. Jesus said they were hypocrites. They were tactful but not truthful.

The book of Acts, chapter 12 explains about the leaven of Herod. King Herod troubled the early church and the disciples. He killed James and proceeded to imprison Peter just to please the Jews. He did everything to please the people. In another instance, King Herod arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. The people shouted and said, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man”. Immediately “the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost”. King Herod was proud about himself and did not give glory to God. Eating unleavened bread refers to a life not like that of the pharisees and King Herod. Psalm 51:6 says our Lord expects truth in our innermost being. 1 Thessalonians 2:4 tells we are to please God and not man. Galatians 1:10 says “if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Proverbs 16:5 says “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.” Before we partake in Holy Communion, we must ensure that we do not have the leaven of pharisees or Herod in our lives.

Next, the LORD God mentioned about bitter herbs. In the prophetic book of Revelation chapter 10:9 we read and angel telling John, “Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey”. The angel gave John a little book, which is the Word of God. He asked John to eat the book which would be sweet in the mouth and bitter in the belly. The bitter herbs is the word of God which is our Holy Bible. When we first hear the Gospel, it is good news and sweet like honey. To come closer to LORD Jesus, we need to follow the commandments. We need to live holy lives. We need to carry our cross and walk behind Him. Building our relationship with Jesus is tough. It is a narrow path that is difficult. It is not as pleasant when we began our walk with Jesus. When Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins, it gives bitterness in our heart. The word of God is two-edged sword. It comforts and also convicts. We are to have this bitter herb, that is obeying the commandments, which is a pre-requisite to take part in the Lord’s Table.

Another instruction to the Israelites was to roast the flesh with fire. Before the Passover meal, the flesh had to be roasted in fire. Before we participate in the Holy Communion or the Lord’s Table, our human nature or flesh should be burned. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 16:24, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” In Malachi 3:3, we read that the Lord “shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” We have to purge ourselves of the ways of our human flesh with the Holy Spirit to celebrate the Holy Communion.

The Israelites were commanded to circumcise themselves before taking part in the Passover meal. Physical circumcision was a law and covenant to Abraham and his descendants. Today, we need to be spiritually circumcised. As prophet Joel said, we should rend our hearts, and not our garments, and turn unto the Lord our “God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil”. Before we come to the Lord’s Table, we need to circumcise our hearts and repent and turn to the LORD Jesus. When we repent, our Lord is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us with His blood.

We have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But we should remember why He was sacrificed as the Passover Lamb during the Passover feast. He was broken and shared for us and His blood was shed for us. We remember Jesus’s Passover meal and we take part in the LORD’s Table based on the New Covenant. Let us ask ourselves if we are following the instructions before we spiritually eat His body and drink His precious blood. St. Paul compares sin to leaven in his first epistle to Corinthians, chapter 5, verses 7–8. “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”. Paul asked us to be truthful and leave the old man when we are washed by the blood of the lamb of God. Are we washed with the blood of the Lamb of God? Are our lives leavened or unleavened? Do we speak the truth? Are we pleasing the Lord or pleasing humans for our gain? Are we proud about our abilities or are we giving glory to the Lord God? Are we burning our human lusts and desires and submitting ourselves to obey to the Lord? Are we getting closer in our relationship with the Passover Lamb? Are we walking the narrow path that leads to eternal life? The Almighty Father commanded the Israelites to celebrate the Passover meal. The Passover Lamb Lord Jesus commanded us to celebrate Holy Communion until He returns. The Passover meal freed Israelites from their bondage and paved the way for them to the promised land. When we follow these commandments and participate in the Lord’s Table, we will be freed from the bondage of sin. We can walk in the path of righteousness to inherit eternal life that is promised to us.

Exodus 12:11 says, “And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord's Passover”. Usually, when we eat a meal, we eat in a relaxed stance. But God commanded the Israelites get ready to leave and then eat the Passover meal in a hurry. They were in the last minutes and were about to be liberated from their bondage. Today, we are also in our last minute and we are expecting Jesus to come and receive the church as His bride. We don’t know when Jesus will come. 1 Peter 1:7 says “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ”. When the Lord comes, have we been purified and ready to bring praise and honour and glory to Him? Revelation 22 says, “I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus”. Amen!

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