Christ in all the Scriptures: Exodus and the Passover Lamb

As a young Christian, one of the most influential people in my life was the Finnish evangelist Kalevi Lehtinen who died in July aged 75. At several Bible conferences I vividly remember him telling us to keep studying the Bible until you can see the smiling face of Jesus on every page. Keep reading the Bible until you can see the smiling face of Jesus on every page. “Christ in all the Scriptures” That is the theme for our morning sermon series this Autumn. We will only get from Genesis to Ruth, but we will come back and dip into every Old Testament book to discover what it can teach us about the Lord Jesus. We will see that every central character, every major event, every prophecy, every Festival reveals ever more brightly the person and work of the Messiah, God’s anointed Son.  We will see conclusively that the coming of Jesus Christ was no accident but part of God’s redemptive plan from the very beginning and was revealed progressively through history and Scripture. And if you would like to read the book that inspired the series, it is called Christ in all the Scriptures. Written by A. M. Hodgkin in 1909, it has become a classic. Hodgkin observes, in his introduction,

“Abraham rejoiced to see My day.” ”Moses wrote of Me.” ”David called [Me] Lord.” (John 8:56; 5:46; Matthew 22:45). We have in these words of our Saviour abundant authority for seeking Him in the Old Testament … To those of us who believe in Christ as truly God, as well as truly Man, His word on these matters is authoritative.”

As we saw last week, Jesus refers to 20 Old Testament characters and quotes from 17 Old Testament books. In Genesis, for example, Jesus refers to creation, the institution of marriage, Noah, Abraham, Lot, to Sodom and Gomorrah. From Exodus, Jesus speaks of Moses, the burning bush, the Mannah in the wilderness and the Ten Commandments. From Leviticus, the ceremonial and moral law. From Numbers, the bronze serpent. From Deuteronomy, the law of Moses. Jesus refers to David, Solomon, Elijah and Zechariah. He confounds his critics not just by quoting Scripture but by identifying himself as the one the Scriptures are speaking about. In his very first sermon Jesus said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21). To his opponents, Jesus replied.

“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me.” (John 5:39).

After his resurrection, on the road to Emmaus, to his doubting disciples Jesus said,

“How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself… Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:25-27; 44-45)

May the Lord open our minds too, to understand everything written about Jesus in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms, has indeed been fulfilled and accomplished for us.

1. The Lamb of the Lord

Then may this good news not only be hidden in our hearts but always on our lips. Last week, after an overview of Bible references to Jesus in the book of Genesis, we focussed on Genesis 22 and the story of Abraham and Isaac – the lamb of the Lord. For the key to Abraham’s faith is found in verse 8. “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:8). The word “himself” is significant. It was no accident that the male lamb was in the thicket. God provided the sacrifice. God “himself” sent his lamb a second time but this time to die for the sins of the world. Just as Abraham was prepared to offer his only son, God himself provided the sacrifice of His one and only son on our behalf. We saw how the story of Abraham and Isaac is used to illustrate that Jesus was our substitute, that Jesus made atonement for us. Atonement = at-one-ment – at one with God. We saw:

The necessity of substitutionary atonement: The Father’s sacrifice.
The means of substitutionary atonement: The Son’s submission.
The wonder of substitutionary atonement: The World’s salvation.

And as a consequence, Abraham came to know the Lord by a new name – Jehovah Jireh – the Lord will provide. If you want to read, listen to or watch the sermon, it is available online. The lamb of the Lord in Genesis. Today we come to Exodus and we are going to focus on the lamb in the Passover. But before we do, lets get an overview of what we learn about the Lord Jesus from the Book of Exodus.

2. Jesus in Exodus

Hodgkin writes, “Exodus is the Book of Redemption. The chosen people are in hopeless bondage in the land of Egypt, powerless to deliver themselves. But God says:

“I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land.” (Exodus 3:7-8)

It is a beautiful picture of redemption from the bondage of sin into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Then, His commission to Moses opens with the glorious vision of the Angel of Jehovah appearing in the Burning Bush, a thorn bush ablaze with God!
What a picture of the Lord Jesus. God manifesting Himself in a visible tangible form (1John 1:1). Then, when Moses asks God’s Name, He says, ”I AM THAT I AM; say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you” (Ex 3:14).

So holy, no pious Jew would utter the name of God. But Jesus not only used it, he took that name to himself, not once but seven times.

I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35);
I am
the Light of the World (John 8:12);
I am
the Gate of the sheep (John 10:7);
I am
the Good Shepherd (John 10:10);
I am
the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25);
I am
the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6);
I am
the True Vine (John 15:1)”

And when challenged Jesus takes the name of God revealed to Moses to Himself in all its simple majesty: “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58). It was then that the Jews ”took up stones to stone Him.” Why do you stone me?” he asked. “for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” (John 10:33). Jesus has left us in no doubt about whom he claimed to be. Then in Exodus we have a double picture of Christ as the Living Bread and the Living Water, and again we are left in no uncertainty. When Israel murmured, the Lord said to Moses, ”I will rain bread from heaven for you” (Exodus 16:4). Jesus explicitly refers to this event when he insists:

“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:48-51)

Do you see how the Lord Jesus is progressively revealed in the story of redemption found in Exodus? Here is a simple chart of some of the main ways in which Exodus points us to Jesus:

God in Exodus Jesus in the Gospels
God come down (Exodus 3:7-8) The Incarnation (John 1:1-12)
The Burning Bush (3:3) The Transfiguration (Matt 17:1-3)
The name of God “I am” (Ex. 3:14) “I am” (John 8:58)
The Passover Lamb (Ex. 12:1-14) Jesus the Lamb (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Bread from heaven (Exodus 16:4) “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35; 48)
Water in the desert (Exodus 17:6) Jesus the living water (John 4:13-14)
Strike the rock (Exodus 17:6) Jesus the rock (1 Corinthians 10:4)
The Law of God (Exodus 20-21) Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
The Tabernacle (Exodus 36-39) Jesus the Tabernacle (John 1:14; Heb 8:5)

Now please turn with me to Exodus 12 and the story of the Passover Lamb. I want us to consider briefly, seven ways in which the details of the Passover meal apply directly to the Lord Jesus.

3. Jesus is the Passover Lamb

God’s people were slaves in Egypt. How would God rescue them? God reveals a plan that will cause Pharaoh to beg the Jews to leave his land. God sends a series of terrible judgments (called Plagues) on Egypt. Although the first nine inflicted great suffering on the people, Pharaoh hardened his heart against God. The tenth plague would get his attention. At midnight on a certain night, the Lord would go through the land of Egypt and every firstborn son would die immediately. But God would spare his people – if they followed His instructions. When blood of a lamb was sprinkled on the doorpost of each home, God would see the blood and would “pass over” that house. But if God didn’t see the blood, he would take the life of the firstborn in judgment. It was the blood of the lamb that saved the people of God that night. Every year since then, for 3500 years, the Jews have observed a Passover celebration as a solemn reminder of God’s amazing deliverance in Egypt. Here are seven instructions God gave his people. Notice how in each detail there is a wonderful insight into the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross.

3.1 A lamb must be chosen

“Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.” (Exodus 12:3)

It couldn’t be a bull or a dove, which were sometimes used in other Old Testament sacrifices. God was very particular–it was to be a lamb and only a lamb. Nothing else would do.
When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him, he cried out, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). The Apostle Paul refers to Christ as our “Passover Lamb, who has been sacrificed.” (1 Corinthians 5:7)

3.2 The lamb must be a male

Verse 5 states that “the animals you choose must be year-old males.” (Exodus 12:5). Jesus fulfilled this in that he was the son born of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:31-32).

3.3 The lamb must be unblemished

Verse 5 adds, “The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect.” (Exodus 12:5). This means that family would have to inspect their lamb to make sure there were no open sores, no infections, no diseases, no blemishes, no sickness of any kind. The Apostle Peter refers to Jesus as being “a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:19) Hebrews 4:14-16 emphasizes that though Christ was tempted in every way that we are, He was without sin. When Pontius Pilate finished examining Jesus, he declared “I find no fault in him.” (John 19:6).

3.4 The lamb must be slaughtered at twilight

“Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.” (Exodus 12:6)

The NIV says that the offerings were to be made at twilight, although the words literally mean “between the evenings,” which in Jewish thought meant between 3-5 p.m.

The New Testament tells us that Jesus was nailed to the Cross at the “third hour,” meaning 9:00 a.m as the day began at sunrise around 6:00am. Matthew 27:45 tells us that there was darkness from the sixth hour until the ninth hour, or from 12 noon to 3:00 p.m. Shortly after, Jesus uttered his final words and died. His body was then taken down from the cross before sundown. Thus, Jesus died “between the evenings” (3-5 p.m.) at the exact hour the Passover lambs were being sacrificed throughout Israel. The timing was perfect.

3.5 The bones of the lamb must not be broken

An additional instruction insists “Do not break any of the bones.” (Exodus 12:46). It was the custom of the Romans to break the legs of those being crucified in order to hasten their death. John 19:32-36 tells us that the Roman soldiers did not break Jesus’ legs because he had already died. The Apostle John points out that this happened to fulfil the Scripture, “Not one of his bones will be broken.” (John 19:36) Although he is quoting Psalm 34:20, the ultimate reference goes back to Exodus 12.

3.6 The blood of the lamb must be sprinkled on the doorposts

“Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.” (Exodus 12:7)

After the lamb had been slaughtered and the blood drained, the father was to take some of the blood and sprinkle it on top and the sides of the doorframe. The blood would be the sign to the Lord that the family had sacrificed a lamb as he had commanded.

“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.” (Exodus 12:13)

The lamb alone could not save God’s people. Only the blood sprinkled on the doorpost could spare the people from the terrible judgment of God that struck down the first born of every Egyptian family.  Jesus Christ is our only hope of salvation. His blood was poured out for us (Matthew 26:28). He is God’s Lamb offered for the sins of the world. However, Jesus’ blood saves only when it is applied. For those who reject the blood, even the Lamb of God cannot save them. If you want to experience freedom from bondage and avoid the sure judgment of God, the Lamb’s blood must be applied to the door of your heart.

3.7 The lamb sacrificed must be eaten

“That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast… This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.” (Exodus 12:8-11)

In John 6, Jesus made one of his most provocative statements.

“Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.” (John 6:53-56)

Although Jesus is primarily making an association with God’s provision of manna in the wilderness, the imagery is further developed in his teaching at the Last Supper, the Passover meal Jesus shared with the disciples on the night he was betrayed.

“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.” (Luke 22:19-20)

The Apostle Paul adds these words of Jesus,

“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)

The Passover, when God literally passed over the homes of God’s people because of the blood sprinkled, was a type and shadow of the Last Supper. And the Communion or Lord’s Supper, we celebrate has its roots in the Passover. Seven instructions God gave his people – and in each and every detail a wonderful parallel with all that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross.

A lamb must be chosen Exodus 12:3 John 1:29
The lamb must be male Exodus 12:5 Luke 1:30-32)
The lamb must be unblemished Exodus 12:5 1 Peter 1:19
The lamb must be slaughtered Exodus 12:6 Matthew 27:45
The bones must not be broken Exodus 12:46 John 19:36
The blood must be sprinkled Exodus 12:7,13 Matthew 26:28
The meat must be eaten Exodus 12:8-11 Luke 22:19-20

Recognising then from Exodus that Jesus is indeed our Passover lamb. How then should we live? The Apostle Paul writes,

“For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

With sincerity and truth. How do you respond to these truths?
Christ is indeed in all the Scriptures. The question is, does he also dwell in you too? He is not just a lamb, but the lamb. The question is, is he your lamb? May you have confidence that he is indeed today.

Lets pray.

Sources used with thanks:

A.M. Hodgkin: Christ in all the Scriptures
Robert Reymond: Jesus Divine Messiah
Vaughan Roberts: God’s Big Picture
Keith Linkous: “A Perspective on Passover”
Brian Bill: “The Lamb”