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The Passover Lamb and the Lord’s Supper

What does the Lord’s Supper have to do with the Old Testament Passover?  Some will argue that they have nothing in common.  Others will say that the Lord’s Supper is intricately tied to the Passover and you cannot have one without the other.  So, are they related or not?

First of all, Jesus Himself connected the two, as Luke 22:15-20 tells us clearly that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper during the Passover.  This is no accident.  Jesus tied the Sacrament as well as His own Passion to the Passover.

Therefore, just as the first Passover was God’s means of delivering His people from the plague of death and from slavery to the Egyptians, Jesus Passion is God’s means of delivering His people from the power of death and from slavery to sin.

At the Passover, the people of Israel were commanded to pick out a flawless male lamb, a year old and sacrifice it.  The blood of that lamb was then applied to the doorposts of the house and this blood protected the people from death.  Take a closer look at this lamb and you will find an amazing parallel to Jesus, whom John the Baptist declared to be “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

The lamb had to be a male, a year old without blemish (Exodus 12:5).  To convert this to human terms, this would be a male who is somewhat young, about in his low thirties (a ram reaches reproductive maturity at about 6 months, so take puberty and double it) who is without blemish.  This fits Jesus perfectly, as He was the right age, and without any sin or spiritual blemish let alone physical one.  The lamb for the Passover was to be selected 4 days before the Passover, which if we count back from Maundy Thursday we end up with Palm Sunday, when God selected His Passover lamb.

But, what about the fact that if Thursday was the Passover, and Jesus didn’t die until Friday, doesn’t this mean that Jesus wasn’t the Passover Lamb?  This problem arises only when we forget that the Jewish way marking days is different from the way we do it.  From ancient times, the Old Testament marked the start of a new day at sunset.  This means that Thursday night and Friday afternoon are actually the same day.  So, Jesus did die as God’s Passover Lamb on the same day as He instituted the Lord’s Supper as our Passover remembrance.

Therefore, the Lord’s Supper brings us the true Passover Lamb of God.  This is more than just a remembrance of what went before; this is a fulfillment of it in a new and greater way.

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