The Lamb Without Blemish (23 April)

This month is to be the first month of the year for you. Give these instructions to the whole community of Israel: On the tenth day of this month each man must choose either a lamb or a young goat for his household. . . . You may choose either a sheep or a goat, but it must be a one-year-old male without any defects. Then, on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, the whole community of Israel will kill the animals. The people are to take some of the blood and put it on the doorposts and above the doors of the houses in which the animals are to be eaten.
Exodus 12:2-7

"For our Passover Festival is ready, now that Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed." (1 Corinthians 5:7)

For many years I was puzzled by the way the letter to the Hebrews relates to the death of Jesus. Even though Jesus died on Passover-and everywhere else in Scripture his death is related to Passover-Hebrews speaks only of the Day of Atonement and never mentions Passover. In fact, I thought, why did the Messiah not die on the Day of Atonement? Would that not have been more appropriate?

One day I noticed this command to bring the Passover lamb into the house on the tenth day of the first month, and I remembered that the Day of Atonement falls on the tenth day of the seventh month, exactly opposite, if we think of the yearly calendar as a circle. Passover falls on the fifteenth day of the first month, while Tabernacles is on the fifteenth of the seventh month. It was perfect symmetry. My mistake was to think of God's plan of redemption as related to a single day or festival. Instead, I now believe, we should see the entire calendar as a reflection of God's redemption from sin.

The purpose of bringing the lamb into the home on the tenth day was to examine it for any blemishes. The day Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the donkey was exactly the tenth day of the first month. It is from that day onward that various elements of the leadership began to examine him. The priests, scribes, and elders asked him by what authority he did things, the Pharisees asked him about giving tax to Caesar, the Sadducees asked about marriage and resurrection, and a scribe asked what is the greatest commandment (Mark 12:27, 13, 28).

Finally, Jesus was examined by the Sanhedrin, where they could find nothing against him (Mark 14:55). Even Pilate, who was not part of the Jewish leadership, had to declare "I find no guilt in him" (John 19:6).

Jesus was indeed the faultless sacrifice, the perfect one to atone for our sins in God's perfect program of redemption.

- 23 APRIL -

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