March 1, 2015 – manuscript

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Welcome to week two of RE:Mission. Last week, I gave you three steps to living the mission of Jesus. I also asked you five questions about the crucifixion. If you missed last week, you should go back and listen or watch. I think those three steps were necessary introductory steps as we learn what it means to live the mission of Jesus and how Jesus modeled living his mission.

I also gave you a line last week that I invited you to write down. I said if we can grab hold of this line and let it sink into our brains, it will change how we live the mission of Jesus. Here’s the line – Salvation should change your life, not just change your death. Again, if you missed last week, you should go back and listen or watch.

This week, I want to challenge your thinking a little and suggest that God designed a mission for you and me a long time ago. I also want to challenge your thinking and suggest the Father planned how Jesus would die decades before the crucifixion happened. This morning, we are going to walk through the Passover Festival, and I want to point out how certain events from the Passover Festival align with the week prior to the crucifixion.

Exodus 12:1-6, 14 (ESV) The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.

“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.

Leviticus 23:4-8 (ESV) “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the LORD’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. But you shall present a food offering to the LORD for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.”

Deuteronomy 16:4-6 (ESV) No leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the flesh that you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain all night until morning. You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, but at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the Passover sacrifice, in the evening at sunset, at the time you came out of Egypt. 

The Passover Festival is one of the most significant events in the Jewish Community. According to Judaism 101 (www.jewfaq.org), 67% of the Jewish community participates in Passover even though just 46% belong to a synagogue. For the Jewish community, preparing for Passover is a task that can take weeks and months. According the www.chabad.org, it involves a full-out spring-cleaning search-and-destroy mission during the weeks before Passover to remove any processed food that contains yeast, including pet food. It’s a big deal! Passover is a time the Jewish community takes very seriously. This celebration had been going on for centuries and to get any part of it wrong had large consequences.

The Passover Lamb was selected as a sacrifice

Exodus 12 tells us on the tenth day of the Jewish year; a lamb was selected as a sacrifice. The lamb was to be a male without any birth defects, such as a limp or blindness, and the lamb had to be without a blemish of any kind. The lamb was to be taken into the home four days prior to its sacrifice to be observed and examined for any such defects. It was common for the children of the house to fall in love with the little lamb and often viewed it as the family pet. Deuteronomy 16 gives the final Passover instruction; partaking of the Passover lamb could only happen in the place where God has placed his name.

2 Chronicles 3:1 tells us Solomon built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:41 tells us Jesus and his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.”

John 1:29 and John 1:36 declares Jesus to be the Lamb of God.

Mark 11:7-10 (ESV) They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

This is the day of the Festival the Jewish community would have brought a “lamb” into their homes. The lamb would have been carefully selected due to the high standards established in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Leviticus. Lubavitcher Rebbe, one of the most influential Jewish leaders of the 20th century, said this Passover Lamb would be killed to celebrate Israel’s freedom from bondage and slavery. Israel was hoping Jesus would be the “Lamb” that removed the bondage they were experiencing from the Roman Empire. Jesus’ mission was to remove the bondage of sin from their lives.

The house had to be cleaned

Stay in Mark 11, but I’m going to read Deuteronomy 16.

Deuteronomy 16:4-5 (ESV) No leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the flesh that you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain all night until morning.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, leaven is a yeast product. Yeast is a fungus. Fungus is a group of plants that have no flowers and that live on dead or decaying things. According to Deuteronomy 16, part of Passover preparations was to get rid of the fungus.

Mark 11:15-19 – And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”

This event is bigger than Jesus ridding the temple of people who bought and sold at church. Many churches use this verse as justification for not selling things on Sunday. I suggest to you that Jesus was preparing his house for Passover by cleansing the fungus from his house.

The Passover Lamb was observed and examined for any defects and blemishes.

As we read Mark’s account of Jesus, we know the religious leaders did not like him all that much. He often messed with their religious system. As a result, they questioned his motives. According to Mark 11, they tried to find fault in him by questioning his authority. This particular occasion follows the custom of the Passover Lamb being observed and examined. Let’s read Mark 11.

Mark 11:27-33 (ESV) And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

If we were to continue reading the rest of Mark, we would see the religious leaders continue to accuse Jesus falsely and even charge him falsely. Mark 14 tells us the religious leaders were plotting to kill Jesus, but they didn’t really know when or how. They knew they wanted him dead. Fortunately, for them, Judas Iscariot decided to help them out. Together they arranged for a time when Jesus could be arrested. This arrest also aligns with the Passover Festival. Mark also tells us is it would not be legal for the religious leaders to take Jesus’ live; they could not kill Jesus without the help of Pilate.

The Passover Lamb was declared clean

For four days, the lamb had free reign throughout the home, and the family members loved the lamb. All leaven had been removed from the house. The lamb had been observed, inspected and examined. At the end of the four days, it was then customary for the head of the household to declare the lamb clean. Only after this declaration could the lamb be legally acceptable as a Passover offering.

John 18:38 – After he (Pilate) had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.

John 19:4 – Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”

John 19:6 – Pilate said to them (Pharisees), “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”

Pilate is the governor of Jerusalem. He reported only to Caesar in Rome. This makes him the head of the household in Jerusalem. Pilate declared three times in nine verses that Jesus had no guilt in him. Sinless. Perfect. Worthy. A public declaration that the Passover Lamb was clean. This guilt-free declaration could only be made by the head of the household, Pilate.

The Passover Lamb was killed

According to www.jewishencyclopedia.com, the Passover Lamb was killed at 3:00pm. The blood of the Lamb could not touch the ground; it was to be caught in cups and taken back home. The Passover Lamb was to be carried and properly prepared before evening and without any bones being broken. During the preparation process, the Passover lamb was roasted on a spit with a rod inserted horizontally and another rod inserted vertically to open the chest cavity, forming a cross.

Mark 15:33-39 – When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lemá sabachtháni?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 35 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “Look, He’s calling for Elijah!” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, fixed it on a reed, offered Him a drink, and said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take Him down!” 37 But Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed His last. 38 Then the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who was standing opposite Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “This man really was God’s Son!”

The significance of living the mission changes normal routines

Jesus’ mission changed everything. Jesus had taken a regular celebration and ensured the celebration would continue for centuries.

Mark 14:22-24 – As they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.

It was the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. I can only imagine the disciples sitting in that room wondering why Jesus said that his body was bread. The bread had no leaven as it represented freedom from slavery and bondage. Then Jesus took the cup and said my blood will be poured out for many. The only thing the disciples could have reasonably associated this sentence with was watching the blood from the Passover Lamb that was caught in a cup to celebrate life without slavery and bondage.

We have experienced how living the mission of Jesus brings freedom from bondage. Will you RE:mission your life?