Passover Festival was the biggest festival on the calendar for the Jewish community. They would travel far distances to make the annual appearance at the temple in Jerusalem. Their atonement was dependent on this trip. The temple was so busy that an estimated 24,000 priests would be on duty during Passover.
For the next two weeks, we want to focus on this Passover Festival, but with perfect hindsight. The Passover Festival aligned precisely with the crucifixion and Jesus was often referred to as the Lamb of God. I believe Jesus was very strategic about what he did and did not do during these final days leading up to Passover. Jesus was the expert manager of his time and he knew exactly where he needed to be as he pursued the heartbeat of his mission.
Let’s begin in Colossians 2:6-10. In order for the Lamb of God to provide a legitimate atonement, Jesus must be fully God and fully man at the same time.
Colossians 2:6-10 – 6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
The fullness of deity dwelled in Jesus while he walked on earth. 100% God and 100% man at the same time. The heartbeat of Jesus’ mission depends on that truth. There is no Passover atonement without it.
As I read the New Testament, the amount of information we have about the first thirty years of Jesus’ life is interesting. We have information about his birth, his presentation at the temple, his family’s escape to the area around Egypt and then moving to Nazareth. We re-enter Jesus’ life when he is twelve at the temple and how his parents forget to bring him home. The next season of Jesus’ life is his baptism and the selection of his disciples. From there, he is fully engaged in public ministry.
There are many things we are not told about Jesus. One thing is certain; Jesus was different. Jesus embraced his mission at a young age. Luke 2:49 tells us part of the conversation Jesus was having with his parents at the temple, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” From that point, Jesus never looked back. For much of the three years of Jesus’ ministry, He does countless miracles and has many interactions as he spread the love of His Father throughout the region. Let’s pick up Jesus’ life in Luke 9.
Luke 9:51-56 – 51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village.
Jesus pursued the heartbeat of his mission. Everything he had done prior to this moment was for right now. He set his face to go to Jerusalem. Jesus knew he had to arrive in Jerusalem at a precise time. This was the clearest mission in the history of the world. Nothing would distract Jesus from the heartbeat his mission. The rejection of an entire village wouldn’t distract him. The ignorance of his closest friends wouldn’t distract him. Jesus’ face was set toward Jerusalem. Let’s jump forward a few days.
Luke 19:28-40 – 28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
From Luke 9 to Luke 19, Scripture reminds us multiple times that Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem. Luke 19 walks us through the final moments of his arrival. Arriving in Jerusalem at just the right time was vital to the heartbeat of Jesus’ mission. If you read Exodus 12 and Deuteronomy 16, you will learn about how exact the Jewish community had to be when bringing the Passover Lamb into their home. The Lamb had to be brought in four days prior to its death to be examined for any defects. It was common for family members to express love to the Lamb during the week.
Luke 19:45-46 – 45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”
As we move through chapter 19, Jesus does some house cleaning. This too was customary for Passover week. In order for the Passover Lamb to be sacrificed, there could be no fungus found in the family home. Jesus is cleaning his house in preparation for Passover.
In Luke 20, we read about the chief priests, scribes and elders questioning his authority. There was no defect in Jesus’ answer. Continuing in Luke 20, the same guys wanted to kill Jesus but they feared the people. They sent spies to further question Jesus, this time about paying taxes. No defect was found in Jesus’ answer. This time the Sadducees, another religious pocket, questioned Jesus about resurrection from the dead. No defect was found in Jesus’ answer.
In Luke 22, the chief priests and the scribes decided to put Jesus to death. Mark 14 tells us it is just two days before Passover. Jesus passed the examination for any defect. He now could be declared the perfect Passover Lamb.
For the four days leading up to Passover, the lamb had free reign throughout the home, and the family members loved the lamb. All fungus 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.
Luke 23:4 – Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.”
Luke 23:14-15 – After examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod…”
Luke 23:22 – A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death.
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 Luke 23 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 heartbeat of Jesus’ mission saw potential distractions that could have de-railed the whole thing. Jesus stayed persistent. The heartbeat of Jesus’ mission became incredibly stressful. Jesus stayed persistent. The atonement of all mankind was the heartbeat of Jesus’ mission.
My goal for this Easter season is that we continue asking questions about our next steps concerning the heartbeat of Jesus’ mission for our lives.
- What are the potential distractions in your life that could de-rail you from the mission for your life?
- How do you respond during the stressful moments of your mission?
- What is the cost of you bailing on your mission? In other words, who looses and what do they lose?
Next week, we’ll travel through the rest of the Passover Week.