Passover was the day on the Jewish calendar that mattered most. It was the day the entire Jewish nation stopped to remember who they were, where they had come from and what God had promised for their future. The Jewish community would travel days to make their annual appearance at the temple in Jerusalem. The sacrifice of the Passover Lamb reminded them they once were slaves who had been rescued. This lamb also offered atonement, redemption and forgiveness. None of these could be achieved without this sacrifice. An estimated 24,000 priests were on duty for Passover.
The odor associated with this large number of animals in one place would be unbearable. At 3:00pm, the Passover Lamb was killed with a rod inserted horizontally and another rod inserted vertically to open the chest cavity, forming a cross. The odor was now be combined with blood and death and become a clear reminder of the guilt carried by each person in the temple.
Mark 15:33-39 – 33 And when the sixth hour (noon) had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour (3pm). 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
The biography doesn’t end there. This Passover Lamb conquered death and the grave. Jesus offers redemption and salvation to you and me that lasts forever.
1 Corinthians 15:3-7 – 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
The Passover Lamb was the annual atonement and redemption for a Jewish family. The day was incredibly significant; the blood of the Lamb could not touch the ground. The blood of the Passover Lamb was to be caught in cups and for each family to take home to complete the celebration.
Let’s back up just a bit.
Mark 14:12 – 12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
It’s important to understand that a Jewish day began at 6pm. Basically, it’s Thursday night. Jesus and his disciples lounge around the table as Jesus washing their feet.
Mark 14:22-24 – 22 And 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.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.
I can only imagine the disciples lounging in that room wondering why Jesus said that his body was unleavened bread. This bread represented freedom from slavery and bondage. This bread declared that your life can be different. This bread declared there is a new way. Jesus told his disciples that he could rescue them from anything that held them in 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 statement with was watching the blood from the Passover Lamb that was caught in a cup to celebrate a life that was redeemed from sin and passed over by death.