With great longing, Jesus desired the coming of this Passover day and a final meal with his disciples, before his death (cf. Luke 12:50). His hour had come that he should suffer and die (Luke 22:14-15), yet he longed for this time. Why? Up until this Passover, Israel looked back to a time when God, through Moses, broke the power of Pharaoh and led his people out of bondage. Israel was to kill the lamb they had chosen and sprinkle part of its blood around the lintel and the door posts of their houses (Exodus 12:7). By doing this, the plague of God’s judgment passed over Israel but destroyed the first born of Egypt (Exodus 12:13). This word translated “plague” (negeph, H5063) in Exodus 12:13, is translated “stumbling” in Isaiah 8:14. There it is used in connection with Christ being the Rock of offense and a Stone of stumbling.
All other Passover Festivals looked back to Israel coming out of Egypt. This Passover, however, had the unique perspective of showing the work of Christ. When Jesus died, all died (2Corinthians 5:14). Nevertheless, for those of us who have had our hearts sprinkled with the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 9:21-22; 10:22), he is not meant for destruction (Exodus 12:13), but is exceedingly precious. On the other hand, Christ’s death is an offense to those who don’t believe, and they stumble upon that Stone (1Peter 2:7-8). In other words, though he is meant for our protection, Christ is the world’s “plague” (H5063, negeph; cf. Exodus 12:13).
He is the judgment of God upon the world and all mankind is destroyed in him. Only they who believe have the life of God dwelling in them through his resurrection. Christ is our Passover (1Corinthians 5:7), and I am reminded of him when I partake of the new symbols of Passover, the bread and the wine (Luke 22:19-20). All things happened under the Old Covenant for our instruction (1Corinthians 10:1-6, 11). All things were written to be fulfilled in the life and death of Christ (Luke 24:44), and this was his hour (John 12:23; cf. Luke 22:14). This is the climax of all human history, and he longed to spend this hour with those who loved him. For that joy he had in them (and in us who believe), he endured all (Hebrews 12:2).
My thoughts go back to him now, as I dwell upon what he did and said that night. It was a night I must never forget. It was dark and deadly, but the Light was never brighter. Even the daylight was dark on that day, as he hung on the cross (Matthew 27:45). Each time I partake of the bread and the wine, the Lord causes my thoughts travel to this time and I remember him. The problem with the Old Covenant was God’s people kept forgetting him, and they blended in with the world around them, leaving the world without a witness for God. Nevertheless, under the New Covenant, Jesus causes the bread and the wine to force our thoughts to remember him and what he did for mankind on that fateful Passover Day when he was crucified.
I have no right at the table of Moses. I was not led out of Egypt. I was never a citizen of God’s nation. I was always afar off from God. Nevertheless, I have been brought near to him by the blood of my Lamb (Ephesians 2:11-13; 1Peter 2:10), and I partake at a table where unbelievers have no place (Hebrew 13:9-13). The hour was come (Luke 22:14), and I am brought there in the Spirit to witness again the events of that day, and my heart is reminded of it’s need for God’s mercy.
As I recall this night and what Jesus did for me, I cannot help but remember my own unrighteousness and the great debt I owe. I recall the days when my tongue was full of deceit, cursing and bitterness, when my words pierced others to kill and steal their peace, when my own heart was unyielding and swift to shed blood, when I had no respect for God (Romans 3:10-18). Nevertheless, at his table Jesus looks directly at me and says, “This, My Body is broken for you,” and “This, My Blood, is shed for you. Think of Me when you do this” (Luke 22:19-20 paraphrased). I am undone with this mental image. Herein is the power of God expressed in me to overcome the evil in my life. I love him, because here on this day, Jesus expressed his love for me. This, not threats of hellfire or any such thing, is what changes my behavior (cf. Romans 2:4). How can I not desire to change for him? My words pierced the hearts of others to kill and take away their peace, but his words pierce my heart to give me life, melting it by shedding abroad in it a peace indescribable.