Jewish Observance: The Feast of Passover is the foundational Feast. The six feasts that follow are built on it. Passover occurs in the spring of each year, on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month Nisan (March/April).
It is important to note that Jewish feasts on days of observance are commemorated on the specific days in the month and not on the actual anniversary date. Since the Jewish calendar has 360 days, the actual observance day will change each year.
Passover commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Passover could be called the Independence Day of the Jewish nation. It is one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays. It is celebrated for 7 or 8 days and is commemorated by affiliated and nonaffiliated Jews alike. Passover is regarded as a time to contemplate the endurance of the Jewish people throughout history.
The Bible says that God inflicted ten plagues upon the Egyptians before Pharaoh would release his Hebrew slaves. The tenth plague was the killing of every firstborn male, from Pharaoh’s son to the firstborn of the dungeon captive, to the firstborn of cattle.
The Hebrews were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the Angel of the Lord passed over these homes, hence the term “Passover”.
When Pharaoh freed the Hebrews, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for the bread to rise. In commemoration, for the duration of Passover no leavened bread is eaten and the second day of Passover became known as The Festival of the Unleavened Bread. Matzo (flat unleavened bread) is the primary symbol of the holiday.
Leviticus 23: 4-5 “These are the LORD’s appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: the LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.”
Matthew 26:28 “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
1 Corinthians 5:2 “…….. For Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.”
Christian Application: Passover points to the Messiah as our Passover Lamb whose blood would be shed for our sins. Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover at the same hour that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening.
As the first Passover marked the Hebrews’ release from Egyptian slavery, so the death of Christ marks our release from the slavery of sin (Romans 8:2). As the first Passover was to be held in remembrance as an annual feast, so Christians are to memorialize the Lord’s death in communion until He returns (1 Corinthians 11:26).
The New Testament establishes a relationship between this prototypical Passover lamb and the consummate Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7). The prophet John the Baptist recognized Jesus as “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29), and the apostle Peter links the lamb without defect (Exodus 12:5) with Christ, whom he calls a “lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19). Jesus is qualified to be called One “without blemish” because His life was completely free from sin (Hebrews 4:15). In Revelation, John the apostle sees Jesus as “a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6). Jesus was crucified during the time that the Passover was observed (Mark 14:12).
Just as the Passover lamb’s applied blood caused the “destroyer” to pass over each household, Christ’s applied blood causes God’s judgment to pass over sinners and gives life to believers (Romans 6:23).
The Old Testament Passover lamb, although a reality in that time, was a mere foreshadowing of the better and final Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. Through His sinless life and sacrificial death, Jesus became the only One capable of giving people a way to escape death and a sure hope of eternal life (1 Peter 1:20-21).