This is the first year that I have taken Holy Week and the meaning of Easter seriously. As I have previously mentioned, I participate in Bible Study Fellowship, and this year we are studying Matthew so naturally I'm learning more about Jesus' life here on Earth. As I learn more each and every day, I am seeing the Bible as a continuous story, not just many books bound together. It's super amazing how God reveals Himself to all of us at different times in our life in different ways. Anyways I wanted to share some of the amazing Truths I have learned over the past weeks about Jesus' last humanly moments.
First off I want to give a little background about Passover. When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, (you can read how they got there in Genesis 37-50) the Pharaoh would not let them leave. Therefore God sent 10 plagues onto the Egyptian Nation to show Pharaoh He was serious about wanting His people freed. The last of the plagues was the killing of all the firstborn sons, humans and livestock. God told His people (The Israelites) to find a perfect male lamb, slaughter it, place the blood on their doors and eat the lamb. When He came through the land that night, the doors with blood would be passed over (that's how the celebration becomes Passover!). Here's one cool tidbit that stuck me as amazing, the blood of the lamb was to cleanse the people of their sins (like other animal sacrifices) but the body of the lamb was to give them strength for their journey which would begin in the morning because Pharaoh let the people go since his son was killed in the plague (Exodus 7-12).
Now where again will we see imagery of the blood and body? The Last Supper! When Jesus used the cup of wine and the bread to symbolize the blood and body of The Perfect Passover Lamb (Matthew 26:17-29). I knew the blood was to cleanse but I didn't know that the body was for strength. Therefore we have been cleansed from sin but also we have Jesus for the daily strength we need! Isn't comforting to you that Jesus gave His body and blood for you:
"This is my body given for you….This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
which is poured out for you."
Luke 22:19-20 (emphasis mine)
Also I never understood all the significance of Jesus being in Jerusalem during Passover time, in fact I never understood Passover until this year. That year (~33AD) would be the last year that anyone would need to sacrifice a lamb because God sacrificed His Lamb (Jesus, the perfect blemish-free male) so that we can be passed over in judgment (we will still have to go through Judgement but we will not be punished if we are in Christ), and all over our sins have been cleansed but most importantly FORGOTTEN!!!
So this Week, take some time to reflect, perhaps read over Exodus and Matthew or any of the other Gospels, and THANK God that we are Free! Jesus has suffered all the pain that our sins deserve because He loved us so much He wants us to be with Him FOREVER! That's the true meaning of Easter. No fluffy Easter Bunny and baskets because that's the Devil trying to take the meaning out of an important day. He wants to divert our attention from The Cross but every day we should be thankful and reflect on that week, over 2,000 years ago, because those events are still relevant in our lives. From entering Jerusalem on a donkey (indication He came to rule in Peace) during Passover to crucifixion on a Cross, each event was ordained perfectly in God's Plan! Jesus understood all that would happen, accepted God's Will, and prayed for the strength to go through the events (Matthew 26: 36-46). Use Jesus' example: accept God's will and pray for strength!
I pray this week you look to The Cross and and develop a greater understanding for Jesus' last actions that leave us with an Everlasting Relationship with Him!
p.s. I found this awesome picture of a carving in the stone of La Sagrada Familia (Barcelona, Spain) depicting Christ's Crucifixion. I visited Barcelona on my Fall Break while studying abroad in Paris, France back in 2010!