It all started on that fateful night when the Angel of Death came to kill the first-born son of every family whether Egyptian or Hebrew. The Hebrew people were to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and mark the posts of their door so that the Angel of Death should ‘pass over’ their household. That night marked the birth of the nation of Israel but it also was a picture of a greater birth and a greater sacrifice to come many centuries later; the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death upon the cross as the true Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. But before going on let’s see what John wrote about the circumstances of Jesus’ death, the death of the Lamb of God (John 1:29).
John is at the foot of the Cross holding Mary, suffering a mothers grief at losing ones son. John tells us in his account of Jesus’ death that although they broke the legs of the other two being crucified they didn’t break those of Jesus “so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled: ‘Not a bone of it will be broken.’” Here John is referencing the requirement that the bones of the Passover lamb were not to be broken as found in Exodus 12:46 “You shall not break any of its bones.”
We can confidently say that John wants us to link the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross to the first Passover because not only does John mentions ‘not breaking any bones’ but even before that statement John still points to this night of the first Passover when he mentions how Jesus was given wine to quench His thirst by using a sprig of hyssop, the same type of plant used to mark the doorframes with the blood of the sacrificial lambs (Exo 12:22).
So what happened at the first Passover that John would bring us back to this point in time while Jesus is being crucified? Maybe so we see the connection between the sacrificial lamb (John 1:29) who saved us from the bondage of sin with the lamb who saved the Israelites from the bondage of the Pharaoh in
. Maybe because he believed the same as Paul
did when he wrote to Timothy that “All scripture is…useful for teaching… and
for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).
So we know that the sacrificial system of the Jewish liturgy of the
Passover celebration teaches us, trains us in righteousness. We also see in Malachi that this liturgy will
be changed and fulfilled or brought to fruition through his prophecy that: “For from the rising of the sun, even to its
setting, my name is great among the nations; And everywhere they bring
sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering; For great is my name among the
nations, says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11) Egypt
First, we see that at the time the book of Malachi was written, God’s name was NOT great among the nations, therefore this is a prophecy of things to come. Second, at the mention of “a pure offering”, what is the only pure offering ever brought to His name? Jesus is the only pure offering. And finally, “from the rising of the sun to its setting”. All day long in other words. Which worship ceremony uses incense and brings a pure offering all day long (from rising to setting of the sun) all around the world? The Catholic Church is the only church which can claim this.
But what about the pure offering? What are we to do with it when we offer it to God? Well, just look at what John was pointing to when Jesus was dying on the Cross. Look at what the Israelites had to do at the first Passover sacrifice – they had to kill the lamb and then eat it (Exo 12:7-8 or Exo 12:43-47). It wasn’t enough to sacrifice the lamb and to put its blood on the door frames. To save the first-born sons of each household, they also had to eat the lamb as well. How can we be sure of this? By listening to Jesus’ own words of John 6 which states “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world”(verse 51). And to confirm this suspicion, the account of the Last Supper as described by Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul all say the same when holding the unleavened bread once it was blessed. Jesus says “This IS my body…this IS my blood”.
Prepared by a St-Denis parishioner