Advent Devotional | Day 5: Jesus and the Passover
Jesús y la pascua
The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
– Exodus 12:13
For several years in Colombia, my husband and I pastored a church in a violent context. The possibility of dying was a reality in our ministry. We were also involved in prison ministry, which exposed us to much news of death. On several occasions, I felt fear in my heart, but I found peace in the account of Exodus 12. It recounts how the Lord instructed the Israelites to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and to sprinkle its blood on the doorposts and lintel as a sign for the angel of death to pass over those houses. This blood would serve as protection and liberation from judgment, and this scene is a great picture of the protection we have in Jesus.
The book of Exodus is the story of Yahweh responding to Israel’s prayer, a people suffering in slavery under Egypt. He called Moses, revealed His identity, and unleashed His power for the liberation of His people. The first Passover, chapter 12’s subject matter, arises in the context of the ten plagues sent due to Pharaoh’s hardened heart as he refused to release the people and instead subjected them to forced labour characteristic of slavery. These plagues demonstrated God’s power and authority over the Egyptian gods. The final plague was the death of the firstborn, including Pharaoh’s son. It would also have included Israel’s firstborn sons were it not for the blood of the perfect lamb marking their homes, a sign for Israel’s protection demonstrating the Lord’s power over life and death.
God’s instruction for Israel included the institution of the annual Passover celebration to honour the Lord, allowing the people and future generations to cultivate the memory of God’s great act of protection and liberation. Throughout the Old Testament, in various books, God reminded the people of this event: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” Thus, the people would have no foreign gods (Deuteronomy 5:6), they would worship Him (Psalm 135), and they would acknowledge the Lord’s power (Psalm 114). In the context of this cultural and generational memory, John uses the figure of the lamb to refer to Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Indeed, the gospel brings us the good news that Jesus’ birth would bring redemption to humanity. Like Israel, we need to be freed from bondage—to sin and its consequences of eternal death. And just as it was prefigured in the Passover, the blood of Jesus was shed for our liberation, our restoration, to protect us from eternal death (Ephesians 2:5). In fact, His shed blood provides us with abundant and eternal life.
God instructed Israel to celebrate the Passover to commemorate His power. Likewise, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper so we will remember His death— how it fulfills all the Old Testament prophecies and how He is the promised Messiah! His sacrifice has allowed the forgiveness of sins, and that is why we can enter the presence of the Father and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit. Unlike the Old Testament, we no longer need to offer an animal sacrifice because the death of the Son of God was sufficient for all of humanity, once and for all.
Currently, we serve the Lord in southern Chile, and, although the social and cultural context is different, fear, insecurity about salvation, and the oppression of sin remain frequent issues in the life of a Christian. Hence, it is important not to forget but rather to accept the invitation to cultivate the habit of remembering Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. As we do, we celebrate His protection and liberation as a pillar of our faith and a fundamental element for proclaiming the gospel to the next generations, and we recognize that nothing we face in this life, challenging and scary as it may be, can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Passover Lamb.
Dr Eliana Marcela Ortiz-Velosa
Eliana Ortiz is co-pastor at Encounter with Christ Church in Temuco and serves as the escuelita (preaching club) coordinator for Langham Preaching in Chile.