Pain and blood are not conditions I can tolerate – AT ALL. Thus I was the most shocked when I invited myself to join friends to watch a lamb be slaughtered. This had to of God since I would never have considered that a viable activity.
The call came at 10:13 PM. “Be ready. We’ll come for you at 6:00 AM.” Sleep wouldn’t come; I wondered and worried about the lamb. “Did he know what was to come?” I began to count the hours. “How many more hours of life would he have?” I wanted to sit with him, to hold him, to comfort him.
“Can you not watch for one hour with me?”
How the Lord’s heart must have ached in His aloneness. The disciples slept instead of watching, waiting with their Friend and Master. Challenged I wondered how much I’m sleeping today rather than watching with Him.
It was time to begin; first we would go to Haifa. We were early so we stopped to watch the sun rise over the Bay and read from Exodus 12, Isaiah 53 and Psalms 22 and 69. Unlike the disciples who expected Messiah Jesus to walk triumphantly into Jerusalem on that Passover so many years ago, we knew what would happen to our Passover lamb.
Sobered and silent we headed for the farm in Nazareth. Slowly we went through the pens:
A newborn lamb struggled to get on its feet and immediately found its mother’s milk.
Another lamb was being bottle-fed as it snuggled into the protective arms of the shepherd.
In the next pen were those able to feed themselves. Curious and frisky they romped around their pen. Did they know what their futures held? Did they understand the reason they were born? Given the chance, would they have embraced their destiny?
With heavy hearts we left the farm and headed for the butcher. There, on a pallet lay THE lamb- the lamb that had been chosen for us. His feet were bound so when he slipped off the pallet, he could not right himself. So he lay docile where he had fallen. He did not stir, did not cry out, nor open his mouth.
He continued to lay still even as we all gathered around him- tenderly touching, fearful, looking for…what? It seemed we just wanted to be close. I for one, wanted to take him and run away. Did he feel my ache?
To many, death comes as a welcome relief or as the consequence of their actions. But to my Lamb, death was a willing choice. Not to escape pain, but to willingly endure it. Not for His relief, but for mine!
Jesus could have run away. He could have called legions of angels and disciples to save Him. For the joy set before Him – our salvation and His glory- He endured not only the cross, but also all its indignities before. For this purpose He had come.
The lamb’s neck was hosed. The water startled him and he jerked, but still he never uttered a sound.
The passing of the knife was fast – only the rush of the blood indicated that it was done.
Quick. Clean. Painless.
The heart continued to beat, pumping out the blood.
The hose washed the blood into the drain. Water and blood mingled.
Was it hard to watch? Yes. But so much more horrific is the reality of the cross.
The sacrifice of the lamb is what Passover is all about (Exodus 12:27). It’s so sad that consistently and perhaps deliberately, the significance of this day has changed. Rather than the emphasis on the sacrifice, today Passover is celebrated as the holiday of freedom. The effect (freedom) has eclipsed the cause (the sacrifice).
This shift has made a further separation between many Jewish people and their Biblical roots and also between Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus. The former (non Christian Jews) see only their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt whereas the latter (Christian Jews and Gentiles) see their deliverance from sin.
Ironically, historically and biblically God brought us out of Egypt the day after the sacrifice of the Passover – on the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The butcher set about the rest of his task. Soon we were back on the road to Tel Aviv, each with a bit of our lamb in our coolers.
The love of God through Jesus so consumed me I had to be alone with my Beloved. So eager was I to eat this Passover free from the entanglements and traditions that I refused all other invitations for a Passover Seder dinner. Alone yet not alone. Never had lamb tasted so sweet, herbs more bitter, matzo harder to digest or the wine looking so red.
“Unless you eat of My flesh and drink of My blood you have no part in Me”
As the lamb’s heart continued to beat, Christ’s love still beats today. His blood is still efficacious for salvation.
Jesus was sacrificed on Passover, was buried on the Festival of Unleavened Bread and was resurrected on First Fruits (Lev 23:4-14). As I got ready for our sunrise service, I thought of the women hurrying to the tomb. They went in sadness; I was full of joy.