Thursday, August 14, 2014

John MacArthur on How Jesus is the Passover Lamb

In his sermon on Matthew 26:17-19, John MacArthur explains how and why Jesus is the Passover Lamb.
Now where does that take us? That just says that there were times when they counted sunset to sunset and times when they refer to a day as sunrise to sunrise. There are others in the Old Testament, check Deuteronomy 16:4 where the day is from morning to morning. Now hang on.

Therefore, this Passover day since it's not necessarily prescribed specifically in the Old Testament, this Passover day could be calculated from sunset to sunset or sunrise to sunrise. And depending on when you start it would be when you ended it.

Josephus, the great Jewish historian who was a Pharisee, living in Jesus' day, explained the law of the Passover. And he said the Paschal lamb has to be eaten during the night and nothing left for morning. The Mishna says it must be eaten by midnight. So they both were committed to the fact that whoever ate it, you had to eat it before the dawn of another day, before the morning time. Now listen very carefully. As you dig into this history a little bit, and this is what I found fascinating, the Galileans--that's the northern people--and the Pharisees counted the day from sunrise to sunrise, the day of Passover. Whereas the Judean and Sadducees counted it from sunset to sunset.

You say, "How do you know that?" The Mishna, which is the codification of Jewish law, tells us that. It says, for example, that the Galileans would not work at all on the day of Passover. Why? Because the day began for them at the beginning. It says that the Judeans would work until the midday, because the day didn't begin for them until the sunset.

Now listen very carefully. Thursday then, Thursday, the Galileans and the Pharisees begin to calculate the beginning of Passover. In the morning to the next morning which is Friday morning. The Judeans and the Sadducees don't begin until Thursday evening at sunset and it runs till Friday evening at sunset. So, the Galileans and the Pharisees, then, begin early in the day, such as Matthew points out in chapter 26, with the disciples saying, "Lord, well how do we get the meal ready for tonight?" Because their day goes from morning to morning, and has to be eaten before that day is over so they have to eat it that night. The other day for the other folks doesn't begin until evening and so they're not prepared to slay their lamb until the next evening and then eat their meal as sabbath comes on Friday night.

And this is supported, as I said, by the codification of Jewish law which tells us the Galileans work not at all on the day of the Passover and the others work through half a day because for them it didn't begin until evening.

Now you say, "Well, what does all this mean?" Listen very carefully. First thing it does is it harmonizes John 18 and 19 because it tells us that Galileans, which would be Jesus and His disciples and the Pharisees, could have their Passover on the evening of Thursday because they already began to count the day from morning to morning and it would end on Friday morning. And the others who were from Judea and who were Sadducees which made up the rulers wouldn't start their day festivities until late on Thursday and wouldn't kill their lamb until the end of the day on Friday.
Now you say, "Why is that important?" Listen to me. It's odd that it would be like that. It's very odd. And we really can't identify specifically as to how that came to pass. But what fascinates me is this, listen very carefully. Jesus had to die on Friday. He had to be crucified on Friday because that's when the traditional Judean Jerusalem Passover lambs would be killed, from three to five on Friday. He had to die then. That's why it says, "In the ninth hour."

He also had to keep the Passover because He had to transform it into the Lord's table. So, how could Jesus keep the Passover and still be the Passover lamb? There would be absolutely no way that that could be possible unless God allowed this kind of thing to take place in history so that when it came to the very moment that Jesus was going to die, in that very year, there was no problem in having a Galilean Passover on Thursday night and dying in the Judean Passover on Friday afternoon perfectly on schedule and violating no Jewish law at all.

And what is supportive about this is the Jews were happy to have this occur, the priests were, because there would be almost an impossibility if they had to kill all the lambs in the same two-hour period. If the Galileans came on Thursday and the Judeans came on Friday, at least it would divide the work into two days and they would be able to accomplish their goal. So they were happy with that accommodation.

Furthermore, if it was difficult to find a room in Jerusalem to have your Passover meal, how fitting would it be to double the capacity of Jerusalem by having two separate time periods.

Listen, when you come to the Word of God and you think Jesus is a victim of human ingenuity, you've got the wrong approach, folks. God literally rules history and tradition and customs and every detail of human existence to bring about the fulfillment of His own perfect plan. And Jesus had to keep the Passover to fulfill all righteousness, to instruct His disciples, to show them the new memorial feast that would come out of the Passover. And yet He had to die as the Passover. And He did both because God had so moved in history that both would be possible by His sovereign providence and control.

So, when we look at the story of Jesus Christ, we see anything but a victim, don't we? And Matthew is able to present to us in these three brief verses majesty that's absolutely beyond our ability to understand. It isn't something Jesus could have arranged on the weekend. It had to have been built in for centuries that this could even happen. And so our Lord in perfect harmony with the divine unfolding plan of God controls every single thing in His own sequence of events leading to the cross. This is the majestic, glorious, dignified living Son of God, our Savior. And He loses nothing in the midst of His betrayal, in the midst of His murderers. He loses no dignity. He maintains the majesty of His person by being in control of every single thing that takes place.

For more:
What Does the Lord's Supper Mean?
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