In 1 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 7, the apostle Paul uses a very strange phrase. He says,
For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. What exactly did Paul mean in 1 Corinthians 5:7 when he called Christ “our Passover Lamb”?
For our sermons in Lent we are looking at individuals in the Old Testament whose lives foreshadowed in some ways the life of Jesus and God’s masterplan of salvation. We compared Adam who brought us condemnation with Jesus who bought us salvation. And we thought about Joseph, who was physically the saviour of the descendants of Abraham and the whole nation of Egypt when the seven years of famine came. Joseph points forward to Jesus the spiritual saviour of all who put their trust in him. In both situations God was working behind the scenes to bring salvation out of suffering. But in the history of Israel there was another individual who was even more a saviour to the nation. Moses, the Lawgiver.
What we are looking at here is called typology. The Old Testament figure is described as a type, or a pattern, of Jesus. With Moses it is not only his life, but also all the events of the Exodus which foreshadow the wonderful salvation which God has provided for us through our Lord Jesus Christ. In this way the Exodus itself is also a type or a pattern for our salvation. And in particular, the Passover Lamb is a type or a pattern for Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.
We can start by briefly comparing the lives of Moses and Jesus. Although he was a Hebrew baby, Moses was raised in Egypt. Jesus was also a Jew, a descendant of Abraham. After he was born in Bethlehem, Jesus was taken by Mary and Joseph to Egypt and spent two years there to escape from Herod. Moses was born at a time when Pharaoh was murdering all the boys born to Hebrew mothers. After Jesus was born Herod slaughtered all the baby boys in Bethlehem. Both Moses and Jesus spent the early parts of their lives in obscurity, Moses hiding from Pharaoh in Midian and Jesus in a back-of-beyond village called Nazareth. Moses and Jesus both brought salvation with powerful miracles. God sent ten plagues on Egypt. Jesus brought God’s Kingly Rule through signs and wonders, miracles of healing and deliverance. Moses was the Lawgiver, who brought the Covenant and the Jewish Law which created the Nation of Israel. The teachings of Jesus have created the church.
So Moses was the Saviour of Israel as Jesus is the Saviour of all who receive forgiveness and eternal life through him. The events of the Exodus fifteen hundred years earlier foreshadow the salvation which Jesus brings us in a number of ways. As we understand what God did for the Israelites in the Exodus, so we understand better the glorious salvation we ourselves have received.
WHAT WE ARE SAVED FROM
Escape from slavery
Remember the slavery the Israelites were escaping from. The cruelty of the slave masters, the forced labour, making bricks without straw! Pharaoh commanding the midwives to kill any new-born baby boys for decades. No wonder the Israelites ran away so fast!
But the Bible tells us that without Christ, all of us were once slaves to sin.
Jesus said in John 8:34 “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
Romans 6 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. … 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Just as much as the Israelites were slaves of the Egyptians, so all of us are slaves to sin. We need God to rescue us just as much as the Israelites did, not from physical slavery but from spiritual slavery to sin.
The Israelites ran away from Egypt “in haste”! There wasn’t time for the dough to rise as they baked their bread – and they spent a whole week eating unleavened bread to help them remember that urgency, that hurry. Sometimes we Christians are not in so much of a hurry to run away from the life of slavery to sin which God rescues us from. Sometimes we would rather stay in Egypt than make haste to enter the promised land.
Escape from the death of the firstborn
We saw two weeks ago how Adam’s sin brought condemnation on all human beings. God’s judgment brought physical death in this life and spiritual death through eternal separation from God. The Tenth Plague on Egypt, the death of the Firstborn, was a visual aid of the death which is a consequence of sin for all people.
By nature we are spiritually dead, cut off from God by our sins. In Adam all die. But Jesus offers us life instead of death. Just as God rescued his people from the Plague on the Firstborn, so Jesus rescues us from death and brings us life in all its fulness, life which not even death can take away. Escape from slavery and escape from death. That is what we are saved from.
WHAT WE ARE SAVED TO
God brought the Israelites to the promised land
Instead of a life of slavery, God brought the people of Israel to the land he had promised to their ancestors Abraham and Isaac and Jacob centuries before. The Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. A place of peace and blessing. A place where they could worship and serve God in complete freedom and safety. But the blessings of the promised land are only a faint foretaste of all the blessings God pours out on those who put their trust in Jesus.
God brings us to life in all its fulness and glory forever
Our sins are forgiven. We share Christ’s resurrection life – eternal life, life in all its fullness. We have the happy certainty of heaven, an inheritance which can never perish, spoil or fade. The
Holy Spirit lives inside us, bringing the presence of Jesus into our hearts. We have a personal relationship with God as our loving heavenly Father. We belong to the Church, God’s forever family. God answers our prayers and he gives us victory over sin and the devil – we will be talking about that in our sermon this evening. God’s grace is always with us, strengthening us in times of need. So we are filled with God’s love and joy and peace. All these wonderful blessings of salvation which are worth so much more than pearls or diamonds or gold or great big houses: the buried treasure and the pearl of great price which is the Kingdom of God. This is what we are saved to.
WHAT WE ARE SAVED BY
All the events of the Exodus were part of God’s masterplan of salvation for Israel, right from when he first called Moses from the Burning Bush to the day they took possession of the Promised Land under Joshua. But two events were particularly important. The first was
The Sacrifice of the Passover lamb
Exodus 12 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. …. slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door-frames of the houses where they eat the lambs ….it is the LORD’s Passover.
12 ‘On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. 13 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.
The lamb, the sheep or the goat without defect, died so that its blood would give protection against the Destroyer which would kill all the firstborn in Egypt. All the ten plagues on Egypt were God’s punishment on the sins of the Egyptians who had exploited the Israelites and on the demonic gods of Egypt they served. This final plague brought death which is the consequence of sin.
The Passover reminds us that all of us deserve death. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death,. The consequence of sin is always death. Physical death. And ultimately spiritual death. Eternal separation from God who is the only source of life.
For the Israelites it was the death of the Passover lamb who saved their firstborn from death. And the apostle Paul reminds us that Christ is our Passover Lamb, Christ was sacrificed so that death the destroyer would pass over our houses, leaving us living.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The greater sacrifice of the cross
For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:7)
The sacrifice of the Passover lambs rescued Israel but it was the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross which brings salvation to all believers.
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
It was Jesus’s death on the cross which paid the penalty for the sins of the world as he gave his life as the ransom for the many.
1 Peter 1 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
The events of the Exodus are a type, or pattern foreshadowing our salvation. But it is particularly the Passover Lamb which is a pattern pointing forward to Christ’s death on the cross.
Then there is a second event in the Exodus which revealed God’s power and glory to the Israelites and the Egyptians.
The miracle of escape across the Red Sea
Exodus 14 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.” …
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
30 That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
God parted the waters of the Red Sea so that hundreds of thousands, or maybe even millions of slaves and descendants of Abraham could escape in safety. And then he brought judgment on the pursuing Egyptian armies by drowning them all as the waters closed in again. More than any other event, this mighty miracle was the foundation of the nation of Israel. But crossing the Red Sea only foreshadows another miracle.
The greater miracle of the resurrection
Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world. And then God raised Jesus from the dead, the firstborn from among the dead. A miracle which was so much greater and more wonderful even than the Parting of the Red Sea.
Just as Moses was a Saviour for Israel, how much more is our Lord Jesus Christ the Saviour for all who follow him. Escape from slavery and escape from death. Escape to eternal life in all its fulness. Escape through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God and the glorious miracle of the resurrection.
For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.