Book: The Christian Passover

or Download

Jesus said that He is the “Beginning and the Ending.” The New Testament teaches that Jesus Christ is the true Passover Lamb of God for all time by the one perfect sacrifice of Himself (Heb. 7:27; 10:10). Paul declared of Jesus, “For Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us” (I Cor. 5:7). This was the plan of God from the beginning. Jesus was “...the Lamb [of God] slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). Without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ there is no remission of sins, no forgiveness of sins before God the Father. John the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He is the Beginning!

Jesus Christ is also the Ending. As the Ending, He will complete God’s fantastic plan of granting us eternal life: “And He said to me, ‘It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the one who thirsts, I will give freely of the fountain of the water of life. The one who overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son’ ” (Rev. 21:6-7)

Jesus Christ, Who from the beginning was God and was with God, came to this earth in the flesh to shed His blood as the Passover Lamb of God, in order to deliver us from our sins, and to give us eternal life. When we accept His blood as the sacrifice for our sins and demonstrate our faith in Him by being baptized in His name (Acts 2:38), we are reconciled to God the Father. Our reconciliation with God the Father delivers us from the death penalty for sin and enables us to receive the gift of eternal life.

The gift of eternal life was not offered under the Old Covenant, which held the promise only of physical and material blessings. The New Testament reveals that through the death of Jesus Christ, the Old Covenant has been replaced with the New Covenant—the covenant of grace, which offers eternal life to all who accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins. By offering His own body to be slain and His own blood to be shed on the Passover day, Jesus extinguished the Old Covenant and established the New.

At His last Passover meal with the disciples, Jesus instituted the symbols of the New Covenant, which represent His body and His blood: “Jesus took the bread and blessing it, then He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ And He took the cup; and after giving thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘All of you drink of it; for this is My blood, the blood of the New Covenant, which is poured out for many for the remission of sins’ ” (Matt. 26:26-28).

Jesus Christ commanded His followers—all who have repented of their sins and have accepted the blood of His sacrifice for the forgiveness of their sins—to partake of the symbols of the New Covenant each year as a solemn memorial of His death. Jesus said, “This do in the remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). Every year it is to be a renewal of the New Covenant between the believer, Jesus Christ and God the Father. Partaking of the New Covenant Passover with the new symbols, as Jesus taught, is absolutely essential to remain in the grace of God and to receive the gift of eternal life at the resurrection.

A Matter of Life and Death

The first observance of the Passover by Israel, as recorded in the book of Exodus, was a matter of life or death. If the children of Israel had not carefully followed God’s instructions and done exactly as God commanded, when He commanded it to be done, the Lord—Who sent the destroyer to kill all the firstborn of the Egyptians—would not have PASSED OVER their houses. They would not have been spared from the plague, but would have been slain along with the Egyptians. It was a matter of life and death!

The Old Testament Passover was to be observed yearly by all Israel to reconfirm the Old Covenant. In the broader scope of that covenant, God set before them the same choices of life and good, or death and evil:

“Behold, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil, in that I command you this day to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments so that you may live and multiply. And the LORD your God shall bless you in the land where you go to possess it. But if your heart turn away ...and worship other gods and serve them, I denounce to you this day that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days on the land where you pass over Jordan to go to possess it.

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore, choose life, so that both you and your seed may live, that you may love the LORD your God, and may obey His voice, and may cleave to Him; for He is your life and the length of your days, so that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers—to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob—to give it to them” (Deut. 30:15-20).

But what about the New Covenant Passover? Why are Christians commanded to partake in this unusual and unique ceremony? Is the New Covenant relationship also a matter of life and death?

In the New Testament, just as in the Old Testament, God has set before us two specific choices: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Jesus Christ is “our Passover,” slain for us for the remission of our sins. But we must believe God and accept Jesus Christ His Son, by faith, as the Passover sacrifice of God for the forgiveness of our sins, or we cannot receive eternal life. Without His sacrifice, we will die in our sins—receiving the penalty of eternal death.

Jesus specifically spoke of the sacrifice of Himself as the Passover Lamb of God in this manner: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves” (John 6:53). That is a clear, dogmatic statement. There is no middle ground, no compromise!

When we understand the full meaning of the Christian Passover, we find that this yearly reaffirmation of the New Covenant is at the heart and core of the continuous, ongoing spiritual relationship between the believer and God the Father and Jesus Christ. In partaking of the symbols of Christ’s body and blood, the believer is not only reaffirming his or her acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, but is also acknowledging that salvation comes through Christ living within:

“For My flesh is truly food, and My blood is truly drink. The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood is dwelling in Me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father, so also the one who eats Me shall live by Me” (John 6:55-57).

Jesus Christ personally revealed that the observance of the New Covenant Passover is a matter of life or death! He said that those who do not eat His flesh and drink His blood have no life in them—NO ETERNAL LIFE! Eating His flesh and drinking His blood are symbolized by partaking of the bread and the wine of the New Covenant Passover. Jesus also said, when Peter was attempting to reject having Jesus wash his feet, “If I do not wash you, YOU HAVE NO PART WITH ME” (John 13:8).

Jesus made it absolutely clear that footwashing is mandatory for His disciples: “Therefore, if I, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also are duty-bound to wash one another’s feet; for I have given you an example, to show that you also should do exactly as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15).

How many Christian-professing churches love God the Father and Jesus Christ enough to honor His words by fulfilling the ceremony of footwashing? How many churches of God observe the New Covenant Passover exactly as Jesus Christ commanded, including washing one another’s feet, as Jesus did?

The ultimate question we need to ask concerning footwashing is this: Do we want a part with Jesus Christ? If the answer is yes, then we ought to do as Jesus Christ commanded. It is so essential, it is so vital to keep the New Covenant Passover as He commanded—partaking of the bread and the wine, and the ceremony of footwashing—that no one can have eternal life without it! Jesus clearly and absolutely said so!

Jesus Christ—The Only Way to Salvation

Jesus Christ is the ONLY WAY to salvation: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me’ ” (John 14:6). The apostles preached the same message, very powerfully and very dogmatically!

After having miraculously healed a man over forty years old who had been born with a deformity, Peter powerfully proclaimed before the religious leaders and rulers of the Jews, “Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean, Whom you crucified, but Whom God has raised from the dead, by Him this man stands before you whole. This is the Stone that was set at naught by you, the builders, which has become the Head of the corner.

“And there is no salvation in any other, for neither is there another name under heaven which has been given among men, by which we must be saved [Greek dei, meaning it is absolutely obligatory]” (Acts 4:10-12).

God the Father has demonstrated His love for mankind by giving His only begotten Son as the true Passover Lamb, so that all who repent may be delivered from eternal death. As the Scripture says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have everlasting life” (John 3:16). That is how much love God has for the world!

These Scriptures demonstrate the singularly profound importance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as the perfect and complete sacrifice of God the Father for the forgiveness of sins. God the Father has provided the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as full payment for the sins of those whom He calls. Because this loving act of God the Father and Jesus Christ is so profound, those who are called must respond to God’s love with their whole being in faith and love. They must completely repent of their sins. Next, they must be baptized in water by complete immersion, symbolizing the death of the old, sinful man by burial in the watery grave. They are thereby conjoined into the death and crucifixion of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. When they have fulfilled these conditions, coupled with total commitment and dedication to God, He gives them His Holy Spirit. (Please read and study Acts 2:36-38 and Romans 6:3-6.)

God’s Love and Our Love and Obedience

Jesus Christ is the crowning glory of God’s plan, expressing God’s love for each individual He calls. In the fulfilling of this purpose, God’s fantastic love will be made manifest to all mankind, all of humanity—past, present and future. God’s plan is revealed in the meaning of His holy days, of which the Passover is the beginning—the first step in God’s plan of salvation for mankind.

At His last Passover, Jesus revealed the new spiritual relationship with God the Father that is granted to every believer who responds to His calling with love, faith and belief in Jesus Christ. Here are Jesus’ own words as recorded by the apostle John:

“ ‘If you love Me, keep the commandments—namely, My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that it may be with you throughout the age [until Jesus Christ returns]: even the Spirit of the truth, which the world cannot receive because it perceives it not, nor knows it; but you know it because it dwells with you, and shall be within you....In that day, you shall know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.

“ ‘The one who has My commandments and is keeping them, that is the one who loves Me; and the one who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him.’ Judas, not Iscariot, said to Him, ‘Lord, what has happened that You are about to manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?’

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word [His teachings]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. The one who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word [the entire message] that you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s Who sent Me’ ” (John 14:15-17, 20-24).

This is the heart and core of the love of God toward us and our love in response to God’s love. This is the whole meaning of life for a true Christian. If we love Jesus Christ, we will be keeping His commandments— and those are from God the Father!

On the other hand, Jesus gave this warning for those who would be claiming His promises and blessings, using His name and claiming to be His followers, but who would not be keeping the commandments of God: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but the one who is doing the will of My Father Who is in heaven.

“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy through Your name? And did we not cast out demons through Your name? And did we not perform many mighty works of power through Your name?’ And then I will confess to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who are working lawlessness’ ” (Matt. 7:21-23).

The English word “lawlessness” is translated from the Greek word anomos, which means “against law”; that is, against law and commandment keeping. This kind of pseudo-Christianity, which uses Jesus’ name and claims authority through His name but refuses to do the will of God, is not accepted by God the Father and Jesus Christ. The end result of this pseudo- Christanity is death—not eternal life. And many, the vast majority of people, are on the broad path of destruction which leads to death, exactly as Jesus said (Matt. 7:13-14).

Those who are practicing this pseudo-Christianity are doing the opposite of what Jesus said those who truly love Him will be doing: “If you love Me, keep the commandments—namely, My commandments” (John 14:15). The one who truly loves God the Father and Jesus Christ will be keeping His commandments—yes, every one of His words—the entirety of His Message.

Here is the first and greatest commandment of all: “ ‘You shall LOVE the Lord your God with ALL YOUR HEART, and with ALL YOUR SOUL, and with ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the FIRST and GREATEST commandment; and the second one is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments HANG ALL THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS” (Matt. 22:37-40). There would be no law, there would be no prophets, there would be no covenants—Abrahamic, Old or New— without these two commandments. EVERYTHING GOD DOES IS BASED ON LOVE!

The apostle John expresses the love of God so clearly in his first epistle: “Beloved, we should love one another because love is from God; and everyone who loves has been begotten by God, and knows God.

“The one who does not love does not know God, because GOD IS LOVE. In this way the love of God was manifested toward us: that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.

“In this act is THE LOVE—not that we loved God; rather, that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also are duty-bound to love one another....And we have known and have believed the love that God has toward us. GOD IS LOVE, and the one who dwells in love is dwelling in God, and God in him” (I John 4:7-11, 16).

This is the attitude of love, faith and obedience that we must have toward God the Father and Jesus Christ in order to understand the Word of God. Without this love for God and His truth, true understanding of the Scriptures can never be achieved!

Spiritual Keys to Understanding the Word of God

There are spiritual keys to understanding Scripture. As we have already learned, we must be continually in a loving, faithful and obedient attitude toward God. This is the foundation of understanding the Word of God.

Another vital principle is clearly taught in Isaiah 28: “Whom shall He teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand doctrine? Those who are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts [that is, fully grounded in the Word of God], for precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little” (verses 9-10).

The Bible tells us that in order to understand doctrine, we must study it line upon line and precept upon precept. That is exactly how we are going to study the Passover question. The New Testament confirms this approach to understanding the Word of God and establishing sound doctrine. Paul instructed Timothy in how to study and teach doctrine: “Diligently study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman [in the Word of God] who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing [precept upon precept, and line upon line] the Word of the truth” (II Tim. 2:15).

The Word of God is called the Word of truth. Furthermore, it is the Spirit of truth which teaches us all things. Jesus said, “But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in My name, that one will teach you ALL THINGS, and will bring to your remembrance all things that I have told you” (John 14:26). This is the promise Jesus gave!

The Bible makes it clear that the Word of truth works hand in hand with the Spirit of truth to give understanding to those who love God and seek His will. It is self-evident that it is not possible for the carnal mind, which is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9), to come to the knowledge of the truth of God. In fact, the carnal, unconverted mind is enmity (that is, hostile) toward God and is not willing to be subject to God’s laws (Rom. 8:7). Can the Word of truth and the Spirit of truth work hand in hand with the carnal mind of deceit? It is impossible! Regardless of how brilliant or how great the intellect may be, God’s Word is understood not in human wisdom and rationale. It is only through the Spirit of God that the Word of God is understood.

Paul taught that it is not through human rationale or intellect that we are able to come to the knowledge of the truth, but by and through the SPIRIT OF GOD: “But according as it has been written, ‘The eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’

“But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things—even the deep things of God. For who among men understands the things of man except by the spirit of man which is in him? In the same way also, the things of God no one understands, except by the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is of God, so that we might know the things graciously given to us by God; which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Holy Spirit in order to communicate [comparing] spiritual things by spiritual means. But the natural man [the carnal mind of man without the Holy Spirit of God] does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, indeed he CANNOT understand them, BECAUSE THEY ARE SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED” (I Cor. 2:9-14).

This is the way God has instructed us to study and understand His Holy Word. Unfortunately, too many people are caught up in the politics of religion, or the organizational power structure of an ecclesiastical hierarchy, or the time-honored doctrines of various churches, or they have submitted to humanly devised church authority, or they have blindly accepted the teachings of so-called biblical scholars, and they are not able to open-mindedly study and completely understand the spiritual truth of God’s Word.

In this presentation, you can be fully assured that the Biblically outlined method of study—“rightly dividing” the Word of God—will be used. This study is designed to find the actual truth of the Bible as led by the Holy Spirit of truth. It is not designed to find a religious position that will please a doctrinal board, nor is it designed to uphold a previous doctrinal position, nor to justify a “church doctrine.” None of these things really matter, do they? And if they were involved, for whatever reason, do we think that God overlooks such deceptive use of His Word? If we think that we can fool God, we are only deceiving ourselves.

Paul’s words to Timothy show the danger in misusing the Scriptures: “See that they remain mindful of these things, earnestly charging them in the sight of the Lord not to argue over words that are not profitable in any way, but which lead to the subverting of those who hear” (II Tim. 2:14). This is exactly what has happened with the Passover question. In order to justify doctrinal beliefs that are not taught in the Bible, many writers and preachers have twisted and distorted the Scriptures to fit their own private interpretations. Whole churches have been subverted by arguments and disputes over words which have not been profitable but have been damaging to faith!

The apostle Peter warned the believers to be on guard against false teachers: “As he has also in all his [Paul’s] epistles, speaking in them concerning these things; in which are some things that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable are twisting and distorting, as they also twist and distort the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, beloved, since you know this in advance, be on guard against such practices, lest you be led astray with the error of the lawless ones, and you fall from your own steadfastness” (II Pet. 3:16-17).

Peter understood that those who promote their own private interpretations are rejecting the Holy Spirit of God, which inspired every word that is written in the Scriptures. Notice: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture originated as anyone’s own private interpretation; because prophecy was not brought at any time by human will, but the holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Pet. 1:20-21).

False doctrines and misinterpretations are continually being spread because ministers and teachers use the Word of God deceitfully. How diabolical it is to take the Word of God, which is the truth, and misapply it to create a lie! Such deceptive use of God’s Word has existed from the time of the apostles. In writing to the believers at Corinth, the apostle Paul contrasted his ministry with the deceitful approach of false teachers in his day: “Therefore, having this ministry, according as we have received mercy, we are not fainthearted; for we have personally renounced the hidden things of dishonest gain, not walking in cunning craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth we are commending ourselves to every man’s conscience before God” (II Cor. 4:1-2).

Anyone who twists and distorts the Scriptures is “using the law unlawfully,” as Paul said, and will end up believing false, satanic doctrines, which subvert the souls of men. Unfortunately, the landscape of religious history is filled with the bodies of people who have taught false doctrines, and the bodies of people who have embraced such teachings.

Instead of following the broad way of destruction, as so many have, this study will follow all the Biblical and godly rules of Bible study. Please read and be prepared to apply the Fourteen Rules for Bible Study that are listed below before proceeding with this presentation. These rules show the systematic method and mechanics of proper Bible study.

We will not establish doctrine on the traditions of men, regardless of how knowledgeable or authoritative they are reputed to be. Nor will we base doctrine on the commentaries or other writings of men. We will strictly follow the Word of God. We will also examine history concerning the subject, and we will have detailed studies of the original languages, Hebrew and Greek, in order to determine precise definitions and meanings of key, critically important words. Such an approach will enable us to come to a clear understanding of what the Bible is actually teaching and to arrive at a complete understanding of the answers to the Passover questions.

Fourteen Rules for Bible Study

1) Begin with Scriptures that are easy to understand.

2) Let the Bible interpret and prove the Bible. Don’t look for what you want to prove; look for what the Bible actually proves.

3) Understand the context—the verses before and after, the chapters before and after. Does your understanding of a particular verse harmonize with the rest of the Bible?

4) Understand the original language, Hebrew or Greek. Never try to establish dogmatic doctrine or teachings by using Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. It can be helpful at times, but it is extremely limited.

5) Ask, what does the Scripture clearly say?

6) Ask, what does the Scripture not say?

7) Ask, who was the book written to?

8) Ask, who wrote it?

9) Ask, who said it?

10) Understand the time frame in history when the book was written.

11) Base your study on Scriptural knowledge that you already understand. What do you know up to this point in time?

12) Do not allow your own personal assumptions or preconceived notions to influence your understanding and conclusions.

13) Do not form conclusions based on partial facts or insufficient information, or the opinions and speculations of others.

14) Opinions, regardless of how strongly you feel about them, don’t necessarily count. Scripture must be your standard and guide.

This is the complete study approach. When undertaking a study of the Bible, we should always use this approach, coupled with prayer, trusting God to lead us with His Holy Spirit of truth. We know that He will fulfill His promise to lead us into ALL TRUTH, as we seek the answers to the Passover question—the 14th or the 15th—and the full meaning of the Christian Passover.

Following these rules of Bible study, we will begin in Chapter Two with basic and simple-to-understand Scriptures concerning the meaning of the name “Passover.”