What is the significance of the Passover festival?

Hey Matt. I’m the worst Christian ever and I want to talk a little bit about the Passover, which is a Jewish religious festival that has existed for over 3,000 years. Let that sink in for a minute. We have to understand that when Mary and Joseph and Jesus were going to Jerusalem when Jesus was a little boy to celebrate the Passover, this was a tradition that had already been established for 1200 or maybe 1400 years. There were all kinds of expectations and rituals and rites and pomp and excitement that would have gone with this thing but it traces its roots back to the time when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. And if you remember the story back in Exodus, you got Moses and God is working through Moses to do these weird miraculous things to freak out the Egyptian people and to convince Pharaoh, the leader of the Egyptians, to let the Israelite people leave.So all these plagues have happened like hail and frogs raining from the sky, rivers turning to blood, just mean crazy stuff and now nine of those have happened and the Pharaoh still is not going to let the Israelites leave. And so this horrible tenth plague occurs. 

This is the plague where a whole bunch of firstborn sons throughout Egypt died. So God makes this deal with the Israelites. He says if you take a lamb and you kill it and you take its blood and you paint above the door of your house on either side of the door of your house, then when this horrible plague rolls through, your firstborn won’t be affected. God will pass over the houses with the blood on the door and that’s what happens. So the Jews are happy because their kids didn’t die but they’re also happy because this plague breaks Pharaoh’s spirit and he releases the Israelites to their freedom. So then you’ve got this thing that happens every year where the Israelites commemorate what God did there by having this meal. And so they have a lamb and they celebrate with all these weird rituals and stuff. And for the longest time, they just do that in their houses but as Judaism settles down and once there’s a temple, then the expectation becomes that you go and do this in Jerusalem at the one and only Jewish temple. So Passover has the effect of reminding all the Jewish people of their covenant and unique relationship with God, of reminding everyone of the miraculous cool stuff that God has done for them in the past and of keeping everyone tethered to the temple and to Jerusalem and to the families.

Passover is also a really big deal in the New Testament because just narratively, Jesus’ first line in the Bible happens in Luke 2 when he’s in Jerusalem for Passover. And then Jesus’ last stuff on earth or at least before at the crucifixion also happens during Passover week. But the stuff behind the Passover is also a big deal theologically in the New Testament because Jesus fulfills the role of that Passover lamb. Remember you got that blood that people put on the door so they take the blood of the lamb and they put it up on top of the door. Because of gravity, that blood is gonna drip down the bottom of the door and they put it on either side of the door and so you got this blood of the lamb that’s in the shape of a cross on doors. And as a result, it causes God’s judgment to pass over people on whom otherwise his judgment would rest. They are picking up what they’re laying down here with this Bible thing because it’s pretty thick and I think it’s pretty intentional. In fact, John the Baptist, when he first meets Jesus says “Look, there’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). And at one point Paul even says that Christ is our Passover (1 Cor 5:7). So long story short, the Passover to Jewish people is a celebration of the covenant God has made with them as God’s chosen people and for Christians the Passover is a big deal because it paints a picture of Jesus as the sacrificial Passover lamb sacrificed for the sins of all humankind so that instead of God’s judgment coming down on us, God’s judgment passes over us.