The Blood of the Lamb
Text: Exodus 12:1-14
Rev. Garry E. McCaffery
“What am I doing here?” “Why am I here?” Have you ever found yourself asking these questions? Perhaps you are asking them right now, in the midst of this service of worship. You have come here, but you are not sure why. You think you know, but then again, what is this service all about? Why should it matter to me? Of what significance is it to my life? So far I have heard words like, “Passover, lamb, blood, and sign.” What does this have to do with Jesus? What does this have to do with me?
These are all good questions. These are all legitimate questions, especially after reading a passage like the one from Exodus. It is logical we would wonder how the Passover and the blood of the lamb have anything to do with Jesus, let alone, with us in the year 2021. Are we not beyond these ancient practices of blood sacrifice? Are we not more sophisticated than that? Let’s hear a clean sermon. One that will be more easily accepted and understood in this, the twenty-first century. Let’s hear something that will give us a “warm fuzzy.” Let’s have a feel good message.
Well, I could preach a sermon that did not mention blood, or sacrifice, or even Jesus. But, in order to do that I would also have to forgo talking about forgiveness, mercy, and grace. I would have to forgo talking about the hope that we have in God through Jesus Christ and I would have to forgo talking about the new life we have in Him. In short, if I were to preach a sermon that did not mention the blood of the lamb, then I would not be preaching anything worthwhile. I would not be preaching about the greatest love story of all time.
The reason we are here tonight is to remember. We are here to remember what God did for us through his one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. We are here to remember that we have forgiveness of sins and new life only because of what Jesus did on the cross of calvary. And if we fail to take the time to remember that then we are in danger of forgetting who we are and whose we are.
I want you to think back to the passage that was read from the gospel of John. Jesus and the disciples were together in the upper room. They were there celebrating a sacred meal known as the Passover meal. This was a tradition in Judaism. This was a sacred feast. A meal of remembrance. As they were gathered together in the upper room they no doubt had in mind this passage from the book of Exodus. This passage which told of a central event, a key event, in the history of the nation of Israel. An event that every devout Jew knew by heart. The event: The Passover of the Lord.
Why was this event so important? This event was so important because it marked Israel’s birth as a nation. It marked them as God’s elect people. The event of the Passover marked the end of Israel’s slavery in Egypt. By the power of God they were a free nation.
On the night that the Spirit of God was going to go through Egypt and strike down the first born of every living creature, God commanded the Israelites, each according to their household, to take a lamb without blemish and kill it. They were then to take the blood of the lamb and smear it on the door posts of every household. This would not only indicate the house belonged to an Israelite, but it would also symbolize that the people residing in the house were forgiven from their sins. Remember that in Exodus 12:3 the Lord says, “Now the blood shall be a sign for you to the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you.”
Now, a question that may come to mind is, “Why did the lambs blood have to be shed and placed on the door posts for the forgiveness of sins? The only answer I have to that is what God’s word says in Hebrews 9:22, “According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission”, that is, no forgiveness of sins.
So, God passed over those houses where the blood of the lamb marked the doorposts. And the people inside ate the meat of the lamb, and the rest of the Passover meal that was prepared for them the night before they left Egypt.
It was this meal that Jesus and his disciples were eating the last night they were together in the upper room. And it was during this meal that Jesus took the bread and gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my body, given for you.” And after the meal he took the cup, blessed it, and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my blood of the new covenant poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Through these words Jesus changed the symbolism of the elements of the meal to point to himself as the Passover Lamb. Jesus was to be the one who would pave the way for deliverance from a captivity that was far more oppressive than the Jews captivity in Egypt. Jesus was going to rescue all people from their captivity to sin and death. Jesus was the one to lead all people into a new and victorious life that was not bound by the chains and fetters of sin.
In the upper room Jesus led the disciples through the remembrance of their history to the present in order to point them to their destiny, that is, a new life in Him. This new life would be better than any they could have ever imagined.
Yet, they were still confused by what Jesus said. It would not truly sink in until the next day, when they saw Jesus nailed to the cross and they saw the drops of blood that fell from the nails to the ground. It was not until that moment, as they looked upon Jesus in shock and horror, his blood running on to the wood of the cross, that they began to understand the connection between the blood of the Passover lamb, and the blood of Jesus that was being spilled out, and what it meant for them, and what it means for you and me.
As they watched these events unfold they remembered hearing John the Baptist’s words as recorded in John 1:29, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” The Lamb of God.
Jesus is the Lamb of God. The perfect lamb. Jesus was the only human being without sin. The only one who could pay the price for our sin. If we were to try to pay for our sins with our life, we would barely scratch the surface of the debt of offenses we have made against God. Only through Jesus, in giving His life, could we have forgiveness of our sins. Only Jesus could pay our debt in full. Jesus is the perfect lamb. The lamb without blemish or spot required by the law.
So, what are we doing here tonight? Why are we here? We are here to remember the greatest love ever known. The love of God for a wayward world. A world that was on the verge of destruction because of its slavery to sin. Then, at the right time, Jesus, the precious lamb of God, the Son of God, came into the world and willingly offered himself to die for you and for me so we could be set free from death, and given new life.
As was written in Exodus 12:13 applied to the people of Israel in Egypt, so now it applies to us. God says, “Now the blood shall be a sign for you…”
The blood of Jesus is a sign for us. A sign of God’s love, a sign of forgiveness, a sign that our debt to God is paid in full. By the blood of the lamb, the blood of Jesus, we are brought into a new relationship with God.
Tonight is important and special because of this: we are reminded of our worth by the great love shown to us by God, who created us in his image, and sent his only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, so that, by believing in him, we would not perish, but have everlasting life. Amen.