THE PASSOVER"It is the Lord's Passover." Exodus 12:11
These words send us back to the last night of Israel's bondage in the land of Egypt. The captives had suffered much and long. The iron furnace had been heated by unpitying hate and by unsparing hands. But God, in His high council, had decreed that a morn of deliverance should dawn. The appointed hour came. No power can now detain. Mad opposition becomes weak. The chosen people must go free.
Believer, stay your soul on the rock of the promises. They are as immovable as He who speaks them. At the set moment you shall march in triumph to your Canaan.
Let us, in thought, intermingle in the solemn scene. It was a night black in dismays, terrible in judgments, wild in affrights, keen in anguish. Throughout the whole of Egypt's empire every house was woe, every face was horror, every heart was misery. Death forced all doors. Each eldest child was a lifeless corpse. There was no exception. The monarch and the slave alike bewailed, in bitter cry, their first-born's sudden and untimely slaughter.
It was a night memorable, also, in sweet displays of tender love. Israel's favored sons were all assembled. But neither death nor fear was in their dwellings. They were equipped for departure from all cruelties and pains. They were feasting at a heaven-appointed table. They were rejoicing in a Gospel ordinance. They were partaking of a slain lamb. This exhibited, in loudly-speaking rites, all the certainties and all the mercies of spiritual redemption. They realized present escape. They looked forward to future safety. They had much in hand. They had more in view.
Reader! let us with joy join these joyous companies. And may the Christ-revealing Spirit show Christ to us, as the substance and truth and glory of the spread feast! God Himself selects the offering. His voice says, 'They shall take to them every man A LAMB.' Thus Jesus is appointed by heavenly wisdom to be the one redeeming sacrifice. An elected Savior is the strong foundation of salvation's pyramid. Blessed provision of our blessing God! Where could we turn, if bidden to find a guilt-removing victim? But grace meets every need. Hearken to the sure tidings, 'Behold my servant, whom I uphold—my elect, in whom my soul delights.'
Reader! God's only begotten Son is God's only appointed Redeemer. He only is called to bear His people's sins. For He alone can sustain such load. He alone is sent to make atonement. For He alone has worthy blood to shed. He alone is commissioned to bring in reconciliation. For He alone can covenant with God. Obey God—present Jesus in the arms of faith. Then your crimson stain is whiter than snow. Your soul is saved. Reject Him, and there remains no more sacrifice for sins.
The lamb must be a male of the earliest age—'Your lamb shall be a male of the first year.' These are signs of vigor in unbroken perfection. Truly He who is to save must be mighty in strength. For think what mighty hindrances oppose. Whose arm can hold back the descending arm of divine wrath? Whose shoulder can sustain the weight of countless sins? Whose force can close hell? Whose power can open heaven? Whose prowess can trample down satanic rage, satanic spirits, and satanic men? In none but Jesus can such sufficiency be found. In Him it abounds to the overflowing of almightiness. The Father's voice proclaims, 'I have laid help upon one that is mighty.' The pledge is given, 'He shall send them a Savior, and a great one.' The fulfillment is in Jesus, 'The great God and our Savior.' He is the Lamb in all the energy of perfect strength.
The Lamb must be without blemish—'Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year.' Jesus, while man below, was pure as God in heaven's brightness. Sin strove in vain to soil Him. Foul temptations thickly fell, but left Him spotless as the light of day. The Father's eye, which cannot look upon uncleanness, delighted in Him as the clear mirror of His own glory. In Him, human nature shone in the luster of divine holiness. In Him was sinlessness which could atone for sin. In Him was righteousness which satisfied the law.
The lamb must be 'set apart for four days.' Thus in heaven, through eternal days, Jehovah's eye inspected Jesus, as the fore-ordained expiation for the foreseen evil. Thus on earth, through the days preceding the cross, He was tested by every judge—and thus, universal consent crowned Him with the crown of untarnished blamelessness. Even Satan, speaking by blood-guilty lips, proclaimed that there was no fault in Him.
The lamb must be 'slain by the whole assembly of the congregation.' Not one voice was silent, when the dreadful cry went forth, 'Crucify Him, crucify Him.' Believer, not one sin of all your life was absent, when Jesus was dragged to the cross. All your transgressions strained the cords. They concurred to drive in the nails, and to make deep the wounds. Your iniquities brought in His death. His death brings in your life.
The 'blood must be sprinkled on the lintel, and on the doorposts of each dwelling.' The shed blood must be used. It must be openly exhibited as a distinguishing sign. If the destroyer finds the preserving mark, the foot of vengeance must pass over. If there be no shield of blood, the arrows of death must do their work.
Reader! the Gospel moves poor sinners to appropriating efforts. Christ is uplifted, that eyes may look to Him. He is an open refuge, that feet may fly to Him. His blood flowed, that it may be taken by the hand of faith. Do you live a blood-besprinkled life? Is your soul at all times fresh dripping from this stream? If so, you safely dwell beneath salvation's wings. Justice cannot drag you to execution. The curse cannot blight you. The law cannot condemn you. Vengeance cannot slay you. The blood upon you cries—Away! stand back! no foe can touch, where I protect. But are you thus marked as Christ's? If not, arise speedily and flee unto the wounded Lamb. The day is far spent: the night of ruin is at hand. The destroyer is at your heels. Each house unmarked was a house unspared. Each soul unwashed will be a soul undone. An applied remedy alone can heal.
Not one drop stained the floor. The blood of Jesus is the most precious thing in heaven and in earth. The Father honors it with all heaven's honors. The saints in light praise it with all heaven's praises. The saints on earth rejoice in it with all heart's rapture. Satan flees before it. Shall godless men treat it with rejecting scorn? Let them beware—on the heart it is a seal of life—beneath the feet it is the stamp of hell.
The flesh must be roasted with fire. We have here the keenest image of the keenest torture. The pain of pains is to be slowly devoured by the scorching flames. But this is a faint image of what Jesus verily endured. O my soul, deal closely with the sufferings of your suffering Lamb. Let the amazing facts be the very fibers of your constant thought. Daily visit the garden. Hourly study the cross. What is the sight, what are the sounds, which there confront you? The God-man Jesus lies crushed to the earth. He bends beneath a weight of woe. The saddest groans proclaim the writhings of a tortured soul. Each pore weeps blood. Agony could not more agonize. A piteous cry confesses that the black horrors of desertion blackened around Him. These marks of extremest anguish have clear meaning. The Passover Lamb is roasted with fire.
Believer, Jesus was tormented in your stead. All the wrath which all your sins deserved was outpoured on Him. The vengeance of God descended in all its fury on Him. The curse of the law exacted its utmost on Him. The flames of hell tightly grasped Him. He endured the very miseries which all His people must have endured if they had wailed forever in the lake of fire. Faith sees it and exclaims—I live, for Jesus died. I cannot suffer. Jesus has exhausted all. Wrath cannot touch me, because it has touched Him!
Each inhabitant of the house must feed upon the lamb. So every one who would be saved must verily partake of Christ. To hear of Him, to touch the emblems of His dying love, to know His merits, to commend His worth, will profit little. Faith takes Christ, Christ Himself, as its own. It makes Him the very juice and substance of the inner man. Jesus is the believer's never-ending banquet. He feasts on Christ now. He will feast with Christ forever.
A bone of the lamb may not be broken. Jesus indeed was harshly treated. But no wounds marred His bones. They weakened not the pillars of His strength. He lives all-vigorous in salvation's might. He stands the unbroken, the unblemished column of His people's hopes. The marvelous fulfillment, also, of this command, proves Jesus of Nazareth to be the true Passover of God. When the soldiers 'came to Jesus and saw that He was dead already, they broke not His legs.' The unwitting heathen unwittingly accomplished the Jewish type. Infidelity, what can you reply? Know, that as no ignorance is like yours, so no ruin will be like yours.
The lamb must be eaten with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. These requirements shadow out the combined graces of penitence and sincerity. Reader, do you boast of hope in Christ? It only dwells in a heart ground to powder under a sense of sin. Tears are the magnifying medium through which the cross attracts. Faith has no root in rocky soil. It only blossoms in the moist garden of a weeping spirit. They come in sorrow's sackcloth who receive Christ's justifying robe.
Do you boast that Christ is your feast? Where is your unleavened bread? Sin loved, sin cherished, sin retained, turns heaven's food into hell's poison. A searching eye comes in to see the guests. Leaven in their hands, leaven in their mouths, leaven in their hearts, is a fatal mark. They must go away to the cell of hypocrites.
The lamb must be eaten 'in the attitude of haste, and with equipment for departure.' The loins must be girded. The feet must be shod. The hands must hold the staff. Here is the believer waiting for his summons, with wings expanded towards his far-off home. Earth's ties are all severed. Anchors are weighed. The eye is strained for the signal, 'Come up here!' Reader, are you thus ready? It is miserable to have ought to do, when doing-time is past. He is a foolish servant who has to seek the key when his Lord knocks. He is a poor advocate, who has to find a plea when he is called to plead. When death comes, have nothing to do, but just to die.
Believer, may you hear, in these poor lines, the Spirit calling you to this Gospel feast. It is His voice, 'Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.' I deeply feel that without His light, His grace, His power, we cannot see or know or love or serve or glorify our Lord. But may He be pleased to open our eyes, that we may behold the rich plenteousness of our paschal-feast! May He show us the glories of Jesus, as the Lamb slain! May He enable us to receive Him as our All! May He fill our hearts with the longing prayer, 'Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.'
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