Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Exo 12:13
"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" (Exo 12:13).
As to the word for "passover", compare the "remission"/passing
over of sins: Rom 3:25. Literally, the Hebrew "pesach" means to "hover over", to
protect: the same word occurs in Isa 31:5; and the general idea comes in Psa
34:7; Heb 1:14.
"The term 'pesach' denotes the Passover offering and more
generally the feast centering on that sacrifice, which was eaten at night... The
word has been connected with a Hebrew verb meaning 'protect' (Isa 31:5) or
'limp' or 'skip' (2Sa 4:4; 1Ki 18:21,26)" (Anchor Bible Dictionary).
The Hebrew verb is a rare and tricky word, and "authorities"
come up with several different possibilities... but the idea of "hovering over,
or protecting" is supported by Isa 31:5, where the same verb occurs, and where
the context explains its meaning: "As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts
defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over (same
verb!) he will preserve it." (This is Jerusalem being defended from
The "birds flying" connects with the Passover angel (or
angels)... but the LORD is not "passing by" Jerusalem -- He is "defending" and
"delivering" and "preserving" it. It may be, in fact, that there were two very
different "Angels of the LORD" at work on Passover night in Egypt -- or better
yet, two "legions" of Angels! One Angel (and his "merry band"!) was the
"Destroying Angel". The other Angel (and his company) was the "Passover or
Hovering-Over Angel", if you will. While Angel No. 1's company went about
killing all the firstborn, Angel No. 2's company stood guard at the homes
sprinkled with the blood of the Passover lambs, and said, "No, not here! we
don't want your business. Keep on going!"
It's a little like the Persian laws in Esther: that is, the
first law decrees death for all Jews, which cannot be undone... but the second
decree gives them a way out! Here, in Exodus, the decree is: "Kill the
firstborn... everywhere"... but God's second law gives the way out: "... except
those who are sprinkled with the blood".
In the broader sense, this is really what mortality is all
about: "Death passes upon all men", BUT "... those who trust in the blood of
Christ are delivered from the otherwise-universal death!" The Passover picture
suggests the cherubim wings of God, as the One (through His angels?) who hovers
over His children... like a mother bird flutters over and protects and nurtures
The Psalms have some great passages along these lines: "under
the shadow of God's wings" -- a half dozen or so -- all employing the same
figure of speech (Psa 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7; 91:1). And Jesus employs the
same figure of speech also when he says to Jerusalem: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,
thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how
often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her
chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Mat 23:37). Words spoken by our
Savior on the very eve of Passover, and in the shadow of the cross!
Reading 2 - Psa 66:12
"We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place
of abundance" (Psa 66:12).
"Fire" is the pillar of fire in the wilderness, or the
"burning bush" (Exo 3:2) -- typifying Israel's experience of trials. "Water" is
the Red Sea and the Jordan River (v 6), the national "baptism" to which Israel
was submitted (1Co 10:1,2). Through these testings and trials, God brings His
people out of bondage and into a place of "abundance", or possibly "freedom."
This pictures the release of the Jews from bondage from Egypt. The KJV
translates "a wealthy place" -- perhaps with reference to the plunder of Egypt,
received as gifts by the Israelites, and the richness of the Land of Canaan --
which God had prepared for them.
Reading 3 - Mark 1:1
"The Gospel of Mark opens with the words: 'The beginning of
the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.' We do not notice the
concentrated wonder of the last three words, for we have heard them too often.
Why does it not strike us as astounding that God should have a Son? It did those
who first heard it. For the disciples of Jesus, it was the supreme confession of
faith -- 'Thou art the Son of God, Thou are the King of Israel', as another
Gospel records from an early disciple; for His enemies, it was the culminating
blasphemy, 'and they all condemned him to be worthy of death.'
"The whole Book vibrates with high excitement, supreme hope,
crashing despair, and sudden restoration. There is deep-rooted loyalty, black
treachery, stirring devotion, and revolting murder. We must recapture the
ability to respond to these movements if we would read the Bible as it is. We
cannot close our hearts. We must try to live in the events through which we
move" (Alfred Norris, "On Reading the Bible" 21,22).