Ex.12 :2: "This month shall be unto you the beginning of
months." Here, in Jesus, was a new beginning in the redemptive work of God. And
so it is also for all who come within the scope of that redemption. Except they
make their baptism into Christ a genuine new beginning, their understanding of
life in Christ as "a new creature" is seriously defective. And should not one's
baptism, rather than the day of one's natural birth, be the anniversary to
Verse 3: "In the tenth day ... they shall take to them every
man a lamb." If was on this day, six days before the Passover celebration on the
15th Nisan (reckoned inclusively) that the anointing of Jesus took place at
Bethany (Jn.12 :1). There can be little doubt that Mary was consciously
identifying Jesus as the Lamb of sacrifice, She anointed his feet (Jn.12 :3) and
also his head (Mt.26 :7). This is the counterpart to Exodus 12 :9: "his head
with his legs." The comment of Jesus chimed in with this; "Against the day of my
burying hath she kept this" (Jn.12 :7). The verb here is not equivalent to
"saved this", but has the sense of keeping a commandment-the Passover
commandment of Exodus 12:3,9.
Verse 4: "Let him and his neighbour next unto his house take
it." The words emphasize fellowship, an aspect of redemption both essential and
inevitable: hence Paul's word "communion" (1 Cor.10:16).Then, in practice, ought
not a man to seek fellowship at his nearest ecclesia?
Verse 4: "Every man according to his eating"; i.e. enough and
to spare, and to each participant according to his individual 10. need. Even so
is Christ, at the Breaking of Bread.
Verse 5: "Without blemish". How many times did Pilate assert:
"I find no fault in him at all"? Yet more important, the Father's assessment of
this sacrifice was the same: "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who ...
offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to
serve the living God?" (Heb.9 :14). "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible
things, as silver and gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a
lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet.l :18,19; there are other Passover
allusions in this context).
Verse 5: "Ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the
goats." Jesus was himself one of "the flock"-he truly shared the nature of those
whom he died to save. And yet Jewish tradition has always insisted that the
Passover sacrifice be a lamb and not a kid. There is more fitness in this than
perhaps the Jews have realised.
Verse 6: "The fourteenth day ... in the evening." Jesus died
on the cross at the very time when the slaying of the Passover lambs began in
the temple court (Mk. 15:34). The phrase is literally, "between the two
evenings" (see margin), an expression traditionally interpreted as meaning
between the decline of the afternoon sun and its actual setting. This is
demonstrated to be correct by the pointed allusion to the two evenings in the
record of 15. the feeding of the five thousand at the preceding Passover (Mt:
Verse 6: "The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel
shall kill it." "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all;" 16. and
today "the whole assembly", and not just the more faithful members, should
gladly celebrate the fact.
Verse 7: "And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on
the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses." A public avowal of
faith in the redeeming power of the blood of the Lamb. That mark of the blood is
the equivalent of the Hebrew letter Cheth (Ps.119 :57), which also means "a
fence"; or else to the letter He~(119 :33), which is almost the divine name Yah.
And at Passover Jesus prayed: "Keep through thine own Name those
whom Thou hast given me"(Jn.17:11).
Verse 9: "Nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire."
When, at another Passover, Jesus cleansed the temple, "his disciples remembered
that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up" (Jn.2 :17).
Contrast the boiled or stewed sacrifices during the rest of Passover week (Dt.16
:7, where the RV has correctly: "seethe"). Thus is emphasized the difference in
degree of self-consecration of Jesus and of those redeemed by him.
Verse 8: "With unleavened bread." Originally a reminder of
Egyptian affliction (Dt.16:3), in the New Testament it is given a somewhat
different meaning: "Neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with
the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Cor.5 :7,8).
Verse 11: "Loins girded" etc. Interpreted by Peter as an eager
expectation of ultimate redemption in Christ (1 Pet.l:13). Cp: "Ye do shew forth
the Lord's death till he come."
Verse 12: "I will smite all the firstborn in the land of
Egypt." The reign of death over all who are not numbered among the Lord's
Verse 13: "When I see the blood, I will pass over you."
Observe that the blood must be there in fact. It was not sufficient to
believe that the blood was on the door! The bearing of this on Christian
baptism and on the indifference of certain evangelical contemporaries towards
that rite will be obvious.
Verse 14: "This day shall be unto you for a memorial." This
redemption was a vivid experience which must never grow dim in the memory. "Do
this in remembrance of me."
Verse 16: "No manner of work shall be done . . . save that
which every man must eat." A minimum of attention to worldly interests is proper
in those redeemed. There is here also an appropriate discouragement of
dependence upon one's own good works as a means of salvation: "For he that is
entered into his (God's) rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God
did from his" (Heb.4:10).
Verse 19: "No leaven in your houses." From time immemorial
this commandment has been generalised by the Jews to mean a complete
Spring-cleaning just before Passover. Accordingly, at the first and last
Passovers of his ministry Jesus did in his Father's House what all the Jews were
doing in their own houses (Jn.2 :13; Mk. 11:15). Today the counterpart in the
experience of the disciple is: "Let a man examine himself, and so let him
eat" (1 Cor. 11:28). "Whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul
shall be cut ,off from the congregation" is also interpreted by Paul: "He that
eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to
Verse 22: "Take a bunch of hyssop ... and dip it in the
blood." In Scripture hyssop is associated with cleansing from sin (Lev. 14:6;
Ps. 51:7). This must be the reason why John was careful to mention it in his
account of the crucifixion (Jn.19 :29).
Verse 22: "None of you shall go out at the door of his house
until the morning." The day-to-day meaning of these words '^'""' probably
is that there shall be no light- hearted abandonment of membership of God's
house: "Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of
the hope firm unto the end" (Heb.3 :6). But consider also: "Come, my people,
enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it
were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast" (Is.26 :20). The
basis of this prophecy is Hezekiah's Passover. Those who responded to his call,
and kept Passover in Jerusalem, were the only people in the Land safe from the
Assyrian invasion and from the storm and fire and destroying angel (ls.29 :5,6;
30 :30; and 37 :36) by which God brought deliverance. All of which is a figure
of a greater deliverance in the last day when "the Lord cometh out of his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity."
Verse 23: "The Lord will pass over the door." Not "pass by",
as is usually understood, but "hover over" in protection. Compare the use of the
same Hebrew word in Isaiah 31 :5: "As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts
defend Jerusalem . . . passing over he will preserve it"-Hezekiah's Passover,
once again! On the night of the first Passover when "the destroyer" went through
the land of Egypt, the houses of the twelve tribes of Israel were protected by
twelve legions of angels "passing over" them. Al another Passover, the same
angels were all on the alert, eager to protect the Son of God: "Put up thy sword
into his place ... thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he
shall even now (RV) give me more than twelve legions of angels?" Today those
angels minister to the new "Israel of God": "The angel of the Lod encampeth
round about them that fear him, and delivereth them" (Ps.34 :7). "Are they not
all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs ol
salvation?" (Heb.l :14).
Verse 23: "The Lord . . . will not suffer the destroyer to
come in unto your houses to smite you." Psalm 78 :49 RV has the phrase "angels
of evil." Thus there were, on duty in Egypt that night, angels with two
completely different assignments, all of them doing the will of God. The
same apparent "conflict" continues to this day in the experience of the saints
of God, and hence the problem of evil which continues as a problem to both men
and angels until the day when there is "peace in heaven, and glory in the
Verse 26: "Your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by
this service?" So it may be fairly confidently inferred what the boy Jesus was
asking the learned rabbis in his Father's house at his first full Passover
(Lk.2:46) and also the nature of their answer: verse 27. But it would be
interesting to know how they expounded this, under pressure of his further
questions. "And then shalt shew thy son in that day . . ." (Ex.13:8). It is to
this Haggadah (showing forth) that Paul alludes: "As often as ye eat this bread,
and drink this cup, ye do shew (RV: proclaim) the Lord's death till he
Verse 27: "It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s
passover"- until Jesus came this was the only sacrifice which had neither altar
nor priest. And, like his, it was three kinds of sacrifice in one:
a) in the sprinkling of the blood, a sin offering (v.22:
b) "roast with fire", a burnt-offering (v.8, 10);
c) in the eating of it, a peace-offering (v.8;
Yet although the Lamb was unique in those respects, it was to
be followed by other sacrifices (Num.28 :16-25)—the types of those who
seek to imitate the self-offering of Jesus (Rom.l2:1; Col. 1:24).
Verse 29: "All the firstborn in the land of Egypt." This
included even the Godfearing Egyptians who did not identify themselves fully
with Israel (Ex.9 :20). This also had its counterpart when Jesus died:
"Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your
children" (Lk.23 :28).
Verse 38: "A mixed multitude went up also with them," and
later helped forward Israel's apostasy (Num.11 :4). The New Testament likewise
speaks of wheat and tares, grain and chaff, sheep and goats, good fish and
Verse 42 RVm: "It is a night of watching unto the Lord", i.e.
a night of prayer, as the request of Jesus to his disciples in Gethsemane
plainly shows: "Tarry ye here, and watch with me" (Mt.26 :38). In Egypt Israel
prayed, doubtless, for the full accomplishment of their deliverance-even though
it had already been promised through Moses. In Gethsemane Jesus prayed
for a fit and proper attitude of mind to his own ordeal, so that he might be the
deliverer. In each instance the answer came almost immediately-to Israel, in the
slaying of the firstborn and the urgent thrusting out from Egypt; to Jesus, in
the appearance of an angel strengthening him. What would have been the
experience of the eleven, had they been persevering in prayer instead of heavy
with sleep? Today the disciple eats his Passover with prayer—but prayer
for what? and with what kind of ready response? If for Israel there was
immediate deliverance from bondage, cannot the same still be true, since this is
"for the remission of sins" (Mt.26 :28)?
Verse 45: "A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat
thereof." And "this Passover" is not for those who are "aliens from the
commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise"; but it is
for those whom Jesus calls "not servants, but . . . friends; for the servant
knoweth not what his lord doeth" (Eph.2:12;Jn.15:15).
Verse 46: "Thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh."
Here is explicit condemnation of the men who thought to enjoy God's highest
blessings to Israel whilst refusing to share fellowship with others similarly
blessed. Sharing the Lamb and yet not sharing one another's fellowship is a
hopeless contradiction. Dr. Thomas's famous phrase: "Breaking a factious loaf in
solitude." The apostle John put it thus: "Even now there are many antichrists .
. . They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us
they would have continued with us" (1 Jn.2 :18,19).
"Neither shall ye break a bone thereof." A further emphasis
that Christ is not divided. Any man so doing breaks God's law: "We are members
of his (Christ's) body, of his flesh and, of his bones" (Eph. 5:30). The
importance of this symbolism in the crucified body of Jesus is given special
prominence in John's narrative of the crucifixion: "The Jews therefore . . .
besought Pilate that their legs might be broken . . . Then came the soldiers,
and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not
his legs... For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled"
(Jn. 19:31-36). The words of the hymn: "Thy body broken for our sake", can be
misleading, except the word "broken" be mentally associated with the symbolic
Bread and not with the Body.
Verse 47: "All the congregation of Israel shall keep (i.e.
observe) it"-"not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner
of some is", not "counting the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was
sanctified, an unholy thing" (Heb.10 :25,29). These words may have been written
as an explicit allusion to misuse of or indifferece to the blood of the Passover
Verse 49: "One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto
the stranger." The benefits of this sacrifice are for Jew and Gentile alike, but
only on terms. The previous verse states what terms-that the Gentile first
become a Jew. And thus the blessing of redemption comes to the whole "Israel of
Ch.13 :5: "When the Lord shall bring thee into the land of the
Canaanites.. .which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee . .." So the first
Passover was also a prophecy of inheritance. "This Passover" also is a prophecy
of a yet better inheritance: "until it be fulfilled in the Kingdom of