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This Passover Discover the Messiah in Bible Prophecy

Yeshua appears to disciples on road to emmaeus, by James Tissot

Yeshua explains the Messianic prophecies about Himself to disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Painting by James Tissot)

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And . . . in my flesh shall I see God.”  (Job 19:25–26)

On Monday night, we celebrated the Passover Seder, recounting how the Angel of Death passed over the homes of the Israelites and all those in Egypt who applied the blood of the Passover lamb to their lintels and doorposts.

Two thousand years ago, 12 men celebrating the Passover Seder in Jerusalem were told by their rabbi and master, Yeshua (Jesus), that this would be their last Seder together.  He also explained that it had prophetic significance.

“When the hour came, Yeshua and His apostles reclined at the table.  And He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.’”  (Luke 22:14–16) 

Angel_of_Death_and_the_First_Passover

The Angel of Death and the First Passover, illustration from Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster, 1897

Despite this last breaking of unleavened bread and last sharing of the wine, Yeshua did not leave them without hope.  He emphasized the physical coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth and His return:

“After taking the cup, He gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you.  For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’  And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’  In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”  (Luke 22:17–20)

And so Yeshua taught His talmidim (disciples) that the Passover Seder was from that time on to be celebrated in remembrance of the sacrifice that He was to make of Himself in order to become an atonement for the sins of all mankind.

Passover, Pesach, Jewish holiday meal, Yeshua, talmidim

The Last Supper, by Jacopo Bassano

What Did Our Redeemer Do for Us?

“Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened.  For Messiah our Passover also has been sacrificed.’”  (1 Corinthians 5:7)

As the blood of the Passover Lamb spared firstborns from judgment in the form of the last of the ten plagues in Egypt, the blood of our Messiah spares Believers from the curse for disobeying the law.

The law says in Deuteronomy 27:26, “Cursed is anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.”  (see also Jeremiah 11:3 and Galatians 3:10)

The Messiah would redeem us from this curse:  legal punishment that involved being “cut off” from society either through death or banishment.

An example of such punishment is outlined for numerous sexual sins listed in Leviticus 18:  “Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people.”  (v. 29)

Indeed, no sacrifice could cover intentionally disobeying the law. Nor could its covering of sin extend into eternity. Only the Lamb of God could redeem humankind from the curse and the punishment of disobedience, as well as give eternal life.

White lamb, White Sheep

A spotless white lamb amid the sheep in Israel.

In 700 BC, the prophet Isaiah spoke of the fulfillment of Passover through the coming of the Passover Lamb, the Suffering Servant of God, who would become this curse for us and bear the sins of many:

“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by His wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  (Isaiah 53:5–6; see also Galatians 3:10, 13; 2 Corinthians 5:21)

But Isaiah 53 is not the only prophecy about Yeshua.  We can know that Yeshua was this Suffering Servant and took our death penalty upon Himself as our Passover Lamb by carefully reading Passover Scriptures that foreshadow Him:

Foreshadow:  Exodus 12:5 speaks of a spotless (unblemished) lamb to be used in the Seder.  Isaiah 53:11 further describes the coming Passover Lamb as being the “righteous servant.”

Fulfilled:  Paul tells us that “God made Him [Yeshua] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21)

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Foreshadow:  Exodus 12:22–23 describes how the blood of the lamb is used to cover the members of the household from judgment.  Isaiah 53:6 says Messiah bore the “iniquity of us all.”

Fulfilled:  Believers now “have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Yeshua, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body.”  (Hebrews 10:19–20)

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Foreshadow:  Exodus 12:6 says that the lamb is to be slaughtered between the evenings (sometimes translated twilight).

Fulfilled:  Matthew 27:45–46 describes how Yeshua hung on the tree from the 6th hour to the 9th hour, which is before evening fell.  It is the same time that the Passover lambs were being slain for the Passover Seder.

Passover, Pesach, Passover Lamb, Yeshua, Jesus

The Three Execution Stakes

Foreshadow:  Exodus 12:46 says that not a bone of the lamb is to be broken.

Fulfilled:  John 19:31–36 states that when the soldiers came to break the legs of those condemned to die on the Roman execution stake in order to hasten their death, Yeshua was already dead.  Not one of His bones was broken.

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Foreshadow:  Leviticus 23:5 says that Passover is to be celebrated on the 14th of Nissan at twilight.

Fulfilled:  Matthew 27:62 tells us that Yeshua died on the day of preparation for the Passover, which is Nissan 14.

When Yeshua became our Passover Lamb, He was cut off from the living for three days.

Because of this indescribable sacrifice on our behalf, Believers will be resurrected to be with Him on the last day, just as Martha proclaimed about her brother Lazarus, “I know He will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  (John 11:24) 

Resurrection of Lazarus, by James Tissot

Resurrection of Lazarus, by James Tissot

Yeshua Explains His Death and Resurrection During Passover

Some have argued that what was an apparent resurrection of Jesus’ body had been manufactured by the disciples in accordance with what they knew to be the Messianic prophecies.

But, in fact, they did not fully comprehend these prophecies until after the resurrection.  We can see this specifically in Luke’s account of the appearance of the Messiah on the road to Emmaus.  There on that road, Yeshua interpreted these prophetic writings to His disciples, saying:

“‘Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.”  (Luke 24:26–27)

Even though Yeshua’s talmidim had witnessed Him revive many people from the dead, no one had been resurrected from death to eternal life.  Still, the idea of resurrection of the dead was not new.  The prophets had already declared it:

Prophecy:  “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”  (Daniel 12:2)

Prophecy:  “Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise.  You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.”  (Isaiah 26:19)

Prophecy:  “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.”  (Psalm 16:10)

Even with all this prophetic teaching, it did not fully penetrate the hearts and minds of the talmidim.  After seeing the empty tomb, Peter “went away, wondering to himself what had happened.”  (Luke 24:12)

Christ with Disciples on the Road to Emmaus (c. 1655), by Rembrandt

Christ with Disciples on the Road to Emmaus (c. 1655), by Rembrandt

Perhaps Yeshua explained prophetic Scriptures to these men, such as these:

Prophecy:  The Messiah would be rejected:  “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.  Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.”  (Isaiah 53:3; see also Luke 17:25; 1 Peter 2:7)

Prophecy: The Messiah would bear the punishment and curse of sin under the law:  “For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people He was punished.”  (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 24:46; 1 Corinthians 15:3–4)

In being “cut off,” the Messiah would be found guilty of a capital offense, greatly afflicted, and executed as the law states:  “If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole….”  (Deuteronomy 21:22; see also Mark 15) 

Passover, Pesach, Crucifixion, Lots, Roman soldiers

The Garments Divided by Cast Lots, by James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum)

Prophecy:  His hands and feet would be pierced and lots would be cast for His garments:  “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.  All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.  They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.”  (Psalm 22:16–18; see also Luke 24:40; Matthew 27:35)

Prophecy:  The Messiah would pay the ransom price for our death due to sin:  “Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?  Shall I redeem them from death?  O Death, where are your thorns?  O Sheol, where is your sting?”  (Hosea 13:14; see also Mark 10:45)

Prophecy:  Messiah would be raised from the dead on the third day: “After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up.”  (Hosea 6:2; see also Mark 10:34; Acts 10:40)

Prophecy:  In His resurrection, Yeshua fulfilled the Feast of First Fruits held on Nissan 16:  “Messiah has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.”  (1 Corinthians 15:20–21; see also 1 Corinthians 15:20)

Though the disciples (talmidim) were familiar with the Scriptures, they did not yet connect the prophecies about the identity of the Messiah or His suffering and resurrection, even though Yeshua had prepared them for both when He told them:

“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law.  They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.  On the third day He will be raised to life!”  (Matthew 20:18–19; see also Mark 8:31)

Pesach, Passover, Thomas, disciples, talmidim

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, by Caravaggio

Yeshua also compared Himself with the prophet Jonah, saying, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”  (Matthew 12:40)

And, of course, there is the story of Thomas who when told by the others that they had seen the risen Messiah said,  “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”  (John 20:25) 

Once Yeshua explained the prophecies that foreshadowed His death and resurrection, the hearts of these two men burned; they hurried to the other disciples to proclaim,  “It is true! The Lord has risen.”  (Luke 24:32–34)

Similarly, when prophecies are presented and explained (as our Messianic Prophecy Bible will do) and hearts are open to receiving truth, the identity of the Messiah becomes clear.

Despite their new understanding of Messianic prophecy, the talmidim still would not be empowered to boldly proclaim that understanding until the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) some 50 days later.  On that day, the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) filled the disciples, empowering them with greater prophetic insight and knowledge.

Pentecost, Shavuot, Jerusalem, Peter

Peter Preaches to the Jews on Pentecost, by Arthur Dixon

On Shavuot, full of the Ruach, Peter explained to many hundreds of Jewish people how King David foresaw the Messiah’s victory over death through His resurrection:

“Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.  But he was a prophet. …  Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that He was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did His body see decay.

God has raised this Yeshua to life, and we are all witnesses of it.  Exalted to the right hand of God, He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”  (Acts 2:29–33; see Psalm 16:8–11 for David’s prophecy) 

David’s prophetic insight gives us all hope.  We, therefore, can proclaim in the words of Job:  “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.” (Job 19:25–26)

Because of God’s great plan of redemption as prophesied throughout Scriptures, Yeshua suffered for our sins and gained victory over both sin and death through His own death and resurrection.  Because of Him, we can enter into eternal life.

As a bridegroom prepares for the arrival of his bride, Yeshua is even now preparing for the arrival of every Believer — both Jew and Gentile — into a glorious eternity just as He promised us:

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.(John 14:2–3)

Come, Adon Yeshua. Come!

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