Jesus Christ was introduced by John the Baptist. When John baptized Jesus, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." When the Jewish person heard the word "lamb" he would immediately think of the Passover. A lamb without blemish was selected by each family, taken to their front door, slain, a hyssop branch was dipped in the blood, and the blood was painted on the crossbeam and both sides of the door. This symbolizes the cross.
This year Passover was celebrated on Thursday and Friday (April 13 and 14). Jesus was from the northern Jewish territory. These people used one calendar, while the religious leaders located around Jerusalem used a different calendar. The people in the north calculated that the Passover was Thursday, while those in the south calculated it was on Friday. We find Jesus saying on Thursday that He longed to eat that Passover with His disciples. He then spoke of the bread and the blood, knowing that He would be arrested, tried, and crucified the next day, Friday. As Jesus symbolically celebrated the Passover on Thursday, He was crucified on Friday at the same time the Passover lamb was slain in the temple. Jesus Christ, our Passover, slain for us.
Jesus and His disciples left a northern region, possibly Capernaum, and traveled south to Jerusalem for this Passover, as was the Jewish requirement for all males. Throughout the book of Luke we read that Jesus set out for this trip resolutely, pressing on, even walking ahead and leading the disciples to Jerusalem. The disciples did not understand what was about to happen, but Jesus certainly did. Luke 22:15 tells us that Jesus had long looked forward to this Passover meal. In Luke 18:31-34 we read that Jesus took time to prepare his disciples for this time, though they did not understand what He was saying. Like the disciples, we often fail to grasp what God is doing or wanting to do in our lives. This could be just another routine Resurrection Sunday for us, but it could also be the last Resurrection Sunday we ever celebrate together. We should live with this type of anticipation.
As Jesus and the disciples sat down to the Passover meal, they started with a prayer of thanksgiving. Be sure to thank God for His unfailing love during this season, because this is really what Good Friday is all about. Note that Jesus broke the unleavened bread. Leavening, or yeast, is symbolic of sin. Jesus broke the unleavened bread and said that it was His body. Sin, like yeast, spreads, expands, and affects everything around it. Hebrews 4 tells us that Jesus faced all of the temptations that we do, yet He did not sin. Just like the unleavened bread is without yeast, Jesus was without sin. Hebrews 7 says that He is holy, blameless, and unstained by sin.
Jesus then takes the cup of wine. Luke 22:20 tells us that the wine symbolizes Jesus blood and this concept takes us all the way back to the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sin entered into mankind, the leaves which they used to cover themselves were replaced with animal skins. These animals were slaughtered for the forgiveness of sin. There is a progression of this idea through the tabernacle and temple periods, as well. The idea of blood atonement is found throughout Scripture. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians that every time we partake of communion, we announce the Lord's death until He comes again. This time of year should be an important reminder of Christ's sacrifice and deliverance from sin in our personal lives.
In Mark 15 we are at the point where we must consider Jesus as the Lamb of God. Notice that He was selected to be sacrificed. Revelation 13:8 tells us that Jesus was the Lamb to be slain from the foundation of the world. God was not caught off guard that it was Jesus who would be sacrificed. But from an Earthly perspective, it was mankind who selected Him, and they did so in an unjust manner. At the core of sin is the act of the will upon a man or a woman to choose something for themselves over the things that Jesus would want for them. It's to choose others or things over God. The human selection of Jesus came by way of rejection. Fewer pains are greater than the pain of rejection. Rejection marked the beginning of Jesus suffering. He was rejected and selected for sacrifice generally by the crowd at the palace. Pilate, a powerful Roman leader, appealed to the crowd and asked them what he should do at this critical moment. The crowd's emotions rose to a fever pitch, sponsored by a satanic power. In Satan's mind, this was his finest moment.
Jesus was rejected and selected for sacrifice specifically by Pilate. Pilate serves as a type of "us" as individuals, a microcosm of our own decisions and choices with relation to Jesus Christ. Pilate had a reputation for giving in to the pressure of his peers, so the Jews knew they could force his hand. The predicament Pilate faced was who would he please, God or man.
After being selected for sacrifice, Jesus was prepared for sacrifice. First, Jesus was scourged, or brutally beaten with a barbed whip. Scourging results in a total shredding of the back. This was so graphic and so inappropriate. After the scourging, Pilate allowed the soldiers to play a mocking game with Jesus. Consider that when Jesus bore our sins, He did not do so only when He gave up His last breath and died, but He also bore our sins during this painful time beforehand. Isaiah 53:5 says that He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. Jesus suffered like this to show us how vile a sinner we can be. Given to our own devices, this is how we would react to a holy and perfect God. Also, this was Satan's hour. This is when he unleashed his greatest assault upon the only One who could bring about his destruction. Satan was really on the cusp of his greatest failure and defeat. Lastly, Jesus was bearing the punishment for sin, sin for all men for all time.
Jesus then endured the physical pain of crucifixion. This was absolutely agonizingly painful. Again, this was so graphic and so inappropriate. It was inappropriate that the perfect Lamb of God should suffer for our sin in the way that He did. Jesus' life on this earth was over in the ninth hour of that day. His body was taken down from the cross, wrapped in linen, and laid in a tomb.
We invite you to join us for our resurrection celebration on Easter Sunday morning to hear the rest of the story.