Significant Symbols

The Essential Jesus Day 11

Preview of a Savior: Significant Symbols

PRAY:  Father in heaven, as this new week begins, help me to be aware of your presence and hear your voice.  Amen

READ: Exodus 12:1-30

REFLECT: The Israelites have been slaves in Egypt for 430 years (Exodus 12:40).  They cried out to God for deliverance.  He heard them and sent Moses to tell the Pharaoh, “let my people go.”  But alas, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he refused to release them.  Each time he refused, God would send a plague upon Egypt.

In today’s reading, we learn about the tenth and final plague.  God sends the “destroyer” to kill the first born of both men and animals.  It is the day when God judges the gods of Egypt and punishes the people for their sinfulness. God warns the Israelites by telling them to sacrifice a lamb and “to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs” (Exodus 12:17).  The blood is a sign of their faithfulness and their identity as the people of God.  God promises to passover the houses that have the blood painted on the door frame, thus saving the lives of the first born within.  That’s why it’s called Passover!

The lamb and the blood of the lamb are significant symbols not just for the Jewish people but for us as well.  Remember, Jesus is Jewish!  In the New Testament, Jesus is called the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” by John the Baptist (John 1:29 and 36).  Why?

For starters, a lamb was commonly used as a sacrifice.  In the story of Abraham and Isaac, God provided a lamb for Abraham to sacrifice (Genesis 22:8, 13-14).  The lamb was used for the sin-offering in the daily sacrifices of Israel (Lev. 14:12–21).  There is a prophecy in Isaiah 53 that foretells the coming of the Messiah who is described as a sheep.  “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

And as we just read, the lamb was central to the story of Passover.  Jesus was arrested and put to death before sunset when Passover would begin.  He was sacrificed just like the lamb.  In fact, Paul specifically describes Jesus as the Passover lamb who has been sacrificed (1 Cor 5:7).  In Revelation he is called the “Lamb who was slain” (Rev 5:12).  By his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

Furthermore, the blood of the lamb painted on the sides and tops of the door frames saved the Israelites from death.  In the same way, the blood of Christ saves us.  Recall the words of Jesus on the night he was betrayed.  He took a cup of wine, gave thanks and gave it to the disciples to drink saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood given for you and for many for the forgiveness of sin.”  His blood saves you and restores your relationship with God (Romans 5:9).

But communion is more than a symbol!  You participate in Christ’s life and death every time you eat and drink.  Jesus gives you his “body and blood”—his very self—not just symbols.  This gift is given “for you”—not just to humanity in general, but to you.  Where there is forgiveness there is life and salvation.  Not that you won’t die, but death is not the end.  Through Christ you are given a new life—an abundant life now as well as the gift of eternal life.

The image of the lamb thus foreshadows the coming of Jesus who will fulfill God’s promises.  As with Abraham and Isaac, God provides a sacrifice in the form of his son.  Christ is the lamb of God who bears the curse of sin.  He gives us a new covenant and provides the gift of salvation for the whole world (John 3:16).

APPLY: How does the image of the Lamb of God help you understand who Jesus is and why he came?  How does this affect your understanding of communion?

PRAY: Jesus, thank you for giving your life for me.  Restore our relationship.  Forgive me for my hardened heart.  Give me a new heart that I may love you and glorify you.   Amen.

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