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Union and Communion with Christ
II. THE JEWISH PASSOVER TYPICAL OF CHRIST.
“And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you,
What mean ye by this service? that ye shall say, It is the
sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover.” Exodus 12:26-27
It is hardly necessary for me, if speaking to you on the subject of the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, to observe, that the ordinance itself is a feast of commemoration upon a sacrifice; even of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The sacrifice was once offered by Christ, and but once; “for (as the Holy Ghost testifies) by that one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified,” (Heb. 10:14). But the feast of commemoration is to be often observed. At the institution of it, the Lord, thus commanded: “This do, in remembrance of me,” (Luke 22:19). And the Holy Ghost, by Paul, saith: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew forth the Lord’s death till he come.” Every renewed observance of the Lord’s Supper therefore is a feast of commemoration on that one glorious sacrifice; and is to be continued in the church of our most glorious Christ until his second coming. And who shall say, but what some of Christ’s redeemed ones may be found in the very act of commemoration at Christ’s coming?
I know not whether it hath ever struck you, but so it is: God the Holy Ghost evidently intended that the minds of the Lord’s people should be directed to the Lord himself, in every sacrifice and in every ordinance, whether sacramental or typical, from the first to the last, in all the institutions of holy services he appointed. If we look at the subject, from the first moment of sacred ordinances in the garden of Eden, as well as under the law, what was the whole substance of these shadowy representations but Christ? The first institution that we read of, after the fall, was the offering made by Abel and Cain. And the Holy Ghost was graciously pleased not to leave the very different offerings of these men to human conjecture, to form, opinions upon; but in infinite condescension explained them himself. For thus we read: “By faith, Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous; God testifying of his gifts; and by it, he being dead, yet speaketh,” (Heb. 11:4). What faith? Evidently faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, “the Lamb slain from, the foundation of the world,” (Rev. 13:8). The difference between Abel and Cain lay here (as I have elsewhere shown in my Poor Man’s Commentary on the Bible; Hebrews 11) Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain; for Abel had an eye, by faith, to Christ, the promised seed. Cain had none. Abel knew himself to be a sinner, sprung from the fallen race of Adam, and as such came with, the firstlings of his flock, in token of his conscious sin; and therefore desired, to represent by the blood of this sacrifice, that he founded his whole hopes of acceptance in the blood of Christ. Whereas Cain, in his offering, had respect to God only as a Creator; neither confessing himself as a sinner, or as one needing salvation: and as such, was the first deist the world ever knew. Hence it is said, that the Lord “had respect to Abel, and to his offering; but unto Cain and his offering he had not respect,” (Gen. 4:4-5). Hence also, though so many ages and generations have passed since those events took place, yet their testimony remains, and “Abel, though dead, yet speaketh.”
I pray you not to pass away from the contemplation of this subject, until that you have first considered the grace of God in this appointment to his church and people. As Jehovah in his trinity of persons, had fore-viewed the fall, and fore-appointed the Lamb to be slain, from the foundation of the world; what a very blessed method was this in our God, to teach his chosen ones, as, in the instance of Abel, to have recourse to those shadowy ordinances, by way of keeping alive in their minds Him, in his glorious person and salvation, who in the fulness of time would come “to do away sin by the sacrifice of himself?” What a wonderful plan in the stores of Omnipotency, to bring to view things so remote, and by faith in his people to realize and substantiate them, as if present! And what is the ordinance of the holy supper now but to the same effect? Do we not, to all intents and purposes, behold in the sacred elements Christ crucified; and spiritually eat the body and blood of Christ, as our bodies are refreshed by the bread and wine?
Among the several striking memorials under the Old Testament dispensation, to prefigure the striking events which would distinguish the person and work of our most glorious Christ, under the New, that of the Jewish Passover became eminently conspicuous; so much so, that the apostle Paul, taught by the Holy Ghost thus to interpret it, decidedly calls “Christ our Passover, sacrificed for us;” and adds, “therefore let us keep the feast,” (1 Cor. 5:7-8). And that Moses, the man of God, under whose ministry, by the Lord’s express commandment it was appointed, considered the whole as intended to set forth Christ, is evident from what is said of him in the book of the epistle to the Hebrews: “Through faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the first born should touch them,” (Heb. 11:28). Moses, and the whole band of heroes of the Old Testament church, which are spoken of with such illustrious testimony in this chapter, beheld by faith, the Lord Jesus Christ, in every service and sacrifice they offered. “Without shedding of blood there was no remission of sins.” And every one of them substantiated Christ in the shadow; and lived, and died, in the full assurance of faith; that “the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin,” (1 John 1:7).
In the further prosecution of this subject of the Jewish Passover, as one among the many interesting events in the Church of the Old Testament, which had respect also to the New; and which will form, under the teaching and unction of the Holy Ghost, a most suitable meditation, fox our present service, preparatory to the ordinance of the Holy Supper; I purpose to consider, in the fine point of view, somewhat more largely, the statement given in the sacred scriptures of the Jewish Passover itself. I shall then secondly, call upon you to observe with me, what a beautiful resemblance it had to the Person and work of Christ, the one only real and true Passover. And from both hope the Lord will be so eminently with us, by shining upon his holy word, and shining at the same time in our hearts, that in our drawing nigh to the Lord, in this gracious ordinance of his own appointing. We may discover that Christ is the very Paschal Lamb offered for us, and hath taken away our sin, by the sacrifice of himself: who by his death, hath destroyed death; and by his rising to life again, hath restored to us everlasting life: therefore with Angels, and all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify his glorious name; evermore praising and saying; Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts; heaven and earth, are full of thy glory! Glory be unto thee O Lord Most High. Amen.
I begin as I proposed, in the first place to consider somewhat more largely, the statement given in the Sacred Scriptures, of the Jewish Passover itself: It is worthy our closest observation, with what a vast apparatus, as well as a world of tenderness, our glorious Lord introduced this hallowed ordinance, and appointed it for the perpetual observance of his people, until the substance being come, the shadow might forever cease. It was the first of all the ordinances, which, when the Lord was forming his Church, he instituted by type and figure, to set forth that infinite redemption, to be accomplished in the after age of the Church, by the death of Christ. And so intent was the Lord upon it that in the very night of bringing his people out of the bondage of Egypt, though occupied, as we may well suppose they were, with numberless concerns, in the bustle of their departure; yet this holy service was first to be performed. They were to kill and eat the Passover as soldiers on a march; with “their loins girded, their shoes on their feet; their staff in their hand and to eat it in haste,” (Ex. 12:11). And Moses the man of God, when summing up the divine command, and assigning the reason, added, that the act itself was to set forth, that that very night, the Lord would pass through Egypt, and while delivering his people, would destroy Egypt; in their first born. “It is a night; (said he) to be much observed unto the Lord; for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel, in their generations,” (Ex. 12:42). And, my brother, pause over the relation of this wonderful event, and then say—if the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, became a subject worthy of perpetual observance unto all generations or Israel;’’ What ought to be the remembrance of the Lord’s people in all ages, of that Almighty deliverance, by the death of our most glorious Christ, from the everlasting bondage of sin, death, hell, and the grave, in the celebration of the Supper of the Lord! If such was the sacred regard observed to the shadow; what an holy attention may be supposed suitable to the substance? If a temporal salvation was so weighty, what must be the everlasting redemption, realized and completed as it is in the death of Christ, “our Passover, sacrificed for us?”
The several striking particulars, by which the Jewish Passover was to be observed, come next to be considered. “A Lamb without blemish, a male of the first year,” was to be set apart, for the purpose of this service. This lamb was to be taken out, “from the sheep, or from the goats.” It was to be kept up four days before it was slaughtered; namely, from the tenth day of the month, until the fourteenth day, of the same month. And in the evening of that day, the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel was then to kill it. And the blood was to be taken, and the two side posts of the houses, and on the upper doorpost of the houses wherein the Israelites were to eat it, was to be stricken therewith. And the flesh of the Lamb was to be eaten in that night by the people; “roast with fire, and unleavened bread, and with bitter herbs,” they were to eat it. Not to be eaten raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire: his head, with his legs, and with the appurtenance thereof. And nothing was to be let remain of it until the morning: and that which remained of it until the morning, they were to burn with fire. “And thus (said the Lord) shall ye eat it. With your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first born, in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token, upon the houses where ye are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye shall keep it a feast unto the Lord throughout your generations: ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. And it shall come to pass when your children shall say unto you, what mean you by this service? That ye shall say, it is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.”
So much in relation to the sacred history of this wonderful service. I call it wonderful, for in every sense of the word, we cannot but so consider it. For at a distance so remote, as the time of the Church then was, to the death of Christ; and that such a coincidence of circumstances should be brought together, and at the very hour the Church was forming, for the observance of statutes, and ordinances, to begin with this one, in which, as far as type and figure could go, almost every minute representation set forth Christ; is surely such a promulgation of the mind and will of God, on this momentous doctrine, redemption by the blood of the Lamb, as when compared with the thing itself, could only have been known, and in the appointment of Him, to whose comprehensive view, past, present, and future, form but one object. Hence, every redeemed, and regenerated child of God, is constrained to cry out in the contemplation, “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God,” (1 Cor. 1:24).
That Moses the minister in this Jewish dispensation, passed over the whole shadowy representation, and beheld Christ the sole substance of it, is expressly declared by God the Holy Ghost himself, as is shown by that scripture which hath been before quoted: “Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the first born should touch them,” (Heb. 11:28).
Let me now in the second place, as was proposed, call upon you to observe with me, what a beautiful resemblance this Jewish ordinance of the Passover had, yea, and in the most minute point, to the person and offering of Christ, the only real and true Passover sacrificed for us.
I begin with the first feature in this sacred ordinance, namely, of the Lamb. And as the Holy Ghost by Moses, opened the appointment of the service with stating, what was to form the basis of the Passover, in that of a “Lamb without blemish;” so must this be the first, and indeed substantially the whole, of our Gospel Ordinance, in the holy Supper. It is Christ himself in his own person. The one great and glorious object of faith is Christ’s person. Faith seizeth upon the person of our most glorious Christ. This is the object. And the one offering of Christ, in the sacrifice of himself; this is the subject. Hence, the Holy Ghost taught the church by Peter, to know her Lord under this distinguishing character. “Forasmuch as ye know (saith Peter) that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold from your vain conversation; (that is, including both the original birth sin of our fallen nature, and our actual transgressions the effects of that fallen nature) received by tradition from your fathers: But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb, without blemish and without spot,” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). A few scriptural views of our most glorious Christ on this ground, will be sufficient in point, for the establishment of this leading truth: and if the Lord the Spirit, enables our minds thus spiritually to behold him, it will blessedly prepare us, for the spiritual celebration of the Lord as our Passover, in this holy Supper. Now Christ is expressly said in scripture, to be “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” (Rev. 13:8). And nothing can be more certain, than that in the eternal purposes of Jehovah in his trinity of persons such was the decree in the council of peace. Hence Peter, on the day of Pentecost, under the immediate unction and teaching of God the Holy Ghost, thus expressed the glorious doctrine before the people of Israel. Speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, he said, “Him being delivered by the determinate council and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain,” (Acts 2:23). And hence also, as Christ was thus in the decree, and thus set up from everlasting; so in all the time state of the church, before the Son of God openly tabernacled in substance of our flesh, every sacrifice shadowed forth Him. The Lamb of the morning, and the Lamb of the evening, as well as the Lamb at the Passover, all referred to Him. Without Him the whole had no meaning. In Him every shadow became substantiated. And hence, through all the ages and generations of the church, the Holy Ghost, (if one may presume so to speak) delighted in glorifying our most glorious Christ, so to designate his divine person. The prophet Isaiah, looking forward unto gospel days, and under rich aboundings of the Spirit, beheld him by the eye of faith, going to his crucifixion; and described him under those endearing characters: “He is brought as a Lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth,” (Isa. 53:7). And the prophet John the Baptist, when Christ came, and went in and out before his people at Jerusalem, looked upon Jesus as he passed, and more than once spake of him in the same character. “Behold (said he) the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29-36). And to add no more; John, the beloved apostle, when in vision he saw the church surrounding the throne of God, gives this very blessed relation of it: “And I beheld, (said John) and lo, in the midst of the throne, and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain.” And he heard the song, and the very words which the church sung upon that occasion; “Thou art worthy (said they) to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and had redeemed us to God by thy blood,” (Rev. 5:6 to the end). And the same inspired apostle relates another similar vision which he saw of “the Lamb in the midst of the throne,” surrounded by the church, which had “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” (Rev. 7:9 to the end). My brother! are not these views of our most glorious Christ decidedly satisfactory and conclusive, to demonstrate that the Lamb in the Jewish Passover typified the Lamb of God? Surely every enlightened eye of the true Israel of God in that service, as well as Moses, “through faith kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood.” And is it not in the present hour, wholly with an eye to the Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world, that every redeemed and regenerated child of God, among the true Israel commemorate Christ’s death in the holy Supper? Doth not every one of his redeemed and regenerated ones behold him now with the eye of faith, as truly as John did then, in the midst of the throne, as a Lamb which had been slain, bearing on his glorified body the marks of our salvation? And is he in the midst of the throne? Surely, then, he is the Lord on his throne; accessible to his people in every direction; the centre of all fulness, all grace, and all glory; so that we may, at all times, and upon all occasions, come boldly unto him, “and find grace to help in all time of need.”
I pass on, secondly, to another feature in the Jewish Passover, in which our most glorious Christ was strikingly pictured; namely, in that the Lamb was separated from the flock, out of which he was taken, the tenth day of the month, until the fourteenth day of the same month, and then killed. It is hardly possible that any mere coincidence of common circumstances could have produced so exact an agreement between events so distant from each other as the Jewish Passover, and the sacrifice of Christ, had not a divine appointment been in it. But when we read this relation concerning Israel in the Passover, setting apart the Lamb, and connect with it that the Son of God in our nature entered Jerusalem four days before his sacrifice and death (John 12:1-22); when we read the direction given Israel for taking the Lamb “from the sheep, or from the goats;” and behold the Lamb of God, chosen from among the people, “a male of the first year,” and Christ in the strength of life; when we go on to contemplate other striking similarities, between the one and the other; namely, the Paschal Lamb of Israel, of the Old Testament, with Christ the very Paschal Lamb of the New, in the evening of the day, alike killed, and precisely at the same hour, even the ninth hour, corresponding to our three o’clock in the afternoon; and which bad been marked, all the way down to gospel times, as the hour of the evening sacrifice, by the express appointment of the Holy Ghost; (see Ezra 9:4-5; Psalm 141:2; Dan 9:21; Mark 15:25-34; Acts 3:1, etc.), when we behold the Lamb of the Passover roasted whole with fire; and with this, read the Evangelists in their relation of our most glorious Christ, the Lamb of God sustaining in his own person the fiery wrath due to his people, when enduring those agonies in the garden, and on the cross; when we observe the strict injunction given Israel, that not a bone of their Paschal Lamb was to be broken; and read in the gospel, that the Roman soldiers who attended the crucifixion of Christ, were restrained from breaking (as was usual in their executions of criminals), the bones of Christ, on purpose “that the scripture should be fulfilled;” (See John 19:32-36), when, I say, we take a comparative statement on these things of scripture with scripture; who but must be overwhelmed in the contemplation of the united view? and, under divine teaching, while pondering over Israel’s Passover, feel the same conclusion arising in our minds, as wrought upon the apostle Paul to say, as he did, “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us!” (1 Cor. 5:7).
But we must not stop here. While we behold so many corresponding features between the Passover of the Old dispensation and the New, in relation to the Person and Offering of our most glorious Christ the subject will yet be more abundantly striking in this particular, when we connect with it the church in her present interest, as set forth in the sacrifice of Christ, compared with what Israel were enjoined in the celebration of their Passover. The first thing which was done in the observance of the Jewish Passover, was “the sprinkling of the blood,” on the houses of the children of Israel, to distinguish them from the Egyptians. Such is the blessed property now. It is not enough to prefigure the death of Christ; the regenerated child of God commemorates his personal interest therein. Hence the church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven, are said to be come to Jesus, “the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling,” (Heb. 12:24). It is called speaking blood; for it speaketh to God, of the person and efficacy of the blood of Christ; and it speaketh from God, who is well pleased for Christ’s righteousness sake: and thereby confirms his everlasting cotenant. And being sprinkled upon the hearts and consciences of the Lord’s people, they are delivered from the wrath to come, and have “peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The next observance in the Jewish Passover was, namely, that the Lamb should be eaten; not simply looked upon, but eaten; yea, and wholly ate and none left. Such, but in an infinitely higher degree, even spiritually, is the Lamb of God in the gospel Passover. We receive Christ by faith: We Spiritually feed on his body broken, and his blood shed, the sole life and nourishment of our souls. Yea, Christ is wholly eaten. Nothing of Christ can be left uneaten. For every sinner who in himself wholly lost, needs a whole `Saviour to redeem him. The person, work, and grace of Christ, is one complete whole; and which every Sinner requires for his own personal salvation. And another distinguishing character in the Jewish Passover, is marked also in the Christian; namely, the whole congregation was alike to eat of it. And the same holds equally now. The spiritual participation of the body and blood of Christ is so essential to life in all the church, that the Lord Jesus said, “Except ye: eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood; ye have no life in you,” (John 6:53). Observe, I say, the spiritual participation of the body and blood of Christ. And this the ordinance of the holy Supper signified. Not the mere outward sign, but the inward receiving. For as the Lamb of the Jewish Passover was not to be eaten “raw nor sodden with water;” so neither in the Christian celebration of the Passover can Christ be received into a carnal, unregenerated heart. And as no leaven was to be seen in the houses of the Israelites at their feast; neither doth the Lord allow any leaven to be in the hearts of his people, at ours. And lastly, to add no more: as Israel were commanded to celebrate the Passover in the night of their departure from Egypt; so the true Israel of God now are supposed to be on the daily look out for their departure from the Egypt of this world, with “their loins girt, and their lights burning; and they themselves like unto men that wait their Lord’s return; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately,” (Luke 11:35-36).
And now, then in conclusion: if, in reference to the holy Supper of the Lord, I may venture to propose to you the same question as the Jewish children were supposed to ask their fathers, in allusion to the Passover; “What mean you by this service?” what will be your answer? They were taught by their parents the leading points of faith. Thou shalt say unto thy son, we were Pharaoh’s bondmen in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand,” (Deut. 6:21). But we may truly say, yea; and shall most assuredly say, if taught of God, we were bondmen not merely to Pharaoh, but to sin and Satan; to death and hell, and the grave. And the Lord our God hath brought us out; when, with his own right hand, and his holy arm, hath he gotten himself the victory,” (Ps. 98:1). In our approaching, therefore, the table of the Lord, to commemorate this mighty salvation, accomplished solely by the glorious person and the incommunicable work of our most glorious Christ; let each communicant see to it, that it is in his most holy name alone we draw nigh, and in his righteousness alone we trust. Everything of leaven was strictly commanded to be put away from the houses of Israel, when celebrating their Passover. And if the type admitted nothing to mingle with it; what a daring attempt must it be to add anything of ours to the substance! The whole, and sole cause of salvation, is in Christ. What, through grace, we bring in our renewed hearts, are but effects everything we have, and are, from the gifts and comforts of the Holy Ghost in believing, are what we receive, not what we give. And to substitute even the graces of the Holy Ghost in the place of Christ, or even with Christ, as part Saviour; is not making Christ what the scripture reveals him, all, and in all. In the Jewish Passover, it was neither the bars nor bolts of their houses from without, nor all the prayers or praises offered up within, that kept the people in security; but the blood sprinkled on the lintels and door-posts. And such can only become the salvation of the church now. “The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin.”
And if, under such impressions, the spiritual church of our most glorious Christ come to the Lord’s table, their enjoyment at the table will be spiritual; and their return from it no less spiritual. And when, at any time, if in your houses your children, like those Jewish children, should put the question, “What mean ye by this service?” Oh! what an edifying subject would arise therefrom, to unbosom the full flowing heart of the truly redeemed and regenerated believer, to impart every suited information to his little ones, as their tender years might be able to apprehend it. I have often figured to myself, the godly parents or masters of families, when encircled by their household, answering the enquiries of those around them, for whose everlasting welfare they cannot but be highly concerned; and even anticipating their questions in speaking of the Lord’s table, and of the Lord of the table, in all those endearments of his love, in the accomplishment of our salvation. Surely every such a circle, and family, hath the Lord with them: and even their common refreshments at their own table are in some measure made sacramental, in breaking of bread, and in prayer.”
I only add a prayer to the Great Master of the feast, on the present and every future occasion of commemorating Christ, our Passover, at his table, that his presence may be so eminently with the whole of his redeemed ones, as to enjoy spiritually, and scripturally, the manifestation of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to our persons, as we are in Christ; the sure testimony of our present interest in Christ, and the sure earnest of our everlasting union with. Christ to all eternity. Amen.
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