God spares Israel’s sons, not because they are better than Egypt’s sons, but because a spotless lamb dies in their place and its blood covers their door. Salvation through substitution. And, according to New Testament, the message of Passover is also the message of Good Friday.
This year the Jewish celebration of Passover will begin on Wednesday, April 8, two days before the Christian celebration of Good Friday. The proximity of these two religious holy days is nothing new. It reminds us that Jesus was crucified during Passover, and that as a Jew he had come to Jerusalem to celebrate it.
But is that just a coincidence? Did Jesus just happen to die during Passover?
The biblical answer is no. The reason he came to Jerusalem that final time wasn’t just to celebrate Passover, but to become our Passover. As the apostle Paul says plainly in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.”
But what does that mean?
To see the answer, we need to begin at Exodus 12, the story of the first Passover. There we’ll see why the Passover was necessary and what it meant. Having learned Passover’s meaning, we’ll then look at how Christ became our Passover.
Exodus 12 and the First Passover
The setting is Egypt, and the mood is chaos. Egypt has just been devastated by a series of nine plagues. And this isn’t just a string of tough luck—God is judging Egypt. More than that, God is keeping a promise (Ex. 2:23–25). He has sworn to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that their children would have the land of Canaan for an inheritance (Gen. 15:18–21), yet they’ve been stuck in Egypt for centuries. It’s time for God to get them out and bring them home.
But first, there is one last plague, the most severe of all. With all (or at least most) of the previous plagues, Israel has been exempted. Their cattle didn’t die (Ex. 9:6). Their crops weren’t hailed on (Ex. 9:26).