These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons.…
Under this general title we include the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the offering of the firstfruits which was connected with it. The history of the institution is given in Exodus 12. That the Passover was a type of Christ is evident (see 1 Corinthians 5:6-8).
I. THE LAMB TYPIFIED HIS PERSON. (John 1:36.)
1. It was taken from the flock (Exodus 12:9).
(1) As it had been one with the flock, so was Jesus one with us. His humanity was no phantom, but a reality.
(2) What an honour is conferred upon us, that the God of glory should stoop to assume our nature, to become "bone of our bone"! Let us not dishonour ourselves by sinning against such grace.
2. It was a male of the first year.
(1) This was ordered because the male is the stronger animal, and was viewed as an emblem of excellence. Christ amongst men is the most excellent; "the fairest amongst ten thousand."
(2) Hence he is distinguished as "The Son of David," as "The Seed of Abraham," as "The Son of man." David had many sons, but in comparison with him they were nowhere; so he is the Son of David, the one glorious descendant who throws all others into the shade. So with the seed of Abraham. So with the sons of Adam. In the whole race there is no one to compare with him.
3. It was without blemish.
(1) The blemishes that would disqualify a Paschal lamb were physical, and so, abstractedly considered, of little account. But these blemishes were typical of moral evils, and in this view were very important.
(2) But Christ was, in the moral sense, absolutely blemishless. He was unique. Singular, however, not in eccentricity but in transcendent goodness. As under the microscope the works of God are seen to differ essentially from those of men, appearing more variously and wonderfully beautiful as they are more nearly examined under higher powers, so the more minutely Christ is considered the more wonderful and beautiful is he seen to be.
II. ITS SACRIFICE FORESHADOWED HIS PASSION,
1. The lamb suffered vicariously.
(1) When taken from the flock the rest of the flock was spared. So was Jesus chosen that by his suffering his nation and his race might not perish (see John 11:49-53).
(2) The blood of the lamb was sprinkled on the doorposts of the houses to avert the wrath of the destroying angel. The firstborn in every house was sacrificed where no vicarious blood appeared. So are we saved from wrath by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ through faith.
(3) Those saved from destruction through the blood of the lamb were immediately led out of Egypt, and set on their way to Canaan. So those justified through the blood of Christ are delivered also from the bondage of corruption, and set on their way to heaven.
2. Remarkable circumstances claim attention.
(1) The lamb was to be "of the first year," i.e., in its prime. So was Christ in the prime of his manhood when he was offered.
(2) It was to be offered "in the place which the Lord should choose" (Deuteronomy 16:5-7). That place was Jerusalem (2 Kings 21:7; Psalm 132:13, 14). There also "our Passover was sacrificed for us."
(3) "In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's Passover" (verse 5). Some think that our Lord, in accordance with the usage of the Karaites, or Seriptiarii, killed and ate the Passover a day earlier than the Pharisees, and that he expired on the cross at the time when the Traditionarii wore employed in killing their Paschal lambs (see Ikenii, 'Dissert. Theolog.,' tom. 2, chapters 9, 10, 11). Be this as it may, the word in the text translated "at even" is literally between the evenings; that is, between the chronological and ecclesiastical, which would be at the "ninth hour," or three p.m. This was the very hour at which Jesus expired (Luke 23:44-46).
(4) It was ordered that no bone of the Paschal lamb should be broken. And whereas the legs of the malefactors were broken, the soldiers, seeing that Jesus was dead already, brake not his legs (see John 19:31-36). Such things could not have been ordered by chance.
III. THE FEAST CORRESPONDED TO THE CHRISTIAN EUCHARIST.
1. The latter was accommodated to the former.
(1) This is evident from the history of the institution. For the cup of the Eucharist Christ used that cup of the Passover, which was called by the Jews the "cup of blessing," and which description Paul applies to the Christian cup (1 Corinthians 10:16). For the bread of the Supper he used that of the Passover (Luke 22:15-20).
(2) So when Paul speaks of Christ as "our Passover sacrificed for us," he adds, "let us keep the feast," meaning, allusively, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and really that which replaces it in the Church.
2. Both are retrospective and anticipative.
(1) The Hebrews commemorated the type, viz. the deliverance from the destroying angel and from Egypt. The Christians commemorate the antitype, viz. the deliverance of souls from the anger of God and from the tyranny of sin.
(2) The Hebrews anticipated their entrance into Canaan. The Christians anticipate the joys of heaven; the new wine of the kingdom.
3. Both are tokens of Church communion.
(1) The Passover was not the rite initiatory into the Church of Israel. Circumcision was that rite. To this, baptism, under the gospel, corresponds, and is therefore called the circumcision of Christianity (Colossians 2:11, 12).
(2) But it was the rite continuative of such communion. Exclusion from the Passover was excommunication under the Law. So is the Eucharist the sign amongst Christians of a continued Church communion. "On the morrow after the sabbath," viz. of the Paschal week, the sheaf of the firstfruits was waved before the Lord (verses 10, 11). This was a type of Christ in his resurrection as the Firstfruits of the great harvest (see 1 Corinthians 15:20-23). But when Christ died, the sabbath of the Paschal week happened upon the day in which he lay in the tomb (comp. John 19:31; Luke 6:1). Thus the morrow after this sabbath was precisely that first day of the week on which our Lord arose (Mark 16:9). How strengthening to faith are all these correspondences! - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.