If you follow the Holy Week story down to its roots, you’ll find the Passover/Exodus story. It comes to us in the 12th chapter of the Book of Exodus. Following Moses’ failed attempts to convince Pharaoh to free the enslaved Hebrews, nine plagues were visited upon the Egyptians. God instructed His people to prepare for the 10th plague by selecting a lamb on the 10th day of the month, to pen it for four days, then butcher, prepare to eat, wipe the blood of the lamb on their doorpost, eat as a family in haste, gather their things, and prepare to leave. The term Passover itself refers to Death’s Angel that swept through Egypt that night. Wherever a home was found without blood there was a loss of life, but for the homes with blood, Death “passed over.” Early the following morning, all of Egypt rushed to get rid of the Hebrews, which led, of course, to what we refer to as the Exodus. Passover/Exodus is the most important story in the Israelite (Hebrew) narrative. It is, so to speak, the root of all other stories. The root grew and developed. Annually, the Passover event was celebrated by hundreds of thousands, even millions, of Hebrews around the world, but the biggest celebration was always in Jerusalem.
Holy week, the last week of the life of Jesus, takes on added meaning when we realize that it began on the 10th day of the month, that is four days before the celebration of Passover, with Jesus, as the Lamb of God, entering Jerusalem. On the 14th, Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples, at what we refer to as The Last Supper, where he indicated he was the Passover Lamb. That night he was arrested, tried and beaten. The next day his blood was wiped on the cross, the symbolic doorpost of the world. Jesus died, Death had its way, but… the power of God raised Jesus to life. Not only that, but the power of God will bring life to all who trust in the “blood on the doorpost.” Death no longer holds the ultimate power.
Jesus entered into Death to gain our Life.
Jesus Lost so we might Win.
Jesus became the Lamb for all of us.
What all of this means, among many, many other things, is that the cross and resurrection are the REAL Passover and Exodus story. For its one thing to be freed from an earthly tyrant, as the Hebrews were when they were freed from Pharaoh, but it’s another thing to be freed from our greatest enemy of all: Death. The first Passover got the people out of Egypt. The second, and REAL Passover provides away to get Egypt out of the people!
In the resurrection, the roots of Passover and Exodus grow and develop into a stunning tree, the beauty of which we will never stop enjoying.
(painting by Jean Hyppoclyte Flandrin)