With Easter now upon us, there will no doubt be the usual discussions/debates about what day was the crucifixion. Some want to make it on the Wednesday to accommodate the ‘sign of Jonah’ Matthew 12:30; therefore they insist that ‘three days and three nights’ mean exactly 72 hours in the tomb. However the majority of Scripture references to the Resurrection say it was on ‘the third day.’
There is one date that everyone overlooks but when you place this date correctly then all the other days of Easter fall naturally into place. That is the day of the choosing of the Lamb. To do that we need to go back to the very first Passover keeping in mind that it was God Himself who gave the instructions, knowing exactly what was going to happen all those hundreds of years later.
Most Christians understand that the Jewish Feast of Passover was fulfilled in Jesus, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. He fulfilled all the requirements down to the last detail. The instructions are found in Exodus 12.
“Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ’On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.’” Exodus 12:3
On what day did Israel choose the Lamb? It was the day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem riding a donkey to be acclaimed by the crowds as a king. When the Pharisees saw it they said “Master, rebuke your disciples.” Jesus told them that if the crowds were silent the stones would cry out. This was the day of the choosing of the Lamb, and nothing would stop it.
This is the day we celebrate as Palm Sunday. So since that day was the 10th (Nisan) as decreed by God, then we can place the events of that week accurately.
The Lamb was to be slain on the 14th (Exodus 12:6) which, counting from Sunday the 10th, would have been on Thursday. There were two Sabbaths that week – The day of Unleavened Bread which was kept as a Sabbath and the weekly Sabbath. Leaven is a type of sin. Jesus’ body bearing our sins went into the grave as this day began. The only thing that prevented the women going to the tomb earlier was the Sabbath restrictions. They rested on the next two days which would have been Friday and Saturday which brings us to Sunday ‘the third day.’ This was the Feast of Firstfruits when the first sheaf was reaped from the harvest. (Leviticus 23:10,14) Jesus rose on that day and became ‘the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep; ( 1 Corinthians 15:20) This was the beginning of a great harvest which has yet to be completed.
The lamb had to be a perfect lamb without any defect. Accordingly, Jesus presented Himself in the temple on the days preceding the crucifixion. There He was questioned by Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees and finally by the High Priest, King Herod and Pilate – every authority in the Land, and no one could fault Him. Finally Pilate declared “I find no fault in Him.” The Lamb was declared perfect.
“knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1Peter 1:18,19)
While every household had their Passover Lamb, there was also a lamb at the Temple. The lamb was tied to the altar at 9am and killed at 3pm – the hours Jesus was on the Cross. Before Jesus and His disciples left the Last Supper, they sang a hymn, very likely Ps 118 which was sung at Passover. It contains the words ‘Bind the sacrifice with cords to the altar” Jesus went out knowing that He was going to be bound to the altar of the Cross. When all was accomplished He cried “It is finished.” The veil in the temple was rent in two from top to bottom opening the way into the Presence of God.
Though the enemy thought he had put an end to Jesus, it was all according to plan. The blood of the Passover Lamb had secured the deliverance of God’s people from bondage in Egypt; the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, brings deliverance from bondage to sin and death in the kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan. From the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, flows ultimately the redemption of the world – surely something to celebrate.
While Christians may differ as to the day and date etc. it is what happened that we all celebrate. We all need to make a personal decision to choose the Lamb of God and we need to apply His blood over our lives
10th Nisan Sunday – the Lamb chosen (Palm Sunday)
14th Thursday – the Lamb slain. Passover
15th Friday - Jesus body committed to the tomb. Unleavened Bread
17th Sunday – Jesus rose from the grave. The Feast of Firstfruits.