Va’ah Yeshua ki heshiv b’khakh’mah v’amar lo: “eyn’kha rakhoq mimal’khut ha’Eloheim,” v’ish lo he’ez od lish’ol oto shum davar.
When Yeshua saw that he responded sensibly, he said to him, you are not far from the Kingdom of G-d. And after that, no one dared put to him another sh’eilah.
The question answered, no-one dared question Him again!
Yeshua was in the courts of the Beit Mikdash teaching in the manner of a Rabbi. It was the custom in the days of the Temple for rabbis to sit in the courts of the Beit Mikdash (the Temple) with their talmidim gathered around them, and teach. The people visiting the Temple would stop and listen. The more respected and famous rabbis would sit under the porch in the court of women. And it’s here that Yeshua would sit and teach.
But this day was something a little different. This coming Shabbat is known as Shabbat Gadol, the 12th of Nisan 5773. It is the Shabbat before Pesach which this year commences on Monday evening. Pesach is the time of remembering our deliverance from slavery in Mitzrayim (Egypt).
This is the feast of Redemption, the Redemption of the Jewish people from slavery to freedom.
The Exodus of our people is recorded in Sh’mot 12 – 14. And in chapter 12, we read…
“ADONAI spoke to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt; He said you are to begin your calendar with this month; it will be the first month of the year for you. Speak to all the assembly of Isra’el and say, on the tenth day of this month, each man is to take a lamb or kid for his family, one per household
except that if the household is too small for a whole lamb or kid, then he and his next door neighbour should share one, dividing it in proportion to the number of people eating it. Your animal must be without defect, a male in its first year, and you may choose it from either the sheep or the goats.”
The head of each family had to get a lamb or kid, one for each family. The word get was to mean ‘purchase’ if they did not have any themselves. So on that day, the 10th of Nisan, there would have been thousands of Hebrew men leading lambs through the streets to their homes. What is the significance of this? The lamb was an Egyptian god; it represented their pagan god, the ram Amun. And the Hebrews were leading them through the streets to their homes, to kill them and sacrifice them. They were to keep them in their home until the 14th of Nisan.
“You are to keep it until the fourteenth day of the month, and then the entire assembly of the community of Is’rael will slaughter it at dusk.”
It was to be kept, in the home, like a pet; they would become very familiar with it – perhaps even give it a name!
Then at dusk, on the 14th, they were to slaughter it, they had to take some of the blood, probably in a bowl and dip a bunch of hyssop into it, and smear the blood on the lintel above the door and on each of the doorposts. So that the L-rd would ‘pass-over’ their house when He was killing the firstborn in the houses and palaces of Mitzrayim.
They had to eat all of the lamb, nothing was to be left. If the family was small, they were to share it with another family. They were to eat it with matzah and maror. They had to eat it with their belt fastened and their shoes on their feet, and their staff in their hand. This was to be a perpetual regulation from generation to generation. This was Adonai’s Pesach.
When the Mishkan was erected and the Kohanim in place, each year the Kohen Gadol would also offer a lamb for sacrifice on behalf of all Yis’rael.
In the days of the Beit Mikdash, on the 10th of Nisan the Kohen Gadol would walk the short distance from Jerusalem to Bethlehem ‘habayit lekhem’ the house of bread, where the herds of sheep and goats were specially bred for the sacrifices in the Temple. The Kohen Gadol then led the lamb all the way back to the Temple Mount through the streets of Jerusalem; the people would come out to greet it. For four days the lamb would be tethered in the Beit Mikdash so the people could come and inspect it to see that it was unblemished and therefore worthy for sacrifice.
During the last week of His life, on the tenth of Aviv/Nisan, Yeshua sat upon the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem and wept over the city:
“As he came near and say the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from G-d.'” (Luke 19:41-44)
This particular day had been earmarked for one and one-half millennia by G-d for special happenings. The tenth of Aviv is the same day that in Egypt each household of Israel had taken a perfect male lamb without spot or blemish into their house. (Ex. 12.3)
In Exodus 12.2, G-d had required that a lamb be taken to each household on the tenth of Nisan. In fulfillment of this, the Messiah entered the city Himself on the tenth of Nisan. In Yochanan (John) 12.1, Yeshua comes to Bethany.
“Six days before the Passover Yeshua came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.” Yochanan (John) 12.1
Throughout the book of Yochanan, the “Passover” refers not to the fourteenth (the actual day of the Passover) but rather to the entire eight days of Passover and Hag haMatzah. Since the first day of Hag haMatzah, the fifteenth, is a Shabbaton (High Sabbath) this is generally considered the beginning of the Feast.
The Jewish historian, Josephus, also called the fifteenth the first day of Pesach.
Counting back six days before the fifteenth of Nisan, Yeshua must have arrived at the house of Lazarus on the ninth of the month. That night, which will be the tenth, a supper is prepared for Yeshua. This is probably the traditional meal concluding the Sabbath and inaugurating a new week. The following day, which is still the tenth, Yeshua enters the city and goes to the Temple, just as the lamb had been taken into the house in the Egyptian Pesach.
“The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Yeshua was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord the King of Israel!'” Yochanan (John) 12:12-13
On this day Yeshua looked down from the Mount of Olives, where there was a great procession of priests, musicians, singers, dancers and throngs of people heading from the east to Jerusalem and the Temple. They had the lamb that would be slain in the public sacrifice on the fourteenth. This lamb stood in the Temple for four days for all to see that he was indeed without spot. (Lk. 19.45-22.6; Jn. 12.12-50; Mk. 11.1-13.37; Mt. 21.1-26) As they entered the city, the crowds waved palm branches before the lamb and sang Psalm 118. As they entered the Temple area, they waved the branches to the six directions (north, south, east, west, up, and down) as they recited:
“Ana Adonai Hoshia-na, Ana Adonai Hoshia-na. Ana Adonai Hatzlicha-na, Ana Adonai Hatzlicah-na. Baruch Ha Ba B’Shem Adonai”
“Oh L-rd, please save us, Oh L-rd, please save us. Oh L-rd, send us prosperity, Oh L-rd, send us prosperity. Blessed is He that comes in the name of the L-rd.”
Yeshua descended the Mount of Olives, and followed the same route down which the lamb had just been led. The same crowds who waved the palm branches before the Pesach lamb met the Lamb of G-d who would take away their sins, and cried out:
“Hosha-na Baruch ha Ba B’Shem Adonai B’rucha Malchut David Avinu ha Ba-a B’Shem Adonai Hosha-na Ba-m’romim”
“Baruch Ha-Melech ha-Ba b’Shem Adonai Shalom ba-Shamayim v’Chavod Ba-M’romim”,
“Hosanna–Save us. Blessed is He that comes in the name of the L-rd! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the L-rd. Hosanna in the Highest!” “Blessed is the King that comes in the name of the L-rd Peace in Heaven and Glory in the Highest”
And as the Passover lamb stood for four days tethered in the Temple in public view, so Yeshua sat and taught in the Temple courtyard for all to examine. During this time, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and others asked Yeshua their hardest questions. Their purpose was to find fault in Him, but they could not. Indeed, He was without spot and blemish. (Mt. 22.15-33, )
What was He doing? He was associating Himself with the Pesach lamb! On the day the Pesach lamb was led through the streets, Yeshua chose to triumphantly enter Jerusalem, not on a great white stallion, but on a lowly donkey.
As the Pesach lamb was tethered in the Beit Mikdash, so all the people could examine it to see it was unblemished. So Yeshua placed Himself each day in the courts of the Beit Mikdash, so He too, at least His teachings could be examined. He was found to be faultless.
And in that same way, G-d set us apart from the very beginning and chose us to inherit eternal life. Then at an appointed time in history, Mashiach, our Pesach Lamb, died for our sins. Who we once were, was put to death in Him and who we now are – a new creation born from above – was risen in Mashiach (Romans 6: 1-6).
We are now called to be sanctified, or set apart for Him. So, we can see that our full redemption, deliverance, and sanctification, from the Exodus until today, is an outpouring of His mercy from beginning to the end.
As we together, set this moedim (appointed time) of the Pesach season aside, let us focus on Yeshua the true Pesach Lamb. The Lamb of G-d who takes away our sin. Our redeemer.