Is Jesus the Passover Lamb? The Ultimate Sacrifice?
Introduction: Explaining the Jewish Significance and Christian Significance (and Teaching) of Passover.
The most significant theme of the Passover festival as celebrated by Christians is the representation of Jesus the Christ as the Passover Sacrifice (Korban Pesach). In simple terms, his sacrifice (read as: death) is seen as the sacrifice of all sacrifices through which their salvation was earned, mirroring the salvation of the Israelites from Pharaoh by YHWH (Cf. Leviticus 17:11, 1 Corinthians 5:7). Early and contemporary Christian Churches have attempted to equate the Korban Pesach with the alleged death of Jesus the Christ to establish a theological foundation for their doctrine of salvation (Cf. soteriology). Such a doctrine is best explained in the following words:
“The early Jewish believers in Jesus considered him the fulfillment of the Passover lambs that were yearly sacrificed. Thus Paul, a Jewish Christian who had studied under Rabbi Gamaliel, wrote, “Messiah, our pesach, has been sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). John in his gospel noted that Jesus died at the same time that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple (see John 19:14) and that like the Passover lambs, none of his bones were broken (the others being crucified had their leg bones broken by the Romans—John 19:32, 33, 36). The idea behind all this was that just as the Israelites were redeemed from Egyptian slavery by an unblemished lamb, now men could be freed from slavery to sin by the Messiah, the Lamb of God.”
Does Jesus Fulfill the Requirements of Being the Passover Sacrifice?
The Korban Pesach has numerous requirements to fulfill before it is accepted as such.
- It must be an animal, either a lamb or a goat. “The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.” as is stated in Exodus 12:5. To the contrary, Jesus was a male human, not a sheep or a goat.
- It must be a 1 year old animal (Cf. Exodus 12:5). Jesus was a 33 year old male.
- The blood of the sacrificed 1 year old male lamb or goat is to be placed on the doorframes of the houses where the animal was to be eaten, “Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.” as is stated in Exodus 12:7. Jesus’ blood was not used for this purpose (rather at all) and none of the disciples thought of doing this, thus demonstrating their belief that he was not the sacrificial 1 year old lamb or goat.
- The lamb or goat is to be roasted over a fire and consumed the night of Passover, “That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs.” as seen in Exodus 12:8-9. Jesus was never roasted over a fire. If he was seen as the sacrificial lamb or goat, he would have been roasted over a fire and consumed.
- Jesus had the Passover meal according to Matthew, Mark and Luke. If he had the Passover meal and ate the sacrificial lamb (which he commanded his followers to sacrifice and prepare for), then how could he be the sacrificial lamb!? This presents several problems. If Jesus intended to be the Passover Sacrifice, then how could he eat the Passover Sacrifice. Furthermore, this problem is exacerbated by the narration in the Gospel of John (Cf. Chapter 18) that Christ was ‘sacrificed’ the day before the day of Preparation! A clear anachronistic contradiction. In John’s version of the events, Christ is sacrificed the day before the Day of Preparation (Cf. John 19:31) which makes the sacrifice ineligible and unlawful according to the laws in Exodus 12.
- It is a festival for all times, never to be abrogated, forgotten or abandoned as we read in Exodus 12:14, “ “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.” and as is seen in Exodus 12:17, “Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.” Therefore there is no reason to believe that Jesus’ sacrifice (which has broken the criteria as given by YHWH) is the end all for all sacrifices when YHWH himself has not stated that belief in the Old Testament. This belief is further explained by Moses in Exodus 12:24-25, “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony.”
- Christians who celebrate Passover must be circumcised as YHWH himself has dictated in Exodus 12:48-49, “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.” Those Churches which celebrate Passover and are not circumcised are doing so in vain as they are in clear violation of an edict by YHWH.
From the Bible itself, we have seen that the current concept of Jesus the Messiah being represented as the Passover Lamb is not founded in the Mitzvot as given in the Old Testament. Christ fails every criteria to be considered the Passover Sacrifice, his disciples did not see him (as we see from their very actions) as the sacrifice for they even sacrificed a lamb for that day, from which Jesus himself ate! If Jesus is the Passover lamb, how can the sacrifice eat the sacrifice? Given all of this, another major problem exists, where Jesus was clearly not sacrificed for Passover in 3 of the 4 Gospel narratives, creating a significant anachronistic problem! One solution to the narrative in John was to suppose that John used a different calendar, or possibly they used the exception of the law concerning the timing of the feast as is found in Numbers 9:9-12 (however this contradicts Matthew 26:59-60 and Luke 23:4). One Christian website concedes to this difficulty :
“In conclusion we must say that we may not be able to determine the precise situation alluded to in John 18:28.”
Despite Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 5:7, we do not see any theological reasoning for the Messiah to qualify as, or replace the Passover Sacrificial Animal. No Old Testament reasoning is given and as we see in the New Testament itself, we also see no theological abrogation of laws by YHWH or Christ in relation to this sacrifice. Paul’s declaration of this is therefore uncalled for. In the numerous commentaries that I have examined, or for which you can examine yourself , they do not give any proper reasoning for this equivocation save for mimicking and repeating what Paul himself has said.
From what we have observed, researched and studied, the belief that Christ was a sacrifice for the purpose of salvation in the understanding that he was the Passover Sacrifice is Biblically unsound and absurd. Such a belief directly contradicts the clear and extant words as presented in the Old Testament. The 7 criteria outlined are simple enough to understand, but strong enough to dissuade any sapient person from falling into the eisegesis/ revisionism of Christ’s true identity.
Jesus’ sacrifice was symbolic of the lamb, not literal, therefore the laws of slaughtering the Passover lamb no longer applied to him.
If the sacrifice was symbolic, then so is the salvation. This argument moreso proves the invalidity and incoherence of the sacrificial lamb narrative.
 – “Why Jesus is our Passover Lamb“, Rich Robinson, Jews for Jesus/ CBN.
 – “Exodus 12:1-28“, Bible (NIV).
 – “Matthew 26:17“, “Mark 14:1-2“, “Luke 22:1-15“, Bible (NIV).
 – “Did Jesus Eat the Passover Supper?“, Christian Courier.
 – “1 Corinthians 5:7“, Commentaries: Matthew Henry, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown, Wesley’s Notes, People’s New Testament, GSB, etc.
Note: Original posted on March 27th, 2013 @ 12:04 PM.