The whole Exodus event begins with the 10th plague of the destruction of the Egyptian firstborns. Pharaoh has massacred the firstborn sons of the Hebrews, and now God reciprocates with the destruction of their firstborns as the Angel of Death passes over Egypt. In order to escape the destruction of the Angel of Death’s “Passover,” the Israelites are instructed to slay a Passover lamb, smear its blood on the doorposts of their house, and roast and eat its flesh that night. It is through the blood of the lamb on their door and eating its flesh that the Israelites are saved from the Angel of Destruction and death. The typology is clear. Christ is our Paschal Lamb who has been sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). His blood on the doorposts of our souls saves us from sin and death. Jesus is the male lamb without blemish (Exodus 12:5), who had no bones broken on the Cross (Exodus 12:46).
The Hebrews have to not only sacrifice the Passover lamb and apply its blood to their doorposts, but they are required to eat the flesh of the lamb that night (Exodus 12:8). Without eating the flesh of the lamb, the Passover sacrifice is not complete. If the Hebrews had to eat the flesh of the lamb, how much more so do Christians, of the greater and more glorious dispensation, have to eat the flesh of the true Lamb of God? Christ is the true Paschal Lamb of God; so, his flesh must be eaten. Jesus clearly teaches this in his Bread of Life discourse: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). This, of course, is fulfilled in Catholics eating and drinking Christ’s precious body and blood in the Eucharist. We continue to fulfill the new Paschal mystery by eating the flesh of the Lamb of God in the Eucharist.
There are other foreshadowings to Christ. The Passover lambs were reared in Bethlehem, the place of Christ’s birth, and then brought to Jerusalem for sacrifice, the place of Christ’s crucifixion. When the Passover lambs were prepared for sacrifice, they were, in effect, “crucified,” with skewers of pomegranate-wood thrust through them vertically while hung on a wooden stave across its shoulders. St. Justin Martyr witnessed this directly in the second century, “For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross.”
Similarly, the Israelites choose their Passover lambs on the 10th day of the month of Nisan and keep it until the 14th day, when it would be sacrificed. Christ rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan, Palm Sunday, when the Israel welcomed Jesus as her Messiah and King. It is over the next four days that Jesus is questioned vigorously by the Jewish higher authorities. Jesus is being inspected to look for any sin, just as the Passover lambs are being inspected for any spot or blemish. Christ is declared without sin and an acceptable sacrifice for the people, so on the 14th day of Nisan, his passion and crucifixion begins, just as the sacrifices of the Passover lambs commence throughout Jerusalem. The typology of the Passover lamb gives way to the reality of Christ’s passion and crucifixion.
Follow along as Brian Kranick shows how the miraculous in Exodus becomes the supernatural & sacramental in the New Covenant and the Catholic Church:
- Part I: From Exodus to Easter – Old Testament Typologies Reveal New Testament Realities
- Part II: From Exodus to Easter – Jesus, The New Moses
- Part III: From Exodus to Easter – The New Joshua
Brian Kranick is the author of Burning Bush, Burning Hearts: Exodus as Paradigm of the Gospel. He has a master’s degree in Systematic Theology from Christendom College and writes about theological issues at sacramentallife.com. He resides with his family in the Pacific Northwest.
Image Source: AB/Wikipedia