... For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 1 Cor 5:7
When the church was born in the first century and Christ’s disciples became known as Christians (Acts 11:26), it was still predominantly a Jewish affair. In fact, it’s obvious from the words and actions of the New Testament writers that their faith in Christ was not for them the beginning of a new religion, but the fulfillment of their long awaited Jewish hopes. Certainly they saw it as a new era, the Messianic era to be exact, but not a new faith. No, it was the fulfillment of the faith of their fathers, as foretold by the Hebrew Prophets.
Sadly, it didn’t take long for antisemitism to begin infecting the early church and it has been a blight on the church, tainting the truth of the gospel for the past two millennia, and at untold cost! The gospel was first for the Jew and then for us (Rom 1:16), and the church that Christ intended was never meant to be a gentile body, but the ultimate expression of Judaism into which the gentiles are the invited guests, foreigners to the commonwealth and wild olive branches. (Eph 2:12; Rom 11:17). Don’t misunderstand, I am not implying that we are second-class saints. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Gal 3:28), God’s grace places us all on an even playing field.
So, why the tirade you ask? What’s the big deal? Well to begin with, Jews have been persecuted in the name of Christ for the past two thousand years. A reality so tragic that I wouldn’t know how to begin to address its significance! But that’s a subject for another time. Today I want to focus on what we have lost in our understanding and appreciation of the gospel and the Lord Jesus when the church chose to deviate from its Hebrew roots. The Patriarchs, the Judges of Israel, the Hebrew Kings and Queens, God’s poets and prophets were all Jews, and more importantly our saviour was a Jew. He was the very King of the Jews! (Luke 23:3) Everything that has come to the church has come to us by way of the Jewish people and through the Jewish scriptures.
Today is Good Friday and we are in the Easter season. For the Christian this is the most holy of times. But, what if the church hadn’t chosen to discriminate against Israel and its people? Would we be calling this the Passover season? And would this have any bearing on our understanding of the gospel and true “Lamb of God”? I submit to you that it would. The antisemitic element that spread its seminal lies in the early days of church history has resulted in a ‘gentile’ understanding of scripture untethered from it’s moorings in the Torah and the Prophets.
Let me be clear. I am not trying to Judaize the church as much as I am trying to un-gentile-ize it. Gentile Christians are not Jews and I do not agree with the efforts of some to make gentiles act like Jews. The Apostle Paul dealt with this error in his letters leaving us with no excuse for such teaching. But, Jesus death and its blessed consequences were typified and prophesied in the Jewish writings of the Old Testament because God, (Jesus), revealed it to the Jewish people. To appreciate in any worthy measure the incomprehensible majesty of Christ and his gospel, we must embrace the bible and our faith in its true context. The context of Judaism.
In this blessed season, that context is revealed in part in the Passover story. In it we see Christ, the perfect sacrifice. We see his blood, the only efficacious defense in the face of God’s warranted and holy wrath. We see in Egypt a type of the world and we were its slaves. But through the blood of Christ we are not only spared from death, but we have been set free from the slavery to sin and the world. The death angel inevitably passes over all of humanity and all he looks for is the blood. Since the foundation of the world, there has only been one solution determined for our sinful condition. Christ and Christ crucified.(Rev 13:8) There has never been another plan. It has always been and only will be the blood! All citizens of Heaven will be blood bought. (1Pe: 18-20) The Hebrew slaves were not given a list of options they could choose from. God gave very specific instructions. It was blood or death! Beginning with that first Passover God revealed to mankind through the slaughter of untold numbers of animals and endless gallons of spilled blood, that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission for sin.”
Does this sound vulgar? It should. The slaughter of the innocents and their blood gushing from their veins to be painted and sprinkled on door posts and altars. The Son of God was crucified on Passover. He was beaten, bruised, whipped, punctured and nailed. He bled until he was empty of blood and then he was speared in the side and the water that had filled his lungs ran from his body. We civilized people would not have been able to look on this ‘vulgar’ scene. But we should. We should look long and hard. We should look until we are sickened by the pathetic image. And when we have become ill, we should continue to look. When we can no longer hold our gaze on Golgotha’s lifeless lamb, mercilessly maimed and disfigured. We should look upon him that once perfect lamb without defect now marred beyond recognition. We should see the five and a half litres of innocent blood that streamed down the cross and stained the soil beneath him, and realize that vulgar though it was, that the vulgarity is ours. This was the price paid for OUR sin.