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One Wednesday night a couple years ago, we were reading in our Bible the story of how God has rescued his people from the hands of the Egyptians by sending ten plagues. The last plague, the death of the firstborn, passed over the Israelites, because each household had slaughtered a lamb and put its blood on the doorposts of their home. When the destroyer visited Egypt that night, he saw the blood of the lamb, and did not come for theirs. Afterward, they would always remember that night, and celebrate their deliverance as the Passover.
When I tucked Caleb, my oldest, into bed after the story, he asked quietly, “Mommy, could we have a Passover sometime?”
I’m not always great with spontaneous plans, but his question seemed almost ordained. It was holy week. What better way to commemorate what Jesus had done than by sharing the same meal he shared with his disciples?
So I said, “Sure. How about we have one tomorrow?”
So on Thursday, we went to the store and bought costly lamb, bitter herbs, and whole wheat flour. We spent the rest of the day cooking and cleaning, making preparations for our Passover. The boys were so excited. We found a recipe for roast lamb and got it into the oven. They helped me make bread without yeast and pierce it full of holes. We mashed up potatoes and chopped some apples and raisins. We even painted sheets of paper red and taped them to the trim around our doors.
When it was ready, Jason and I sat down to eat our meal with these little disciples, just as Jesus had done with his on the Thursday of Easter week so many hundreds of years ago. We talked with them about what the elements of our meal meant to the Israelites, and what they meant to us as people who believed in and followed Jesus.
We talked about the covenant God made with Israel at Mt. Sinai, and the new covenant God made with us through the body and blood of Jesus. We ate the bread and drank the grape juice and proclaimed the death of our Lord together.
As I sat across the table from my Caleb, my firstborn son, I was overwhelmed by the weight of what God has done for us. I thought about all those Israelite mommas, sitting down to that first Passover dinner with their boys, and how thankful they must have been when their sons were spared from the plague.
And I thought about God in heaven, who did not spare his only son, but gave him up for us, to be sacrificed like a lamb.
It was such a meaningful evening for us, it has become a new tradition for our family. This year we made the same meal, and once again, we hung up strips of red paper on every doorway that led out of our home. I left them up all weekend.
I think the boys like seeing reminders of fun projects on display like that, but I love it even more for its constant reminder to me: the lamb died instead of us.
The lamb of God, God’s best priceless gift to us, was offered up for our sake. God’s judgment has passed over us, and he has made a way for us to leave the bondage of sin, and go to the glorious mountain where his presence dwells.
And as I sit here in the not-quite-light wee hours of Easter morning, I am reminded of one more amazing truth: the lamb that died, Jesus, could not be held by the cords of death. On a morning much like this one, a grieving momma who did watch her boy die went to tomb where he was buried, and heard the greatest news the world has ever been given: “He has risen! He is not here” (Mark 16:6).
The lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, is alive, forevermore.