Referring to Christians, the apostle Paul said that Jesus is “our Passover.” What critical meaning should this have for you?
[Gary Petty] As a Christian, what does Passover mean to you?
Maybe you think of a Jewish ceremonial meal or the remarkable events of the first Passover recorded in the biblical book of Exodus. The story of millions of people painting blood on their doorposts to escape death and afterwards gathering their belongings and leaving Egypt—for the first time in their lives free from oppressive slavery.
But what meaning does the Passover have for a Christian?
More than you may think. Understanding the Passover message for Christians unlocks the answers to questions like. “Why don’t I feel forgiven by God?” and “Why can’t I seem to overcome my weaknesses and sins?”
Join us on Beyond Today to discover what God wants to do in your life by understanding “Christ Our Passover.”
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[Gary] We’re approaching the time of the year when Jewish people observe the Passover. Through rituals passed down for thousands of years, they commemorate the time when God supernaturally freed their ancestors from Egyptian slavery.
The Jewish Passover celebrates how their forefathers were instructed to kill a lamb and smear the blood on the doorposts of their houses. That night, God killed the firstborn of Egypt, but “passed over” the houses covered by the blood. This night has been celebrated ever since as the Passover.
As a Christian, you may see these Passover events as an encouraging story of how God intervenes in the history to take care of His people, but these events are more than a story of encouragement.
The Passover is a vital element of the Christian gospel.
Almost 1500 years after the first Passover, John the Baptist preached to the Jewish people that they needed to repent and be baptized. He told them of the coming Messiah. When Jesus, the prophesied Messiah, began His ministry, John told people, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 John 1:29The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.
American King James Version×).
Two critical points are made in this proclamation of John the Baptist. First, Jesus is the Lamb of God. Later, the apostle Paul calls Jesus “our Passover.” That’s right. The earliest Christians understood the Passover not only as a worship ceremony, but as a Person—the Person of Jesus Christ.
The second point made by John the Baptist is that Jesus “takes away the sin of the world.”
You know, the ancient Israelites could only be saved from God’s judgment by the blood of a lamb painted on their doorposts. The New Testament teaches that Jesus Christ is the definitive Passover Lamb. Only through His blood, shed as the substitute for what you and I actually deserve, can we be saved from the slavery and death caused by sin.
All Christian denominations teach that we can receive forgiveness from God because Jesus was a sacrifice for our sins. So why is it that so many Christians struggle with, “Why don’t I feel forgiven by God?” and “Why can’t I seem to overcome my weaknesses and sins?”
Well today, let’s look at two reasons why we struggle with these questions and how we can find answers in the Christian Passover.
Now the first reason is: You haven’t really forsaken sin.
It’s one thing to declare that you are a sinner and accept Jesus as your Savior. But is that all God requires of you?
There is an account of how Jesus was so busy teaching people about God that His mother, Mary and His own brothers couldn’t get through the crowd to talk with Him. When it was brought to His attention, He replied—now listen to this—“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:19-21 Luke 8:19-21  Then came to him his mother and his brothers, and could not come at him for the press.
 And it was told him by certain which said, Your mother and your brothers stand without, desiring to see you.
 And he answered and said to them, My mother and my brothers are these which hear the word of God, and do it.
American King James Version×, emphasis added).
On another occasion, a woman came to Jesus and loudly declared, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts which nursed you” (Luke 11:27 Luke 11:27And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said to him, Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts which you have sucked.
American King James Version×).
How do you think Jesus would reply to such wonderful praise of His mother? His response? “More than that,” He said, “blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28 Luke 11:28But he said, Yes rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
American King James Version×, emphasis added).
Jesus taught that His followers, those who are blessed by God, are obedient to the Word of God.
Now let’s go back to John the Baptist's declaration that Jesus is “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 John 1:29The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.
American King James Version×).
Sin is anything that goes against God’s Word—His instructions. Jesus said that those who do and keep the Word of God are blessed. Declaring to be a sinner and asking for forgiveness isn’t all that God requires of us.
Admitting that you are a sinner isn’t the same as forsaking sin. You know, a thief may know that robbing the convenience store is a sin and even claim that he is a sinner. But in continuing to rob, he stays a sinner. To forsake sin we must abandon it, denounce it and replace it with—according to Jesus—doing the Word of God.
It’s interesting to look at the story of the ancient Israelites after that first Passover. God saved them, and He led them through the Red Sea, gave them food and water and yet over and over they actually tried to return to Egypt. They found freedom, and taking responsibility for their freedom, too difficult. They preferred the security of slavery. You know, they really wanted God’s deliverance, but they weren’t willing to forsake their old life.
It was easier for God to get the slaves out of Egypt than it was to get Egypt out of the slaves.
And you know, it’s the same with us—let’s be honest. The reason we don’t want to forsake sin is because it’s rooted in our desires and emotions. God offers us forgiveness, but we remain emotionally enslaved to our own desires. We want God’s blessing. Oh, we even cry out with guilt when we commit sin, but if we haven’t forsaken sin, it’s because we still really, inside, desire sin.
Forsaking sin must touch the core of your being. You can’t say, “Oh, I won’t cheat my brother, but I cheat in business. I mean, business is business.” You must forsake all cheating. You can’t say, “Oh, I’ll not commit adultery, but you know, I look at porn because it doesn’t hurt anyone.” You must forsake all lust.
Forsaking sin involves a decision to humbly—and with a broken spirit—submit to the power of God. Only then will God heal your unstable and dysfunctional emotions and desires.
With God’s power, there can come a time in your life—you may not believe it, but it can happen—when you will look back at the person you were before God came into your life and you will be able to honestly say, “I’m not that person anymore.” That can only happen if you forsake sin and the desires for sin.
Forsaking sin involves forsaking yourself. The apostle Paul tells us, “present your bodies a living sacrifice…” Now what an oxymoron. What did the ancients do with a sacrifice? They killed it! Here Paul says that the followers of Christ are to be living by dying! He goes on to explain what he means by saying that we are to be, “holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable”—or rational—“service.” And to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2 Romans 12:1-2  I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
 And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version×).
To really accept Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God requires a radical change in your relationship with God and a radical change in your relationship to sin. It’s more than just admitting a few bad behaviors. The real power of Christianity—only happens in the lives of people who are humble and broken before the Great God. You must forsake your own desires and replace them with, what Paul calls “the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version×).
If you struggle with “Why don’t I feel forgiven by God?” and “Why can’t I seem to overcome my weaknesses and sins?”—maybe you haven’t actually forsaken sin.
Now, we’ll look at another reason we struggle with those two questions, but first, let me tell you about the free study guide that we’re giving away today and how it can help you understand the Christian Passover.
I encourage you to request a free copy of God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind. This easy-to-read guide will take you chronologically through God’s annual festivals, which are clearly described throughout the Bible. You may not realize the Christian and prophetic significance of these days, and how God designed them to reveal Himself and His plan for all of us.
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At the heart of the Christian Passover is the recognition of Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb. Just as the ancient Israelites were passed-over and spared God’s judgment by the blood of a lamb on their doorpost, so can the sacrificial blood of Christ free us from slavery and judgment.
So why is it that we struggle with “Why don’t I feel forgiven by God?” and “Why can’t I seem to overcome my weaknesses and sins?”
Now, we’ve talked about how sometimes it’s because we actually haven’t forsaken sin. Accepting that we’ve all done some bad things isn’t enough. We must have a broken spirit before God and a willingness to forsake not only sin, but the desires that drive us to sin. This is a lifelong process of struggling with sin and being—as Paul said—transformed by the power of God.
Now a second reason why Christians ask, “Why don’t I feel forgiven?” or “Why can’t I overcome?” is that you really haven’t accepted God’s forgiveness.
And this is a difficult concept, that you might be saying right now, “But I read the sinner's prayer,” or “I answered an altar call, and I accepted God’s forgiveness.” Think about it. How many times do you still say, “I don’t seem to have the power to conquer sin in my life”?
On the night before Jesus was crucified, He ate a Passover meal with His disciples. Now let’s look at what happened that night to explore what I mean by not accepting God’s forgiveness.
As the disciples sat down to eat the Passover with Jesus, He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15 Luke 22:15And he said to them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
American King James Version×).
He then broke bread and passed it around saying, “This is My body, which is given for you, do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19 Luke 22:19And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
American King James Version×). This wasn’t just any Passover service. Jesus knew that He was going to be sacrificed as the Passover Lamb and He told His disciples to continue to eat a Passover ceremony of broken bread in remembrance of Him.
After Jesus handed out the bread, He took a cup of wine and passed it around telling the disciples, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you...” (Luke 22:20 Luke 22:20Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
American King James Version×). Christ’s blood wasn’t just shed for those few people gathered with Him on that Passover night. The Bible shows that He died for all humanity. That means He died for you.
If Jesus, the Son of God, died for us and was resurrected to sit at the right hand of the Father, why don’t we have more power from God to experience His forgiveness and overcome sin?
You know, here is one trap people can fall into. They say something like, “Oh, I know God has forgiven me, I know Jesus died for me, but I just can’t forgive myself.”
Now think about that statement for a minute and consider what you’re saying.
The Creator of the Universe sent His Son to this earth, and that Son willingly sacrificed Himself for our sins, and was resurrected to the right hand of His Father. If in the face of that awesome reality, you can’t let go of your sins, then you have to ask yourself a question, “How much more does God actually have to do for you?”
The truth is, when you carry your sins around like a knapsack filled with rocks dragging you down, causing you to give up on God’s involvement in your life, then you haven’t really accepted God’s forgiveness.
Now I know that sounds harsh—but it’s true. When you can’t let go of your past and accept God’s love and comfort, then you are proclaiming that even God isn’t big enough to deal with your sins.
God is big enough to deal with your sins and my sins and the entire dysfunctional human condition. That’s the greatness of this!
Do you believe that enough to let go of your sins? You know, whether it’s holding onto the desires of sin and continuing to disobey God or refusing the comfort of God’s forgiveness, the real problem is an unwillingness to forsake sin—to give it up, to let it go and live in grateful submission to the God who freed you from death and bondage.
This can be a missing ingredient in a lot of people’s repentance. You can want God’s forgiveness, even proclaim that you are a sinner, but never really give up your sin. Because of this sort of “partial” repentance, you don’t experience God’s comfort of forgiveness or the power to actually overcome sin.
In a short time, Jews will be observing the Passover and most Christians will be celebrating Easter.
Why don’t most Christians observe the Passover at the same time and in the same manner as instructed by Jesus? Have you ever thought about that?
Jesus observed the Passover with His disciples. Jesus is the Passover—the Lamb of God. Shouldn’t we be following His example?
Instead Christianity substitutes a non-biblical celebration involving colored eggs and chocolate bunnies. What a poor substitute for following the Savior’s example of foot-washing, eating bread as a symbol of Christ’s broken body and drinking wine as a symbol of His blood—on the same night when He did it. It was on that Passover night that He commanded His disciples to do this—what did He say?—“in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19 Luke 22:19And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
American King James Version×, 1 Corinthians 11:24 1 Corinthians 11:24And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
American King James Version×).
How much more can we experience God’s power in releasing the shackles of sin and conquering the desires of sin, if we would obey the Passover Lamb by observing what He said to do at the time and in the manner He said to do it?
If this has piqued your interest; if you desire a greater understanding of God’s forgiveness and want God to break your bondage to sin, then I urge you to read about the Passover of Jesus Christ in the last chapters of all four Gospels and then order the free study guide we’re offering on today’s program.
The time is now to break the bonds of human tradition and seek Jesus Christ as the Passover and observe His sacrifice in the way He determines.
Let me remind you once again to request your free copy of our helpful Bible study aid, God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind. In this free study aid, you will learn how God has mapped out His plan of salvation through His Feast Days—so you can better understand your ultimate destiny.
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We’ve been discussing Christ our Passover. We’re now joined by fellow Beyond Today hosts, Darris McNeely and Steve Myers.
You know, a little earlier I talked about how Jesus is the Passover Lamb. Now, when you understand that and you look at the Passover of the Exodus that really ties those events together. It ties history together, doesn’t it?
[Steve] That’s one of the things I think people don’t recognize, all too often, is this connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament. So many of those aspects of the Exodus tie perfectly in and were symbolic of Jesus Christ—talk about the Lamb, talk about the sacrifice, talk about His blood that was shed for our sins. It’s undeniable those connections and how much deeper we can understand how much Christ died for us, how much God loves us and His purpose behind all of it.
[Darris] John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God” that “takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29 John 1:29The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.
American King James Version×). And that statement right there along with what Paul said about Christ being our Passover—which you were talking about—just ties it altogether beautifully to… The reality is, it’s right there to understand. You have to have both of the book ends to understand the complete picture. The Old Testament is incomplete without the New Testament. The New Testament cannot be fully understood without that predecessor of the Old Testament story and especially on this subject of the Passover, the role of the lamb and how Christ fulfilled that. It’s so very clear how this was tied together by the mind of God as He inspired the writers to bring this out.
[Gary] You know, we’re not too far away from the Easter season and most Christians will be observing Easter. Here on Beyond Today, we teach that Christians shouldn’t keep Easter but should observe a Christian Passover. What is the benefit of keeping a Christian Passover instead of Easter?
[Steve] I think the biggest benefit is you’re following what Christ taught. He said, remember me by this ceremony, by this service. And so, we’re keeping His commands. We’re keeping what He guided us to keep because there is tremendous spiritual significance in the Passover. And if you don’t keep the Passover, you’re going to miss it altogether. Christ desired to eat the Passover with His disciples and He said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” So if we don’t, how are we fulfilling what Christ would have us do?
[Darris] The Passover is explicitly what Christ said to do. And He even pointed to the time of His second coming when He would desire to do it again in His Kingdom when He would sit down with His disciples and do it then. So, when we do that today, we are following in those footsteps. The real benefit is that we are obeying what Christ taught us to do based on His example—and that is the only example that we can give. We cannot create out of thin cloth another festival like Easter to take the place of any part of what the Passover represents to us. And when we do that, we are following the example of Christ and we’re actually accomplishing the one scripture in Galatians 2 where Paul says that “...the life I now live… I live by the faith of the Son of God” in me (Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
American King James Version×). And we are letting Christ’s life then live through us as we do that, and it’s a marvelous practical example of following Paul’s teaching.
[Gary] What’s interesting—years later after Jesus’ death and resurrection, we find the apostle Paul writing to the church in Corinth about keeping the Passover on the night in which Jesus did. So that example is through the New Testament.
[Steve] He even says, you proclaim My death by doing this very thing. And so, why do something that isn’t found in the Bible, in that regard, and ignore something that Christ said we should do. It seems so clear.
[Gary] …since He is the Passover.
Maybe here in a little bit of time we have left, you can share how keeping a Christian Passover has helped you experience some of God’s forgiveness and power in your life.
[Darris] We take the Passover once a year on the anniversary of the night that Christ took it. And, leading up to it there are scriptures that are very clear to examine ourselves, and we take then the symbols of the bread and wine—the suffering and the actual shed blood of Jesus Christ. We wash each other’s feet as Christ did that night. For me, it has always been a very special evening that not only tells me my sins are forgiven—every day or when I do repent throughout the year—but that one night, you kind of walk out with a cleansed feeling. And I think that for me, it’s at time of renewal and refreshing and that’s what it really does mean to me.
[Gary] I can remember the first time I actually observed the Passover as an adult. And, as a child I used to watch people do it and I realized well, God forgives me. But the actual experience of knowing that Christ died and what He went through and you’re doing it, as you said, on the anniversary. Anniversaries are very important and on the anniversary of when He did it—and you’re commemorating what He did in remembrance of Him. I’ll just never forget the overwhelming attachment to God the Father and to Christ. And, that’s something that I’ve carried with me now, for decades.
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[Steve] Hi, I’m Steve Myers. I’m the pastor here at the United Church of God Cincinnati East congregation. I’d like to welcome you to come and join us on this great spiritual journey. We have hundreds of congregations around the United States and across the world. Click on the “Congregations” tab to find a church near you. We’re committed to growing in our relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ as well as fellowshipping with each other.
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[Gary] If you desire a greater understanding of God’s forgiveness and want God to break your bondage to sin, then I urge you to read about the Passover of Jesus Christ in the last chapters of all four Gospels in the New Testament and then order the free study guide we’ve been offering on today’s program.
The time is now to break the bonds of human tradition and seek Jesus Christ as the Passover and to observe His sacrifice in the way He determines.
Join us next week on Beyond Today as we continue to discover the gospel of the Kingdom. We also invite you to join us in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today I’m Gary Petty. Thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today’s program, go online to BeyondToday.tv. Please join us again next week on Beyond Today!