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Preparing for Passover: A Seasonal and Yearlong Process

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Preparing for Passover

A Seasonal and Yearlong Process

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As participants in the New Covenant relationship with our heavenly Father, we recognize the central role that His Son and our Savior and coming King plays in each of the seven festivals. The symbolism of the Passover lamb slaughtered by the heads of household in ancient Israel is one of the most clearly understood and expounded ceremonies in the New Testament Scriptures.

Symbolism of Passover Lamb

The apostle Paul affirms the ongoing celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread for Christians and recites the understanding of the symbolism of the Passover lamb in 1 Corinthians 5:7 1 Corinthians 5:7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
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, "Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us."

The killing and shedding of the blood of the Passover lamb foreshadowed the death and shed blood of the Man prophesied to be born in Bethlehem and known as Jesus of Nazareth. Through His death and shed blood, human beings can receive redemption and forgiveness of sin (1 Peter 1:18-19 1 Peter 1:18-19 [18] For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; [19] But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
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; 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.
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). This powerful gift and accomplishment of Christ was possible because of who He was and how He lived His human life. The enormous price He paid was not for His sins, but for the sins of you and me and all mankind.

We in the Church of God do not celebrate as such the birth of Jesus, but we recognize the event as an intrinsic part of the process by which the Eternal, the Word of God, became a human being for the purpose of living a sinless life and then dying to become the Lamb of God and our Passover. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
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). "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, '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.
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). The Word surrendered His God-level position and eternal spirit existence and was killed and remained dead for three days and three nights to pay the eternal death penalty for our sins.

Christ Is a Sinless Passover and a Merciful High Priest for Sinners

Just as the Passover lamb killed in ancient Israel had to be without blemish (Exodus 12:5 Exodus 12:5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: you shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
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), so Christ was without the blemish of sin (1 Peter 1:19 1 Peter 1:19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
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; 2:22). The book of Hebrews reminds us of the sinless character of the Jesus, the Word made human. We are also given encouragement concerning His present position as our High Priest and Advocate. "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15 Hebrews 4:15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
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). "Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people" (Hebrews 2:17 Hebrews 2:17Why in all things it behooved him to be made like to his brothers, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
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).

Christ resisted sin and suffered as He struggled to keep in subjection the human side of His nature. Through this experience He was prepared to aid and help us who are struggling to do the same. "For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted" (Hebrews 2:18 Hebrews 2:18For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.
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).

Humble Repentance and Overcoming Sin Continues Yearlong and Lifelong

We humbly accept His gift of forgiveness and mercy with thankfulness and repentance. We value our cleansed condition by endeavoring to stay clean. We follow His example by dying to sins through repentance and baptism (1 Peter 2:21 1 Peter 2:21For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:
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, 24; Romans 6:3 Romans 6:3Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
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) and then rising from the dead figuratively to live in newness of life to practice righteousness (Romans 6:4-13 Romans 6:4-13 [4] Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. [5] For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: [6] Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin. [7] For he that is dead is freed from sin. [8] Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: [9] Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him. [10] For in that he died, he died to sin once: but in that he lives, he lives to God. [11] Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. [12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof. [13] Neither yield you your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin: but yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
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) and love God and live His commandments (1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
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).

When we realize why Christ died and how we are personally pardoned by His sacrifice, we need to have a humble and thankful response toward God and a merciful and forgiving response toward others. This attitude and approach is not one we have only at the Passover season but all year long and in fact all of our lives as imperfect human beings. The apostle Paul, as spiritually strong as he was, still acknowledged that he fell short in doing as he should (Romans 7:14-23 Romans 7:14-23 [14] For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. [15] For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. [16] If then I do that which I would not, I consent to the law that it is good. [17] Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. [18] For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. [19] For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. [20] Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. [21] I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. [22] For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: [23] But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
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). He then had to trust in Christ to deliver him from sin and its consequences (Romans 7:24-25 Romans 7:24-25 [24] O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? [25] I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
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).

We all fall short of God's perfect standards as we encounter temptations and challenges. We must be honest with ourselves throughout the year and admit and confess these lapses and sins. We don't wait until the Passover season to practice repentance and seek God's forgiveness and cleansing. We should deal with our sins and shortcomings in a timely manner—as we see them. Christ warns the churches in Revelation 2:5 Revelation 2:5Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, except you repent.
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, 16 that He will come quickly if they don't repent. This implies that they need to quickly turn from error and sin when they are confronted by it.

The apostle John gives us both a warning and great encouragement in dealing with our sins and mistakes. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:8-9 1 John 1:8-9 [8] If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
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).

Individual Repentance and Overcoming Unifies Body of Christ

With an attitude of humility and thankfulness and appreciation of God's mercy, we are expected to extend that to other members of Christ's Body, the Church. By walking in the light of God's Word, we set an example for others to encourage them. We all are brought closer to God and to one another. "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7 1 John 1:7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin.
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). We walk in the light by living by God's commandments and also by repenting and changing when we fail to.

Jesus expounded on this principle in His model prayer. Following His instruction to pray for our "daily" bread, He also instructed us to ask God to "forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" (Matthew 6:11-12 Matthew 6:11-12 [11] Give us this day our daily bread. [12] And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
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). Jesus reinforced this point in His next comments. "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15 Matthew 6:14-15 [14] For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: [15] But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
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).

The apostle Paul also instructed us in this important lesson that is a part of preparing for Passover. "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32 Ephesians 4:32And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.
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).

Paul addressed the serious mistake of observing Passover "in an unworthy manner." He encouraged the Corinthians and all of us to examine ourselves before we partake of the Passover symbols. We should review the importance of Christ's sacrifice just before the Passover season and also throughout the year. We both discern the pain that Christ suffered in His human body and also discern our relationship to His Body, the Church (1 Corinthians 11:27-29 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 [27] Why whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. [28] But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. [29] For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
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).

The preparation before the Passover season, when accompanied by a yearlong practice of humble repentance, is then a positive, unifying and encouraging experience that reminds us of God's mercy and His desire to prepare us as a body of believers for His Kingdom. We then partake of the Passover with joyful thanksgiving and love for one another. UN

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