PASSOVER IS FOR ALL PEOPLE by Keith Hunt At this time of the year the Jewish and Sabbath keeping Church of God communities turn their minds to TWO great historical events - both events provable by secular history and both recorded in the Bible. These two events were separated by approximately 1500 years; yet they are intricately tied together. The FIRST of these two great events to occur in world history was the coming of the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt. The phenomenal miracles and events as recorded in Exodus chapter 3 to 12 are also recorded in the secular history of Egypt and other nations who were witnesses to those events. The Jewish people themselves bear witness that those happenings did occur. The miracle which people remember most of all is the miraculous life preserving protection God gave to the Israelites on the 14th day of Abid, when He told them to kill LAMB (a male - without blemish), and smear the doorposts with its blood. When the death angel passed over that evening of the 14th those who were under the blood of the lamb were saved from death and miraculously brought out of bondage to serve God in a new life. As the Passover feast is celebrated, the Jewish people will look back to that event and give God praise and honor for His love, grace, and protection. The Sabbath observing Church of God communities will look back to the SECOND great event of this season - an event of about 2000 years ago, when a Jew by the name of Jesus observed His last Passover on this earth. The year was 30 A.D. (as proven by many historical facts), the 14th of the first month. That year it was from Tuesday evening to sunset Wednesday evening. As this day drew close, and came upon them, Jesus and His disciples prepared themselves to observe this Passover meal. As the meal was under way Jesus arose, took a basin and towel, and with humility washed the disciples' feet (John 13:4-5). He then told them He had set them an example that they should do and teach others to do as He had done (verses 14,15; Mat.28:19,20). Still later during that Passover meal, Jesus took a piece of unleavened bread - broke it - gave a portion to each disciple and told them to eat. It represented His broken physical body for our physical sins and sicknesses and healing (1 Cor.11:23-24; 1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:3-5). God is indeed our great physician. Next, He took the cup of the fruit of the vine, passed it out among them and told them to drink. It represented His blood, shed for the remission of spiritual sins (Mat.26:27,28). Peter, later - after his conversion and receiving of the Holy Spirit, knew that the Passover lamb given to Israel at the Exodus, the lamb without blemish, a male, whose blood was poured out - represented the true Lamb of God - Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18- 20). Christ did not abolish the Passover Feast. He fulfilled it, and changed the symbols for His followers from the physical lamb to the physical bread and wine. The Apostles and early New Testament church followed the example of Christ and continued to observe this Passover memorial feast. They now used bread and wine in place of the lamb during "THE memorial" (original Greek of 1 Cor.11:24,25) of Jesus' death. Paul, writing to the predominately Gentile church at Corinth, admonished them to continue keeping the Passover and Unleavened Bread feast with sincerity and truth (1 Cor.5:7,8). You see the Passover is not just for the Jewish people. It is for ALL PEOPLE! Because in Christ there is no more Jew or Gentile - all are ONE (Gal.3:28). The physical pain, torture, and suffering that Jesus went through on that fateful day of the 14th of the first month in 30 A.D. is seldom realized by most Christians. The pictures we see today of Jesus on the cross is SO FAR REMOVED from the reality it is like night from day. Jesus knew the prophecies in the Old Testament (Ps.22; Isa.53) about the suffering He must now contemplate was to come upon Him. He knew it was to be so terrible, brutish and agonizing, that He actually asked the Father THREE times to spare Him this torture (Mat.26:36-44). He was agonizing about this so much that some of His blood vessels broke and "His sweat became like great drops of blood falling upon the ground" (Luke 22:44 RSV). Medical science now knows this is quite possible, and have even given it a special scientific name. After Jesus was betrayed, they took Him to the High priest. There they SPAT upon Him in mocking furious anger. They blindfolded Him and STUCK Him. He could not prepare Himself for the blows. They came swiftly, suddenly, upon His head and face. Not being able to see them coming He could not move with the blows, but took them with full force. His already broken blood vessels from His agonizing prayers in Gethsemane made Him an easy victim for more broken facial skin. Then the husky powerful guards joined in with repeated blows to His body and head (Mark 14:65). The soldiers at one point clothed Him in purple, put a crown of thorns on His head, and mocked Him with caustic remarks, laughing at Him, spitting upon Him, bowing with hypocritical worship before Him. They even took reeds of some kind and, with the crown of thorns still upon Him, beat Him over the head, the razor like thorns plunging into His skull like dozens of needles (Mark 15:16-20). Pilate the governor could not persuade the people that Jesus was innocent of any wrong doing. They wanted Him crucified. Pilate finally consented to their desires. It is written: "and having SCOURGED Jesus, delivered Him to be crucified" (Mat.27:26 RSV). The scourging of the Romans was, in itself, a monstrous action. The scourge was made of cords or thongs of leather or ox-hide, the sort with which slaves were beaten. They were knotted with bones or circles of bronze. Sometimes the thongs terminated in hooks, which would tear and strip the skin from the bones. There was no legal limit to the number of blows to be given. and the victim was often beaten mercilessly. Death was often the result from this scourging (see Manner and Customs of the Bible, by Freeman, page 392, old edition). Christ was scourged with the slaves' scourge, as the prophecy in Ps.22 says: "I may tell all my bones." Jesus had His skin torn from His bones after repeated lashes to His back, sides, and around to His chest. After this horrendous beating, they led Him away. His upper body and head a bloody mess of broken and hanging flesh, with many bones of His body exposed. So weakened from this torture He was not able to carry His cross to the place of crucifixion, but they had to find another to carry it (Mark 15:21). Jesus was taken to Golgotha and was there crucified. Crucifixion was the most shameful and degrading of punishments. Reserved by the Romans for the foulest of criminals. From the book "Bible Manners and Customs" we learn that the upright beam of the cross had a projected wooden peg. The condemned man was first stripped of his clothes, then fastened to the cross by iron spikes driven through the hands and feet. He sat on the middle bar or horn and was in this situation left to linger until death slowly came - usually in two or three days. But Jesus died in a matter of HOURS. He was nailed there with His body already so marred as to be unrecognizable (Isa.52:14). Many bones were out of joint, and plainly visible, skin hanging loose or torn away completely (Ps.22:1,14-17). Christ died quickly because of one event that has been missed by nearly all modern translators of the Gospels. Only a few translators (Fenton and Moffat, to name two) have preserved the text as given in the original Greek. Matthew 27:49 should read: "But the others called out 'Let him alone, let us see whether Elijah will come and save Him.' But ANOTHER TAKING A SPEAR, PIERCED HIS SIDE, when blood and water came out." Yes, a Roman soldier finally plunged a spear into the side of Christ, drawing it out and shedding the remaining blood of Jesus to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah 53:11,12. He then cried with a loud voice and died. Later after Jesus was resurrected and appeared to doubting Thomas, Jesus told him to place his hand into His side, into the hole where they knew the soldier had struck Jesus with the spear and killed Him. Jesus knew this would be proof for Thomas that He was indeed raised from the dead. Jesus was slain, put to death with a final spear to His side. And his blood was shed for the sins of the world. The Passover Lamb was slain. The sacrifice for the sins of the whole world was completed. The Old and the New Passover had met. Deliverance from bondage was secured. God had given the GREATEST PASSOVER ever to mankind. The Lamb that could take away the sins of all people. "For even Christ OUR PASSOVER IS SACRIFICED FOR US. Therefore, let us KEEP THE FEAST......" (1 Cor.5:7,8). Truly, God has given the Passover for ALL PEOPLES - for me and for YOU! ...........................