You know … when most people hear the phrase “The Passover Plot” they might remember the book written by Hugh Schoenfield in 1965 in which he attempted to consider whether Jesus only saw Himself as Messianic and not the God the Son who could redeem us from our sins. The answer to Dr. Schoenfield is … NO! But there was a plot afoot, a plot that had been “hatched” by God on that very first Passover night in approximately 1445 BC (I personally hold to an early date for the Exodus).
Now I know that some people do not think it is important as to when the Exodus happened, … but they would be wrong. It is so important that it could impact the inerrancy of Scripture. A view that I hold to with the utmost of passions. I believe that the Pharaoh of the Exodus time period was of the dynasty that replaced the Hyksos, Thutmose III. The Hyksos one could argue were the rulers of Egypt during the time of Joseph and would have had no compunction as to place an Israelite in such a position of power as they did. Therefore, and when the Hyksos were driven out, the Egyptian Pharaoh would have had no use for the history of this time or the leadership; thereby, giving us a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph. Now some of you are asking … who are the Hyksos. That little historical nugget will have to wait for another blog post.
Now … back to the point of this post. The first Passover occurred after the nine plagues did not result in freeing the Israelites from slavery. The tenth plague involved the death of the first born of all families who did not sacrifice a lamb and place the blood on the sides and over the doorpost of their homes. God himself, and not the “Death Angel” of Charlton Heston fame, passed through Egypt that night and smote all those who did not obey the commands of God. This first Passover required the sacrifice of the lamb or the death of those who disobeyed. Therefore, one might ask how this first night was a part of the “plot” of Jesus to become the redeemer/the sacrifice lamb for our sins.
It should be acknowledged that there elements of the modern Haggadah (Passover) are different than the first one with Moses or the Passover night before Jesus was crucified on the cross. However, there are basic elements which are timeless and that is the clue to the “Passover Plot” of Jesus. First, if you look at Matthew 26 and do some quick comparisons with Exodus 12, you will notice that there are three basic elements that were to observed throughout perpetuity – the sacrificial lamb, the bitter herbs, and the bread with no yeast (Matzah). The four cups of wine at Passover were added prior between the time of Ezra after the Babylonian Exile and before the birth of Jesus; therefore, they also play an important role in the story of “The Passover Plot” of Jesus.
First, the sacrificial lamb was required after the first Passover night and during the period of Solomon’s and Herod’s Temple to be sacrificed at the Temple. This became impossible after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 by the future Roman emperor Titus. However, this sacrifice of animals became eternally unnecessary after Jesus’ sacrifice as the sinless lamb of God was achieved after following the ordinance of Exodus 12 for He entered the city for inspection on the 10th of Nisan and he was crucified/sacrificed on the 14th of Nisan. This salvific plot older than time itself (see Ephesians 2) followed the most minute nuances of the first Passover night. It had to or there would have been no eternal hope for the Jewish people and all of humanity.
In fact, we can find Talmudic evidence for the requirement of a personal sacrifice for the people. The Midrash Rabbah – Exodus XXXV:4 – states:
4. Another explanation of AND THOU SHALT MAKE THE BOARDS FOR THE TABERNACLE. Why does it say FOR THE TABERNACLE? Should it not rather have said ‘ into a tabernacle ?2 R. Hoshaya said: Because the sanctuary stands as a pledge, so that if the enemies of Israel became deserving of destruction, it would be forfeit as a pledge. Moses said to God: Will not the time come when Israel shall have neither Tabernacle nor Temple? What will happen with them then? ‘ The divine reply was: ‘ I will then take one of their righteous men and retain him as a pledge on their behalf, in order that I may pardon all their sins. Thus too it says, And He hath slain all that were pleasant to the eye (Lam. II, 4).
Hmm… We have Jesus who realized all the elements of the first command of Passover and we have a possible Talmudic rationale for why it was necessary. The plot thickens and the other two Biblical elements and the added element during Jesus’ time will have to wait for another day and another blog post. Be on the look out for “The Passover Plot (Part Two)!”