Reflecting on Christ as the Passover Lamb

April 5, 2012

*Music links updated 2014*

art credit: Francisco de Zurbarán. “Agnus Dei” found at StevenSizer.com

***

Earlier this Lent, I came across two posts at the King’s English blog which I highly recommend as aids for reflecting on the Passover symbolism and the Exodus and their meaning for those who believe in Christ, our Passover, the Sacrifice Lamb:

Passover: I HIGHLY recommend reading it all!  But here’s an excerpt:

It’s not about the LORD inspecting each household to see whether it’s up to scratch.  It’s onlyabout whether the household is sheltering under the blood.  That is the only issue.

And it’s not even about how much faith you have in the blood.  If the blood is applied at all, you’re saved.  Strong faith in the blood and wavering faith in the blood lead to exactly the same outcome.  Because it’s not the faith in the blood that saves.  It’s the blood.

Do we see how Passover teaches us about our Christian lives?  Christ is our Lamb.  And His death on the cross was the true Passover – a plague of judgement that provides salvation for all who shelter under Him.

Therefore our salvation is entirely down to Him.  It’s not about the quality of our living, speaking, acting, praying.  It’s not even about the quality of  our own faith.  It’s only about the blood.  It’s the quality of His death, not the quality of our life.  Our salvation has nothing to do with our performance and everything to do with His performance.

Passover takes our eyes off our sins and off ourselves.  Our salvation is entirely outside ourselves.  It’s all about Jesus our Lamb.

Red Sea - An excerpt:

If you’re saved from judgement by Jesus’ sacrifice, won’t you just keep on wallowing in sin?  Doesn’t the cross mean that Christians will be complacent about sin and go on indulging in it?”

Actually the opposite is true.  Jesus doesn’t save us for sin, He saves us from sin.  And here’s how.  He doesn’t just die for us, He also rises to new life for us.

Or to put it in Exodus terms.  We don’t just enjoy a Passover, we also experience a Red Sea.  We’re not just sheltered under the blood of the Lamb, we’re also brought out of the land of slavery.

Those who benefited from the sacrificial lamb were also those who left Egypt.

And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover.  (Exodus 12:11)

The lamb was not given so that God’s people could enjoy Egypt.  It was given to bring them out.  Any who said ‘Yes’ to the substitutionary sacrifice were also saying ‘No’ to the old life.

***

Worship Music:

The Sacrifice Lamb, (by Lamb, from the 1995 album Lamb Favorites)

(There should be an embedded audio file and play arrow above, sometimes WordPress is being balky with embedded music.  If the song does not show up or does not play, there is a YouTube version here.)


Holy Tuesday Reflection: Mary’s Act of Devotion, Faith and Love

April 3, 2012

Music links updated 2014

[I know the story of Mary anointing Jesus' feet with perfume is not included in this year's lectionary for Holy Week, which is based on Mark, but it's something that's been on my heart to write about...]

***

Yesterday’s Holy Week reflection at Barnstorming about Mary washing Jesus’ feet struck me quite strongly – the contrast between Mary’s belief in Christ’s prediction of His suffering and death and the disciples’ denial. 

Mary ACTED on her belief in Christ’s words and teaching.  The whole post is worth reading as it challenges us: what would faith lived out look like in our lives – how are we being called to serve and sacrifice?  What can we do out of love for Jesus today?

Here’s an excerpt which highlights the parallels between Mary actions and love and Christ’s actions throughout Holy Week:

Mary acts out of faith even when she confronts a painful reality–she acknowledges Jesus’ predictions of His death and burial–she believes what His disciples refused to hear.

Jesus prays a few days later to have the reality of suffering lifted from Him, but in obedience, He perseveres out of faith and love for the Father.

Mary acts out of her steadfast love for the Master–she is showing single-minded devotion in the face of criticism from the disciples.

Jesus, on the cross,  shows forgiveness and love even to the men who deride and execute Him.

Mary acts out of significant personal sacrifice–pouring costly perfume worth a full year’s wages–showing her commitment to Christ.

Jesus willingly gives the ultimate sacrifice of Himself–there is no higher price to pay.

Mary responds to His need–she recognizes that this moment is her opportunity to anoint the living Christ, and His response clearly shows He is deeply moved by her action.

Jesus, as man Himself, recognizes humanity’s need to be saved, and places Himself in our place. We must respond, incredulous,  with gratitude.

Jesus tells Mary of Bethany (and us),  in response to the disciples’ rebukes, that it is her action that will be told and remembered.   She did what she could at that moment to ease His distress at what He would soon confront.  She did what she could for Him–humbly, beautifully, simply, sacrificially …

The full post is here.

***

Some songs that tie in with this reflection on the theme of Mary’s offering to Christ:

(Hopefully the playlist will work, but I’ve been having problems with WordPress and audio files this week. If the music does not play, try these links:  Pour my love, Alabaster box, At Your Feet.  But please respect copyrights and purchase the songs if you plan to keep them.)

art credit:  SusanBaily.org

***

In reading the account of Mary and Jesus found in John 12, I was startled by the verse that suggests that the perfume Mary’s sacrificed was worth 300 denarii (silver coins, perhaps worth about $20 each).  Yet Judas, who complains about Mary’s wastefulness, sold Jesus for only 30 silver coins! (It’s not specified that these are denarii, Scripture merely says “pieces of silver.”*) I have never consciously juxtaposed these two figures before.  Comparing Mary and Judas is sobering – do I give to Jesus without counting the cost or am I always trying to protect my self interest – no matter how petty?

In closing, I like  how one commentator describes how Mary’s sacrifice prefigures Christ’s lavish grace towards us all:

She had possession of the alabaster box and she chose to share it with her Lord.  She did not hoard it for herself or try to sell it, as the disciples would have liked, merely for monetary gain.  Its contents were more precious to her than any amount of money.  In fact, she gave expecting nothing in return, kind of like how God bestows us with His Grace even though we don’t ask for it.  It’s a free gift.  The perfume from that alabaster jar was like God’s grace poured out for all of us.

art credit: (Alabaster Jar)

*note:  The ESV online study Bible notes for Matt 26:15 suggest these pieces of silver paid to Judas may have been worth 4 months wages, which would make them equivalent to 120 denarii, still less than the perfume.

***

Update: not to get distracted by numbers and monetary values, but I found a cool online calculator which lets you convert Hebrew Biblical units into Roman Biblical units – thus you can convert from Shekels to Denarii.  The ESV notes for Matt. 26 suggest that Judas may have been paid 30 Shekels – in accordance with the passage in Exodus that sets the reimbursement for a slave gored by an ox at 30 Shekels.

So my question was, how do 30 Shekels compare with 300 Denarii?

This Biblical Unit Converter gives an idea: according to that site, 30 shekels = about 89 denarii.  Or, in reverse, 300 denarii = 101 shekels.  No matter how you measure it, Mary’s sacrifice is staggering when compared with the “rewards” of Judas’ betrayal of Christ.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 122 other followers