The Passover of the Hebrew people was inextricably tied to the shedding of blood. How many thousands of Egypt’s firstborn sons had to die to free the Hebrews from their bondage? And how many young and innocent lambs and goats became a hurried meal of roasted flesh? How many gallons of their blood became the blessed stripes on doorjambs and door frames? Exodus 11 and 12 describe the wonderfully awful and bloody events of that solemn and deadly night of redemption.
The Passover when Jesus gathered his devoted—and not-so-devoted—12 friends and disciples in the upper room served the centuries-long purpose: to remind God’s people they were saved by blood! For the ones reclining at the table around Jesus, they were about to face the prophetic reality of all that bloodshed. They would see the blood of the Lamb of God spattered from Roman hall, slowly dripped across the streets of the once holy city, and run down a crude cross onto Golgotha’s stony ground.
Redemption is inextricably tied to the shedding of blood. The biblical writer said it bluntly and profoundly: “The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).
Now, cleansing forgiveness no longer requires thousands of firstborn sons—Egyptian or other. It does not require the sacrifice of a single innocent animal, “we have been made holy”—cleansed, that is; forgiven, that is—“through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). One firstborn Son, one “Jesus Christ . . . God, the One and Only” (John 1:17, 18)—he is all that is needed.
His flesh and blood, here represented by the bread and the cup, is all we need. That truth should have us on our feet daily announcing, as the old hymn did, “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!”
Cleansed and forgiven! Let us start here . . . at this table. Let us start now . . . in this hour of worship.
Ron Davis, former professor of Christian education at Cincinnati Bible Seminary, resides in North College Hill, Ohio, and serves with Lifespring Christian Church.