Jesus knew what lay in store for him that Passover night. He was on his way to the cross and would experience great agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, followed by Judas’ betrayal of him, Peter’s denial of him, abandonment by the other 10 disciples, and a mock trial held illegally at the home of the high priest. Bothfully God and fully human, Jesus knew that he was about to not only suffer a gruesome and painful physical death, but also separation from the Father as he bore the weight of our sins upon the cross.
And yet, notice what Jesus said to his disciples at the beginning of this fateful night, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). In spite of all that lay ahead, Jesus approached this Passover, his last meal with his disciples, with eager anticipation. Why? Because this Passover was the last Passover that anticipated the coming of the Messiah. At this Passover meal, the Messiah was present, which meant that all that Passover symbolized was about to be fulfilled. Jesus was about to secure redemption for all. An old story was about to be made new.
From later accounts written by the disciples, we learn that the disciples were confused about the events of the evening. It was only later, in light of Jesus’ death and resurrection, that Jesus’ departure from the traditional Passover story make sense. It was only later that the disciples were able to put it all together, and say, “Oh, that’s why.”
And because we too are prone to disappointment and prone to forget God’s faithfulness and that he keeps his promises, let’s look at some of those “oh, that’s why” moments.
Why did Jesus say that he wouldn’t eat or drink again until the kingdom of God comes (Luke 22:16, 18)?
Because Jesus was foreshadowing his death. He was teaching his disciples, and us, that his death on the cross wasn’t a surprise or a tragedy or plan B. Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf was the fulfillment of God’s will and plan to redeem mankind and restore us to right relationship with himself. “Oh, that’s why.”
Why did Jesus say in reference to the bread, “This is my body given for you” (Luke 22:19)?
Because Jesus, as our great deliverer, is the bread of life. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). And as the bread of life, Jesus willingly gave his body, his very life, for you and for me. “Oh, that’s why.”
Why did Jesus say in reference to the cup, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26:28)?
Because the cup was associated with Exodus 6:6c: ‘I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.” Just as the Israelites were redeemed by the blood of a lamb and were spared the plagues that God sent upon Egypt in judgment, so too were we redeemed. We were redeemed by the blood of a lamb and were spared God’s judgment for our sins. We were bought with the precious blood of Christ—literally Jesus’s outstretched arm on the cross—and as believers, our sins have been forgiven thanks to Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. “Oh, that’s why.”
Finally, why did Paul later refer to Jesus as the Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7b)?
Because as recorded in Hebrews 9:22, “…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” At the first Passover, the blood of a lamb smeared on a wooden doorpost was needed to save the Israelites from physical death. But at the last Passover, the blood of Jesus spilled on a wooden cross was needed to save us from eternal death. “Oh, that’s why.”
“Oh, that’s why.” Because an old story needed to be fulfilled and made new. Because Jesus, the Passover Lamb, secured redemption for all. Because Jesus, the Messiah, ushered in a new covenant and a new kingdom, just as he had promised. Because God is faithful. “Oh, that’s why.”