The Passover was a Jewish feast that was instituted by God and celebrated by Israel to commemorate the nation’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt. The Passover was joined with the tenth plague that God sent in response to the hardness and rebellion of Pharaoh and the Egyptians for refusing to free the nation of Israel. The tenth plague included the destruction by God of all the firstborn in Egypt, both men and beasts, from among the Egyptians and Israelites. However, God provided a remedy for the Israelites whereby the plague could be diverted and the firstborn of their families might be delivered from death.
The deliverance and protection of the homes of the Israelites, which diverted God’s judgment, included the killing of a lamb that met the proper qualifications as described by God. After the lamb was slain, the blood from the lamb was placed upon the sides and tops of the door posts of their homes. The lamb was also to be roasted with fire and eaten by the household. The reason for the blood’s application to the door was so that God’s judgment might “pass over” the homes and the firstborn son would be delivered from death.
God informed the Israelites that this feast was to be remembered by the roasting and eating of a lamb by future generations. The feast would remind the nation of God’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt. The Passover feast also marked the beginning of another Jewish feast that was joined with the Passover and was continued for seven days, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As a result of Israel’s hasty departure from Egypt there was insufficient opportunity for the bread to leaven. Again, the Israelites were to remember God’s great power in redeeming the nation out of Egypt through both of the feasts.
Besides acting as a feast to remember the deliverance of Israel from bondage, the Passover is also a type of the future deliverance of God’s people through the redemptive acts of, the antitype, Jesus Christ. Paul refers to Christ as our Passover that was sacrificed for us (1 Cor. 5: 7). Various Scriptures refer to Christ as a lamb which points to the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross for our sins (John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-20).
It is significant that the night Jesus Christ was betrayed and arrested he instituted another feast, the Lord’s Supper. During the celebration of the Passover Jesus took parts of the elements used in the Jewish feast, the unleavened bread and wine, and instituted a new covenant feast for Christians. Similar to the Passover, which was a feast used to recall God’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage, the Lord’s Supper is a symbolic meal the church partakes of to remember Christ’s sacrifice to free us from the bondage of sin.
In the Old Testament the Passover and feast of unleavened bread were fused together in remembrance of the redemption from Egypt. Metaphorically, Paul applies the Jewish feasts to the experience of the Christian, salvifically and practically. In light of “Christ our Passover,” Paul exhorts the Corinthians to purge the leaven of immorality from their lives and the local body of Christ in light of our redemption by Jesus Christ.