Alfred Place Baptist Church

14:12-16 Preparing For The Passover

Mark 14:12-16 “On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, “The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’ The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.”

Let me begin here with,

1. THE MEANING OF THE PASSOVER.

After the Old Testament people of God had been 400 years in slavery in Egypt God finally sent his servant Moses to redeem them. They were reluctantly released by Pharaoh only after God has chastened Egypt with a series of increasingly severe plagues. Nine had come and gone but Pharaoh’s heart was obdurate, the tenth plague was the death of the first born sons of the land; only with this was Pharaoh’s will broken and he let God’s people go. There was the offer of mercy to any family who did what God had said, that is, to kill a year old male lamb without a blemish “between the evenings,’ and sprinkle its blood on the door. In every home where this was done the first born would be spared. The people in that home took shelter under the blood. They believed that with that covering the arrows of death wouldn’t destroy them. With the blood over them the sword of God wouldn’t smite them. “When I see the blood I will pass over you,” said God.

Perhaps many a family were weak in faith, and the parents, unable to sleep all night, would be overwhelmed with joy in the morning as they saw their child yawn and stretch and open its eyes. Every family who kept the commandment of God was spared. The Passover centred on a meal which consisted of the lamb roasted whole, bitter herbs – vegetables like horseradish and chicory – and especially unleavened bread, some thing that is not like bread at all; it is like a water biscuit, a cream cracker. It was much quicker to prepare than bread, and doing everything in haste was the motif of that first Passover. The next day they were to leave their homes in Goshen, Egypt for ever, setting out on a journey across the wilderness to the promised land. So another aspect of the Passover consisted of eating the meal while dressed for a journey.

While there were those other elements to the Passover feast, it was on the blood alone that their safety depended. God never said, “When I see you eating unleavened bread with shoes on your feet, and a staff in your hand I will pass over you.” How easy for anyone to look like a pilgrim, but deliverance did not come in dress and food but in the blood sprinkled on the door. They could take uneaten vegetables and unleavened bread with them for the journey but not any of the lamb. If any remained in the morning it was to be burnt. It was not to be considered as a snack. It was life and salvation!

God only looks at the blood not at anything else. People today offer to God what he doesn’t require. They say, “I trust in Christ and do the best that I can. I trust in Christ and lead a good life, and so I hope to be saved.” That is not God’s way. He didn’t say, “When I see the blood and you dressed to travel”, or “when I see the blood and you eating the lamb, I will pass over,” or “when I see the blood and you eating unleavened bread I will pass over.” No! It is enough for God to see the blood, and then he passes over because the blood pointed forward to the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. The blood gave all the glory for the deliverance of all God’s people to the Lord Jesus. Those in heaven have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb and therefore they are before the throne of God.

When God looked at the door-posts he saw the blood and passed over that first-born. The life of the lamb was accepted instead of the first-born’s life. When God saw the blood he knew death had been there already. The sentence, “The soul that sins shall surely die,” had already been passed. What more sentence could be passed? There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. They have died, because Christ died in them. What the Head has done the members have done. They died in him; they were crucified in him.

Don’t say, “We all believe that Christ died.” The very devils believe that Christ died. That is mere history. Do you think the devils take the blood and plead it before God? That is what a sinner may do by the grace of God, but that is not what the any devil ever does. I am saying don’t lull yourself to sleep by saying, “I am a Christian because I believe that Christ died.” That will never save you. You must be trusting in Jesus; you must be trusting in his blood; you must be hiding under the blood. You must be saying, “You are my hiding place.” What are you doing with the blood of Christ? That is the focus of the Passover.

2. THE PASSOVER BECAME AN ANNUAL FEAST.

The Passover and deliverance from Egypt was henceforth commemorated in an annual feast. It became the most important of the three feasts that were held in Jerusalem to which all the people in Israel had an obligation to attend, and Jesus himself since a child had gone to those feasts. It commemorated not simply a deliverance but a deliverance that made a nation out of a cringing rabble. God had made the most powerful man in the world surrender and let the people go.

Let me say something about the Jewish calendar. The event of the Passover changed the Jewish calendar. The month in which it occurred was henceforth the first month of the year. “This month shall be the beginning of months unto you.” Also I want you to notice this, that in Israel each new day began at 6 pm. So the 13th of the month of Nissan, which was the day for the preparation of the Passover, began on our Wednesday at 6 pm. The 14th of Nissan, the Passover day itself, began at 6 pm on the Thursday. In other words, Friday the 14th had actually begun at 6 pm on Thursday the 13th. So the events of this chapter, which Mark says took place, “on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb,” (v.12) I believe occurred on the Thursday before Good Friday You remember that there were no clocks in Jerusalem, and calendars also varied from country to country and even within a country there might be an official and unofficial calendar.

Think of Jerusalem at this time packed with pilgrims there for the Passover, each group who had travelled there as well as the local population needing an unblemished sacrificial lamb. Remember the lamb was a sacrifice; it was not like turkey for Christmas. Each lamb was taken by a believing sinner to the temple to be killed there. Josephus records that on one Passover in Jerusalem 33 years later 255,600 lambs were slaughtered in the temple in a couple of days as over two and a half million people – the population of Wales – were present in little Jerusalem. Every priest and levite was working full time and flat out, the altar and its surrounds were awash with blood. The worshippers would come with their lambs to the temple, cut the lamb’s throat and two long lines of priests carrying gold or silver bowls, would gather some blood from each lamb and dash it against the altar. The slain lamb was then carried back by the pilgrim to where the family or friends were staying and there it was roasted over an open fire on a spit made of pomegranate wood. The spit went right through the lamb with the head legs and tail still attached to the body. All that preparation needed to be done ahead of the Passover meal itself.

3. A ROOM WAS NEEDED FOR THE PASSOVER TO BE KEPT.

Christ had great anticipation about eating this Passover with his disciples, and had communicated that to his men, but nothing seemed to have been arranged. Wasn’t Jesus aware of all that needed to be done? We are occasionally in that condition; there is some big event ahead of us and yet God seems to be doing nothing. Perhaps it’s an operation we are waiting to have, or a homecoming – does the Lord know about it? We were expecting some sign that he was involved. So the disciples finally approached Jesus about it, but they did so without frustration or any note of complaint in their voices. Two years earlier they might have said to him something like this, “Don’t you care that we perish?” Now they show complete trust in him; the years of being in the school of Christ had matured them. “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” (v.12) Notice, incidentally, how they saw it as a feast for Jesus to eat; it was his Passover and he was the head of it. Later on during the meal he would say, “This is my body.”

When the Lord Christ responds he shows that he is in complete control of every event; “he sent two of his disciples, telling them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, “The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’ The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them” (vv.13-16). “The disciples left,” we are told. No quizzical look on their faces; no protestations; they heard the word of Jesus and did it. The Lord who was speaking to them had proved over three years that he had absolute and infallible foreknowledge. He knew when the temple would be destroyed; he knew details of the end of the world. How much more did he know where they would be having supper that evening. So off went the two men (we know that it was Peter and John) taking one of the possible routes to Jerusalem and deciding to enter it by one of its gates. There were dense crowds everywhere, and Jesus had not told them where they bump into this man carrying a jar of water, but their Saviour is Lord of those apparently unpredictable choices which we make moment by moment. We take a certain route at a certain speed as we go shopping and it is all planned by God. Christ had ordained every step Peter and John would take, and he’d told them exactly what the outcome would be, that they were going to meet a man carrying a jar of water. That spectacle would be a little unusual as it was the task of Jerusalem women to bring the water from the spring at Siloam to the home. A man carrying a sizable water-pot (not a litre jug) would stand out even in that dense throng of people.

Jesus arranged it in this way for their sakes, to plant them more firmly in the faith. Satan greatly desired to have Peter and John, that he might sift them as wheat. Let them be comforted by this simple experience of the sovereignty of Christ. They see first hand how the Lord Jesus has predestined everything that was happening and that he was working all things after the counsel of his own will. Even in an insignificant detail like the choice of the room for the Passover meal the Lord showed he was in control. How much more when he was arrested in the Garden and tormented by the soldiers and whipped and interrogated and condemned was he still in control? Nothing that happens occurs by chance. Jesus was not being crushed between the gates of hell or in the gears of history. Fate was not in control of his life; he was in complete control. His death was no accident. “I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (Jn. 10:17-18). He went to Jerusalem at this particular time, to celebrate the Passover, and to inaugurate the Lord’s Supper saying, “This is my body and it is to be broken for you,” and those words make no sense if Jesus’ life was being taken from him by forces outside his control. The Lord Christ maintained sovereign, premeditated and detailed mastery over life and death. So God can be trusted when we set off on our little journeys and with the people we bump into, and in the conversations we have. He is a hands-on God.

Don’t you see the implications of this, that we’ll never have anything but the days that the Lord has made for us? We never have anything but the will of God. No matter how trivial or how life-shattering, no matter how great the storms and tempests may be, my Saviour is in control. Those thousands of bland boring days when nothing of significance happens at all – God makes them too. I can preach this theme often to you, but I can’t always practise and live it out in the light and comfort of its truth. God rules over the free actions of men. There was this serving man who was sent on a errand that morning, “Take that jar to Siloam and collect some water for the household.” He had no idea that the Creator of the universe had appointed him to lead two of the Creator’s Son’s men to the place the Passover would be held. Maybe there are times when we get worried about some men whom we think are following us. Then we have to tell ourselves that God is in control. We certainly know that he is following hard on our heels.

Let’s return to the narrative; the man whom Peter and John followed led them to the house where he worked and there they introduced themselves to the owner. Surely he must have known Jesus because they simply told him, “The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” (v.14). “The Teacher,” they say, and he knew at once who it was. “Where is my guest room?” was the question. Jesus can refer to a room in that man’s house as his guest room, not the owner’s. This man was a disciple So it was that Peter and John were instantly taken to a large upper room, furnished and ready. Mark tells us that the disciples “found things just as Jesus had told them,” (v.16), and so it is in our lives as Christians. We will meet no booby-traps if we do just what Jesus tells us. Then we can get on with furnishing and preparing our lives for the Master’s use. For Peter and John preparation meant roasting the lamb, buying the other food, and making sure that every trace of leaven was removed from the room. Jesus prepares a place for us and guides us to it, and there we prepare room for him. 100% God and 100% man!

Two stories in the news this week impressed me with the way Christian people are given grace to cope with situations for which they could never prepare themselves except in the most general way. A trial concluded on Friday of some gang members in Birmingham who were shooting at the members of a rival gang over drugs. Two girls passing by were murdered in the cross fire. The four gang members were finally arrested, tried and this week they were convicted. The mother of one of the girls, Mrs. Marcia Shakepeare, was asked by a TV reporter on the BBC news, “How did you survive the murder of your daughter?” “The Lord,” she said simply. None but his loved ones know how we cope. God’s providence never leads us where his grace cannot keep us.

Then The Times on Wednesday (16 March 2005) gave two pages to the story of a never-to-be-forgotten day in the life of a 26 year-old Christian widow named Ashley Smith of Atlanta. As she was walking home in the early hours of Saturday morning (a week ago) a man named Brian Nichols stuck a gun in her ribs and forced his way into her house, tying her up and putting a towel over her head. He was a man on the run from the law having escaped from a court-room the previous day where he was on trial accused of rape. He had snatched a gun and shot dead four people including a judge and policeman. A few years ago this woman, Ashley Smith, had been born again putting her faith in Jesus Christ. This occurred just after her husband had been killed. So during the past few years she’d come to believe in certain great truths. What are they? The Times reporter explained some Christian convictions to The Times readers like this, “Firstly, everything – even the terrible twist of fate that brings an alleged multiple-murderer into your home – is the will of God. And since God is loving, something good must inevitably come out of all horror, even tragedy. The second is that it’s never too late to repent, to bring God’s purpose into your life, and the third is that God, not man, is the ultimate judge.”

So once Ashley got over her initial dry-mouthed fear she began to talk increasingly boldly to the man and showing him photographs of her late husband and child. She was reading Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” and she started to read aloud some of it to Brian Nichols. These are some sentences of what she read; “We serve God by serving others. The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. If you can demand service from others then you’ve arrived. In our self-serving culture, with its ‘me-first’ mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.” The man on the run said to her, “Read that again.” She did and then he said to her, “But I’m as good as dead.” “No,” she said; “hand yourself in, accept your punishment but when you go to prison minister to the other inmates.” In a while he gave himself up. She had no training in counselling, negotiation or psychiatry, but she used what understanding she had. She was only a young Christian but she had illimitable access to a Shepherd who was in control of her life. He was in charge of everything happening in that room. His providence never leads us where his grace cannot keep us. What a comfort to know that. It has motivating energy and hope. So it was with Peter and John; they were getting on with their duties in life; they were preparing meals and rooms like so many of you have to do day by day, and the Lord was providing for them.

Why did Jesus choose to reveal to the men the location of the room in such a circumlocutionary way? Why the coded signs? What does our context show? “The chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him” (v.1). Then we are told that Judas had gone to them to betray Jesus and that he was watching “for an opportunity to hand him over” (v.11). There was a price on Jesus’ head, but he didn’t want his arrest to take place until after the Passover meal, and so he didn’t tell Peter and John the location of the Upper Room with Judas listening in. Nobody knew the location, not even the two men, and so Jesus bought a few more hours of absolute privacy with his disciples. There were crucial lessons he still had to teach them, for example, there was that great discourse recorded for us by John in chapters thirteen through sixteen, concerning the coming of the Spirit, the vine and the branches, the grief of the disciples being turned to joy. There was a special lesson he must teach them about being servants and washing one another’s feet, and again he needed to teach them about the meaning of his death in the institution of the Lord’s Supper. He had to have a few precious hours of uninterruption with the Twelve. He knew he was going to die soon, but only when his work as God’s prophet had been finished. Jesus didn’t lightly abandon himself to his enemies.

4. THIS WAS THE SECOND TIME JESUS HAD BORROWED SOMETHING.

Let me return again to this unusual way in which Jesus obtained a room for the Passover meal. It reminds us of another occasion when Jesus sent out two disciples to find a colt for his entry into Jerusalem. That is recorded in the opening verses of Mark chapter 11, “As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you doing this?” tell him, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.”‘ They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go”.

On that occasion again God was in control of Jesus’ entry in Jerusalem, just as the same God here prepared a servant who was carrying a water-pot and his master keeping the large upper room vacant until the last minute. God was preparing a table before Jesus in the presence of his enemies. In the earlier instance the appropriated colt was for Jesus the king, and he took what was needed irrespective of who the owner was, whether that man was one of Jesus’ disciples or not. “The Lord needs it.” The only assurance the owner was given was that his commandeered colt would be returned promptly. He seems to have been a stranger; Jesus takes advantage of no friendship in borrowing the colt.

Then we come to this chapter and things are different. Jesus comes to the owner of this house with the large Upper Room not as the King of Jerusalem with his massive prerogatives but as the Mediator of the New Covenant. He comes to partake of the Passover, and to sit down at the table of the Holy Supper. He is going to do what his Father requires along with ten thousand other groups of people all over Jerusalem, but this night will be different. Jesus will end the Passover by substituting for it the Holy Supper. When he entered Jerusalem he had annexed the colt and ridden into town, the whole city stirred at the sight. There was an uproar everywhere; people threw their coats on the ground and broke off the palm trees and everyone was shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.” The King was entering his own royal city; there was tumult and rejoicing. Here in Mark 14 it is all very different. Jesus isolates himself from the people. No one knows where he is except the twelve and the owner of the house. He asks if he can borrow a room; “The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” (v.14) He is revealing his poverty to his disciples; the Lord’s servant has nowhere to lay his head.

The two events contrast with one another. When Jesus took the donkey he was announcing his authority; when he asked for a guest room for an evening he was announcing his penury. When Jesus entered the city in triumph he was saying that this whole city was his; when he slipped into the upper room he was saying, “I came unto my own but my own received me not.” When the Messiah was born it was in a stable and soon he was fleeing for his life homeless and unwanted begging Egypt to give him and his parents refugee status for a few years. So now this incarnate God must send his servants looking for someone who will do him a favour, provide a room for him, that he may eat the Passover and introduce the Lord’s Supper to the church.

5. THE OWNERSHIP AND USE OF THE UPPER ROOM BECOMES INCREASINGLY SIGNIFICANT.

Modern tourists in Jerusalem are taken to a building called the ‘Cenacle’ as the site of the Last Supper. It is now a mosque remodeled from a fourteenth-century church at the time of Cyril of Jerusalem. We are told that the Emperor Hadrian identified it as the site of the Upper Room in the year 135. Who can tell if this were the site? But this room, Mark tells us here, was certainly large and furnished and ready. ‘Furnished’ means the spreading out of rugs and carpets on which to recline. It clearly belonged to a person of means, and as it is described here it reminds us of the room used a few weeks later spoken of in Acts 1:13, where Luke writes of an upstairs room which held all the apostles gathered for prayer as well as Jesus’ mother and her sons and others too. This is also presumably the room referred to in Acts 12:12 where the church again was meeting in prayer for the deliverance of Peter from prison.

In Acts 12 an additional interesting detail is given to us. We are told whose house it was, that it belonged to Mary the mother of John Mark, and that fits in well with what John Mark tells us here in his gospel, that the person appears to have come from the circle of faithful friends of Jesus. John Mark, at that time a teenager, later comes to the fore in the Christian church. So with the Passover meal this was the first occasion for Mark’s mother to loan her big upper room to the disciples. From Acts 12 we are shown that that commodious room was always open to the Christians who gathered in Jerusalem. John Mark was an intimate friend of Peter, and Peter was one of those who reserved and prepared the room. Mark doesn’t mention the details of who owned the house in his gospel; modesty forbidding him. Perhaps the young man carrying the pitcher of water was John Mark himself, his mother having said to him, “Run down to the spring and get some water for the Passover meal.”

This link with the upper room spoken of in Acts chapters one and twelve pleases us greatly, that that room, made sacred to the memory of everyone who has read those chapters of John’s gospel first preached there, and the memory of the foot-washing that took place, and the Last Supper also, that that room, I say, was kept in use by the Jerusalem Christians for many years as a place of fellowship and prayer. That is why Mary did not sell it after Pentecost when all the other members of the church were selling their houses and lands and bringing the money to the feet of the apostles for the benefit of persecuted believers. There were too many sacred memories attached to that room to sell it. The church met where their Saviour had preached and eaten the Passover for the last time and instituted the Lord’s Supper for the first time. From that room Jesus addressed the whole world and told us all to eat the bread and drink the cup until he came. This is the room which was shaken by the power of God when the church had gathered there on one occasion and had prayed powerfully to the Lord.

The home of your first years of marriage has a place in your affections. The church building in which you were raised, where you first worshipped God with your parents, where you were converted and baptized, where you met your spouse, where you were married – such a building will always have a place in your affections, and so it should. This place of blessing to the Christians of the New Testament, their Lord’s Upper Room, had a proper place in their affections.

But let us press on a little further, if you will bear with me. There was a Levite from Cyprus who later was dubbed ‘Barnabas’, ‘son of consolation’ by the apostles (Acts 4:36), whose original name was Joses or Joseph, and this man was a cousin of John Mark (Colossians 4:10). He had returned from Cyprus to live in Jerusalem. It is easy to think of him often visiting as a welcome guest the home of his Aunt Mary and staying there, and maybe seeing Jesus and the disciples entering and leaving the house. I wonder was he actually sitting downstairs while they were celebrating the Passover upstairs? What is fascinating is that as Barnabas the Levite was Mark’s cousin, so it seems likely that Mark had also been a Levite – they would both have been of the tribe of Levi. So in the home of a son of Levi a table was set for the last Passover celebrated under the law. All those generations of Levi had slaughtered the Passover lambs and officiated at the Passover rituals but now Christ eats the last lamb of the Passover and then distributes his own body as the true lamb of the Passover in a house of Levi.

6. CHRIST CELEBRATED THE PASSOVER IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW.

On that Passover Day Jesus Christ and the ten apostles entered the Upper Room to see the results of Peter and John’s preparation. This was the sight and odour that met them, the entire lamb, head to tail, roasted lay before Christ; there were the bitter herbs; there was the unleavened bread; there was the wine (later to be used in the installation of the Lord’s Supper); and there was a bowl of salt water to remind them of the crossing of the Red Sea and the tears of slavery they had shed in Egypt. Everything was laid out exactly as the ceremonial law God and the civil law of Israel required. Then the Lord Jesus began the Passover by giving thanks and then saying to these young men who had given up everything to follow him with he deepest affection, “with desire have I desired to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer.” Then he took them through the feast step by step, referring to the Scripture narrative, omitting nothing by way of detail or in spirit. Jesus was longing, yearning, to finish perfectly what he had been sent into the world to do. He has to fulfil the law because he must fulfil all righteousness. He must institute the Lord’s Supper – the symbol of the new covenant – but he cannot do that until he has followed the way of the Old Testament to the very letter. The Bible train is here moving from one track to another. This is the end of the Old Testament, and here is the beginning of the New. They are joined in the Upper Room. After this Passover it is good-bye fleshly Israel and welcome spiritual Israel. Jesus is here switching the points that alter the track from Old Testament to New. The altar is the Old; the table is the New Testament. Both exist because of his blood. Christ does everything right. He obeys the law perfectly. He does it all according to the rules of the law. From now on we are sharing in the blessings of the New Covenant which is in his blood.

So Jesus entered the Upper Room and looked at that sacrificed lamb. What did he see? There before him was the sign of all his own sufferings. The lamb had been roasted with fire. This is what Jesus was to endure in his own body on the spit of Calvary, slowly to be devoured by the flames of a sin-hating God. God had said to the angel sent to smite the land, “If you see the blood of a spotless lamb sprinkled on the door, do not touch that family. There is a believing family; there is an obedient family. The blood is a sign of their faith in me.” I am saying that Christ entered the Upper Room and there he saw the lamb. That was the divine prediction of himself! That was the death that he would soon know in all its horror. Wasn’t he a believer? Didn’t he have faith in God? Didn’t he do everything that God told him to do without exception? But the great destroyer was not going to spare him. That dead lamb was proclaiming his death, his condemnation, that there was no escape for him. That is the message that was in Jesus’ face as he saw the Passover lamb. He possessed no lamb’s blood for the sin that he was going to bear. No blood of goats, no ashes of a heifer sprinkling us can taken away the guilt of man’s sin. The Son of God must shed his own blood. He must become the first-born Egyptian and die under the wrath of God. His own blood will open the way to God. Never was there so tiny and poor a Lamb for so great a load of sin. God’s only begotten Son is God’s only appointed Redeemer. He alone bears his people’s sins. Only Almighty Christ can sustain such a load. He alone has been sent to make atonement.

“There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin.
He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in” (Cecil Alexander, 1823-1895)

He alone has worthy blood to shed. He alone has been commissioned to bring in reconciliation. You must obey God! Present Jesus in the arms of faith, and then your crimson sin will be whiter than snow. Your soul will be saved. The blood of Jesus is the most precious thing in heaven and on earth. The Father honours it with all heaven’s honours. Every Christian on earth blesses God for it. Satan flees before it.

So Jesus accepted the portion of the lamb offered to him; he did it humbly knowing what it stood for; he took it and he ate it, sweet to the mouth and bitter to the belly. The lamb had been perfect, and so was Jesus. It had been unblemished, and so was Jesus. It had been young, and so was Jesus. It had been wholesome, and so was Jesus as he went from the Upper Room, to the Garden to his arrest and to the cross. He satisfied everything God’s law required. Jesus our Passover was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners. He took the Passover lamb into his mouth and absorbed every bit of its mortality into himself.

All that is left is that we put our finger in his blood and sprinkle it, not on the door of our churches or homes, but over our hearts. Then we must present ourselves to the God of this great Priest, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us sing heartily together this confession of our faith in him:

Jesus, the sinner’s friend!
We hide ourselves in Thee;
God looks upon Thy sprinkled blood
It is our only plea.

He hears Thy precious name,
We claim it as our own;
The Father must accept and bless
His well-beloved Son.

He sees Thy spotless robe:
It covers all our sin;
The golden gates have welcomed Thee,
And we may enter in.

Thou hast fulfilled the law,
And we are justified;
Ours is the blessing, Thine the curse:
We live, for Thou hast died.

Jesus, the sinner’s friend!
We cannot speak Thy praise,
No mortal voice can sing the song
That ransomed hearts would raise.

But when before the throne,
Upon the glassy sea,
Clothed in our blood-bought robes of white
We stand complete in Thee

Jesus, we’ll give Thee then
Such praises as are meet,
And cast ten thousand golden crowns,
Adoring at Thy feet. (Catherine Pennefather, d. 1893)

20th March 2005 GEOFF THOMAS