Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household… Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.
– Exodus 12:3, 6
One of the most exciting and faith building lessons that I have ever learned in the Bible came from a study of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of the week that we call Passion Week. We heard the story as we sat on the Mount of Olives and looked to the west to the Temple Mount and the beautiful city of Jerusalem. The biblical narrative came to life as we imagined the stories in their original setting.
John 12:1 tells us that Jesus arrived in Bethany, a town on the Mount of Olives, on Friday, six days before the Passover. He stayed at the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus over the Sabbath. On Sunday, the first day of the week, Jesus left Bethany with his disciples and walked the short distance to Bethpage, another small village located on the slope of the Mount of Olives that faced Jerusalem. At that point Jesus got on a donkey and with his disciples behind him, he began to ride down the Mount of Olives towards the eastern entrances to the city of Jerusalem. The road into the city was extremely crowded that day as hundreds of thousands (if not millions, according to Josephus) of pilgrims were flocking into the city to begin the celebration of the Passover season. The Feast of Passover was the most important Jewish feast of the year and was one of the three pilgrimage feasts (Passover, Pentecost, and Sukkot) that every Jewish male was required to attend in Jerusalem. Jews came from all over the world to attend this celebration. Passover was actually coupled with the Feast of Unleavened Bread and First Fruits, and all were celebrated in succession.
According to Exodus 12:3, on the tenth day of the first month (Nisan), every man was to select a lamb that would be the right size for his household to eat. The lamb had to be a year old male, without blemish or defect. The family would then keep the lamb until the fourteenth day (Exodus 12:6) and then kill and eat the lamb that evening for the Passover Meal. The day that the Israelites picked the lamb for their families was known as Lamb Selection Day. It was a very festive day and would have been similar to us picking just the right size turkey for our Thanksgiving meal later in the week. All the pilgrims were anxiously making their way into the city to pick the lamb from the flocks that the Saducees had bred and raised for this occasion.
On the very day that the entire nation of Israel was picking their special lamb, Jesus rode into Jerusalem to also celebrate Passover with his disciples. By coming into Jerusalem on Lamb Selection Day, Jesus was saying in an unbelievably symbolic way, ”I am going to be your Passover Lamb; the Lamb that will save you. Pick Me! I am going to be sacrificed for the sins of each one of you.”
How did we miss this fact that Jesus came into Jerusalem on Lamb Selection Day? The answer probably lies in the fact that we just don’t know the Old Testament very well and are not familiar with what was involved in the Passover celebration. The lamb was killed on the evening of the 14th, which would have been on Thursday in the story of Jesus’ last week. By counting backwards to the 10th , we see that in fact it was on Sunday that the Israelites would have picked their lamb. This was no coincidence that Jesus came on that day to say, “I am the Passover Lamb”!
The writers of the New Testament certainly got the message. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “For Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.” Hebrews 7:27 says, “He sacrificed for sins, once for all, when he offered himself”, and Hebrews 9:28, ”Christ was sacrificed to take away the sins of many people.” John the Baptizer said, ”Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Peter, in 1 Peter 1:19 says, ”You were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot.” In the book of Revelation twenty or more times it refers to Christ as the Lamb. Revelation 5:6 says, “Then I saw a lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne…”. Revelation 12:11 – ”They overcame by the blood of the Lamb…”
From Genesis (Genesis 22:8 – “God himself will provide a lamb”), to Revelation (Revelation 5:12 – “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain”), Christ is our Passover Lamb! And, just to make sure we got it, God sent his son into Jerusalem on the very day that the Jewish people had been picking their lamb for the past 1500 years!
What a God of detail and precision! The date and time had been fixed since the foundation of the world and everything was planned down to the last detail! Every dot was connected and every piece of the puzzle fit exactly. Although the crowds had hoped he was coming to be their warrior king, God had a much different battle plan. He sent his son, the King of the Universe, to humbly die as our Passover Lamb to save us from our sins. This is the season of Passover and Lamb Selection Day is here! What an excellent time to thank Him for His sacrifice!
About the author:
Bob is the creator of this site and a disciple of Ray Vander Laan. Along with his wife of 50 years, he teaches a Bible study at Christ’s Church in Roswell, NM. He is also an avid hunter and fisher.
Had you not decided to have this class, and I had not come; I most likely would never have truly realized and learned all that I have the past couple years…………….
You are such blessings in my life and I am most thankful to our Father for you.
Good teaching! This is the exactly what read before reading your article. Another thing is, it appears Miryam did grasp Jesus was going to die(unlike the disciples)–John 12:7 “….She kept this for the day of my burial….” -regarding the perfume poured out.
Thank you for your article! It was so helpful and stirred my heart to worship God more.
I have a small question based on your comment about how Pentecost was one of the three pilgrimage feasts. When did Jewish males begin journeying to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost? Wouldn’t that have been after Jesus’ ascension?
The men/families came to celebrate the passover so they needed to come before in order to have their animal inspected by the priests for spot or blemish. Jesus was also ‘inspected’ and found without spot or blemish (innocent) by the same priests. After His death Jesus rose at the appointed time of first fruits (as according to scripture He is the first fruits offering). At the tomb site when Mary saw Jesus, He told her “don’t touch me as i have not yet assended to the Father.” Later he told Thomas to touch Him. It seems He ascended to the Father and presented Himself as our first fruits offering. Then again on the 40th day of “the counting of omer “ He rose to the Father in heaven and 10 days later on Pentecost ( a holiday celebrating the law being given to Gods people at mt Sinai ) Interestingly at Mt Sinai 3,000 people perished but at Pentecost 3,000 people were added to the church. Lots of interesting information The Holy Days of ‘God’ (notice they are not the holy days of the Jews) lay our the plan of salvation the whole gospel from beginning to end. It is a great study to do. I would look up the scriptures for you but I am not sure if I can leave this page and come back with out messing up (i am on the older side 😘. ).
I was wondering if there was any connection to the Exodus and Jesus being nailed to the cross at 9:00 AM the 3rd hour. I know that he died at 3 pm just when the lambs were being slaughtered between 3 and 5. But because he was nailed to the cross at 9am…I am curious if there is a connection there as well. Thank you.
There are discrepancies about which time Jesus was crucified. Mark says it was the third hour while John records it at noon as well as other scriptures. There are all kinds of theories put out but the one that makes sense to me is that as there were two time systems being used then one probably used the Roman time and the other the Hebrew time which would make them both comparable to Jesus being crucified at 12 and death at 3. I think this could be confirmed by Matt 27:45 that it was dark form the sixth hour to the 9th. 12-3? Just a thot
The same night Jews would eat the lamb they had chosen as their Passover meal would have been the same night Jesus, the lamb God had chosen, told his disciples in Matthew 26:26 “Take, eat; this is my body.” An amazing realization, thank you!
Powerful teaching and insight.
Thank you. This lesson on Jesus entering into Jerusalem directly paralleled our sermon this week, and offered me great words for our family devotions tonight.
I think the lamb had a name tag with the family’s surname (the father’s name) to signify which family the sacrifice was for. The name on the inscription above Jesus’ head as he was on the cross held the Hebrew words for Jesus Of Nazareth King of the Jews. The first letter of each of the 4 Hebrew words for this were Yod Hei Vav Hei, which is the name of God. God was presenting His own Lamb, for the whole world. He is altogether lovely! Perfection!
I didnt know that. That is very interesting. Thank you
Although I will agree with the Biblical Lamb selection day, there is a predicament with your timeline.
It couldn’t have happened on Sunday
According to the Biblical Hebrew calendar, the Passovers Nisan 14th between ACE 30 and 33 (after common era), occurred on Wednesday ACE 30, Wednesday ACE31, Monday 32ACE, 33ACE Friday.
Therefore, Messiah couldn’t have been crucified with your timeline, which you indicate as on a Thursday.
Additionally, the sign, after three days and three nights (72 hours), would be negated thus no Messiah nor Firstfruits – resurrection.
Evening of Thursday – evening Friday 1 night 1 day
evening Friday – evening Saturday(end of Sabbath 1 night 1 day
, evening Saturday – evening Sunday(Firstfruits) 0 nights 0 days
Firstfruits begins at the end of the Sabbath, thus no third night nor third day.
Lamb selection Day was probably the Sabbath before Passover,the great Sabbath.
So if you start at John 12:1 ,6 days before (9th Nissan)the 10th would be the great Sabbath,Lamb selection Day ,the 14 th would be Wednesday, Yeshua being crucified, buried just before sunset .
Now John 19 :31 states it was a high day, which would have been the feast of unleavened bread,and therefore another Sabbath, which would have been Thursday, Friday was the normal preparation day, and Saturday the normal Sabbath.
The are your 3 day’s and 3 nights,with Yeshua rising at the end of the Sabbath, which would have been the first day of the week.