We all know the story of Easter… or do we?
There are some little-known tidbits that help connect the events surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection — information that enables us 21st century Americans to decipher what was going on in first century Israel.
We hope they will give you an even greater appreciation for Christ and his sacrifice.
- Passover lambs for sacrifice needed to be “without spot or blemish” (Exodus 12:5). To ensure an adequate supply of lambs for the thousands attending Passover in Jerusalem, priestly shepherds were hired to specifically bred spotless lambs. Because of sanitation regulations, they could not be raised in Jerusalem. Instead, the lambs were born a few miles away in a village… called Bethlehem. The same place where Jesus, the spotless lamb, was born.
- A Passover lamb was to be brought into the home and “tested” for 3 days prior to Passover to ensure it was without spot or blemish (Exodus 12:3-6). In the same manner, Christ (the Passover lamb) was ushered into Jerusalem on a donkey and then tested for 3 days (intensely questioned by the Pharisees) before He was declared faultless (ie. without spot or blemish) by Pilate (John 19:4) and sacrificed.
- Christ was crucified and died at the ninth hour, about 3:00 pm (Matthew 27:45). It is at this exact time that the Passover lambs were being sacrificed in the temple.
- The Passover lamb that the temple priests ate was prepared in a way that bears an uncanny resemblance to Christ on the cross. The lamb was sacrificed, then bound and roasted vertically on a metal stake that looks amazingly similar to a crucifix. Most bizarre of all, its entrails were removed and wrapped around its head, looking just like a crown of thorns.
- When Christ was about to die, He cried out “It is finished!” (John 19:30). The High Priest, when all Passover sacrifices are completed, would cry out to the crowd, “It is finished.”
- When John the disciple went into the empty tomb and saw the head cloth that had been wrapped on Christ’s head “folded up by itself” (John 20:5-7), John believed that Christ had risen. Why? In Christ’s day, when carpenters had finished their job, they folded their finishing rag and left it behind to let the homeowner know that the job was done when they arrived home. Each carpenter had a signature way of folding the cloth. Some say John knew the way Jesus’ folded His carpenter cloths and recognized the fold as Jesus’ signature that the “job was done.”