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“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12)

We call it Palm Sunday, because the crowds of people waved palm branches and shouted praises to Jesus as the Son of David. But this was also a day bustling with activity and electrified with excitement and anticipation of the great Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread. For the Jews this day was “The Day of the Lambs.”

God had commanded through Moses, “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. . . .   Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.'” (Exodus 12:3,6)

We know Palm Sunday was the tenth day of the month because four days later Jesus instructed Peter and John to “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.” (Luke 22:8)

Consider the significance of Palm Sunday. On that day the shepherds of Bethlehem (possibly even some who had seen the angels and visited Jesus some thirty-three years earlier) were herding thousands of lambs to Jerusalem, parading them through the streets to the Temple where each family would buy one to be their Passover lamb. On this day when all of Israel was to take their Passover lamb, Jesus, the Lamb of God from Bethlehem, was entering Jerusalem, presenting Himself as the one, true Passover Lamb. He was the One to Whom all the millions of Passover lambs throughout the centuries had pointed; the One Whose blood would provide eternal redemption and save from eternal death.

The Passover lamb was kept until the fourteenth day to give ample time to examine it, for it had to be a perfect lamb without defect or blemish. Likewise, Jesus presented Himself at the temple each day that week allowing Himself to be tested and scrutinized by the priests, scribes, and Pharisees, and proving Himself to truly be the perfect and holy Lamb of God.

That Thursday, on the evening after the fourteenth day of the month, as all Israel was eating their Passover lamb, Jesus gave His own body and blood for His disciples to eat and to drink for the remission of their sins. Then later that same day (since the evening was the beginning of a new day for Israel) Jesus shed His blood and gave His body into death as the sacrifice for all the sins of the world. “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” (1 Corinthians 5:7)

God wanted us to know the exact time when Jesus was nailed to the cross and the moment He died. He was nailed to the cross the third hour (or 9:00 A.M.) and died the ninth hour (or 3:00 P.M.) These are the very moments when the morning and evening sacrifices were made every single day. Jesus fulfilled them all and brought their purpose to an end.

All of this was in view on Palm Sunday when preparations began for the Passover celebration. On that day the people shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9) “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord !” (Luke 19:38) They probably didn’t fully understand at the time, but we rejoice to know that our Lamb has become our King .

May we all, by faith, receive Christ into our households and into our hearts as our Passover Lamb. And may we give our hearts and entire lives in homage to Him as our King, and let Him reign over us with His grace and mercy forever.

David Reim is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Vernon, British Columbia.