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Day of Preparation
by Mary Alice McGinnis
Tomorrow is Sunday. But not just any Sunday, but a special Sunday.
I am sure many of you are preparing something really special to celebrate this Easter Sunday!
It was not by mistake that Good Friday happened on the Day of Preparation, the day before a “Special Sabbath” – the celebration of Passover.
When the children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt, Moses went to Pharaoh, advocating to “Let my people go!” But Pharaoh refused, and God sent ten plagues upon the land of Egypt. The tenth plague was the death of every first-born male in the land. God instructed the children of Israel to paint the doorpost of their houses with the blood of a spotless lamb. The lamb’s blood would protect them, and the Angel of Death would “Passover” their home.
In Exodus 12, God institutes the festival of Passover, to remind the Israelites what God had done to set them free:
“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. . . Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year.’” (vs 3, 5)
On Good Friday, the very Jewish leaders who had persuaded Pilate to crucify Jesus, now were concerned about creating a spectacle. They did not want any dead bodies hanging around on crosses during their special Passover celebration. So, they requested that Pilate have the legs of the crucified victims be broken. This would cause those being crucified to die more quickly by suffocation under their own body weight.
When the Roman soldier came to break Jesus’ legs, He was already dead. The Soldier instead took his sword and pierced Jesus in the side, so that blood mixed with water trickled out.
John says, “These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled; ‘Not one of His bones will be broken,’ and, as another scripture says, ‘They will look on the one they have pierced.’”
The significance is not lost on John.
He recalled from Exodus 12 where it says: And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover . . . In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones.” (vs :43, 46)
Also in Psalm 34:8, David declares, “He guards all His bone; not one of them is broken.”
Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, was our Passover Lamb.
From the creation of the world, and all through history, His Story was divinely planned for our rescue from our slavery to sin and the suffocating grip of death.
John saw all of this unfold before his eyes. He was an eyewitness of these events. He spends the rest of his earthly life passionately testifying that it was true.
“The man who saw it (John) has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.”
Remember Jesus’ prayer to His Father from John 17?
“Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. . . My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.”
Lord, may we never lose sight of Your sacrifice for us. May we be amazed at how Your plan was to save us from the beginning of time. May we look upon You, the one who was "pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on You, and by Your wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5 paraphrased)