The Lamb’s Selection Day
Palm Sunday was called Lamb selection day. Jewish families would choose a 1 year old male lamb on Palm Sunday, bring it home and examine it.
Exodus 12:2-6 “Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household… Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old… and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.”
Jesus and the disciples were approaching Jerusalem from the east as they came up the road from Jericho, until they reached the town of Bethpage on the eastern slopes of the Mount of Olives. Luke tells us,
“As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Lamb selection day. Israel wanted a king to free them from the oppression of the Romans, to give them their land back, and bring to fulfillment the Davidic covenant. However this day, Jesus came to them as a Passover Lamb. For many in Israel, they missed the day of their visitation.
God gave Israel special celebrations called ‘Feasts’ when he brought the Hebrews out of Egypt. God spoke to Moses, saying,
Leviticus 23:24 “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘the feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts…These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.”
The biblical word for holy convocation describes a ‘dress rehearsal.’ The Jews would act out these visual aids, or pictures through the festivals as a dress rehearsal for the purpose of revealing the Messiah and learning God’s plan of salvation through history! God appointed 3 primary feast seasons, Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. They represented three major encounters with God in the lives of His covenant people. Passover was the first feast as a memorial to the Hebrews deliverance from Egypt. This deliverance occurred during the month of Nisan and represented God’s first encounter with His covenant people.
Leviticus 23:4-5 “On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight(evening) is the Lord’s Passover”.
The Hebrew day begins on the evening of the 14th (twilight) at approximately 6:00 pm. Jesus fulfilled this feast at every point. The Hebrews killed the lambs at the three o’clock in the afternoon on the 14th in order to eat the meal by six. When three o’clock arrived, they slaughtered the Lamb and applied the blood to their doorstep. The family then entered their house through the blood-stained door where they were protected from the plague of death that was to move through the land. According to the instructions, the entire Lamb was to be roasted and consumed. Nothing could be left over for the next day. In preparing the meal, not one bone of the lamb could be broken which required that the lamb be roasted on a spit shaped like a crossbar so that its body could be spread open. This was the Lord’s Passover. We see that He used the blood of the lamb to save His people from death. The blood of the lamb was their covering and protection.
When the temple was built, instead of killing the lambs and applying the blood to their doorstep, the people would bring their lambs to Jerusalem and kill them at the temple. The entire Jewish nation would come to Jerusalem each year. It was a time of great celebration, as the Levites would lead in the singing of Psalm of David, especially Psalms 113-118.
As time passed, it became difficult for people to bring their sacrifice to Jerusalem, so the Levites began raising lambs without spot or blemish for Passover and sold them at the temple. The Jewish historian Josephus reported there were more than 250,000 of these Passover lambs killed in Jerusalem in the first century.
In John 12:1, we read that Jesus came to the town of Bethany six days before Passover, which would be the ninth of Nisan. Jesus enters into Jerusalem on the tenth of Nisan set aside as the human lamb on lamb selection day! For the next five days, Jesus was examined, questioned, and interrogated to see if any spot or blemish might be found. They wanted to discredit him so that he would not be an acceptable sacrifice. After interrogating and beating Jesus, Pilate said of Him, “I find no fault in him” (John 19:4). Finally Jesus was crucified on the 14th on the same day and same time the lambs were killed. Jesus was placed on the cross at 9:00 am, opened up just like the lambs were placed on the altar of burnt offering. The people were singing Psalm 118, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!”
And then at twilight, 3:00pm he was slain…The curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom just as the flesh of the son of man had been torn in two…split open…“And the earth shook and the rocks were split!” The rocks were indeed crying out, convulsing under the weight of the King of Glory and his Revealed Excellence.
Prayer Focus: Read through John 18:1-19:37 and focus on Jesus your Passover Lamb!