Christ Our Passover
June 12th, 1955
CHRIST OUR PASSOVER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 5:7
6-12-55 10:50 a.m.
You’re listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the morning message.
Last time, we closed in our preaching through the Bible with the last verse of the third chapter of 1 Corinthians. Now today, instead of beginning at the first verse of the fourth chapter, I’m going to turn to the fifth chapter and speak from a text in the fifth chapter of 1 Corinthians and the seventh verse. Tonight at the 7:30 o’clock evening hour, we will begin at the fourth chapter, and the message will be based on the first two verses of the fourth chapter of 1 Corinthians.
But this morning, we are turning to the fifth chapter and the seventh verse, and the reason is obvious. All of us who are in God’s house this morning can see the preparation – the elements on the sacred table whereby we shall bring to remembrance once again the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. And because of this memorial hour, I say we turn to the fifth chapter of 1 Corinthians and the seventh verse. And the text is this: "For even Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us" [1 Corinthians 5:7].
That goes back, of course, to the story of the great Passover night, back yonder in the long, long time ago, when God’s people were in slavery and in bondage in the land of Egypt [Exodus 1:1-22].
Upon the land of Egypt did God send ten terrible plagues [Exodus 7:1-11:10, 12:23-32]. Nine of those plagues afflicted only the Egyptians. The Israelites were exempt. The murrain, for example, had not struck their cattle [Exodus 9:1-7]. The locusts had not devoured their land [Exodus 10:1-20]. The darkness had not obscured their villages [Exodus 10:21-29]. But the last and the tenth plague was a judgment of God upon all the people whether Egyptian, whether Hebrew, whether great or small, whether old or young. That last and tenth and terrible plague was a judgment of God upon all the land [Exodus 11:1-12:32].
For in that night, God said His angel of death would pass over and no matter who, no matter where, no matter what, no matter how, every life, every soul, every home, was subject to the awful scrutiny of that terrible angel of death [Exodus 12:1-13]. Ah, in my mind’s heart I can see those people now as they faced that awful and terrible night of judgment. They can hear the rustle of those dark and foreboding wings. They grow cold under the scrutiny of those terrible eyes as the angel of death passes over the land that awful and terrible night [Exodus 12:28-30].
But the Lord God, in His infinite goodness and in His holy mercy, the Lord God had made a way of escape. He had made a provision for salvation. Said the Lord God: any family, any family – an Egyptian family, an Israelites family – any family that will take a lamb and keep it in the heart of the home – the lamb is to be without spot and without blemish and is to be kept in the family for four days. By that time, it becomes identified with the home. It’s just another member of the little circle that live in that house. And on the fourth day, the head of the home – the representative member of the family – is solemnly to slay the lamb; and then, catching the blood in a basin, the blood is to be sprinkled on the doorposts and on the lintels at the front of the house [Exodus 12:1-28].
That was an open confession of sin. This house is lost and under the judgment and wrath of Almighty God. This is an open confession of our sin, the sprinkling of the blood on the doorpost and on the lintels; and it was an open confession before the world that this house is set aside according to the will and the plan of God [Exodus 12:13] – that in the blood we might have our hope and our salvation, and in the slaying of that lamb, there was expiation made for sin [John 1:29; Hebrews 9:26].
There was a death there in that home and in that family. There was a substitution for the death that was, under God, the judgment upon all of the members of that house; and the blood openly displayed, the blood sprinkled on the front of the house where all passersby could see it, this is a family under the judgment of God. This is a house under the blood. This is a home publicly and openly given to the will of God.
And that was God’s way in the great night of the judgment of death in the land of Egypt – that was God’s way of delivering the people who would trust in Him. It became a memorial rite thereafter for all of the succeeding generations of the Hebrew children [Exodus 12:14, 12:24-25].
The rite taught the Hebrew people that they were a redeemed family. They were a blood-bought people. Their lives had been sacrificed for. Innocent blood had been spilled and poured out, and they were saved because of the sacrifice of somebody else. They were a blood-bought and a redeemed people.
Now, that’s the background when Paul says in the fifth chapter of the first Corinthian letter that Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us [1 Corinthians 5:7]. The Passover is a protevangelium. It is a gospel before the gospel. It is a picture. It is a portrayal. It is a dramatic presentation of the great gospel truth that should be in time revealed in Jesus Christ, God’s Son.
For you see, redemption, atonement, expiation is no afterthought with God. But in the councils of heaven, before the world was made and in all of the revelations through all of the centuries of time that are written in this holy and sacred Book, interwoven in the very heart of all of the work and plan and purpose of God is this thing of the shedding of blood, of atonement, of the washing away of our sins [Genesis 3:14-15; Ephesians 1:3-12].
There is a great text that sounds throughout all of the Old Testament. You can see it in the revelations of God. You can see it in all of the ceremony by which they worshiped Jehovah in the tabernacle and in the temple, and that text that sounds and reverberates through all of the Old Testament is this: "It is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul. The life is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar for an atonement of the soul" [Leviticus 17:11]. That text, I say, reverberates through all of the Old Testament.
In the Garden of Eden, to cover the nakedness of our first parents, the Lord Himself by His own hands slew an innocent animal, and its blood was spilled out on the ground [Genesis 3:21]. "For it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul" [Leviticus 17:11]. When Abraham was commanded of God to slay his own son on Mount Moriah as he raised the knife to plunge into the heart of the boy, a voice stayed his hand; and turning around, he saw a ram caught in a thicket [Genesis 22:1-13]. That took the place of the boy who was to have been slain. "For it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul" [Leviticus 17:11]. That awful Passover night, the lamb without spot and without blemish, the blood sprinkled on the front of the home: "For it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul" [Leviticus 17:11].
Year by year, on the Day of Atonement, a goat was brought before the high priest [Leviticus 16:1-34]. Over its head all of the sins of the people were confessed, and the goat was sent away into the wilderness. And another was slain, and its blood sprinkled upon the mercy seat before the cherubim in the Holy of Holies "for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul" [Leviticus 17:11]. All through the Old Testament, that text sounds again and again and again: "It is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul" [Leviticus 17:11].
In the New Testament, the text is changed just a little: "For without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins" [Hebrews 9:22]. And through all of the story of the New Testament, that text also sounds and reverberates: "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins" [Hebrews 9:22].
In Gethsemane, our Lord’s intercession: and His sweat became, as it were, drops of blood falling on the ground [Luke 22:39-46]. "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins" [Hebrews 9:22]. On the Via Dolorosa [Matthew 27:30-32; Mark 15:19-22; Luke 23:11, 23:26-27], the drops of blood from the face and from the back of our beaten Savior: "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins" [Hebrews 9:22]. And on Golgotha, raised between the earth and the sky with great nails driven through His hands and His feet [Matthew 27:33-44; Mark 15:22-25; Luke 23:33-47; John 19:16-18], and His side riven by a Roman spear, and His blood poured out on the ground [John 19:34]: "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins" [Hebrews 9:22].
And those who followed after, making up – filling up – what was lacking in the sufferings of our Lord [Colossians 1:24]: Stephen, beat into the ground, bloody from the rocks thrown upon him [Acts 7:54-60]. "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins" [Hebrews 9:22].
And in the story of God through all the ages, finally in heaven, the great redeemed throng that sing the song of Moses and the Lamb: "These are they who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" [Revelation 7:14]. "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins" [Hebrews 9:22].
"Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us" [1 Corinthians 5:7]. Without a cross, without the blood, without the sacrifice, there’s no gospel [1 Corinthians 15:3-4]. There’s no message. There’s nothing to preach. There’s no hope. There’s no forgiveness of sins. There’s no heaven, and there’s no promise to come.
The death of Christ was a stunning blow, an incomparably tragic shock, to the disciples who looked upon Jesus as He who should come into the world – the promised Messiah of all of the Old Testament Scriptures [John 1:41]. And when they saw Him die like a criminal dies, like a malefactor dies, like a thief dies, like a murderer dies – when they saw Him crucified, there came into their souls and into their lives an inexplicable mystery like it still is to us today. But as they brooded over it, as they poured through the sacred Scriptures, there came to their hearts, as there come to our hearts, that great revelation of the purpose and plan of God – that in expiation, in atonement, in sacrifice, in suffering, in the cross, we have forgiveness of sins and adoption into the family of God [Acts 4:8-13; Galatians 4:3-7].
Not by the beautiful life of our Savior are we washed free from our sins. The Lamb had to be without spot and without blemish [Leviticus 22:17-20; Numbers 28:1-8], pure, holy, perfect, undefiled, separate from sinners – our Savior, immaculate, holy, pure [Hebrews 9:14]. But if to this day our Lord had gone through the cities of Israel doing good, the veil of the temple had been still un-rent [Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45; Hebrews 9:1-28; Hebrews 10:18-22], it still would be there to block the access of the worshiper to God [Exodus 26:31-35, 40:1-33; Leviticus 16:1-34; 2 Chronicles 3:1-14].
But in the death of Christ, through His flesh the veil is torn asunder, and we have access into the Holy of Holies by His blood and by His sacrifice in His name [Hebrews 6:19-20, 10:19-20]. By virtue of His goodness, we have right to come boldly to the throne of God and to speak to God for ourselves [Hebrews 4:10-16]. Not by His beautiful life, but "by His stripes we are healed" [Isaiah 53:5]. Not by the holy purity that dwelt so gracefully and so beautifully in the soul and life of the Prophet of Galilee, but by His wounds and by His sufferings, we are saved [1 Peter 3:18].
There is not a more beautiful thing in the world than the story and the fact of the incarnation of the Son of God: that God should become man [John 1:14], that the Almighty should clothe Himself in human flesh [Philippians 2:5-8] – the immaculate conception [Luke 2:34-35]. But we’re not saved by the incarnation of the Son of God. Had it been only that, He would have been separate and apart from us all – the one unique man-God in all history but nothing more for it is in the dying of the corn of wheat in the ground [John 12:23-24], it is in the burial of our Savior [1 Corinthians 15:3-4], it is in the death of our Lord that He by the grace of God tasted death for every man [Hebrews 2:9]. And in the cross and in the grave, we become reunited to God [Colossians 2:13-14]. Like Him, we are children of the resurrection. Not by His incarnation are we saved, but by His cross, His death, His resurrection [Romans 6:4].
We are not even saved by the beautiful and gracious words that fell from His lips. "Never a man spake like that man" [John 7:46]: words no philosopher could ever think of, words no sage or seer could ever dream of – the words of life that fell like dew from the lips of our Savior [John 6:68]. But had there not been the unleashing of the power of His life from the cross, He would have been still and yet just another philosopher, another great teacher: another Confucius, another Zoroaster, another Marcus Aurelius, another Mahavira, just another Buddha.
But in the cross, there strains from the arms and the face and the heart of the Son of God the glory of the light of the knowledge of our Father in the face of Jesus Christ. "His blood speaketh better things than that of Abel" [Hebrews 12:24]. For it speaks not only of purity and blessing and innocence and faithfulness, but it also bears a message of pardon and deliverance and freedom and access fully to those who would come unto God our Savior [Romans 5:1-21; Ephesians 3:12].
Consequently, when you pick up this Book and when you read the story of the gospel ministry of those first apostles and evangelists and missionaries, you’ll find them always going back, turning at the cross. You’ll find their hearts turning back to the day that our Savior died. You will find them preaching once again the story of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us [Romans 5:8]. However they may speak of other things, however the building of the church may enter into other categories, you’ll find those first evangelists and those first apostles always turning back to the cross of the Son of God.
Simon Peter would speak of it like this in 1 Peter 1:18-19: "For we are redeemed. We are redeemed not with corruptible things, like silver and gold . . . but by the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot and without blemish." Bought with a price – the blood of the Son of God.
The apostle Paul will say it like this. Galatians 2:20: "I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
The sainted John would say it like this. 1 John 1:7: "And the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin." Every sermon they’ll preach, every syllable of the Book they left behind, is inspired by His sufferings. It is stained by His blood. We hide ourselves back to the cross of the Son of God. Standing in the midst of time and of eternity, the death of our Savior for us [Hebrews 10:12-14] even as Christ our Lord, our Passover, is sacrificed for us [1 Corinthians 5:7].
Some of these days we’ll be in heaven. Not long our pilgrimage here. And what shall we say? This is our song. Listen to it. And they sang: " . . . Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and madeth us kings and priests unto our God, to Him be glory and honor and dominion, forever and ever. Amen" [Revelation 1:5-6].
"And I saw as it were a Lamb that had been slain seated in the throne" [from Revelation 5:6]. "He is worthy, for He hath redeemed us unto God by His blood out of every nation and family and tribe and people under the sun, and they worshiped Him that liveth forever and ever," [excerpts from Revelation 4 and 5] – remembering the cross.
Now, a brief appeal. Some of the things that you read in the story of the Christian faith is almost unbelievable, stranger than fiction. There came into this world a darkness. The Bible was hid away in languages nobody knew or understood. The gospel message was no longer preached, and a darkness fell upon all the people of the world. And in those days, there was a young man, a young nobleman. His name was Zinzendorf [Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf]. Going through the gallery in a city of Germany named DÃ¼sseldorf, in the famous art gallery there, he was arrested by a picture. It was the picture of the Son of God: Christ, our Passover, sacrificed for us [1 Corinthians 5:7].
And he stood transfixed looking at that picture. And underneath was a little Latin couplet, and it was this: Hoc feci pro te; quid facis pro me? All of you that studied Latin in school, you know what it means. "This have I done for thee. What hast thou done for Me?" And the young nobleman standing there, looking at that wonderful picture of the cross, turned to give his life, his estates, his soul, to the ministry and to the service of our crucified and loving Lord. And that was the beginning of this great missionary movement. That was the beginning of this great evangelical movement. That was the beginning of this great worldwide evangelistic movement. That was the beginning of everything you see today in this holy, holy, bold proclamation of the gospel of the Son of God. It began with a turning back to the cross.
And that is the fountain of all of our works and of all of our ministries: turning back to the day of the cross, turning back to the hour of His sacrifice, turning back to that day when God judged the sin of man and put it away in the blood of His Son. That’s the fountain source of the life of this church. That’s the hope of our souls. That’s the heart of our message: Christ our Passover sacrificed for us [1 Corinthians 5:7]. Hoc feci pro te; quid facis pro me? What have we done for Him?
I want to change our song this morning. And while we sing that appeal, "There’s a Fountain Filled with Blood," Number 48 – while we sing that song this morning, number 48, somebody you, give his heart to the Lord. Somebody you, dedicate your life to Christ. Somebody you, put your life in the fellowship of this church. While we sing this song, "There’s a Fountain Filled with Blood," today, would you come? Would you come?
"Here I am, Pastor. This day, I’m trusting the Lord as my Savior," or "This day, we’re coming into the fellowship of the church" while we sing this song, "There’s a Fountain Filled with Blood." That’s the atoning work of our Savior. That’s the cross. While we sing it, into the aisle and down here to the front, would you come and stand by me while all of us stand and sing together?
CHRIST OUR PASSOVER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 5:7
A. The Passover season – our Easter season
B. The story of the Passover
1. Nine terrible plagues upon the land of Egypt – but none of them touched Israel
2. The tenth plague a judgment of God upon all the people
3. God’s provision for escape
a. A lamb without blemish
b. The blood sprinkled – an open confession, display
c. The memorial rite – taught the people they were a redeemed family
II. The Passover a protevangelium – a gospel before the gospel
A. Redemption not an afterthought of God
1. In the heart of all the work and purpose of God is blood atonement
B. Great text reverberates through all Old Testament(Leviticus 17:11)
C. Through story of New Testament same text reverberates (Hebrews 9:22)
1. Our Lord’s suffering and crucifixion
2. The story of the martyrs
3. The great redeemed throng(Revelation 7:14)
III. Without a cross, without the blood, there is no gospel
A. Not by the beautiful life of our Savior are we washed of our sins
1. It is the death of Christ, through His flesh, the veil is torn and we have access into Holy of Holies by His blood
B. We are not saved by the incarnation
1. We are saved by His cross, death and resurrection
C. We are not saved by His gracious words(John 7:46)
1. His blood spoke more (Hebrews 12:24)
D. The first apostles, preachers, missionaries always turn back to the cross(1 Peter 1:18-19, Galatians 2:20, 1 John 1:7)
E. It will be our song(Revelation 1:5-6)