“The cross on which Jesus shed His blood has become the doorpost of the world” by L. Michael Morales

“The ‘Lamb of God’ in the opening of John’s Gospel (John 1:29) finds its counterpart in the crucifixion, when God’s Lamb is sacrificed at Passover (John 19:31-37). The scene of Jesus’ death brings together a number of details that mark the cross as the ultimate Passover sacrifice.

First, the chronology of the crucifixion is minutely detailed so as to manifest its correlation to Israel’s paschal feast– Jesus was crucified as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered (John 18:28, 39; 19:14, 31, 42).

That Jesus’ body was not allowed to stay on the cross until the next morning has also been understood as paralleling the rule that the vestiges of the Passover meal were not to remain until the next day (John 19:31, 38; Exodus 12:19).

More clearly, the presence of a hyssop branch at Jesus’ crucifixion, noted by John’s Gospel alone, forms a strong echo of the use of hyssop branches for spattering lamb’s blood on the lintels and doorposts on the original night of Passover (John 19:29; Exodus 12:22)– the cross on which Jesus shed His blood has become the doorpost of the world.

Furthermore, the Fourth Gospel alone offered the detail that, since He was already dead, the soldiers did not need to break Jesus’ legs (John 19:31-37). This took place, John instructs the reader directly, in order to fulfill the Passover legislation, that ‘not one of his bones will be broken’ (John 19:36)– in the slaying, roasting, eating, and burning of the remains of the firstborn’s substitutionary lamb, the animal’s bones were not to be broken (Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; cf. Psalm 34:20).

To this scriptural quotation another is added in the next verse, which fuses once more the Passover lamb imagery with that of the Davidic righteous sufferer: ‘They will look upon Him whom they pierced’ (Zechariah 12:10).

Along with the quotation from Psalm 22 (in John 19:24), this word from the prophet Zechariah points to the sufferings of the Messiah as servant, which leads to mourning for Him as for a beloved son, a firstborn. In Zechariah this piercing is followed by the opening of a fountain for cleansing from sin (Zechariah 13:1), a reality that finds fulfillment in the blood and water that flow from Jesus’ side (John 19:34).

Through the theological lens of Passover, in summary, John’s Gospel presents Jesus as the Lamb of God who by His crucifixion takes away the sin of the world. No other sacrifice is so deeply associated with redemption from death, along with the cleansing and sanctification of Israel, than the original Passover sacrifice of the exodus out of Egypt.

Just as the blood of the Passover lamb, substituted for Israel as God’s firstborn son, had stayed the death-thread of God’s judgment, redeeming Israel from bondage and ransoming them from the grave, so the crucifixion of Jesus, the perfect paschal sacrifice, delivers God’s people from death and bondage to sin– fully and finally.”

–L. Michael Morales, Exodus Old and New: A Biblical Theology of Redemption (Essential Studies in Biblical Theology; Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2020), 163-164.

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