Preparing the Passover Lamb (Mark 14:1-2)

Preparing the Passover Lamb

Mark 14:1-2

I.) All Things After His Will

We are now in the final days of Christ’s life before the cross where we see the stage is being set for the sinless Son of God to become the sin of man that the sinful sons of men might become the sons of God. The events that the message of the gospel revolves around are coming to fruition. The figures are coming into focus. The focal point of Christianity is coming into view here. These first two verses prepare us for what is to come in the final chapters of Mark:

Now the Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest Him covertly and kill Him; for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there will be a riot of the people.”

We should recall that Mark’s gospel narrative is given to us so that we may know both the claims people made of Jesus of Nazareth and the claims Jesus made of Himself as being the Christ, the eternal Son of God; and we are given Mark’s gospel so that we may know the miraculous works He did to confirm those claims. All of this so that when we see Christ on His cross, we do not see just a man, we see God Himself demonstrating His own love towards us in that while we are yet sinners, He died for us having become a man obedient to death.[1] We see God in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself not counting their trespasses against them.[2] We see Him who knew no sin becoming sin, so that we who know only sin might become His righteousness by His grace, through our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.[3]

As we prepare to consider these verses there is a truth in the Scripture that we must rest our minds upon. It is a truth that will provide us comfort; encouragement, peace, hope, and it will ultimately bring glory to God when we know and rest in it. What is this truth? It is that God works all things after the counsel of His own will.[4] He sovereignly rules over His creation and brings about His intended purpose, even with the sinful will of man.

He said to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.[5] Job 42:2 says, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” Psalm 33:11 says, “The plan of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.” Isaiah 14:27 says, “For the Lord of armies has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” Isaiah 45:6-7 says, “So that people may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no one else,The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating disaster; I am the Lord who does all these things.” After being reduced to live as a beast of the field for seven years for not acknowledging that the Most High is ruler over them realm of mankind, and He puts into power whomever He wishes,[6] King Nebuchadnezzar says in Daniel 4:34-35:

“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation.35 All the inhabitants of the earth are of no account, but He does according to His will among the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can fend off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”

                        God says to us in Isaiah 55:8-11:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it produce and sprout, and providing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;11 So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”

The Living God, who eternally exists in three persons, is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, and forever Holy, good, just, and love; He does all things after the counsel of His will. All things were created by Him and for Him.[7] He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.[8] He has orchestrated all things so that Christ may have preeminence in everything:[9]

33 Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him, that it would be paid back to him? 36 For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”

II.) The Certainty of the Cross

Mark tells us that the Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest Him covertly and kill Him. There would be no good news for sinners if these wicked men never carried out the desire of their hearts. From the beginning of His ministry these men had sought to destroy Him.[10] The reason they wanted to kill Him was because He being a man made Himself out to be God.[11] They did not want to kill Him because of the miraculous works He did. They could not deny those. They wanted to kill Him for the claims those works confirmed, for Jesus looked at them and said, “Before Abraham was born, I AM…I and the Father are one.”[12] Rather than turning from their sin and their self-righteousness to trust in Him, they determined within themselves to kill Him. They thought the Messiah would welcome them with open arms, but instead the self-proclaimed and confirmed Christ condemned their self-righteous system, exposed them as hypocrites, and declared them to be whitewashed tombs which were beautiful on the outside, but full of death on the inside.[13] They, therefore, hardened their hearts to the Prince of Life and sought to crucify Him. John says in the beginning of His gospel:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind. And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it…10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him, and yet the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own people did not accept Him.”[14]

Jesus knew that His own would not receive Him. He had been preparing His disciples for what was going to happen to Him after He entered Jerusalem. He taught them beforehand “that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise from the dead.”[15] Peter took Him aside and rebuked Him for saying such a thing, and He in turn rebuked Peter saying, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”[16] The Son of Man “must” suffer and die not merely because He knew that these men would succeed in what they purposed to do, but because God would accomplish His eternal purpose through them:

33The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock Him and spit on Him, and flog Him and kill Him; and three days later He will rise from the dead.”

We do not see it in this text, but Matthew tells us that Jesus reminds His disciples that “after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”[17] What we have here is the intention of God and man coinciding. Though God is not mentioned, His sovereign dealings behind the scene are implied by highlighting the coming Passover before the coming crucifixion of the Son of Man.

III.) The Passover Lamb

What is the Passover? It is one of Israel’s three major feasts, which was instituted by God to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt and the sparing their firstborn from the death angle He sent through the land. He promised to Passover every house that took an unblemished, male lamb, a year-old; killed it and spread its blood upon the two door posts and the lintel of the houses in which it was eaten.[18] God said to Moses and Aaron in Exodus 12:12-13:

“I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and fatally strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the human firstborn to animals; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will come upon you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”

            Exodus 12:21-24 says:

21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slaughter the Passover lamb22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; but when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to strike you24 And you shall keep this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever.”

They were to remember the day when the blood of a perfect and innocent male lamb that was slain, covered them and saved them from the judgment of almighty God.

IV.) The Sovereignty of God and the Will of Man

At this point in Jesus’ ministry, they are two days away from celebrating the Passover which entails the slaughter of spotless and innocent lambs in remembrance of the day that their ancestors were saved from the wrath of God by the blood of the lamb. Jesus reminds His disciples it is coming, and reiterates what is going to happen to Him at the hands of godless men.

            The divine tension between the sovereignty of God and the will of man is beginning to appear. Both are determined to see Christ nailed to a cross, but each for a different reason. This is seen in John 11:45-50 after Jesus Christ claimed to be the resurrection and the life, and validated it by raising Lazarus who had been dead for four days. The text says that many Jews who:

…saw what He had done, believed in Him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.47 Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council meeting, and they were saying, “What are we doing in regard to the fact that this man is performing many signs? 48 If we let Him go on like this, all the people will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take over both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor are you taking into account that it is in your best interest that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish instead.” 

Caiaphas’ counsel was essentially, “Kill Him, and save the whole nation from perishing under the Romans. If He does not die, we are doomed.” Listen to what John goes on to say:

51 Now he did not say this on his own, but as he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation;52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.”

What they did not understand is that Jesus Christ is the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world.[19] He is the spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.[20] He came to give His life a ransom for many. Pilate said to Him, “’Do you not know that I have the authority to release You, and I have the authority to crucify You?’ Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above.”[21] He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep.[22] He had the authority to lay it down, and He had the authority to take it up again.[23]

 V.) Christ our Passover Lamb

God works all things after the counsel of His will. The death of Christ was no accident. Jesus Christ was our Passover Lamb.[24] Psalm 2:1-4 says:

“Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples plotting in vain?The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers conspire together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,3 “Let’s tear their shackles apart and throw their ropes away from us!”He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.”

Throughout the entirety of the Scripture, God had revealed His plan of redemption. This plan which was contrived in the everlasting among the Godhead, revealed in the garden, foreshadowed in the Old Testament, foretold by the prophets, and fulfilled in Christ on the cross as the Lamb of God who suffered and died for sinners.

Moses and the prophets spoke of Him as our Passover Lamb.[25] He is the seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent and be crushed in the heel.[26] He is foreshadowed in the innocent lamb that God killed in place of Adam and Eve who deserved to die.[27] He is prefigured in the acceptable sacrifice that Abel brought to God for his sin.[28] He is represented by the Ark, which saved Noah and his family from the wrath of God.[29] He is foreshadowed in the life of Isaac, who willingly laid down his life to be offered as a sacrifice by his father.[30] He is typified in the ram that was caught by the horns in the thicket, and died in the place of Isaac.[31]

He is foreshadowed in the life of Joseph, who was hated so much by his brothers that they rejected him and him as a slave to Egypt where he experienced great suffering. Through his suffering, God raised Joseph up to a position of power where he would be able to save the family of Israel from perishing under a seven year famine. The entire account of Joseph’s life can be summed up in his final words to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”

Mark 14:1-2 says:

Now the Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest Him covertly and kill Him; for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there will be a riot of the people.”

In Acts 2:22-24, Peter says to these men fifty days after they kill Jesus:

22 Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a Man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.24 But God raised Him from the dead.”

What they meant for evil, God meant for good, to preserve many people alive. Through the heinous injustice of man, the justice of God toward sin was satisfied on Christ, who shed His blood to cover our sin and bore on His body the wrath we deserved. Romans 5:9 says, “Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”1 John 4:10 says, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” We love God, because He first loved us.[32]

What brings us comfort, encouragement, peace, joy, and hope? Knowing that The Living God, who eternally exists in three persons, is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, and forever Holy, good, just, and love:

“…causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

[1] Romans 5:8

[2] 2 Corinthians 5:19

[3] 2 Corinthians 5:21

[4] Ephesians 1:11

[5] Exodus 9:16; Romans 9:17

[6] Daniel 4:31-32

[7] Colossians 1:16

[8] Colossians 1:17

[9] Colossians 1:18

[10] Mark 3:6

[11] John 10:33

[12] John 8:58; 10:30

[13] Matthew 23:27

[14] John 1:1-5,10-11

[15] Mark 8:31

[16] Mark 8:33

[17] Matthew 26:2

[18] Exodus 12:1-10

[19] Revelation 13:8

[20] John 1:29

[21] John 19:10-11

[22] John 10:14-15

[23] John 10:18

[24] 1 Corinthians 5:7

[25] Luke 24:25-27;44-46

[26] Genesis 3:15

[27] Genesis 3:21

[28] Genesis 4:4

[29] Genesis 6-9

[30] Genesis 22:1-10

[31] Genesis 22:13

[32] 1 John 4:19

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