January 11, 2005

Paschal Lamb

What strikes me is that this is the Passover feast. John seems to want us to make the connection between Jesus and the paschal lamb. Before, he placed this witness on the Baptist's lips: Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Yet the Passover sacrifice does no such thing. The Passover lamb was slaughtered and the blood marked on the doorframes so the angel of death might pass them over. There is no remission of sins explicit or implicit in the Passover lamb. Other sacrifices take on that role (i.e., scapegoat)

The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a barren region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:22)

How are we to puzzle this out?

What saved the Israelites from death was the act of obedience to God's command through the prophet Moses. This obedience not only saved them from death, but the affliction upon the Egyptian houses led to the Israelites freedom from bondage as well.

John, more than the synoptic, emphasizes Jesus' death as a free act of obedience on the part of Jesus. He depicts Pontius Pilate, as unable to avoid the role given to him by destiny. Much like the pharaoh of Exodus.

Perhaps it is simple obedience to the call of God which saves us from the sin of this world. It causes the angel of death to pass us over and frees us from our bondage to this world's ways.


At 1:46 p.m., Blogger Larry said...

you said:
"Perhaps it is simple obedience to the call of God which saves us from the sin of this world. It causes the angel of death to pass us over and frees us from our bondage to this world's ways."

No perhaps about it, although there are many other ways to describe it.

"If ye continue in my word,
then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32)

At 6:32 p.m., Blogger Marjorie said...

I can feel a link between the Passover and Jesus' atonement. The Israelites had to believe God and obey his command in order to be saved from the final plague. Likewise, the Gospel calls us to believe in Jesus' sacrifice, that is required for our salvation. I've always thought the Passover was curious, if Pharoah and the Egyptians were the bad guys and God was freeing the Israelites, why did the Israelites have to do anything to protect themselves?

As to Pharoah and Pilate, I see a distinction. Again and again, Pharoah's heart was hardened, sometimes expressly by God (Exodus 9:12 and probably others), which raises its own issues. Pilate, on the other hand, seems almost moved to release Jesus but decides against it for political reasons. I see a lot more free will (and therefore guilt) on the part of Pilate than I do for Pharoah.

At 9:25 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

About Pilate - I read somewhere that he was actually a very harsh ruler and that he was shown in such a light in the gospels not because that's how he truly acted (with Jesus) but because the writers of the gospels wanted to curry favor with the Roman rulers ... (from The Trial on Trial ) ...

This account is quite out of context with the monster that Philo wrote Gaius Caesar about, reporting that Pilate was inflexible and "cruel." Further, Josephus reports several occurrences where Pilate flagrantly incites insurrection in order to ruthlessly purge it with his soldiers. Pilate was eventually recalled to Vitellius (then Legate of Syria) after a particularly violent attack on the Samaritans in 36 CE, and was ordered sent to Rome in order to stand accusations of the slaughter. (Antiquities 18.4.85) The anti-Semitic Pilate was not the sort of governor that would have acted with even the slightest civility toward a Jew who openly admitted to sedition. Pilate's dismal record of purges and punishments against seditious behavior was anathema and history shows him to be one of, if not the cruelest of the Procurators of Judaea.


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