Symbol and Reality:
We need to get a point very clear when talking about the Old Testament symbols, and the New Testament which is the reality of the Gospel. Looking at an event from the right angle is important. Let us look at one of the symbols in the Old Testament.
Passover was a great feast for the children of Israel. It was a symbol of the real deliverance to come, and also it was a memorial of the deliverance from Egypt to Canaan, on that great day when God delivered them through Moses, His servant. God instructed:
In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover. (Leviticus 23:5)
God specified the date when the Passover was to be celebrated. Who was the essence of the Passover? The New Testament makes it clear:
Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: (1 Corinthians 5:7)
The Passover was nothing but a symbol of Jesus, who was sacrificed for our deliverance from sin.
Jesus Himself said:
For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (John 5:46, 47)
Christ was clear. He was telling the people during His time if they really believed Moses they would believe Him, because Moses wrote about the Christ. The Passover, for example, was nothing but a symbol of the gospel, which would become reality in Jesus. It was Christ that would be sacrificed for our deliverance, the true deliverance—of the soul. Jesus said:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin…If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8: 34, 36)
So, Jesus was the real Passover Lamb.
Did Jesus die on that 14th day of the first Jewish religious month? Absolutely! Otherwise God would not have told the date!
Behold the scene at the hall of Judgment. Jesus was already in the hands of the wicked men. Caiaphas leads Him to Pilate’s judgment hall with all the people screaming for His life.
Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. (John 18:28)
They, in their blindness, could not see that Jesus was the real Passover! They were more interested in the symbols, and missed out the reality. They did not know that the symbol had no virtue in itself. They missed the mark so badly that they ended up killing the Son of God and fulfilling prophecy.
Jesus died exactly on the Passover day, the 14th day of the first Jewish month; exactly the same time, the same hour, on the cross. He said “it is finished” (John 19:30).
God is a great timekeeper. Everything was well thought of and planned by God. It is written:
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son. (Galatians 4:4)
God was keeping time as He prophesied the date of that event 1500 years earlier.
The important question is—did Jesus die on the 14th day of the first month because it was the Passover? Or, did God tell Moses to have the 14th day of the first month as Passover, because His Son would die on that day? Well, that can be found out easily.
Which is the symbol and which is the reality? The symbols were the Old Testament ceremonies; the reality was Jesus Christ. So it was not Jesus trying to fit into the symbols, but rather all the symbols were there to fit the reality! So Jesus died on the 14th day of the 1st Jewish month not because it was Passover, but rather the 14th day of 1st Jewish month was celebrated as the Passover because, in the future, the Lamb of God was going to die on that very date!
Consider the shadow of our body. Does the body follow the shadow or the shadow follows the body? We know that the shadow is not the leader but the follower. Sometimes the shadows may be ahead of us as we walk; sometimes it can be behind us; and sometimes at the side of us. Wherever the shadow is does not matter; the shadow just shows us that there is a substance that it is reflecting. So also the shadows of the Calvary, some were before the cross, some were after—the Passover was before, and the Lord’s Supper is after.
Look at Pentecost: The feast of weeks was celebrated on the fiftieth day after the first fruits. The first fruit was on the 16th day of the 1st Jewish month, i.e., the day Jesus rose (See 1 Corinthians 15:20). The fiftieth day after His resurrection is called Pentecost. We know from Acts chapter 2 that the Holy Spirit came down on Pentecost.
The question is—did the Holy Spirit come down on the day of Pentecost because it was the day of Pentecost? Or, did God command Moses to have the fiftieth day after the first fruits as Pentecost, because the Holy Spirit would be coming on that day? The Holy Spirit was the reality! It is the shadow that follows the substance and not the other way!
The gospel is beautiful, but we need to look from the right angles to see its beauty.