Passover Lamb [Exodus 12]
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Passover Lamb – 04.14.2022
Tonight I’d like to open up the sermon by reading a children’s book. Rachael Denhollander is probably best known as one of the key sexual abuse survivors who brought down Larry Nassar and shed light on the Olympic Gymnastics organization. She has a background in both gymnastics and legal practice, which she put to good use to protect and defend young women. More importantly, she is a wonderful mother and a passionate follower of Jesus. She has worked tirelessly not just on the Larry Nassar case, but also to root out abuse and protect women in all organizations, including churches. Along the way, with all the battles she has had to fight, Rachael wrote a poem for her daughter, eventually she partnered with a brilliant illustrator and the result is a wonderful children’s book called “How Much Is A Little Girl Worth?” A few years later her husband Jacob, with her help, also wrote a book called “How much is a little boy worth?” But for tonight, I wanted to read to you, “How much is a little girl worth?
[read the book] What I love about this book is that this mother’s love of her daughter is such an incredible parallel for the love God has for each of his children. Tonight we will take a walk through the Passover – we will see a familiar story with a simple message about how much God thinks you are worth.
Now, if you’ve ever had communion in this church – you’ve probably heard me tell the story of how the last supper with Jesus and the disciples has its origins in the slavery of Israel in Egypt. Exodus chapter 12 IS that passage. So we need to remember the background. The people of Israel have been hanging out in Egypt for 400 years. Over time they became slaves and they’ve been crying out for freedom. God sends Moses to talk to Pharoah, but it doesn’t go very well. God sends the ten plagues of Egypt. Chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10 are the first nine plagues: water turned to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, fire raining from the sky, and darkness. And now it’s time for the finale - the final plague. Now I should mention this final plague is so horrible, that there’s an entire chapter warning how bad it’s going to be before we get to chapter 12. Chapter 11 is just one big chapter saying, “this is going to be so, so terrible.” The tenth plague is that the firstborn son of every household will die. And I should mention – most people do NOT like to talk about the tenth plague because it’s really horrible. The death of the first born of Egypt is hard to make sense of in our modern context. The best way I can explain it and connect it to our lives is that sin results in a death. Any type of sin, whatever it is in our lives, it results in death. Sin is that thing that pulls us away from God, and a life away from God leads to death. And I think we’re supposed to be uncomfortable with that. It’s okay to cringe when we think about sin and its inevitable result. Where there is sin, there is death. That’s the backdrop for our scripture, it’s been painful and terrible, and there’s one plague left.
[read v.3-5]. So Moses gathers up the Israelites and he says, “you need a lamb” There’s a big thing coming, and you’re going to need an unblemished lamb. It keeps going, [read v.6-7]. Now I know this sounds super gross to us in the modern world. But in a world where ritual sacrifice was normal – putting blood on the doorway is actually pretty simple symbolism. Sin results in death. Where there is evil, there will be death. There has been four hundred years of slavery and persecution. The entire country is soaked in sin and death. It says at the end in verse 12, [read v.12-13]. God says, when I see the blood, I see that there has been death, I will pass over that house. God loves his people, the Israelites. They were in slavery and he was going to save them. Even though it was a hard fight and took a lot of incredible signs and wonders – God never gave up the fight. Because his people were worth it. Even though sin brings death, even though sin brings separation from God – God was going to make a way for his people. His people were going to be free. Where I see the blood of the lamb, judgment will Passover that house. How much was Israel worth? They were worth the blood of the lamb. The ten plagues of Egypt, the parting of the red sea and more. Slavery had a STRONG grip on the people of Israel. The sin and darkness of a broken world pulls the people away from God, but God did not give up. That tells you how much Israel was worth.
So now we fast forward to Jesus. They’re at the Passover celebration. Why’s it called the Passover? Because God’s judgment passed over the blood of the lamb. Now it is the night before Jesus died. You know the story, we just celebrated communion in honor of it. Jesus, bread, cup, all that. But at one point during the meal, Jesus took the cup and said, “My blood will be poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins.” Which is a little creepy, and maybe a bit gross – because telling people to “drink my blood” is not exactly normal behavior. But when you know the story of Egypt, it makes sense – doesn’t it? Jesus is setting himself up as the Passover lamb. Like, the leftovers of the Passover meal are literally sitting in front of them. It’s on the table. 1 Peter chapter 1, verse 16 says [read v.16-19]. We are no longer trying to free an ancient people from a cruel dictator in Egypt. This lamb has come for your sins. We all live in slavery to our sins. We’ve got things holding us back, weighing us down. We are being crushed by the chains of this life, but the lamb has come for your sins. You will be set free. Think about everything Jesus goes through during Holy Week. He washes his disciples feet, even though he knows one of them is his betrayer. He’s arrested, put through a false trial, unjustly accused, stripped, mocked, beaten, betrayed by the crowds who call for his death, whipped, and then finally killed like a common criminal. Like the ten plagues of Egypt, it’s awful to watch. Painful to experience. But what I want you to realize tonight is that every terrible thing Jesus goes through demonstrates the abundance of God’s love for you. Sin brings death, but because of how much he loves you – God is willing to experience that death on himself FOR you.
Every time I think about what happens to Jesus during holy week, and I know he goes to the cross on my behalf – I want to cry out. No, Jesus! You don’t understand, I’m not worth it. If you only knew how broken I am – I’m not worth dying for. My sins? The things I’ve done, the things I’ve thought about doing? I know that sin brings death, and I know I deserve that death. Jesus, please don’t do this for me. You don’t understand. I am not good enough for you. I don’t deserve this sacrifice. You don’t deserve to go through this. You are perfect and blameless, and my sins are so many, my burdens are too heavy. Please don’t carry them for me. Jesus, I’m not worth it. My sin gets deep, and it has such a hold on me. But the creator of the universe, who knows every hair on my head, has counted every breath I will breathe, knows the number of my days and every thing I will ever do. He comes to me, with his blood stained hands and his lifts my chin, and he whispers into my heart, “You are worth it, because I say you are worth it.” And then he goes to the cross.
Here is what I need you to hear tonight. Jesus Christ says that you are worth it. Despite all your protests and all the guilt we carry – Jesus loves you, and he says you are worth it. Rachael Denhollander fights for justice, and she writes to you daughters, “How much is a little girl worth?” God pulled Israel out of Egypt with ten plagues, parting the red sea and more. With all that stuff, he answered the question, “how much is Israel worth?” And tonight, Jesus, with everything he goes through, answers the question “how much are you worth?” My answer is nothing. I want to say, “I’m not worth anything. I’m broken. I’m useless. I’m not worth it.” But the lord of all creation, with what he’s about to do – gives us a different answer. How much are you worth? You are worth dying for, worth giving up his entire life so you could be forgiven. This message is not just for me. In Matthew, Jesus said to his disciples “my blood of the covenant is poured out for MANY for the forgiveness of sins.” God’s wrath, his hatred of sin and all that hurts his creation will pass over you, because of the blood of Jesus. Jesus is the lamb. The blood of the lamb pays the price so that you can be free. You are no longer a slave to sin. God’s wrath will pass over you because of the blood of Jesus. There’s no message statement tonight. There’s no call to action or practical challenge for you to work on this week. I have nothing for you except this good news. Jesus goes to the cross tomorrow for you. Because you are worth it.