God’s Sovereign Orchestration of Christ’s Final Passover, Part 2

by Marcelo A. Tolopilo ©

In our previous Lighthouse article we saw that God, like a master conductor, orchestrated the unfolding of world events over hundreds of years to set the stage to reveal His Anointed One. God was completely in control of the big picture. The Father moved nations, kings, prophets, and history itself to introduce His Son the Messiah of Israel at precisely the predetermined time (Daniel 9:25, Luke 19:35-40, the Triumphal Entry), revealing also that His life would be crushed almost immediately (Daniel 9:26, the Lord’s last Passover, the crucifixion). It is so encouraging to see the strong and providential hand of God moving the chess pieces of history to achieve His desired outcomes which He brings about for our good. 

God cares about the macro & the micro

It is comforting to realize God controls the big picture, history itself. It is also reassuring that our Father in heaven exercises care over the details 

of our lives as He did with His own Son. God does not overlook the details. He works out the particulars because His integrity upholds every promise He makes. Both the plan in macrocosm (the big picture), and the plan in microcosm (the particular details) matter to Him and are equally under His watchful eye. We see God’s gracious orchestration in so many details of Christ’s final Passover. Consider the following few paragraphs.

Jesus had to keep the Passover and be the Passover

As an observant Jew, Jesus was under obligation to keep the Passover. As the Lord’s chosen Messiah, Jesus came to fulfill the entire law. He boldly declared “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). And so, in order to satisfy perfect obedience to God’s law and “… fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15) Jesus had to observe this final Passover on the prescribed day, and yet also be our Passover lamb by dying on the cross. How could He accomplish both? 

Here again we see the providential hand of God orchestrating events to bring about His plan. You see, as Israel grew through the centuries, there came to be a tradition of two sanctioned times to celebrate God’s Passover in Jerusalem. There was one time to accommodate the Galilean Jews of the north, and a sanctioned time for the Judeans of the south. We know this from the Mishnah, and Josephus. And so the Jews of Galilee reckoned Passover from sunrise to sunrise celebrating Passover on Thursday evening. The Judean Jews in the south marked Passover from sunset to sunset celebrating their Passover on Friday.

This of course permitted our Lord Jesus to celebrate Passover as an observant Jew according to the Law on Thursday night. He also used the extended evening to pass on all the important teaching He needed to communicate to His disciples (John 13-17). And then on Friday the Lord was able to be our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7). God used a practical accommodation in Israel to accomplish His grand design.

Purpose & plan in the particulars

On Friday Jesus died as our Passover Lamb, and God the Father designed even the moment of His death with precise intent. Jesus died at 3:00 pm which was exactly the hour the Judean Jews were presenting their Passover lambs for sacrifice (Matthew 27:46-51). In other words, as Jesus surrendered His spirit with a final cry, the priests began the slaughter of the spotless Passover lambs. What’s more it was precisely at this moment—by the exertion of Divine power—that God tore the temple veil in two (Matthew 27:51). Imagine being a priest slaying a spotless lamb and having your attention arrested by the sight and sound of this massive temple veil torn asunder. These priests were witnesses of this miracle and the timing of it with Christ’s death. It is no wonder that as the gospel was preached in Jerusalem “ … a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). 

God mobilized world history and crafted the outworking of its details to bring about His eternal purpose, the salvation of men: a purpose and plan that reaches through the millennia to rescue you and me from sin.

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