Did Jesus Replace the Passover?

Did the God of the Old Testament do things that Jesus Christ had to clean up? For example, is the Passover outdated and no longer necessary?

Religious writers of a gnostic bent, past and present, frequently mix truth with error. One of their major themes falsely claims that the Creator God was rather “over the hill,” necessitating a youthful, vigorous Jesus to zoom in to repair the damage and rescue human souls.

In his book Primitive Christianity in Crisis, Alan Knight explains the gnostic approach: “Salvation depends on rejecting both the material world and the God that created it. … The wrathful God of the Old Testament cannot be the same as the true spiritual Father” (third edition, pp. 22, 48).

Is the big story plot of the Bible, “Jesus Christ the Savior replaces a fading Creator God”?

Did Jesus scrap the Creator’s work, or did He build on it, adding the finished structure to the foundation God had laid?

Jesus came to reveal the Father, not replace Him (Matthew 11:27; John 5:37). Could it be that Father and Son have been closely collaborating all along? They are on the same page, with the same goals and same objectives, in complete agreement.

As a case in point, consider the biblical story of the Passover, in the Old Testament and the New.

The Old Testament Passover

In Exodus 12 we read of the Passover being revealed to the Israelites. It was to be observed on the 14th day of the first month of the Hebrew calendar. For each household a lamb was slaughtered, a male without blemish. No bones of the lamb were broken. They smeared the Passover lamb’s blood around the doors of their homes as a sign. God spared the congregation of Israel as He passed over the blood-stained doors in the night and did not send destruction on their firstborn.

The following day, the 15th of the first month, was a holy day, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. On that day Israel began leaving Egypt and eating unleavened bread. Israel was finally delivered from their hard bondage in slavery.

Jesus’ New Testament Passover

Some 15 centuries later the Bible records another Passover, this time in the holy city, Jerusalem. Compare this one to that first ancient drama.

  1. A key event of the New Testament is the sacrifice of a human male Passover lamb, Jesus Christ. “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
  2. Jesus was crucified on the exact same 14th day of the first month, the preparation day before the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a holy day. “Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away” (John 19:31).
  3. Jesus’ sacrifice delivered mankind from bondage to sin and death (Romans 8:2).
  4. Jesus was without sin, an unblemished sacrifice (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5).
  5. None of His bones were broken. “But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs” (John 19:33).
  6. Jesus spared all repentant sinners from eternal death, the consequence of our sins. We have been washed in His own blood (Revelation 1:5). Compare this to how the Israelites were saved from the death of the firstborn.
  7. Jesus’ disciples continued to keep the Passover annually to remember His sacrifice and still do even to this day, along with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8, penned some 20-plus years after Jesus ascended).

Finishing touches?

Did Jesus start a new approach with the nonbiblical holidays of Christmas and Easter? Or did He put the finishing touches on the age-old Passover festival to be observed for all time, precisely as the Father and Jesus planned in exact detail from the very beginning?

  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
  • “I and My Father are one,” of one mind and purpose (John 10:30).
  • “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42, Jesus prayed this to the Father about His terrible trial that was to commence).

The Bible shows that the first Passover festival of the sacrifice of unblemished lambs back in ancient Egypt was a brilliantly fashioned shadowy precursor of greater things to come centuries later—the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all sins, for all mankind, for all time (Colossians 2:16-17).

For more about Passover, see “Passover: What Did Jesus Do for You?” For more about God and Jesus, check out the section about God

About the Author

Sam Shrauner

Sam Shrauner is an elder in the Lakeland, Florida, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.