On this coming Sunday, March 25, Christians will celebrate what has become commonly known as “Palm Sunday.” Palm Sunday recognizes the day Jesus rode towards Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey while people laid palm branches on the ground before Him, and the crowd hailed Him as God’s Messiah.
The disciples “brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this!” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matt. 21:7-11)
This happened on the Sunday before Jesus was crucified. And, not incidentally, Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem occurred on the Jewish calendar date of the 10th day of Nisan.
To a typical gentile Christian, the date of Nisan 10, could seem insignificant – but not to a first century Jew. This was a highly important date on their calendar. For, it was God’s chosen date of the year for the selection of the Passover lamb.
“The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, ‘This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household” (Exod. 12:1-3). This lamb was to become their Passover lamb.
God had given specific requirements for observing Passover. And one of the requirements for observing Passover was in selecting an acceptable Passover lamb on a specific date. That is why Nisan 10, for early Jews, was known as “lamb selection day.”
When selecting their Passover lamb, it couldn’t be just any animal. This was to be a sacrificial lamb that must meet all God’s required qualifications for a Passover lamb. It had to be a chosen animal that would pass a thorough inspection to ascertain there were no visible signs of disease, scabs, sores, deformities, undernourishment, etc. The Passover lamb couldn’t even have a small blemish, or it would be dismissed as unacceptable. The sacrificial lamb was to be totally “without defect” of any sort.
This Passover lamb without blemish was giving a portrayer of what Christ would fulfill by giving His life “as a ransom for many” on a cross at Calvary. Jesus was the true “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
It’s important first to note that when Jesus rode into Jerusalem while the crowd praised His worthiness, it was on “lamb selection day” because God was working His plan for the salvation of man, even though the crowd was oblivious to what was right in front of them. That is, the true fulfillment of the Passover Lamb was in Jesus of Nazareth.
As the people shouted their praises of His worthiness and specifically called Him by the Messianic title of “Son of David,” they were actually examining Jesus and acknowledging Him as “Christ, our Passover lamb” (1 Cor. 5:8).
The necessity of a Passover lamb to be “without defect” points to the perfection of Jesus Christ. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22). “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Jesus became the worthy Passover Lamb, who laid down His life for the redemption of men’s sins.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world” (1 Pet. 1:18-19).