Consuming the Lamb of God

Most scholars agree that the death of Jesus is the fulfillment of the Passover.

On the tenth of the month everyone of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake it. The lamb must be a year-old male without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats... it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. They shall take some of the blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb.

That same night, they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. It shall not be eaten raw or boiled, but roasted whole, with its head and shanks and inner organs. None of it must be kept beyond the next morning; whatever is left over in the morning shall be burned up.

This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and you staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the Lord.
Exodus 12:3-11

Here, we see that the Israelites were to slaughter a one year old lamb or goat, roast the whole animal and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

I have not seen a one year old lamb but I would imagine that it would be larger than two whole chickens. I would also think that that a one year old lamb would be more than what one or even two families can eat. Yet this is what the Lord commanded - that they eat the entire lamb and not leave anything for the morning. If there are some left for the morning, they are to burn it. This shows that there will probably be some leftovers from the food.

We call Jesus as the Lamb of God because he is the Passover Lamb - who delivers us from sin. If Jesus is our Passover Lamb, we must first take his blood and apply it to OUR door posts and lintel and we must eat him. This brings us to John's account of what Jesus told the Jews, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life." John 6:54

As Catholics, we believe that the bread and wine we offer becomes the flesh and blood of Jesus during consecration. But if we look further, we also see another meaning of what Jesus said.

The Israelites had to apply the blood on the door posts and lintel. Same with us who consume the Lamb. Since blood is considered as the source of life, the blood of Jesus - the life of Jesus should cover the door posts of our persons - our hearts. We should cover ourselves with the life of Jesus. Surround ourselves with things that will remind us of Jesus and help us to focus on him. Or better yet, cover ourselves whole selves WITH Jesus.

The Israelites were suppose to eat the lamb dressed up as if in flight. If we consume Jesus, expect to move from the slavery of sin to freedom. Our slavery to sin is not something abstract. It is something we can easily identify: Pride, arrogance, vice, lust, greed, anger, resentments, slander, and all things that go against God. If we consume Jesus, we expect God to move mightily in our lives so that we too will be free from these things that enslave us.

The Israelites were to eat the whole lamb. As they eat, they become filled with the lamb. So when we consume Jesus, it is expected that we will be filled with Jesus himself. And when we are filled with Jesus, we are filled with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

The lamb is to be eaten with bitter herbs. When we consume Jesus, do not expect everything to turn out as you have planned. To tell you the truth, when we consume Jesus, we should expect a lot of 'bitter' experiences - or disappointments. But the bitterness does not come from the Lamb. It comes from the herbs consumed with the lamb. Jesus does not bring us these bitter experiences. But these bitter experiences are to be taken with Jesus.

How then can we consume Jesus? In Exodus 24, Moses wrote down all the laws that God gave to the Israelites through him. He then went to the foot of the mountain and built and altar to offer a peace sacrifice to the Lord. He took half the blood of the sacrifice and poured it on the altar. Then, he read the book of the covenant and read it aloud to the people. The people answered, "All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do." Exodus 24:7. Then Moses took the other half the blood and sprinkled it on the people and said, "This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of his." This act seals the covenant of God and his people.

Notice that the covenant was sealed only AFTER the people affirmed to obey all that the Lord said. When Jesus instituted the eucharist, he took the cup, gave it to his disciples and said, "Take this all of you and drink. This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shared for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven."

The blood of Jesus therefore parallels the blood of the covenant. And before we can drink it we have to heed and do his word. Without obedience and humility to Jesus, we cannot drink his blood! Without drinking his blood, we cannot eat his flesh and therefore we cannot live the life he has planned for us.

As we begin to celebrate Easter, I pray that the we will be free from whatever binds us. And this is achieved only by obedience in Jesus our Risen Lord.