As Pharaoh ignores the might of God and goes back on his word to Moses continuously through the first 9 plagues due to the hardness of his heart, God prepares Moses and the people to be spared from the final and most devastating plague. God is going to send the angel of death who will take the life of all first born in the land of Egypt. In doing so, He will be giving Divine Justice to the actions of Pharaoh, but also sparing His chosen people Israel. Through Moses, God lets His people know that He is about to do something significant. He tells them that they should remember and reenact the feast each year that He is about to establish: The Passover.
As preparation, all households are to take a lamb, or share a lamb with another household. The lamb must be of age and unblemished. They are to sacrifice it, take the blood of the lamb, and apply to the door and lintel of the house. Then they should eat the meal of the lamb with unleavened bread (there was no time for the yeast to rise). They must eat the meal dressed for a journey because that night, God will deliver Israel from the land of Egypt. The angel of death visits the houses of the Egyptians taking their firstborn, but passes over the houses of the Israelites because of the blood on their doorposts and lintels. Pharaoh loses his own son and is grieved to the point of finally letting the Israelites and all of their livestock and possessions go. The Egyptian people were so ready to be rid of the Israelites, that they gave them all of their valuables to leave. God had shown His might and Egypt had finally listened.
While this event happened in history nearly 4,000 years ago, it is still relevant to Christians today, especially Catholics. 2,000 years ago, Jesus used the feast of the Passover to fulfill his paschal mystery, thus giving us the truest form of the Passover. On the night before he died, Jesus took the unleavened bread and declared it was His Body. In the same way He took the wine and declared it His blood. Because Jesus is God’s Word, Jesus’ declaration actualizes what it said. The change of the substance of bread and wine into His Body and Blood was complete, whole, and entire. His Body and Blood in the appearance of bread and wine is the exact same Body and Blood that will be broken and shed the next day during His passion and death. Jesus tells His Apostles to partake in the meal and do it in remembrance of Him.
The connection is undeniable. Jesus, who is the unblemished (without sin) lamb who was of age (His hour had come) becomes the sacrifice for our sins. All who repent and receive the mercy that comes from the broken Body and shed Blood of Christ will be passed over at their judgment and spared from eternal death. The blood is placed on the wood of the doorposts and lintels in Egypt. The Blood of Jesus is found on the wood of His cross and all who take up their cross and follow Him.
Not only is the sacrifice of the lamb present in Jesus’ sacrifice, but we also partake in the meal of the lamb. We consume Jesus in the appearance of unleavened bread that He has declared His Body. We partake in the Eucharist as people on a journey to heaven, knowing that this fallen world is not our homeland. Finally, instead of remembering the festival of the passover yearly, the Church celebrates the Eucharistic sacrifice daily, obeying Jesus’ instruction of remembrance. However, each moment of consecration is more than a remembrance. The power of the Holy Spirit transcends time, and represents the same sacrifice that Jesus made at the last supper, in His passion, and all the masses in human history. It is a sacrifice for the salvation of us all. Just as God spares Abraham’s first born Isaac, God spares his people, choosing instead to give His own Son as sacrifice out of love for them. The Exodus from our sin only takes place through the sacrifice of Jesus. The good news is that Jesus is offering us a free gift, we only have to receive it.
Returning to Moses, we know that the story is not over. In fact, the story has just begun. With the Passover sacrifice complete, the focus now turns to the response of the Israelites and their trust in God as they journey through the wilderness.