Midnight of Passover

That today is Passover has stayed on my mind quite powerfully all day and into the night. As I understand it, Passover began at Sunset April 8 and continues until sunset April 9. (I am not a scholar, so I will likely get some of the details of this wrong. Share grace with me.)

I watched the sunset earlier and couldn’t help but think of how the Israelites must have felt as they prepared the Passover lamb and washed the door posts with blood on hyssop. How they must have carefully watched for sunset, marking the beginning of a terrifying night — knowing so many lives would be lost in a single night.

“About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again.”

I imagine that the similarity of fear of death during the Covid-19 crisis being faced all around the world isn’t missed by any of us. Here, in Louisiana, we are praying that we have reached a peak and that illness and deaths will begin to decrease. Perhaps even on this holy Passover night.

I have been struck in so many ways by the fact that this week is not only the commemoration of Passover but also of Jesus’ last week on earth. As I ate soup with Mike tonight, I thought of Jesus commemorating Passover and eating His last supper with His friends, promising them He would not eat it again until His return. I thought of how much I have missed Murphy Monday—our weekly dinner with our sons and their wives—since we stopped getting together just a few weeks ago and how much I am missing communion with a gathering of Christians even though it’s only been a few weeks now.

I have been unable to go to sleep as the clock has slowly moved toward and now beyond midnight. I keep thinking of how well Jesus knows where we are and what we feel and fear.

As midnight on Passover came and passed for Jesus, He was praying in the garden. He surely thought about the night centuries before when Egypt lost her firstborn sons and how the blood of a lamb saved the children of Israel. He must have thought about how He the firstborn son of God would now die as the Lamb of God to save all nations.

And, I am struck by yet another way Jesus knows what so many people are facing this week. Jesus faced His death alone. I cannot imagine being separated from someone I love while they struggle with this illness in the hospital. I know many families are facing that, and some have even lost a loved one without being able to say goodbye. My heartbreaks for them.

How sad Jesus must have felt thinking of all the torture that lay ahead of him and knowing that He was about to be spiritually separated from the Father for the first and only time and how He would be physically separated from his friends for the rest of their lifetimes.

He prayed alone in anguish through the Passover night knowing death was near. I know many people have been and are praying for God to heal, to restore, to let this cup pass. Jesus knows that kind of struggle, the agony of that prayer, and He joins and intercedes for us as we pray with and for one another, for our families, for our healthcare heroes, for our communities, our leaders and our neighbors all around the world.

When He died for us, Jesus ripped the veil from bottom to top so that we can enter the Holy of Holies ourselves and speak to a loving Father who hears us and is moved by His love for His children! What a precious gift!

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