From Slaves To Sons: The Glorious Freedom Of Passover

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, “You will be made free”?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.’[1]

A faulty view of history is a dangerous thing. If one does not perceive one’s true origin, he risks a false perception of his present condition. Jesus’ listeners missed the lesson of their ancestors’ experience. With their spiritual myopia, they skewed their past and misinterpreted their present. Their self-assessment was faulty, and they likewise misunderstood the Messiah standing before them. Christ always preached the Word to dispel human misconceptions. The Scriptures still reveal things as they actually are. As the Bible itself says: “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.”[2] Even Israel’s religious calendar of harvest festivals was designed to point them to the Lord’s saving work: for example, Passover taught the beautiful truth of redemption.

Happy Holiday[3]

More than just a holiday, Israel’s Passover[4] deals with the fundamental human problems of good and evil, justice and injustice, slavery and freedom; yet

many religious people miss its deeper significance. Rather than a generic commemoration of one nation’s historical experience, the Passover speaks of freedom from sin and sonship in God’s family through the costly sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Sadly, many people miss its lessons, because they fail to recognize themselves as slaves. Christ’s audience indignantly averred that they had “never been in bondage to anyone.” This was inaccurately revisionistic and hopelessly shortsighted.

Passover was a yearly reminder of Israel’s bondage in Egypt, and as they spoke they were dominated by the occupying Roman empire. More disturbingly, they overlooked their habitual sin – an ongoing spiritual slavery which they could not escape through their own efforts.[5] Passover demonstrates that they – and modern people with them – needed deliverance from sin’s bondage and penalty. They also needed to be transferred from a tyrannical kingdom to the kingdom of the living God.[6] The Israelites in Egypt were no better morally than their Gentile neighbors. They needed a substitute to die in their place. The blood of an unblemished lamb was applied to the exterior of their homes. The only difference between the Egyptians and the Israelites was that the latter trusted in God’s promise to save them from the judgment that their sins deserved. Of course, any Egyptian or other sort of Gentile who believed the promise could similarly demonstrate their faith by putting the sacrificial blood on their doorposts and mantles. Salvation was open to all who would receive God’s provision: the Passover lamb. God delivered their firstborn sons from death, and led the nation out of the land of oppression, eventually being led into a new life in the Promised land. The redemption prefigured in this ancient feast leads believers into liberated sonship instead of slavery. Saved from divine wrath and sin’s shackles, they are freed for holy living in Christ.[7]

Christ Our Passover

Slaves have an uncertain and impermanent status in the household. But the Lord Jesus affirmed that the son abides forever: his standing is permanent and unassailable. The son is a secure member of the family; therefore, he is given responsibility in the family’s affairs. The slave does not know what his master is doing;[8] by contrast, the son is involved in the Father’s plans. In Christ, believers have security, as well as important service to do for the Lord and His church.

If one denies their bondage to sin, refusing to concede their morally compromised state, he will not be liberated. The Israelites needed to confess their guilt – affirming that they deserved death – by applying the Passover lamb’s blood. Their only hope for deliverance lay in believing God and His gracious promise as revealed in His Word. Similarly, the only hope for modern people is to confess their sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Passover, for salvation. He places believers as sons in His family, as Galatians explains: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’[9] New life in Christ entails the freedom of sonship, not the grinding and ignorant servitude of slavery.

  1. John 8:31-38 [Boldface mine.]
  2. Psalm 119:130.
  3. A common Hebrew greeting during the feast is Chag Sameach, loosely rendered as “Happy holiday.”
  4. Called Pesach in Hebrew.
  5. Romans 7:7-24.
  6. Modern day believers enjoy a similar – yet greater – deliverance in Christ: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13.)
  7. 1 Cor. 5:6-8.
  8. John 15:15.
  9. Galatians 4:4-6.