The importance of the blood on the doorpost and lintel likely “passed over” the Israelites the night before the Lord freed them from centuries of slavery under Pharaoh. Being of desperate mind, we can guess they regarded the act as nothing more than a divine hoop through which to jump to reach liberty and safety. Yes, God did intend the physical, present liberation of His chosen people. Yet in doing so, He inaugurated a process that would culminate at the death of the Lamb and be effectual at every baptism. Thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit, we connect the doorpost to the cross, and both to the baptismal font. The themes of provision, sacrifice, liberty, and restoration tie all three together.
Study: The Doorpost, the Cross, and the Baptismal Font
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. (Exodus 12:21-22)
- For centuries, the Pharaohs of Egypt kept the people of Israel under the painful, relentless lash of slavery. God chose this time to act. First calling Moses from the hills of Midian, God called his brother, Aaron, to demand freedom for the Israelites. Despite repeated promises and retractions from Pharaoh, God is patient, allowing another opportunity for a peaceful resolution.
- Consider the choice of lamb. God demanded a pristine animal, one less than a year old, without broken bone, clear from skin disease, and not having rutted with other animals. Each household was to slaughter and offer blood from this animal alone. We see clear connections to Jesus Christ. His parents offered Him at the temple before our Lord turned one year old. During His crucifixion, not one bone was broken. Like the lamb without skin disease, Jesus was and remains completely without sin. He is pristine in every way.
- Perhaps the most poignant connection, God called the head of each household to smear the blood on the doorpost and lintel, an act that requires a horizontal and vertical movement, like the shape of a cross. This recalls Jesus on the cross; the blood of His hands, head, and feet smeared on the horizontal and vertical beams.
For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. (Exodus 12:23)
- God sent death over the households of both the Egyptians and Israel. Without the lamb, death for the first born would result. God would recognize the blood on the house and Passover it, accepting blood as sufficient payment. In much the same way, God regards the sinner through the blood of Jesus Christ, smeared across the lintel and doorpost of the heart. The rite of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism brings this out. “Receive the sign of the holy cross both upon your + forehead an upon your + heart to mark you as one redeemed by Christ the crucified” (Lutheran Service Book, p. 268).
Law and Gospel
- A popular heresy, or false teaching, is universalism. This is the notion that one way or another, God will bring all people to Himself in heaven, no matter one’s belief regarding God, let alone Jesus Christ. Notice in the account of the Passover, God offered a means of protection from the death to come-the blood of the lamb. Although this was all sufficient, it was absolutely required. Each house needed its own application of blood. Similarly, one cannot receive forgiveness through another’s faith. Each must trust in Christ individually.
- Connect the blood of the Passover to Holy Communion. God marks us as one redeemed in Holy Baptism in the blood spilled on the cross. He gives us this true blood in Holy Communion. In both Sacraments, Jesus gives us grace at His expense. Hyssop connects the two Sacraments to the Old Testament. God called the people to apply the blood with a hyssop branch. During tabernacle sacrifices, the priest would sprinkle blood on the people using a hyssop branch. The hyssop branch marks the house as redeemed in the blood of the lamb. The pastor distributes the blood of Christ with those at the altar.
Tips for Teaching
Help students decorate the classroom door to look like that of a Hebrew house during the first Passover. Color the doorpost and lintel red. Place a picture of each student’s face on the doorpost and lintel. Above the door include a sign such as, “Marked as One Redeemed in Christ.”
Take the class into the sanctuary and bring the baptismal font and communionware close together spatially. Bring in a hyssop branch if possible. Ask the following questions.
1) How does the Passover help us to understand the sacraments? What is the connection to the hyssop branch?
2) Jesus’ death paid the full price for our sins. How do we know? If Jesus’ blood on the cross is enough, why does He still give it to us in Holy Communion?
Help your students study the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion with Enduring Faith curriculum.