By Melissa McLaughlin
In Over My Head
It was our honeymoon! What joy! We had decided to celebrate in Acapulco, Mexico. The food was scrumptious, the people joyful, the beaches beautiful and the water was warm and inviting. Being an avid ocean swimmer, I convinced my husband to take a snorkeling trip for an up-close-and-personal view of the tropical fish and exotic coral in the local ocean waters.
Soon enough, we zipped through the ocean as passengers on a small fishing boat. Before long, we realized we were the only English-speaking travelers on board. Though we both knew a little Spanish, we could not follow the fast-paced and animated conversations of our fellow adventurers. So we bobbed along in ignorant bliss. We had imagined ourselves exploring the shallow waters just off the beach where we soaked in the sun each day. To our dismay, the boat cruised farther and farther into deeper parts of the ocean.
During our journey, the Spanish-speaking crew gave us instructions for the use of our snorkel equipment, in Spanish of course. Fortunately, we followed along with their hands-on demonstration fairly well, or so we thought. The boat eventually stopped. We gulped as we gazed below at the ominous ocean waters, deep and dark. They pointed overboard and motioned for us to jump in. It was then that we realized all the other passengers on board were using oxygen tanks for deep sea diving in another area. Consequently, we were left to snorkel alone, in deep unknown ocean waters with little way to communicate.
My heart started beating like a wild drum in a runaway parade as the adrenaline rush set in. Over we jumped! I was not accustomed to swimming with flippers, a face mask and snorkel tubes, so I immediately struggled with the simple task of treading water and catching my breath. Someone who loves to swim and revels in riding the waves, suddenly found herself sinking in dark waters, gasping for air.
I began calling for help but unfortunately those on board the boat either couldn’t hear, couldn’t understand or were too engrossed in preparations for deep sea diving. Either way, they did not respond. They didn’t even make a passing glance in my direction. The only one who could help was my husband, who was not fond of this idea to begin with and who was now also frantically splashing and panting.
Eventually we were able to paddle near one another, calm ourselves down and learn to move our feet quickly enough to stay afloat and fasten our snorkel tubes in order to get oriented. After many stops and starts we were finally able to swim about and take in the mysteries of God’s underwater world brimming with a vast array of stunning colors, intricate designs and living creatures.
In Over My Head Before God
When we imagine ourselves before Almighty God, I picture a somewhat similar scene. Much like our ocean ordeal, we are drowning in the murky depths of our own sin. For the LORD is a holy God. Perfect, righteous, just, true, embodying absolute goodness. No evil or sin can be tolerated in His presence or He would cease to be fully good. This means of course, God cannot allow me, in my sinfulness, to stand in His presence.
I am in over my head. There is no way for me to save myself. No strength of my own could make me perfect. No amount of striving or working or kicking or gasping will save me from the oceans of sin that make up my selfish rebellious thoughts, desires, actions and words. I need a Savior to pull me out, to do that which I cannot. I need Jesus.
In much the same way, God’s people, the Israelites needed rescue from the Egyptians who had enslaved them, as recorded in the book of Exodus. Following a series of plagues, the Lord brought about one final powerful judgment against the people of Egypt who, despite earlier interventions, refused to relent in their heavy oppression of the Israelites.
In Exodus chapter 12, God declares that He will destroy the firstborn in the land. In order to spare the Israelites, God instructs His people to sacrifice an unblemished lamb, brushing its blood on their doorframes then eating a meal made from the meat of the sacrificial lamb. They are to eat with their belts tied, sandals on, staff in hand, ready to go, for the Lord promised to deliver them quickly, so quickly in fact that they are to eat unleavened bread, because the bread would not have adequate time to rise. This was the very first Passover meal. It was so named a Passover meal because when the Lord brought death in the land, He passed over the homes where the blood of sacrificial lambs was found on the doorframes.
Immediately following this event, the Egyptians released the Israelites and the Lord delivered them from the hand of the Egyptians with a final mighty miracle. God parted the waters of the Red Sea so His people could cross on dry land, stunning both His own people and their enemies, the Egyptians. So great was this deliverance, that God instructed the Israelites to celebrate the Passover during the Festival of Unleavened Bread every year, to remember how their incredible salvation was won for them. Not by their strength, not by their might, but by God’s might alone.
This was the greatest salvation the world had ever seen or known.
In a striking echo of the first Passover, Jesus took the place of the sacrificial Passover lamb for us.
In fact, when John the Baptist first laid eyes on Jesus, not knowing all that lay ahead, he prophesied this very thing in John 1:29– The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
We cannot save ourselves before a holy God. We are a sinful people by nature. We need someone to rescue and deliver us. We need a Savior.
Because God is completely just, He demands a just penalty and payment for our sins.
Because God is abundantly merciful, He allows a substitute to sacrifice and pay the penalty for our sins.
Jesus was unblemished, having never sinned. He laid down His life as a final sacrifice for our sins, so that we could be forgiven and set free from the enslavement and bondage of sin forever, just as the Israelites were set free from the bondage of slavery.
It is important to note that the night Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples, they were actually gathering for the Passover meal. Passover is the first day of the seven day Festival of Unleavened Bread.
Matthew 26:17-20 – On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.
That very night Jesus explained how He has become the Passover Lamb as He taught that the bread represents His body, broken for us and the cup represents His blood shed for the forgiveness of our sins. Like the unblemished lambs sacrificed and eaten each year, commemorating that first Passover, so Jesus became the Passover miracle and meal for us, making one final and lasting atonement for our sins.
Matthew 26:26-27 – While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus is the final sacrificial Passover Lamb. The sacrifice of His righteous life is a once-and-for-all atonement for our unrighteous lives.
Jesus is now the greatest salvation this world has ever seen or known.
The only substitute worthy to pay our sin penalty is Jesus.
Blameless and pure.
Jesus is our only hope.
Salvation belongs to Jesus and Him alone.
We cannot help Him.
We cannot add to His finished work on the cross.
We bring nothing to the table.
All we can do is accept the salvation offered by Christ Jesus the Lord. Then out of endless gratitude, we desire to love Him and live for Him.
For those who receive Jesus and confess Him as Lord and Savior, the blood of Jesus covers the doorposts of our hearts, atones for and removes our sins before a holy God.
Jesus is our final Passover Lamb!
The judgment of God passes over us!
May our hearts and minds be overwhelmed again today at the magnitude of God’s great gift of salvation! May we be utterly amazed at how God pointed toward the coming Christ’s sacrifice, a better and final sacrifice, through the Passover and salvation of His people in Exodus so long ago. What a miraculous plan of redemption, told with details both gruesome and glorious, so remarkably and intricately interwoven from beginning to end!
In Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone are we saved. But for the blood of Jesus, we would be swept away in the flood of God’s holiness, perfection and judgment. Not by our strength, not by our might, but by God’s might are we saved. Because of Jesus, we are rescued, saved and delivered from sin, death and hell forever! Jesus is our final Passover Lamb!
May we shout these words today and throughout all eternity!
Worthy is the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world!
Salvation belongs to the LORD!
Salvation belongs to our God!
Salvation belongs to the Lamb!
Salvation belongs to Jesus!
Revelation 7:9-12 – After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Psalm 3:8 – Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon Your people!
Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
1 Corinthians 5:7b – For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
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