By Jaime Sherman
Since I can remember, I’ve been a lover of stories with the refrain “just one more chapter” upon my lips. I have fond memories of snuggling up next to my mama or daddy to listen to words fly off the pages and into my imagination. I listened to Anne prattle on about her days at Green Gables, joined the March sisters as they performed plays written by Jo, and pictured myself on the banks of Plum Creek with the Wilder children.
While these stories stirred my heart and gave me a love for the written word, the stories my parents read to me from biographies and from the Bible set me on a trajectory to love Jesus even though it would cost me something. I pictured sneaking across closed borders with Brother Andrew to deliver Bibles, suffering in a concentration camp with Betsie and Corrie ten Boom, and worshiping God with the Israelites as the destroyer passed over the homes painted with the blood of lambs.
These stories taught me to love Jesus, but the stories that most bolstered my young faith came as my parents shared their own passover stories of how Jesus rescued them out of slavery to sin and gave them new life. I placed myself in Sunday school with my mama who loved Jesus at a young age and in the back hallway at South Eugene High School with my daddy as he heard the gospel as a teenager. I not only saw them live out their faith every day, but I heard them diligently speak the truth about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
Because of their faithfulness and the goodness of God, I have my own passover story to tell my children of being condemned to death for my sinful choices and then redeemed and freed by the blood of the final sacrificial lamb, Jesus Christ. What is your passover story? How are you keeping the testimony of your redemption alive for future generations?
In Deuteronomy 6:20-25, Moses instructed the Israelites to be ever ready with a response to their children’s questions concerning their heritage of faith:
When your son asks you in time to come, “What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?” then you shall say to your son, “We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.”
Once a year since those wilderness years, the Jewish people have paused annually to celebrate the Passover. They remember the miraculous acts God used in Egypt to preserve the life of the firstborns and bring their people out of Egypt. I am struck by the beauty of the first Passover instructions found in Exodus 12, which God delivered to Moses before He led them out of Egypt. He asked them to take time each year in the future to remember the first passover, which hadn’t even happened yet! And He gave them detailed instructions for how and when to celebrate. Oh, what incredible grace, to see a bit into the future and know that God was going to provide a way out through the blood of yearlings without blemish.
The added blessing was how God built into the calendar of this newly independent nation the rhythm of retelling their rescue story over an annual feast of roasted lamb and unleavened bread. He also gave them instructions for a weekly day of rest and asked them to daily speak of God’s goodness to their children. Through Moses God gave the Israelites what is called the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), which devout Jews have recited morning and night since the wilderness years:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Just as the Israelites smeared the blood of lambs on the doorposts and lintels of their homes that final night in Egypt, so they were to write God’s directions for life on their doorposts. God wanted them — and us today — to have visual reminders to speak daily of the One who rescues His children from slavery. As we enter this week of learning more about the Passover, here are a few reminders you could post in your home to remind you to never forget that God has delivered you out of slavery to sin, protected you from the destroyer of life, and given you a new life through the once-for-all sacrificial lamb, Jesus Christ. May these reminders encourage you to tell your passover story to those in your sphere of influence.
The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him…You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode. — Exodus 15:2, 13
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. — John 3:16-17
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. — Revelation 1:5b-6