On the first Passover, God told the Israelites to have a lamb take their place so He would not punish them for their sins. Every year at Passover, a lamb took the place of the people’s sins.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem to a parade of palms, He was announcing Himself as the new Passover lamb.

When He celebrated Passover with His disciples and told them what would happen to Him, He was reminding them He was the new Passover lamb.

When He stood before Pilate and Herod and was judged by them, He was preparing to be the Passover lamb. There was only one more thing He had to do.

After the Romans ordered Jesus to be killed, they took off His clothes and put a deep red robe on Him, the kind worn by kings. They twisted some thorn branches into a circle and put it on His head for a crown. They bowed down and pretended to worship Him, snickering at the joke.

They kicked and hit Him, all while calling Jesus the “King of the Jews,” sarcastically.

They made Jesus carry a cross up a hill. He stumbled and fell, so a man named Simon carried it for Him the rest of the way. When they reached the top, the Romans nailed Jesus to the cross, between two criminals.

Above the cross, the Romans wrote, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

Just as King David had written would happen hundreds of years before, the soldiers took Jesus’ clothes and gambled for them so they would not have to divide them.

As people came to see what was happening, they shook their heads at Jesus.

“He said He was God’s Son,” they teased. “Well, He certainly doesn’t look so powerful now, does He?”

The leaders from the temple laughed at Jesus, too. “He saved others,” they called out, “but He can’t save Himself. If He’s really our king, why doesn’t He jump down from there? Why doesn’t God just save Him right now?”

They did not realize that it was not the nails that held Jesus to the cross, but His love for all human beings. He had all the power to end the pain right there, but He chose to stay on the cross. He chose to become the new, permanent Passover lamb, who would carry people’s sins forever, with just one, final sacrifice.

At noon the sky became dark and stayed that way for three hours, just as before the first Passover sacrifice, Egypt had been dark for three days. Jesus called out to His Father…and then He gave up His Spirit and died.

At that moment there was an earthquake. As the Roman soldiers felt this, they declared, “This man really was God’s Son!”

The curtain in the temple that hid the holiest place for worshiping God was torn apart from top to bottom, showing that all could now come directly to God, without the need of a priest to go between them.

Jesus was taken down and laid in a tomb. He was wrapped up in burial cloths. Because everyone knew He had said He would rise from the dead, the Romans and temple leaders agreed that His tomb would need to be well-guarded. They placed Jesus in a room built into rock. They rolled a heavy stone across it and put two Roman soldiers in front to guard it and make sure no one could come for Him.

But while His followers cried in confusion, Jesus was making His Father’s plan to rescue all people from sin happen.