This is not a sermon but a few insights on how the account of the Passion and Death of the Lord fulfils prophecies and events of the Old Testament.
A New Exodus
Moses led the old exodus from Egypt to the promised land. The New Moses, Our Lord, leads his people through suffering, death and resurrection from the world of sin to eternal life with God the Father.
A New Passover Lamb
If you were a Jew in Egypt you had to eat the passover lamb as the condition of escape and eat the manna on the journey. In the new exodus the Lord Jesus is the Lamb as witnessed by John the Baptist, and you have to consume his Body and Blood in the Blessed Eucharist on the journey to the Father.
A New Adam
The ancient Jews believed that the tree of life in the garden of Eden was an olive tree, leading to the disobedience of Adam and what is known as the Fall–alienation from God and from his presence. Now the new Adam comes to the Mount of Olives ( Gethsemane means an olive press ), suffers his agony among the olives and in obedience is led to the tree of the Cross, to win eternal life for us all
The Suffering Servant
In Isaiah the suffering servant, a very mysterious figure, does not cry out or resist his persecutors. At his arrest in the garden Jesus refuses to resist– he could have got 12 legions of angels to protect him ( i.e. 5,000 by 12 = 60,000 — a lot of angels ) but declines; he accepts the abuse and tortures of his persecutors in silence and without complaint. He is the suffering servant as foretold by Isaiah.
Barabbas – Son of the Father
Barabbas ( Bar–Abbas ) means Son of the Father. Some scholars say his first name was Jesus . He was a rebel against Rome. At the trial, Pilate offers the people a choice –choose the way of violence, as led by Barabbas, or the way of non-violence, the way of patient powerlessness and meekness, as led by Jesus of Nazareth ( by now in a pitiable state after the cruelty meted out by the soldiers ) In his comments on this episode, Pope Benedict XV1 says that unredeemed mankind will always opt for the way of violence and reject the non-violent way of the Lord.
Pilate washes his hands in a symbol of his innocence , and the people cry out : his blood be upon us and on our children. The crowd take responsibility for his death–the crowd who were present–not all Jews. Jesus was a Jew, Peter was a Jew –they were all Jews. Unfortunately, some people have used this to justify anti-semitism. Wrong. We are all sinners and all guilty of the death of the Lord. Pope Benedict points out that the blood of Jesus asks for forgiveness for us all–in a deeper sense, it is a prayer —-we need his blood to be upon our heads for forgiveness and mercy.
The High Priest and the Veil
At the Lord’s death the veil is torn in two. This would be the veil covering the Holy of Holies which the High Priest, alone, entered once a year on the feast of Yom Kippur. He would offer sacrifice for the purification of the people and utter the sacred name, the only occasion in the year when it was solemnly uttered.
Our Lord dies, the veil is split in two, and the way to God is now open through Christ, the real High Priest.
The End of an Era
The death and resurrection of the Lord made the innumerable sacrifices of the Old Testament irrelevant. The final sacrifice offered in the temple was on August 6, 70 ad., when the temple was destroyed.
The death and resurrection of the Lord had as much an impact on the Jewish religion as it made on the Christians. The Jews had to look again at their Scriptures with a new interpretation as they faced the future without the temple, without the temple priests ( who figure so prominently in the passion story) , and without the innumerable sacrifices that were essential to the religion of the Old Testament and without all that that entailed.
The Centurion–the First Convert
The man in charge of the crucifixion , when he saw how Jesus had died, acknowledged him as the Son of God. The first convert, the first member of the Church of the Gentiles, the Catholic Church starts at the foot of the cross.
Finally – A Wedding
The first woman was taken from the side of the sleeping Adam and we had the first wedding. At his death the second Adam, Jesus , had his side opened and blood and water poured out , symbols of the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, and of the church itself. The Church Fathers see this as the wedding of the new Adam, Christ, with his Bride, the Church, the new creation coming from his side.
One can safely say that only God could turn the crucifixion Into a wedding.