We marked Lamb Selection Day on Sunday (Palm Sunday), the day when ancient Jews were instructed to choose a lamb to be slaughtered for their family on Passover. But Passover comes four days later, meaning the lamb was to live with the family during that time. That seems really odd to me. Why this strange instruction?
Jewish sources talk about this as being a time of inspection. The lamb had to be without blemish and spending a prolonged time with the animal would allow for an imperfection to be found. (Note: Jesus spent that week in the temple area being questioned.)
Some sources cite that this custom of keeping the lamb at home would have been seen as very strange, even cruel. It may have caused their neighbors to question them, giving them an opportunity to tell the Passover story. A few even surmise that it would cause persecution or ridicule, allowing the Jews to feel a connection to their ancestors who were enslaved in Egypt.
A third possibility resonates with me more personally. The family may have grown attached to the young lamb and its sacrifice would be more sorrowful. It is no longer just a property transaction to fulfill a payment; it caused pain and personal loss. It was the sacrifice of something precious. Maybe God, who communicates in pictures, is giving a slight taste of the agony He endured at allowing His Son to be slaughtered on our behalf. It came at great cost.
God loves us so much that He endured that kind of pain, that kind of sacrifice. He endured it for us. For me. And He wants me to know in my heart, not just my head, the lengths He went to redeem and restore me.
Lord, your mercy and grace are beyond understanding. May I always be mindful of the heavy cost of my redemption – and the great Love that purposed to fulfill it.
Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month, each family shall take a lamb … and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month. Exodus 12:3-6