The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘These are the regulations for the Passover meal:
‘No foreigner may eat it. 44 Any slave you have bought may eat it after you have circumcised him, 45 but a temporary resident or a hired worker may not eat it.
46 ‘It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. 47 The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.
48 ‘A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. 49 The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.’
50 All the Israelites did just what the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.
At the heart of today’s reading you see the words:
“Do not break any of the bones” (46b).
Fast forward to John 19:31-37, where we read:
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
We have already established in our readings that Jesus is the ultimate Passover Lamb (1 Cor.5:7). The section in John 19 underlines the point, and shows once again how the whole Bible hangs together. How magnificent is God’s Book! “The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed.”
Regarding the Passover restrictions as a whole, Tom Hale writes helpfully:
‘Because of the non-Israelites (Gentiles) who accompanied the people of Israel, it was necessary to establish some regulations concerning who could take part in the Passover Feast. For a household to take part, all male members of that household had to be circumcised (verse 48). Thus circumcision remained the chief physical qualification for membership in the covenant community of Israel (Genesis 17:10-14). Gentiles, aliens, foreigners, slaves – all could be members as long as they were circumcised…And when we partake of the Lord Jesus’ “Passover Feast,” the Lord’s Supper, we too must be “circumcised” – not in the flesh, but in the heart (see Romans 2:28-29: Colossians 2:11).’ ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.227.