Saturday, March 23, 2024

A Reflection On Passion Week - Who Is The Passover Lamb? By Dr. Phil Chan.

 A Reflection On Passion Week - Who is The Passover Lamb?

This posting describes in detail what the initials I.N.R.I. mean.


Recently, I recalled my time in Cambridge during Lent term commemorating Jesus’ last week on earth, also known as Passion Week. Although Pontius Pilate found Jesus innocent, he let Jesus to be crucified. He even gave Jesus a Latin title as inscribed in IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDÆORVM, meaning Jesus The Nazarene, the King of Jews.” One may commonly find INRI on internet images as given above. 

King's College Cambridge Easter: O Sacred Head Sore Wounded:
JS Bach. YouTube Video by: spiritdei.

John 19:19-22. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: "Jesus Of Nazareth, The King Of The Jews." Many of the Jews would have read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek, languages commonly used then.

The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, "Do not write 'The King of the Jews!'

"But this man claimed to be King of the Jews!"

Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written!" 

Perhaps this sign is so important that all 4 gospels recorded it. Mark 15:26, Luke 23:38 and Matthew 27:37. Aramaic is closely related to Hebrew and was used by common Jews during Jesus’ era, while Hebrew remained the language of the upper class such as in religion and government. It was likely that Jesus and His disciples spoke Aramaic, in addition to Hebrew and Greek.

So what is the Hebrew translation of INRI: ישוע הנצרי ומלך היהודים (Yeshua` HaNatzri V'Melech HaYehudim. What is interesting and amazing is that the first letters of each of these words gives YHVH, more specifically (יהוה, pronounced as yod hey vav hey). This is the holy name of God. Unfortunately people call This Name, tetragrammaton (by inserting the English vowels, one gets the common found name as YeHoVaH) without knowing its significance. יהוה is recorded more than 6000 times in the Bible. The meaning of This Holy Name is explained in an earlier post below.

Beautiful Hymn: Lead Me to Calvary

YouTube Video from: Celebrating Holidays.

Interestingly, during the ancient Passover Festival, Hebrew families would put the family name around the neck of the lamb that they took to the Temple as a sacrifice so that they may receive their own animal thereafter for their Passover dinner. 

For the Passover celebration in Jewish times, besides all Jewish males having to present themselves at Jerusalem, the High Priest would need to go to Bethlehem to find a firstborn lamb without broken bones and defect. After that, the High Priest would carry the lamb through the Eastern gate (old city of Jerusalem) to the Temple and numerous worshippers would be singing praises to God, waving their palm branches. There would be inspection over the next four days to confirm that the lamb was indeed without blemish. In the Temple days, at 3:00 pm the unblemished lamb for the Jewish nation was to be sacrificed and presented to the people.

The Parallel Account

Due to the Passover festival, there were already many people in Jerusalem when Jesus (firstborn of Mary) entered through the Eastern gate on a donkey but this time they were shouting Hosanna (meaning “save us”). Over the next four days, Jesus was examined by the Pharisees, Sanhedrin, Herod and Pilate. Eventually in Luke 23:4 “Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man." After all interrogation, Jesus was crucified at 9.00 am and died at 3:00 pm without broken bones. Jesus is the Passover Lamb.

This is the Eastern gate (also known as the Golden Gate, Acts 3:2). The Eastern Gate was sealed in AD 1540–41 by order of Suleiman the Magnificent, a sultan of the Ottoman Empire. 

Ezekiel 44:1–2, “The man brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, the one facing east, and it was shut. The Lord said to me, This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it.’”. Interestingly, this Golden gate will be open again when Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4) and enters Jerusalem by way of the re-opened Eastern Gate. 

[King Solomon once said, what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9]

Jesus was Crucified for my sins.

When Jesus died at 3:00pm, the Temple curtain separating the Holy and Most Holy places was torn into two. This was recorded in Mathew 27:50-51. Similar accounts are also given in Mark 15 and Luke 23. It is often interpreted that with the tearing of the curtain, we are now granted direct access to God in the Most Holy Place. However, there is no Ark of Covenant (as it was already lost) in the Most Holy place i.e. God’s presence is absent. Perhaps there is another take on the torn curtains i.e. in ancient times when a Jewish son died, the grieving father would tear his clothes.

Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross: 
YouTube Video from: Celebrating Holidays.

Grace and Blessing of God

It is worth noting that Passover is the only feast where God allowed the Israelites to celebrate one month later compared to other ancient feasts. Somehow this grace period seems to imply that there is still time to believe in Jesus as the Passover lamb for our unsaved loved ones and friends. There is still opportunity to repent and receive Jesus, as one’s personal Lord and Saviour. 

While the phrase “passion week” sounds sentimental or even romantic, in Latin “passion” really means suffering. However, there is great joy in this suffering of Jesus, as we now have access to the Living God, יהוה through His dying for our sins and His conquering of death through His resurrection. 


Wishing you and your family good health, peace and a Blessed Good Friday holiday.

Author: Dr. Phil Chan.

Author: Associate Prof.
Dr. Phil Chan. [NUS].

Thanks Phil for taking so much time during your busy schedule.
Appreciate your sincere ways in explaining biblical passages and
selecting suitable songs for the posting, for so many years now.

The information on this article leads up to 
the hymns or gospels presented. 

Images: Google.


Anonymous said...

Thank you brother Andy for sharing what brother Phil has written about the meaning of passover. Happy Easter Sunday. Be blessed always. ❤️🙏


The real reason why the high priests, Sahendrin hated Jesus so much was Jesus exposed them fooling worshippers that their money minted by the Roman was not holy enough to be offered to God. So the high priests minted their own worthless money for exchange with the real money claiming only their money was holy for offering. The high priest got rich and when Jesus told the people they could go to god directly by prayer without offering through the high priests worthless money, their income was threatened and that was the powerful reason to get rid of Jesus. So they cooked all these petty accusations that can mean execution. At that time, the Romans ruled over Jerusalem but they allowed the high priests to rule the Jews mostly on their religion and cultural practices. They had no authority to pass the death penalty, only the Roman governor, Pilate had that. So they tried to condemn Jesus by accusing him of saying he was the son of God, king of kings which meant king over even the Roman emperor, a capital crime.
Pilate being fair found no crime but as the high priests were given the responsibility to rule over the Jews he didn’t want to upset them because they could stir the people to revolt. The Romans did not have a big army to bring down a mass riot.

DR. PHIL CHAN said...

Yes, indeed, this is one aspect of the political situation during the Roman era.
We try to point out the parallel between the OT and Gospel... the offering of an unblemished lamb.

ANON said...

Enjoying the 3 songs that are on this Good Friday happening.
We need to focus at the positive side to appreciate but it is not easy.

PETER H. said...

Never forget
Nothing is more powerful than prayer,
Nothing is stronger than faith,
Nothing is greater than God.

IVOR L. said...

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord
Luke 19:38


ROMANS: 12:10


Blessed Palm Sunday

CHIT CHAT said...

"Near the Cross" is a very old hymn and according to the information given, written in 1869 by Fanny Crosby.