Luke 23:33, The Passover Spit

And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him.

//Some time ago, a friend laughed when I compared Christ stretched on the cross to the Passover lamb stretched on the spit. We were discussing the Gospel of John, and John’s theology of Christ as the Lamb. In this Gospel, and this Gospel alone, Christ dies before the Passover; he does not eat a Passover meal with his followers. Rather, he dies on the cross at the moment the lambs are slaughtered in the Temple.

I wondered if the apostles, as they shared a Passover meal the next day, would have recognized the image of their master in the lamb on the spit. My friend thought my imagination was running away with me, but my idea was far from original.

It took me a while, but I found the reference I was trying to remember, from second-century apologist Justin Martyr:

The mystery, then, of the lamb which God enjoined to be sacrificed as the Passover, was a type of Christ; with whose blood, in proportion to their faith in Him, they anoint their houses, i.e., themselves, who believe on Him … and that lamb which was commanded to be wholly roasted was a symbol of the suffering of the cross which Christ would undergo. For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb. –Justin Martyr, Dialog with Trypho


  1. The lamb of the Passover is a type of Christ. That is not where I thought you were incorrect.

  2. Hi, Tim! You gave yourself away! :)

    The idea of Jesus as a Passover lamb is unique to John among the Gospels (though Paul makes the connection in his writings), and I was tallying off parallels between Jesus in John and the lambs. I realize your major objection is to the dating of Jesus’ death in John; I had said that in John’s version, Jesus died as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered, and you disagreed. But also, when I got as far as mentioning the lambs being stretched on the spit in anticipation of the evening meal, just as Jesus was hurriedly being pulled off the cross, I think you felt the analogy was going too far. I backed off because it does seem a rather gruesome picture! Anyway, sorry if I misrepresented you!

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