The word 'paschal' comes from Latin 'paschalis' via the Hebrew word "pesah" which relates to the Passover, and the first known use of 'paschal' was in the 15th century, and can sometimes be referred to as the Holy Lamb or Agnus Dei. Traditionally during the Jewish Passover, a lamb was sacrificed. This reminds me of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) who was sacrificed to save mankind. Christ willingly chose to obey the will of God, the Father. Christ was referred to as the Lamb of God in the Gospel of John when the Baptist exclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) For these reasons, the Paschal Lamb is emblematic of Christ who sacrificed so much for the salvation of mankind.
The Paschal Lamb should not be confused with the "scapegoat" which was punished for the sins of others; it was not an agent of salvation. The sacrifice of a lamb during the Jewish Passover comes from the Torah which mandates that on the eve of Passover a lamb be slain and then eaten on the first night of the holiday with herbs and matzo (unleavened bread or bread without yeast). This tradition stems from when it was offered the night the Jews left Egypt, which was thought not to occur again until they settled into Israel. The feast was important to remember the end of Jewish slavery. Often the sacrifice was a male lamb about one year of age. There were rules on who could participate and other rituals surrounding the sacrifice.
The lamb is a symbol seen in Craft Masonry as well as other degrees such as the Order of the Temple who uses Christian iconography. The Lamb of God is often depicted as the image above where the lamb is a symbol of Christ; the cross, of His passion; and the banner of His victory over death and hell. Let us remember the lessons of Masonry and the sacrifices of our Beloved Savior. Happy Easter everyone!
1. Kneckt, F. (n.d.). The Paschal Lamb and Jesus. Retrieved from Traditional Catholic Teaching: http://traditionalcatholicteaching.com/appendix-the-paschal-lamb-and-jesus.html
2. Lamb of God. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamb_of_God
3. Masonic Lamb. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Lodge of Education: http://www.masonic-lodge-of-education.com/masonic-lamb.html
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5. Paschal. (2013). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=paschal
6. Paschal mystery. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paschal_mystery
7. Passover Sacrifice. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korban_Pesach
8. Thompson, I. J. (2002, February). Spiritual Meaning of Lamb. Retrieved from Bible Meanings: http://www.biblemeanings.info/Words/Animal/Lamb.htm