Giraudon/Art Resource, NY

Jesus is the Paschal lamb in the Gospel of John, which associates the crucifixion, rather than the Last Supper, with the Passover festival. According to John, Jesus died on the “day of Preparation for the Passover” (John 19:14), when the Passover sacrifice was being offered but before the festival began at sundown.

In Matthias Gruenewald’s altarpiece (1510–1516) for the monastery of Isenheim, Germany (but now in the Unterlinden Museum, in Colmar), the crucified Jesus is explicitly linked with the Paschal sacrifice. To the right of the cross stands a wounded lamb, which carries a cross and bleeds into a chalice. The disciple whom Jesus loved comforts Jesus’ mother at left. Mary Magdalene kneels at the foot of the cross, her alabaster ointment jar beside her. At right, John the Baptist points to Jesus. His prediction that Jesus will overtake him (“He must increase, but I must decrease,” John 3:30) is inscribed beside him in Latin.