[reprinted from January 18, 2010]Â -Henry Neufeld
Stop being proud! Donâ€™t you know how a little yeast can spread through the whole batch of dough? ?Get rid of the old yeast! Then you will be like fresh bread made without yeast, and that is what you are. Our Passover lamb is Christ, who has already been sacrificed.?Â So donâ€™t celebrate the festival by being evil and sinful, which is like serving bread made with yeast. Be pure and truthful and celebrate by using bread made without yeast.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (CEV)
This passage is one of those that compares Jesus, the Lamb of God, with the Passover lamb.Â We often use this imagery as Christians, but do we take to heart what the imagery suggests about the sacrifice that was made for our redemption?
If we examine the context of this passage we see that Paul, in writing to the Corinthian church, is dealing with a case of terrible immorality.Â Instead of dealing with the problem, repenting, and cleansing themselvesâ€”or being cleansedâ€”of the evil, the Corinthian believers were proud.Â Some of them, it seems, were celebrating their freedom, by behaving immorally.Â Others were accepting this behavior and were even proud of it.Â I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if they congratulated themselves on how accepting they were.
But in using the illustration of the Passover in connection with our redemption, Paul points out some very important things about the sacrifice of Christ.
1.Â Â Â The first Passover was a time of purification.Â Only those who submitted themselves to God, and followed the directions for the Passover were spared from the hand of the destroyer.Â In the same way, when we accept Christ as our savior, it is not merely an assent to a set of doctrinal statements.Â It is not just a transaction that alters or wipes out a record.Â It is an act of submission to God.Â When we accept Christ, we say, â€œIâ€™m not going to follow my agenda any more; Iâ€™m going to follow Godâ€™s as presented through Jesus Christ.â€
2.Â Â Â The first Passover was a time of liberation.Â Many Christians live their entire lives at the point of accepting the sacrifice of Jesus for them.Â Their Passover lamb has been sacrificed, but they donâ€™t move on to the next step.Â If the Israelites had behaved as we often do, they would have had a powerful Passover experience as their firstborn sons were saved from death, but then they would have gone on living in Egypt.Â Next time you read the story of the Exodus, and you feel inclined to criticize the Israelites for their lack of faith at the sea, consider whether you yourself have even left Egypt and started the walk to the sea.Â Has your congregation taken that step?Â The liberating sacrifice has been offered.Â Have you accepted it?
3.Â Â Â The first Passover was a time of preparation.Â The Israelites were told to be ready to leave at any time.Â They were to have shoes on their feet and walking sticks in their hand.Â Do we get our walking shoes on when we think of Jesus Christ, our sacrifice?Â Is our time spent at the cross a time of preparation, or is it just a time of rest and relaxation?Â Itâ€™s good to rest, but when we rest we prepare also for action.
4.Â Â Â The first Passover was a time of celebration.Â The Israelites were told to remember how God had liberated them in this ceremony every year.Â They were to get together to worship and to commemorate this event.Â They were to tell their children what God had done for them in the past.Â They were to do all of this in the same attitude as at the original Passover.
When we think of the sacrifice of Jesus as our Passover lamb, we remind ourselves, that the Christian life is not a point in time.Â Walking with Jesus is a journeyâ€”a lifetime journey.Â We need to constantly purify ourselves, seek and accept Godâ€™s liberation, prepare for action, and celebrate the things that God has done for us.
As Paul was reminding the Corinthian believers in our passage today, it does matter how you live.Â It does matter what we allow in our congregations.Â We are witnessing to what the Lord has done for us.
Are we celebrating with leavened or unleavened bread?