“… For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor
with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1Co 5:7–8
Introduction to the Series
The Bible is filled with simple statements that contain deep spiritual truths having life-changing power. It is always of interest to me that no matter what country I find myself in, no matter the language or culture, the same verses and passages are the most loved among the believers. They are always the simple, yet powerful texts that even a child can understand. Often due to their familiarity and simplicity, we tend to under-estimate their depth and doctrinal content. This new series will address some of these great passages of Scripture.
The Passover Lamb
In the history of Israel, the first Passover came at a critical time. Four hundred years of bondage had taught the nation the wages of sin (Rom 6:16–18, 22–23). Though they retained their knowledge of the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” the nation had fallen into the practice of idolatry common in Egypt (Deu 32:15–18). They longed for deliverance, and God sent Moses to bring about the Exodus.
This deliverance involved both judgment and redemption. In the plagues, God judged the gods of Egypt, and in the Passover Lamb, He provided for their redemption (Exo 12:1–7, 11–12). The blood of the lamb was struck, using a branch of hyssop, downward from the lintel of the door, and horizontally across the door-posts (Exo 12:22), forming the symbol of the cross. Those under the blood of the lamb were saved from the death of all the firstborn of the land. But they were to eat the lamb and prepare to move out of the land (Exo 12:11). They were redeemed from death to follow the “Angel of Jehovah” (Exo 13:21; 14:19) into the promised land.
On the cross, Jesus Christ judged Satan—author of all false gods—and brought about mighty and eternal deliverance from death to all who receive Him in faith (Joh 1:12–13; Rom 5:17). However, just as the Israelites ate the feast in readiness to follow Moses, Paul makes the point to the Corinthians that we also are to be prepared to move on from the many entanglements of this world to the promised land of spiritual maturity. The “old leaven” of slavery to the world, flesh, and devil, must give way to a life dominated by the Spirit—in freedom, power, and victory.
Canaan is often mistakenly taken for a figure of Heaven. This is never the intent of Scripture. Rather, it is a picture of the Spirit-filled life where enemies are engaged in conflict, giants are defeated, and great blessing and rewards are claimed. This is the warfare that is spiritual growth, leading toward ever greater self-mastery and maturity. All too often, we follow the bad example of the Hebrews, turning back to Egypt in our hearts, unwilling to fight the good fight. If you read 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 carefully, you see the many sins that were rampant in the Corinthian church. These sins could only result in many believers losing, not their salvation, but the potential inheritance of eternal rewards (1Co 6:8–10). In light of the great sacrifice made for us by Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, such conduct constituted the “old leaven” of life “in Adam” (1Co 15:22) and prevented them (and us) from living in the promise, power, and joy of the Passover. Sinful thoughts, words, and deeds rob us of the ability to “reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:17).
The Triumph and the Tragedy
As I write this, it is Sunday afternoon on what is commonly known as Palm Sunday—the remembrance of the Triumphal Entry. Monday, April 10, 2017, will begin the celebration of the Passover Feast in Israel, and around the world. Regardless of our conflicting calendars, these two events are intimately related.
If you read the account in Mat 21:1–11, we see Jesus entering Jerusalem in preparation to go to the cross for the world. In this passage are two ancient prophecies quoted by Matthew. The first, in verse 5, quotes Zec 9:9, declaring that the Messiah-King would one day enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey, along with its foal. How astounding it is that over 500 years after the prophecy, it was fulfilled to the letter. This prophecy was for the purpose of identification. Here was the long-awaited King of the lineage of David, who would save His people from their sins (Mat 1:20–21).
The second passage quoted is from Psa 118:26, which builds on the first. This second prophecy was important in that it pointed to Messiah’s Mission. The people cry out “Hosanna to the Son of David,” showing that they so identified Him, for “Hosanna” translated means, “save us now!” They spoke of Jesus as “He who comes in the name of the Lord.” This was true of Him in the way it could be of no mere prophet, for “The Name” (i.e., identity of Jehovah) belonged to Him, as God in human flesh. Little did the people realize when they cried out “Hosanna—save now” that within days, this would require His crucifixion on our behalf.
The Triumphal Entry was indeed triumphant, for it set in motion the events that would culminate in the death of Jesus Christ—the Lamb of God. It was, however, tinged with tragedy, in that so few recognized Him for who He was, and received the eternal benefits of His sacrifice.
Note that the multitude, after both identifying Him and acknowledging His mission, later displayed appalling ignorance. When “all the city was moved” by the commotion of His entrance, everyone was questioning, “Who is this?” The answer was given in return, “Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee” (Mat 21:10–11).
Many today acknowledge Jesus as a prophet, yet how few know Him as Son of God and Son of David, Savior of the world. Do we proclaim it, not just in word, but in life?
Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed. Are we living in the reality of that event?