The no-leaven life

“The Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has already been sacrificed for the Passover meal, and we are the Unraised Bread part of the Feast. So let’s live out our part in the Feast, not as raised bread swollen with the yeast of evil, but as flat bread – simple, genuine, unpretentious” (1 Cor. 5:7-8 MSG).

“Say what?” we ask.

Centuries ago, when the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt, he initiated the annual celebration of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He set apart the anniversary dates of the Exodus as a time to meet with him annually and to celebrate “a festival to God down through the generations, a fixed festival celebration to be observed always” (Ex. 12:14 MSG).

That first Passover in Egypt, each Jewish household sacrificed a lamb and applied its blood to the doorposts and lintel of the house. The blood of the lamb delivered each family from the plague of death that hit all the firstborn sons of Egypt. In the wake of that Passover, the Lord released an entire nation from slavery.

communion

(c) Brunt

According to Mosaic law, the day each year that the Passover lamb is slain, it is to be roasted and eaten, along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Afterward, for seven more days, the people are to continue to eat unleavened bread. In fact, all leaven, or yeast, is to be removed from Jewish homes before Passover begins.

In 1 Corinthians 5:8, Paul wrote, “Therefore, let us celebrate this feast” (NASU). He thus interjected the subject of Passover into a surprising context. Paul had spent four chapters confronting the Corinthian believers in love for:

  • Their factions and divisions, jealousy and quarrelings;
  • Their arrogance and unteachableness;
  • And, most immediately, their collusion with immorality in the church.

Deeply distressed about the last matter, Paul wrote:

I’m telling you that this is wrong. You must not simply look the other way and hope it goes away on its own. Bring it out in the open and deal with it in the authority of Jesus our Master. Assemble the community – I’ll be present in spirit with you and our Master Jesus will be present in power. Hold this man’s conduct up to public scrutiny. Let him defend it if he can! But if he can’t, then out with him! It will be totally devastating to him, of course, and embarrassing to you. But better devastation and embarrassment than damnation. You want him on his feet and forgiven before the Master on the Day of Judgment.

Your flip and callous arrogance in these things bothers me. You pass it off as a small thing, but it’s anything but that. Yeast, too, is a small thing, but it works its way through a whole batch of bread dough pretty fast. So get rid of this yeast” (1 Cor. 5:3-7 MSG).

 That’s when Paul wrote:

The Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has already been sacrificed for the Passover meal, and we are the Unraised Bread part of the Feast. So let’s live out our part in the Feast, not as raised bread swollen with the yeast of evil, but as flat bread – simple, genuine, unpretentious.

Or, in the words of the Amplified Bible:

Purge (clean out) the old leaven that you may be fresh (new) dough, still uncontaminated [as you are], for Christ, our Passover [Lamb], has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with leaven of vice and malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened [bread] of purity (nobility, honor) and sincerity and [unadulterated] truth.

Celebrate the Passover feast with the unleavened bread of purity and truth.

Purity. The Greek word used here, eilikrineia, means “tested in the sun (seen in the light of day); absolutely pure, unmixed, honest.”

To be pure is to be transparent and demonstrably genuine, through and through. By testing, you’re shown to be wholly devoted to the One who died and rose again to set you free.

Truth. The Greek word aletheia “refers to things as they are – but always that which is expressed.” To speak the truth is “to say ‘how it is,’” to bring out in the open and deal with what has been hidden and undisclosed.

To be true is to recognize, to speak and to live in alignment with the person, work and word of the one true God revealed in Jesus Christ, revealed by Holy Spirit. To be true is to reject any attempt at closet Christianity. It’s to say what God says, even when to do so means to confront what is accepted and admired in your culture, or even in your church culture. It’s to refuse to “simply look the other way and hope it goes away on its own.”

Paul could speak the truth to the Corinthian believers – he could bring out into the open what they preferred to ignore – because he loved them deeply, from a pure heart. “I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls,” he told them (2 Cor. 12:15 NASU). They knew it to be true.

We cannot speak truth with any degree of validity if our own lives, held up to the light of day, reveal stunning impurities – such as pride or greed, lewdness or jealousy, selfishness or a judgmental heart. Purity lets the light through. It makes the way for truth to be seen and heard.

One thing alone gives us continual access to purity and truth in our innermost being: the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Under the old covenant, the people applied the blood and ate the meat of the sacrificial lamb. The picture foreshadowed beautifully – but it could not tell the whole.

He who died in our behalf is risen. As we trust solely in his broken body and the new covenant in his blood, we too become alive in ways we could never otherwise hope to be.

communion

The Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has already been sacrificed . . .

we are the Unraised Bread part of the Feast.

So let’s live out our part.

. . . . . . .

Definitions of “purity,” NT:1505, eilikrineia, and “truth,” NT: 225, aletheia, are quoted from Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament © 1990 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations are from New American Standard Version (NASU), The Amplified Bible (AMP), and THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson (MSG). All rights reserved.

(c) 2012 Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved.

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