“The Passover Connection”
“When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”” – Matthew 26:1-2
“Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” – I Corinthians 5:6-8
Read also Exodus 12
Jesus, although God of the universe, was born into the same Jewish culture that He selected to be a light and blessing to all the nations. So, in preparing for Good Friday and the joyous Resurrection Day, it is important to reflect on the connection of His sacrifice to the Jewish Passover.
In Matthew 26:2 Jesus announces the connection, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified”. As we read Exodus Chapter 12 we see several easy points of connection between the two:
Each family selected a year old lamb without blemish – Jesus was perfect and in the prime of his life
The lamb was chosen on the 10th day and lived with the family until the 14th day – Jesus lived among the ones he was about to redeem
The lamb was slaughtered at twilight – Jesus expired and was taken down just before the evening of the Sabbath began
The lamb’s blood was applied on the doorposts of the house to escape destruction – we each choose in faith to apply Jesus’ blood as ransom for us
The part that is the focus of this particular devotional is not so much on the aforementioned points but rather on the ongoing commemoration of the events. The Passover was commemorated by eating unleavened bread (matzot or crackers) as the Festival of Unleavened Bread. “For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread” (Exodus 12:19-20).
Okay…bread or crackers, what’s the big deal?
The big deal is that the yeast that leavens or puffs up the dough can be a symbol of anything that spreads slowly and throughout. Yeast is most often used in the Bible as a symbol for sin but can also be a symbol of the Kingdom of God. So, yeast or fluffy bread is not the problem…it’s the kind of yeast that is being symbolized. With the Israelites at the time of the Passover, the whole point of the story was that God was saving them out of the slavery and bondage of Egypt. Any yeast they carried out with them in their exodus would have been the yeast of slavery. God commanded that they leave behind that yeast from their land of slavery so that when they reached freedom on the other side of the split Reed Sea they would not be carrying any of that old yeast with them. Instead, when they started to bake yeasty, fluffy bread again it would be with the yeast attained in free land while journeying toward the Promised Land of the Kingdom of Israel.
We daily commemorate our salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross by intentionally leaving behind our old sins and journeying on with new levels of righteous freedom toward the Promised Land of the Kingdom of God. So, our Lent preparations or our Festival of Unleavened Bread ought to focus not on the foods we are giving up, but on the sins we are giving up and the on freedoms, purity, and righteousness we are gaining through Him.
The Apostle Paul, a Jew of Jews ministering to the Gentiles, said in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” This was spoken to the people of Corinth in the context of sexual immorality and so forth, but the message is applicable to all of our continued, willful sins…get rid of the old yeast!
With this in mind we pray the following,
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who frees us from the yoke of slavery and of sin by the shedding of blood and who brings us into the freedom of righteous life and of peace. Give us, by the power of your Spirit, the knowledge and strength to walk in your ways so we demonstrate your honor and your glory to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.