Sunday Sermon 18 November @10.30 – Our Passover Lamb
Readings: 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; 1 Corinthians 10:11-17; Luke 22:14-20
Our Passover Lamb
I wonder if you know who first identified Jesus as the solution for our sins? It was John the Baptist – his cousin. It was John who pointed to Jesus when he came for baptism at the Jordan: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
So when it comes to the Christian Lord’s Supper, here are some thoughts today:
1. It replaces the Passover Feast.
Do you remember the Passover – how God spared the Israelites in Egypt – the angel of death passed over and struck down all the first born in the land – but the Israelites sacrificed a lamb and its blood was painted above the door.
The blood was a sign of their belonging to the Lord – as people of the Covenant. It was a sign of obedience.
Jesus is our Passover lamb – the final sacrifice for our sins. And the blood of Jesus applies to our lives. The apostle John reminds us:
1Jn_1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
Paul when writing to the Corinthians and dealing with some messy sexual sins writes this:
1Co 5:7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast ‑ as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
1Co 5:8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
Jesus is the lamb of God – the final sacrifice for the world – his blood is also painted on the door of our lives.
2. The bread matters.
I found some answers from children in a Sunday School Quiz:
1. In the first book of the Bible, Guinessis, God got tired of creating the world, so he took the Sabbath off.
2. Samson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the Apostles.
3. Moses led Hebrews to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread which is bread without any ingredients.
The bread matters. Not that we use unleavened bread at Communion.. Presbyterians use ordinary bread.
We ourselves are to be unleavened bread. Bread without leaven – without the yeast. It’s about purification of ourselves. We are to become a new community – based on sincerity and truth. Look at verse 6 again: 1Co 5:6 … Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? We are to get rid of the old yeast. Our sins that lurk at the door if you like.
In verse 2 of this passage Paul talks about their pride and in verse 6 their boasting. In the church there had been sexual sin – and they seemed oblivious of it. And he gives them the mechanism to discipline the person involved.
It’s the yeast that interests me. Paul was Jewish and would have been faithful to the Passover tradition.
At Passover only unleavened bread was used. The leaven or yeast became a symbol and reminder of how just something very small can spread throughout the whole loaf.
In New Testament times families looked for the leaven – חמץ (Chametz – meaning fermentation) by candlelight and it was gathered together and burned on the Passover eve by the full contingent of priests (24 divisions instead of the usual one).
As the Jews celebrated the Passover Supper through the years, they did several things. One of them being that the wife of the house hold would take a broom and candle and carefully examine the house to be sure the house was rid of “leaven”.
So when they went looking for leaven – they were really talking about purification – getting rid of things that had the effect of spreading like a cancer.
And that’s what happens in Church. One or two people’s attitudes and words can be very damaging.
It’s common in the Christian tradition to reflect on one’s life before communion – to get rid of sin because it is so very harmful to the Church and to us as individuals. We usually quote Paul in the same letter: 1Co 11:27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 1Co 11:28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
People usually interpret these verses in terms of our understanding or lack of understanding of the meaning of communion or the Lord’s Supper. That we should not take it lightly. Paul does indeed give a serious warning here: 1Co 11:29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.
We should be respectful and thoughtful at this table. And the warning to the Corinthians was there because they got drunk. In fact it would be easier to sort out if people did in fact get drunk on too much communion wine. It would be an obvious public sin. Today’s passage is about things that go deeper than the obvious.
One last time then: Listen to Paul. 1Co 5:7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1Co 5:8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.)
The bread matters. Tt is to be bread of sincerity and truth. That builds real community. When you get past the phony – you get to the real.
The problem with sin is that often because it is secretive we think no one will ever know. But eventually it comes out. It’s best to confess it – and the blood of the lamb will have its result: 1Jn_1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
In fact James in his Epistle says this: Jas 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
As we sit quietly today let us reflect on our lives.
- Is there something which – like yeast – has infiltrated your life and has caused grief and sin?
- Is there something that has infected others because you have shared that yeast?
- Should you make right?
- At least confess your sins to God today that you may move forward.
Listen to John’s words again: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
And Paul’s: 1Co 5:7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.