Friday, April 8, 2011

Christ our Passover

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor. 5:6-8)

St. Paul was writing to a church that tolerated sinful behaviors within her members. The boasting he refers to is the tolerance they show to a particular member. In short, Paul reminds the early church that while we are in the world, we cannot be of the world. In other words, our behavior must reflect our new life in Christ. St. Paul uses the passover image of Christ to remind us that Christ passed over our sins. (Rom. 3:25) And just what does this mean?

The first passover occurred as God led the Hebrews to freedom. The Hebrews were held in slavery by the Egyptians who neither knew the God of Israel nor desired to love Him. Slavery meant no freedom for the Hebrews and pain, suffering and often a premature death for those who fought against the will of the their taskmasters. God brought an early death to the male children of Egypt. But, the Hebrews were saved. They were commanded by God to take an unblemished lamb, sacrifice it, paint the blood on their doors and the angel of death will pass over their home. They would then flee to freedom by the leading of God. Sin is much like a slave holder or task master. Paul reminds us that before Christ redeemed us, bought our freedom, we were slaves to sin. (Rom. 6:15-23) But Christ, the true paschal lamb, has passed over our sins. This does not mean Christ ignores our sin. It means we are freed from the slavery of sin. Death is the wage or reward of sin. (Romans 6:23) When Jesus died on the cross that first Good Friday, He became the Passover Lamb for all who put their trust in Him. Death no longer has the last word but rather the promise of eternal life. We have the freedom in the here and now to serve God and not our carnal passions. Our consciences are sprinkled with the blood of Christ. As the Letter of Hebrews tells us, "...how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God." (Heb. 9:14)

As Easter approaches, let us remember with thankfulness the death Jesus offered up to God on our behalf much like the Hebrews understood the death of an unblemished lamb and the sprinkling of its blood on their homes, was the price for the freedom to serve God. Our consciences have been cleansed by the Lamb of God. We can serve God in righteousness. Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us! Therefore, let us keep the Feast!