April 29, 2017
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.
1 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV)
The Passover lamb and leaven—these terms sound strange to our modern ears. To Paul and others familiar with the Old Testament sacrifices, though, the illustration would have been powerful. These days we celebrate Easter to commemorate Jesus’ resurrection after paying our sin’s penalty by dying on the cross. But before Easter existed, there was the Jewish feast of Passover, a celebration with centuries of history and tradition. Its symbols look back to God freeing the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and forward to Christ’s sacrifice. Like the verse says, He was our Passover lamb, sacrificed for our sin.
What does all this have to do with CSC? Well, on the Thursday before Easter, we held a Seder dinner. Seder is just the proper word for the Passover meal, the same feast Jesus was keeping at the Last Supper. About a dozen students came to participate in this educational experience. We were each given an instruction guide and led through it step-by-step by our fellow student David Heusel.
It started off with us washing each other’s feet like Jesus did as a way of showing humility. After washing our hands, we sat back down and started the ceremony part of it. There are a number of different foods that each symbolize something. For instance, there is horseradish, lettuce dipped in salt water, and charoset (fruit and nuts)—each representing something of the Jews’ time in Egyptian slavery. There are four cups of wine (or in this case, Welch’s) to symbolize four statements God made about how he would save them. And of course, there is matzo or unleavened bread. It has no yeast because when the Jews were set free, they had to leave so fast that they didn’t have time to wait for their bread to rise. I think the main symbol is the lamb the feast is named after. On the night they were freed, the Jews were told to sacrifice lambs and put the blood on their doorposts so the last plague, the death of the firstborn, would pass over them. Anyone who obeyed was protected.
If you recognized some of the things in that list, it’s because this is where we get Communion. At one point, the bread is broken and passed around, and the same for the juice. For us as Christians, we see another symbolism in this ceremony. It’s more than remembering the Exodus; it’s remembering Christ’s sacrifice. Yeast, or leaven, was a symbol of sin, and He had none. We also see Him as the lamb whose blood saves us from death. In the verse at the beginning, Paul is saying that we have been cleansed of sin. We are “unleavened” now, so we should live like that because our Passover Lamb has bought us life and freedom.
While it’s very interesting to learn about the history behind Passover, and even to think that this was something Jesus did every year, the real value of going to a Seder dinner for me is being able to better understand the Bible. There are so many times that elements found in the Passover are used as an illustration that it can be hard to get what’s being said if you don’t know anything about Passover. This was the second time I have attended CSC’s Seder dinner. If you can make time to go, I would definitely recommend it because I have learned a lot from the experience.