Last week, I introduced the Feast of Passover—the first of seven ordained by God. It kicks off the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Passover and the first night of Unleavened Bread are known as ‘high sabbaths.’ They do not happen on an actual Sabbath, which begins on Friday night. This, and the fact that Jesus was buried in the ground for three nights (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) and three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) and raised on the third day, help us understand that Jesus was crucified and buried Thursday day, not Friday, as is our tradition.
So, what prompted the connected Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread? As I mentioned previously, the Israelites had to make a hasty departure from Egypt after God completed ten judgments against the Pharoah. They didn’t have time to use yeast (leaven) to let the bread for the journey rise. Eventually, yeast came to signify the old life of bondage in Egypt and sin.
How is the yeast-less-bread feast celebrated? Deep house cleaning is done by the 14th of Nisan in preparation for the Passover and the first day of Unleavened Bread on the 15th. Special dishes and utensils are used to ensure no contamination. Then, pieces of yeast are hidden to be found during the Feast of Passover after sundown (the start of the 15th). A ceremonial search for leaven and removal that night (part of the Passover feast) is done by candlelight and with a feather and wooden spoon; all are placed into a bag and burned. The head of the household then says a prayer.
The theme of old and new is an emphatic order to be free of corruption. So, how did Jesus fulfill the feast to stress that? First, He is the ‘Bread of Life’ who did not sin—leaven (John 6:32-35). Second, He had to take on sin—ours—to satisfy a sinful humanity’s debt to the Creator: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of His sinless nature, God didn’t allow His body to decay (such as leaven-oriented fermentation causes). Therefore, He was buried in a rich man’s grave, not thrown onto the trash heap like other crucified criminals (Isaiah 53:8-9), and raised. Most important, Jesus removes the spiritual yeast/leaven/sin from our house, our lives.
How can we apply this? We can start by “. . . lay[ing] aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit” (Ephesians 4:22) and become new. Why? If nothing else, practicing sin, no matter what we may believe about Jesus, will earn a spiritual death sentence (Galatians 5:19-21).
What about next week? We’ll continue exploring God’s ordained feasts and festivals with “Jesus in the Feast of First Fruits.”
Blessings and peace,
Dr. Ron Braley