Year B – Easter Sunday – 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8

Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?7 Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.8 Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Summary—Israel could be taken out of Egypt more easily than Egypt could be taken out of Israel: the Israelites frequently longed for Egypt’s delicacies, once erected an Egyptian calf to worship, and upon arriving at the Promised Land wanted to return to the familiarity of Egypt.  Knowing that this would be the case, God prescribed an annual purging from leaven to accompany the annual commemoration of Passover (the event which effected the exodus from Egypt), to remind Israel that their salvation from Egypt must entail a purging from “Egyptianness.”  Leaven (sourdough starter) works its way through a lump of otherwise sweet dough in short order, just as pagan priorities can work their way through the covenant community in short order; the Feast of Unleavened Bread reminded Israel of the purity she must maintain, having been freed from bondage.  Paul picks up on this imagery in 1 Corinthians 5, having just instructed the church to excommunicate a member who was continuing in immorality.  He ties this to their liturgy, instructing them to “celebrate their feast” (the Eucharist) with “unleavened bread” (sincerity and truth), having “cleaned out” (excommunicated) “leaven” (evil and immorality).  In other words, the unrepentant fornicator must be barred from communion with Christ’s body.

Insight—God delivered Israel from Egypt, and the thanks He got was Israel bringing Egypt with her!  But did God record this for our self-righteous incredulity or for our admonition?  Isn’t this what we’re doing, each time we sin?  God delivered us from bondage to sin, and the thanks He gets is our bringing sin with us!  We ask for our old task-master every day.  But we don’t have to.  Since our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed, we “really are unleavened” (v.7); in other words, in Christ, you’re not a sinner, legally—so don’t be one practically.  Be unleavened bread…because you are.

Child Catechism—Why should you get rid of sin?  Because God delivered me from it.

Discussion—Israel had to maintain a leaven-free environment for one week, each year; for how long must we maintain a “leaven-free” environment?  How long does our “Feast of Unleavened Bread” last?

Prayer—Blessed are You, O Lord, King of the universe, who have given us a perpetual Feast of Unleavened Bread; grant that we would remember our deliverance from Sin, and purge ourselves from it, always living as the unleavened bread which we really are in Christ, through whom we pray.  Amen.

Contributed by Scott Cline


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