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Keeping the festival

Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread  of sincerity and truth. 1 Corinthians 5:7,8

Joel C. Seifert

Over the years, Israelites joined in the Passover meal, remembering how through the blood of an innocent lamb God saved them from slavery and death. Then for one week after that meal, God commanded them to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days they were to eat no leavened bread; nothing with yeast was even allowed in their homes.

So, on the night before Passover, they’d get ready. The head of the household would light a candle. Together, parents and children would search through the house for any traces of yeast and throw them out. Then for one week they would “keep the festival,” celebrating how the sacrifice of the Passover lamb changed their lives.

It was a tradition, but it pointed to a greater truth. Yeast is a symbol of sin and wickedness—it spreads and it corrupts. That festival was a symbol for the Israelites. After they celebrated the deliverance God gave them through the Passover lamb, they had a weeklong reminder that they were to leave behind wickedness and corruption and live in the salvation God had won for them.

Keep the festival in sincerity and truth

Paul points us to that greater truth. Christ is the true Passover Lamb who was sacrificed for us. By his death on the cross, Jesus gave us complete forgiveness—freedom from sin and death. We celebrate that truth this Lent: in our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services, we see the Lamb of God offer his life as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. We celebrate his triumph on Easter Sunday.

So, God says through Paul, “Keep the Festival.” Live in the salvation and freedom God won for you. Your Easter celebrations aren’t mere tradition. You have real victory in Christ. Let’s “keep the festival” in truth. Give a careful search through your life and your heart. Is there a sin that you’ve begun to tolerate? Paul warned the Corinthians against sexual immorality, greed, and hatred. Give a careful search and seek to drive it out of your life. You’re not doing this to find peace with God. Remember, Christ your Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. We’re simply living in the victory he’s won.

Keep the festival together

I suppose Paul could have said it more simply: Jesus saved you from your sins; leave your sins behind. But the Holy Spirit led him to point to the festivals that the Israelites had celebrated for more than a thousand years. God had been using the sights, smells, and sounds of those festivals to impress scriptural truths on their hearts.

We’d do well to do the same. This month, our churches will hold services with unique sights, smells, and sounds. Celebrate them together, as congregations and as families. Make a special effort to share them with your children. Gather and worship Jesus. Let your family feel the somber and heavy darkness of Good Friday. Take in the fragrant lilies and triumphant alleluias of Easter Sunday. Young or old, use those outward celebrations to impress God’s truths on each other’s hearts.

Celebrate them, but don’t leave them behind. Let us keep the festival—live in the victory our Passover Lamb has won for us.

Author: Joel C. Seifert
Volume 106, Number 4
Issue: April 2019

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This entry is part 55 of 60 in the series devotion

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