April 21, 2019
Church of the Lutheran Confession’s Ministry By Mail
Volume 60, Number 16
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Isaiah 25:1-8 & Mark 16:1-8
Hymns from “the Lutheran Hymnal” (1941):
#202 / #199 / #210 / #187
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INI + SDG
CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN, INDEED!
TEXT: 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 6Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Theme: “CHRIST HAS FULFILLED THE PASSOVER”
1) And has risen from the dead
2) Even so we also should walk in newness of life
In Christ Jesus, Dear Fellow Redeemed:
At Passover time, the Jews were required to offer a male yearling lamb without blemish and were to kill it that evening. Then, one year later, the Jews were required to offer a male yearling lamb without blemish and were to kill it that evening. And so it would go, year after year, lamb after lamb. Why? Because it was not the blood of the lambs that washed away the sins of the people. Rather, “It was symbolic for the present time.” (Hebrews 9:9) The blood of the lamb was symbolic in that it pointed ahead to the One who is actually “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Until that Lamb of God came and offered His sacrifice on the cross, the Passover lambs were offered, to remind the people that the Lamb of God was yet to come, as we read in our text, “For indeed Christ, our Passover was sacrificed for us.”
Of course, you could say that the Passover lambs were sacrificed for those who observed the Passover. But those lambs were not the point of the Passover. Christ Jesus was the point of the Passover, for:
CHRIST HAS FULFILLED THE PASSOVER
After the Passover lamb was sacrificed, the lamb was eaten. It ceased to
exist. Then the next year, they had to get a new lamb for the sacrifice. If
Christ Jesus had been just another Passover lamb, then His death would have been
the end. Like those other Passover Lambs, His sacrifice would have been nothing
more than one more death, as Paul notes, “if Christ is not risen, your
faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17) But
Christ’s death was not just one more sacrifice among a million sacrifices. It
was THE Sacrifice. Christ Jesus, THE Lamb of God, offered His sacrifice once
for all, and, with that sacrifice, paid for the sins of the entire world. As it
is written, “Christ was delivered up because of our offenses, and was
raised again because of our justification.” (Romans 4:25) Jesus paid
for sin (I.) AND HAS RISEN FROM THE DEAD, thus proving that the debt for our sin
has been paid. He was put on the cross because of our offenses, because of our
sins, and He was raised again because His sacrifice was sufficient to win for us
the verdict of “Not Guilty.”
So Christ’s resurrection shows that His sacrifice was the fulfillment of the Passover. It was the sacrifice to which all of those other sacrifices pointed. His is the completion of sacrifice. Because of His not guilty verdict He has put an end to the sacrifices of the Old Testament, so that the apostle writes, “…let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16f)
So Christ’s resurrection means that His payment for sin was accepted by God. But, in addition to the forgiveness of sins, what does this mean for us? It is written, “…now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20) What Christ’s resurrection means for us is that, we, and all those Christ-believers who have gone before us into death, shall rise bodily from the dead at the Last Day. Christ Jesus is the firstfruit, i.e., He is the first one to rise from the dead, and thereby has shown that He has power over death and is able to keep His promise that, “He who believes in Me, though He may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25f)
So Christ has risen from dead, proving that our sins are forgiven and that we also shall rise from the dead. But what does that mean for us here and now? After all, we are alive right now. We’re not dead. But we were dead. Before our conversion, we were “dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1) Which makes Christ’s death and resurrection vitally important for us in this life as well. Again, “If Christ is not risen, you are still in your sins!” But, at our conversion, whether at Baptism, or before that through the preaching of the Word, we received new life, spiritual life. We were resurrected from spiritual death, as it is written, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father.” (Romans 6:4)
II. EVEN SO, WE ALSO SHOULD WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE
It shouldn’t surprise us that those who are dead in sin should serve sin. And
that included us. Sure, the unbeliever may try to please God by his works in
order to try to earn heaven, but, such works are done in ignorance of God’s
will, for we are told that, “Whatever is not from faith is sin.”
But we are not like the unbelievers. We are not ignorant of God’s will, nor are we dead in sin. So it is written, “if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” (Romans 14:8f) Christ is our Lord, not only when we see Him in heaven. He is our Lord right now.
However, there was the problem in Corinth at the time our text was written. Worshiping there with them was a man who was not only committing adultery, he was committing adultery with his father’s wife, that is, with his stepmother. And, apparently, the Corinthian Christians were patting themselves on the back for being so open minded. What they did not realize was that, what happened among their members reflected on their own faithfulness. If there was open, public sin occurring in their midst, and they did nothing about it, what did that say about their own attitude toward sin? So Paul says, “Your glorying is not good.”
By ignoring such a grievous sin as that which was occurring among them, they were really saying that it was not a big deal. But Paul says that such a sin, “…is not even named among the [unbelievers]!” (1 Corinthians 5:1) Such an attitude could not help but affect their faith life, as Paul reminds them, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the who lump?” In other words, a little sin goes a long way toward affecting our faith. With their disregard for sin, the Corinthian Christians were showing that they were more interested in serving sin, than in serving the Lord Jesus.
So Paul tells them to, “Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you are truly unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us!” Christ paid for our sins so that we are innocent before God. With this in mind we do not want to make ourselves guilty before Him again by ignoring what is clearly sin.
At this point, we must ask ourselves, why are we here today? We are here celebrating Easter Sunday. We are celebrating the resurrection of our Savior after He paid for our sins with His death. But did He only pay for the sins that we committed last week? No! He paid for every one of our sins, not only going back to our conception and birth, but He has paid for every single one of our sins. We may be making a special observation of Christ’s resurrection today, but, in a practical sense, every day of our life is a day of Easter worship, as Paul states, “…if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (Romans 6:5f)
In the Old Testament the worshiper was to get rid of every bit of leaven, or yeast, from his house. This may not make sense to us New Testament believers if we did not have our text here before us. The leaven, or yeast, represented sin, and its creeping effect. The believer was to cleanse his home of leaven, even as he was also to cleanse his heart and life of sin. To be unleavened, that is, to be free from leaven signified that the believer was free from sin.
For us New Testament believers, Christ’s death and resurrection does not only signify that we are free from sin. He paid for our sins. He took our sins away. Therefore, we are truly free from sin. We are, as Paul says, “unleavened.” Therefore, Paul tells us to live as though we are free from sin.
Martin Luther tells us in connection with our text that we are not only to celebrate Easter, we are also to live Easter! If you’re dead, who could blame you for just lying around the house? But we are not dead! We are spiritually alive because of Christ’s death and resurrection! Therefore, Paul says, it is high time that we started living like we were alive in Christ, rather than living like we were dead in sin. Christ is the fulfillment of the Passover, “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Why are we here celebrating Easter? Is it just another Sunday? Or is it a reminder that, for the believer, every day is Easter? It is just that. For the believer, every day is a celebration of the fact that we, who were dead in sin, are now alive in Christ. We no longer serve sin, we serve God! For the believer, every day is Good Friday, in that every day, through contrition and repentance, we put our sinful flesh to death. And for the believer, every day is Easter, in that, every day, we find forgiveness for those sins in our living Savior. Every day, we find new life in Him who died and rose again, not only that we might live again at the Last Day, but that we might live for Him who died and rose again to give us life.
“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:8–11) Amen.
Pastor Joel S. Fleischer
Berea Lutheran Church
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.