In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
The sabbath rest of Christ in the tomb is done. The Old Testament in the blood of lambs, goats, bulls is over. The New Testament in the blood of Christ has come. (1 Cor. 5:7; 2 Cor. 5:17) For Christ was sacrificed once for all. (1 Cor. 5:7b; Heb. 7:27) There is no more need for blood to be shed. For Christ’s blood is eternal. It does not diminish or fade or lose its power. Which means the old ways, the old attitudes under the Old Testament, under the old bondage of our sinful nature, must be cast out. For Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
So cast out the old leaven with its power to infect and fill or corrupt the whole lump of dough. (1 Cor. 5:6-7a) In my house baking shows are all rage. And anyone who bakes knows a bit about yeast or leaven. It doesn’t take much yeast to infect and thoroughly leaven a whole lump of dough. And in the days of yore, especially in hotter climates, you would keep on a kneading board a lump of dough, or a jar of sour dough starter, which you would add constantly to new bread day by day. It only took a little to leaven a whole new batch of dough each day.
This is a metaphor or example to us of our old lives—by which I mean, us according to our sinful nature. Of our unhelpful attitudes. Especially those attitudes which say in you, well, I can’t help myself, I just can’t stop doing X. (Fill in the blank). So, I’ll just make my peace with it. It doesn’t take much of a bad thought pattern or some of your old negativity to infect your whole life. But I’m not just talking about negative, or sinful thought patterns. Specifically I am talking about who you are in Christ. You have died and been raised in Christ. (Rom. 6:3-4) The life you live in the body is no longer that of the sinner you were born to be. (Gal. 2:20) For as a Christian you are a new creation. (2 Cor. 5:17) The old has gone, the new has come. The old “you” desires nothing but sin against God and His ways. (Rom. 7:15, 18) The old you can’t do anything but sin. The new you, wants nothing other than what is good and right. (Rom. 7:22) It can’t do anything but what is pleasing to God and loving to the neighbour. (Gal. 5:16-17) The problem is these two “you”s are locked inside the same body on this side of heaven. (Rom. 7:18-24) But in Christ, the real you is not the one sinning (Rom. 7:20), but the you who has been raised up in Christ Jesus whose desires are clean and pure. So the sin you do is no longer done by you, it is no longer credited to you, but to the sin living in you. For on the last day, in resurrection of our bodies, the old you will be finally put to death, and only the new resurrected you, made after Christ, will stand. (1 Cor. 1:8; 1 John 4:17; Phil. 1:6) However, here and now, you experience both those godly desires of your new creation, and those evil desires and actions of the old you. Which is why it is so important to cast out the old leaven. (1 Cor. 5:6)
In the olden days, even as now, you would have to cleanse throughly all your mixing bowls. All your kneading boards or troughs. For especially in hotter climates than here just a smidge of leaven could leaven whole lump of dough. It could ruin your whole batch and what you planned for it, could ruin other foods, other baking, could spread from one thing to another, ruining the flavours, the foods, contaminating all the food in your larder.
This is important if you don’t want leavened bread: as at the Passover over feast, the feast of unleavened bread. (1 Cor. 5:8; Luke 22:1; Exod. 12:14-20) If you watch those cooking or baking shows, you know that when time is short, flat breads, unleavened breads, are a lot faster to make than leavened when time is short. And Passover was a feast of unleavened bread. For the first Passover was eaten in haste. (Exod. 12:11) For at any moment Pharaoh was about to tell the Israelites to get out of his land. (Exod. 12:29-31) He was about to expel them from their slavery to him. For the Lord had worked this salvation for them. So unleavened bread was the order of the day. Unleavened bread was the mark of this feast for all generations till our Lord’s own. In which night when He was betrayed, he took bread—unleavened bread—for this was the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He took that meal and gave to us a new feast. A feast of His body and His blood. By the power of His word. (Mark 14:22-24) Which delivers to us in bread and wine the fruits of His cross: HIs body and blood.
You’ve noticed that we do not use leavened bread at Lord’s Supper, but flat bread. Unleavened bread. So St. Paul is using the Lord’s Supper as a metaphor for our lives. (1 Cor. 5:7-8) For Christ has been sacrificed. He has died so that He is now given to you in unleavened bread by the power of His word. And this bread gives you new life. For Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
And that new life ought to be different than the old life leavened by this world. Just a little of this world will infect everything around you. You don’t have to eat much of this world to be over taken by it, by its ways, by its thoughts, by its practices. And we are here, in celebration of the new way. Christ’s way. His way which is full of life. For Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
And so we gather here to celebrate the feast of Christ’s resurrection. The feast of His casting out the leaven of this world. Of his cleansing your life of its creeping infecting power. Of His giving you new life by the unleavened bread of His body broken for your fallen flesh. His blood shed for your failures to live His new life.
But it remains that we are still in this life. We are still of this lump of dough. Lumped in as we live our lives lumped in with the world. And a little leaven leavens the whole lump. (1 Cor. 5:6) So you, if you wish to live His new life, if you long to be His and be part of His kingdom you need His unleavened bread. His bread of life for you. His word of salvation in your ears. His unleavened bread in your mouth. His blood flowing in your veins. For that is why He gives Himself to you in this physical, tangible way—to cleanse you body and soul of the leaven of this world.
It is all well and good to focus your mind and set your sights on moral improvement. On setting some order to the chaos around you. On improving the lives of others and lightening their suffering. Of cleaning up your room, and starting with the man in the mirror. It is useful, once you’ve decided what you want to do with your life, apart from merely living for yourself and your own pleasure, to set small little incremental goals that you can manage, and reach day by day. For that is how you make things better for yourself and for everyone who has to live with you. In practical, small ways day by day. But knowing that, even planning out your steps, will not actually make you do it. For it is too easy to get infected by the ancient leaven of this world. To get waylaid by your old resentments. To get tripped by weaknesses. To get inflamed with pride and boasting. And suddenly a little leaven has leavened your whole life with attitudes and actions you hate.
But even if you are in that state now, doing that which you despise, knowing you are less than you wish, sick with sin that infects your soul and leavens your whole life, there is hope for you. For Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
His unleavened bread of His Supper—His own body—casts out the ancient leaven of malice and wickedness which lives in your heart. His flesh sucks it into itself your malice and nails it to cross giving you instead those new desires. Those new habits which are your in Christ. And more importantly, clearing the slate again today, and every day. For Christ your Passover Lamb has been sacrificed. And His body and blood given to you in your mouth cleanse you again by the power which is His for Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.