Jesse Tree: Day 10 Passover (Exodus 12:1-13)
The Church at Corinth was, by any standards, a bit of a mess. I rather suspect that many of us on visiting it would have seriously questioned whether it was in fact a church at all. Yet with greater spiritual insight and patience than many of us would have, the Apostle Paul tends to their misunderstandings and misdemeanours, and calls them beyond their jealousy and quarrelling, their partisan pride and self-serving spirituality to something far more authentically Christian.
In the course of his pastoral confrontation, he recalls a great deal of what we would call the Old Testament. ‘These things’ he tells the errant Corinthians, ‘occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did’. Of particular concern is our tendency to idolatry (I Cor.10:7). One French pastor-theologian of half a millennium ago wrote that the human heart is ‘a perpetual factory of idols’, so perhaps Paul’s warning wasn’t redundant. Calling them to a true vision of Christ and consequently of what it means to be the Church, Paul instructs them to throw off all immorality, pride, malice and wickedness, and to deal with each other instead in purity, sincerity and truth, having no tolerance for sin, and refusing even to eat with those who cling to the old pre-Christian patterns of humanity. And the sole reason that motivates such a radical change of approach: ‘Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed’ (I Cor.5:7).
In one passing allusion, Paul conjures up the remembrance of an immense spiritual reality. Like the ancient Church, the Corinthians had once been enslaved, oppressed mercilessly under the power of foreign and false gods and threat of death. Like the ancient Church, they had witnessed their God triumph over those gods, and free them from slavery. And like the ancient Church they had seen it all accomplished through the death of a lamb (Col.2:15).
In the wisdom of God, victory is won through defeat. As Christ is slain, the Church is brought into a freedom we could barely have imagined before. ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery’. Whether our penchant is for powerless religiosity, or empty morality, or comfortable idolatry or patterns of sinful behaviour, to the extent we engage with it, we will find we lose the freedom bought for us at so high a price. And yet, like the ancient Church we find ourselves all too quickly squandering our birth-right as the children of God, and longing to return to slavery and judgement for the cheapest of pledges (Num.11:5). May our God deliver us.
The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you… (Ex.12:13)
Ideas for Family Devotions:
Why not have a simple Messianic Passover meal for dinner tonight? Roast lamb, pitta (unleavened bread), grape juice / wine, parsley (instead of bitter herbs) - I’ll leave it to you to decide whether to have slated water (to remember the tears shed). You could read the story of the Passover, or watch the film, ‘Prince of Egypt’ and talk about how Jesus is the fulfilment of the Passover. There are more complicated versions on line, but this would get the idea across.
Jesus Storybook Bible, ‘God to the rescue’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDlWC0nQoOI