************ Sermon on 1 Corinthians 5:7 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on May 8, 2016

1 Corinthians 5:6-8
1 Corinthians 5:7
"Our Passover Lamb"
Lord's Supper

"Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed" (1 Cor 5:7).

You may wonder what this has with us on this Lord's Supper Sunday. Well, did you know that Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper during the week of Passover? Because of this, the early church quickly understood that the Lord's Supper speaks of how Jesus is the Passover Lamb Who takes away the sin of the world (cf Jn 1:29).

I The Passover
A The Passover, as you may know, has been celebrated by the Jews since the Exodus from Egypt. God announced that He was going to kill every firstborn son in Egypt -- from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. Notice, this announcement also includes the firstborn of Israel. Why? Because all are guilty in God's sight. Because, as Paul puts it,
(Rom 3:10-12) "There is no one righteous, not even one; (11) there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. (12) All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Cf Ps 53:1-3)

But God also announced that the Angel of Death would pass over every home with the blood of the Passover lamb on its doorframes. Those living in the home were just as guilty in God's sight as the Egyptians. They were just as worthy of death as the Egyptians. Yet, the Angel of the Lord would graciously pass over those homes. Why? Because the blood of the Lamb has appeased the wrath of God and covered over their sin.

At midnight the Lord did exactly what He said He was going to do. He struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne; to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

B This sad, sad incident is part of a larger story. God was going to set His people free from being slaves in the land of Egypt. He sent Moses and Aaron to speak to Pharaoh. In the name of the Lord, they demanded that all of God's people be set free to worship Him. But Pharaoh said, "NO"!

God sent plagues upon the land of Egypt. Why? Not to punish the Egyptians but to make them listen. To make them realize God meant to set His people free. You know the plagues:
-the Nile River turned into blood
-the land filled with frogs (by the way, thousands and thousands of frogs descended on the church and parsonage this past week; a plague not of biblical proportions but every morning I had to watch where I was walking both inside and outside of my office)
-gnats everywhere
-flies swarmed all over the people
-disease on the farm animals
-the people broke out in boils
-the worst hailstorm ever in Egypt
-so many locusts that they covered all the ground until it was black
-darkness that could be felt for 3 days

God was speaking to Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Would they listen to Him? After the ninth plague, Pharaoh had these harsh words for Moses:
(Ex 10:28-29) "Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die." (29) "Just as you say," Moses replied, "I will never appear before you again."
Did Pharaoh listen to God? No!

So God announced one final plague, the death of the firstborn. And God instituted the Passover meal and the death of the Passover lamb and the passing over of those homes with the blood of the lamb on the doorframes.

II Jesus and the Passover
A Now, remember, on this Lord's Supper Sunday we are talking about Jesus. Jesus is our Passover Lamb. So, what are we being told about Jesus?

Like the lamb of the Passover, Jesus is slain and His blood is spilled. This happened on Good Friday, at Calvary, on Golgotha Hill.

And, when it is time for judgment and death and destruction, God will pass over all those to whom the blood of the Lamb has been applied. They are not better than all others. They are just as guilty as all others. They are just as deserving of death and hell's destruction as all others. Yet, God will graciously pass over their sins -- our sins -- because of the blood of Christ, the Passover Lamb. Why? Because Christ's bloody sacrifice has appeased the wrath of God and covered over our sin.

B Do you remember Pharaoh's response to the final plague? During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me." The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. "For otherwise," they said, "we will all die!" The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The Egyptians gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians. We can see this as partial payment for the years of slavery.

Do you know what we see here? In the Passover the Lord demonstrated that He is sovereign over Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt. They were silenced by the extraordinary acts of the Lord. The Lord showed that He is free to bring deliverance at any time in any way to any one He desires.

Jesus is our Passover Lamb. God shows He is sovereign over Herod, Pilate, Rome, the Sanhedrin, and even Satan. He is free to bring His deliverance at any time in any way to any one He desires.

C The Passover shows God's great love for His people. It shows what God is willing to do in order to save a people for Himself. Don't forget, the Egyptians were also the people of His hand. He had used them to spare the covenant people during famine. The land of Egypt was the work of His hand. It was He Who caused the Nile to flood and water the land and make it fertile.

Yet, for the sake of His people, God was willing to devastate the people and land of Egypt. Not that He hated them so much but because He loved Israel so much. As we read in the book of Deuteronomy:
(Deut 7:7-8) The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. (8) But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

In the same way, Jesus the Passover Lamb shows how much God loves His people. He was willing to send His Son to die as our Passover Lamb. And, the Son was willing to die as the Passover Lamb. Why? Because of love. Because of His great love.

D The Passover reminded God's people that true freedom and deliverance are always gifts of God. Was it Israel herself that secured freedom from Pharaoh and Egypt? Did they rise up in rebellion and defeat their overlords? No matter what the Egyptians did -- killing the baby boys, no straw for the bricks -- the Israelites submitted. No, if it was up to Israel they would still be slaves in Egypt.

God took the initiative. God acted. God saved. God delivered. God rescued. God gave freedom. It is totally a gracious act of God.

Jesus is our Passover Lamb. Telling us what? Telling us freedom and deliverance are the gifts of God. Because if it were up to us we would remain in our bondage to sin. If it were up to us we would remain as slaves to Satan. If it were up to us we would remain prisoners of our own evil desires.

E God's gracious acts in the Passover showed up at Mount Sinai in the preface to the Law: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery" (Ex 20:2).

Why are the children of Israel to obey the Law? Not out of fear! Not as an attempt to earn God's favor! But because of the Passover. Because God has already passed over their sins. Because God showed His great love for them. Because God delivered them and rescued them.

We read the Law as a Teacher of Sin this morning. A Teacher of Sin that points us to our need for the Savior. But the Law is also our Rule for Gratitude. Gratitude for salvation and deliverance and God's great love. Gratitude for Jesus our Passover Lamb. It shows us and tells us how to live as God's saved and redeemed people.

Jesus is our Passover Lamb. In the Lord's Supper this morning we celebrate that Jesus is our Passover Lamb.

Now, the same thing is required of us that was required of Pharaoh and the Egyptians and Israel. God has spoken. God has acted. And we must listen and repent and believe.

Pharaoh didn't listen, didn't repent, didn't believe.

Most of the Egyptians didn't listen, didn't repent, didn't believe. Yet, we are told that when Israel left Egypt "many other people went up with them" (Ex 12:38). Jewish history books tell us twenty percent of those who left Egypt were these "other people." Is it possible that these were Egyptians who took God at His Word? Is it possible that they listened and repented and believed? Is it possible that they sacrificed the Passover lamb and put its blood on their doorframes?

At the same time do you think it is possible that some in Israel did not observe the Passover and so their firstborn was killed by the Angel of the Lord? You know how stubborn and rebellious the children of Israel were. They did not believe Moses when he first came to Egypt. They rebelled and complained at the shores of the Red Sea, in the wilderness, at Mount Sinai, at the border to the Promised Land. Knowing this, do you think it was possible that not all of Israel was spared? According to Jewish history books this is exactly what happened.

Let's turn from the Egyptians and the Israelites to you and me. Are you listening to God? Do you repent? Do you believe? If the answer is YES I invite you to come to the Lord's Table and celebrate with us that Jesus is our Passover Lamb.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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