This is the first part in the Bible study series Six Steps to Passover. The Bible reveals Jesus as Creator, Prophet, Priest, and King. It is said there are over 200 ways He is made known to us in Scripture. The first Bible study in our series will focus on Christ as the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the whole world and the deep meaning for each of us. He is Jesus, our Passover.
[Steve Myers] Good evening everyone. Good to see you all here tonight. I'd like to welcome you all who are with us, here at the home office in the ABC Lecture Hall. Good to be here. Good to have you here. Welcome to all of you visiting with us on the web.
This is our very first in the series of Passover Bible studies. We've called it "Six Steps to Passover". Some have asked us, "Why in the world would we call it Six Steps to Passover? Isn't seven a much more godly number?" Well, we ran out of weeks before Passover is what happened. And so we've got six bi-weekly Bible studies left before the Passover and so we came up with this brilliant idea. Let's do six Bible studies and we'll just call it six steps instead of seven. We thought about doing a seventh, but then it would be after Passover so we just kept it the way it was.
Anyway, I'd like to welcome you all tonight. Let's ask God's blessing on our Bible study as we open His word and begin to study it. Let's bow our heads.
Prayer: "Great, Loving, Heavenly Creator, Father, Almighty. Thank you so much for Your wonderful ways. We are so thankful, God, for Your truth and Your love and Your calling. We pray, Father, that You will be with us tonight as we open Your word and we look into it. Help us to deeply understand more thoroughly Your way and Your word and Your plan and Your purpose, Father, for us. We just want to look to You and put it into Your hands and ask Your presence and blessing on the Bible study tonight. We pray that You bless the speaking and bless the hearing and, most importantly, Father, bless the application in our lives so we may do the things that we hear. So now, God, we put it into Your hands and pray for Your presence. We pray for Your guidance. And we do all of this, asking it by the authority of our Savior, Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
Well beginning our Bible study tonight, this is our very first step out of six. As an introduction, I thought it might be helpful to get a little bit of a background as we think about delving into the word of God. When you think of a Passover Bible study the Psalms may not come to mind immediately but there is an interesting Psalm that gives us some insight into the study of God's word. Over in Psalm 111. It is a Psalm called a Hallelujah Psalm. In fact, there is three of these Hallelujah Psalms all in a row: Psalm 111, 112, and 113.
Psalm 111 is one of those psalms that is an acrostic which means it's organized by letters of the Hebrew alphabet. So there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet and each verse begins with a letter of the alphabet. The first letter being the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet and so on, all the way to the end of the passage. They wrote them in this way so that you could remember them. So that you could keep them in mind. So that you could remember, especially in this situation, the amazing acts of God. So, let's notice Psalm 111 as we begin the Bible study tonight. It says:
Psalm 111, 112, and 113, all start the same. That is why it is called a "hallelujah psalm" because hallelujah is "praise the Lord." So it starts, "I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation."
So here we are as a congregation of God's people. We are assembling together. And God's name is to be praised among His people.
V:2 says, "The works of the LORD are great, sought out (studied by ) of all them that have pleasure therein."
V3 "His work is honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever."
Now, as we look at Psalm 111, I think we find an interesting beginning. As we begin to praise God; as we seek understanding in God's way, He says, we should study it. I think the King James (version) says "to seek after", or it is "sought after" by those who have pleasure in God.
So that is what we are going to do on our six steps to Passover. We are going to inquire about God's word. We are going to consult the word of God. And we're going to dig into the word of God and examine it and try to deeply consider the impact of God's word. Because God's word is the word of life and this word of God has tremendous significance. So, we're going to dig into it.
He says that it is an honorable thing. That God's work is honorable. And that His righteousness endures forever. So this is something that we are digging into that is not good just for right now. It is not good just for this moment. But God's way and His word are eternally right in every circumstance - in every instance. And so, as we look at these words and we make them a part of our life, we are always going to be doing what's right. The more we make God's word a part of who we are, the more we become like Jesus Christ and, ultimately, that is our goal. So, as we study God's word, and as we seek after it, and we consult it, and we examine it, we are going to notice the significance of Jesus Christ.
This first Bible study is titled, Jesus Our Passover. So we are going to look at Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus? Who is He? How can you know who He is? Is it even important? Because, what this Psalm begins to show is that He can be found; He can be sought after; we can, certainly examine and study God's word and find out. But, you know what? Most people miss it. Most people miss the significance of Jesus Christ.
If you look back in the New Testament, Matthew, Chapter 16:13, Christ asked His disciples, "Who am I?" Who do the people say that I am? What do men say that I am?
Matthew 16:13 Matthew 16:13When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
American King James Version× "When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?"
Do you remember what the disciples said in that situation?
Matthew 16:14 Matthew 16:14And they said, Some say that you are John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
American King James Version× "And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets."
So the people, they didn't get it. They didn't know who Jesus Christ was. They didn't understand. In fact, to illustrate this, we'll go over to the Book of John. Look at John, Chapter 7:5. This is one of those Scriptures that is actually startling when you notice the significance of what is being said here. Because you kind of understand that people wouldn't get it, people wouldn't understand, "Well, You're Elijah. You're Jeremiah. You're John the Baptist." That seems kind of understandable. But notice who He is talking to here. When you look at John 7:5 John 7:5For neither did his brothers believe in him.
American King James Version×, it says,
So, even in His own family, they didn't understand who Jesus was. They didn't understand His purpose. They didn't understand the mission. They didn't understand God's plan. They missed it when they grew up with it in plain sight. And yet they didn't see it. In fact, if we skip down a little bit, here in John 7, look at what the Jews say in verse 11.
V. 11 "Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he?"
V.12 "And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people."
So, they didn't understand who Jesus was. In fact, some claimed that He was demonic. Some claimed that He had a demon. They said, "Well. He can't be the Christ. Can He?"
Look at V. 20:
John 7:20 John 7:20The people answered and said, You have a devil: who goes about to kill you?
American King James Version× "The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?"
So, sure enough, they didn't get it. They didn't get it at all. In fact, V. 25, some of them from Jerusalem, said,
V.25 "Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill?"
V.26 "But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?"
Well, did the rulers know? Did they understand? Well, they didn't seem to get it either.
V. 27 "Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is."
"He's just an ordinary guy. We know where He is from. There couldn't be anything special about Him." There couldn't be anything supernatural about Him." And so, on a quick scan of Jesus, it's easy to totally miss who He is and who He was. To the average person, they didn't know. He was a mystery. They didn't understand Him. They seemed to like Him but, you know, they didn't understand what He was doing or why He was doing these things. In fact He said that many would come and say, "Lord. Lord", to Him. And He'll say, "I didn't know you."
Matthew 7:22 Matthew 7:22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?
American King James Version× "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?"
V.23 "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity". And they didn't know Him.
So, when you look at the religious leaders; the Pharisees, the Sadducees, all of those who were in charge, you might say, what was their opinion of who Christ was? You see they saw Him as a rival. They saw Him as a competitor. They saw Him as someone who was going to take authority from them. They thought He was maybe some kind of ringleader. Some kind of new cult or something like that. So, they didn't get it either.
Even the Romans. What did the Romans think of Christ? Well, they thought He was a ringleader. An insurrectionist. Someone that was going to try to boot out Caesar. Maybe a magician or something like that.
So what we come to see is that people can miss what Jesus is all about. In fact religion misses what Jesus Christ is all about. So, what is Jesus like to you? When you think of all these ways that it is described, who is Jesus? Who is He to you? Do you have a relationship with Him? What has He done for you? Does it matter what He has done? The Bible reveals Christ in so many different ways, does it not? When you look at what Christ is revealed as in the Bible, we know He is supposed to be our Savior. He's Creator. We know that He's revealed as a prophet or a priest or a king. In fact, you start going through the Bible and you'll find so many descriptors revealing bits and pieces about Christ. Maybe over 200 different ways the Bible describes Jesus Christ.
But tonight, and for the next several weeks, we're going to focus on Jesus, our Passover. Jesus as our Passover. So, we'd like to focus on Him as the sacrificial lamb – the Lamb of God that was slain for you and for me – for the entire world. And, there is something puzzling that is written about Jesus by the Apostle Paul. And I'd like to turn over to Romans, Chapter 10:4. Notice a statement that can seem kind of puzzling – at least on the surface. But it begins to reveal something, I think, that is so very important to the fact that Jesus is our Passover. Let's notice what it says.
Romans 10:4 Romans 10:4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.
American King James Version× "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth."
And so, people read this particular verse and you know what they like to say? Oh, Christ is the end of the law. I don't have to worry about the law anymore because it's over; it's done. And Christ is the end of it. It's finished. It's over with. But, that's not what this means.
If you were to look up this word, "the end" in Greek, it is "telos". Christ is the ‘"telos' of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." So, what is that talking about? Well, He's the aim of the law. So, instead of being the end, you have to think of it more in terms of a finish line. A finish line that, ultimately, when we have fulfilled the law, we are like Christ. Christ is the goal of what the law is all about. Christ is the fulfillment of what the law is all about. It is the culmination of everything!
So, when we look at the outcome, or the aim, or the goal. Or, you might even say the purpose of the law, you see we come to an important aspect of Jesus, our Passover. And that is a simple fact that Christ is the goal. Christ is the goal. And Paul was very specific here in Romans, showing this so clearly. He is the purpose. He is the goal. He is the ambition that we all have. We are to produce the mind of Jesus Christ in ourselves through Jesus Christ. Or, maybe a different way of putting this: as Christ being the end, or the goal, or the purpose, the culmination of the law. Would it be fair to say that Jesus is the object of the law? Or, for that matter, we could say Jesus is the object of the entire Bible. Isn't He? When you really get down to it, isn't Christ the object of the Bible? Everything points to His purpose, His plan, and what God is all about. What is the Father doing through Jesus Christ?
You see, that is a pretty big statement there – that Christ is the goal. He is our purpose. He is our aim. And so, Paul really makes an amazing point. And, even as a little sideline, if the talos is an end, or a goal, or a purpose; some would say it's a conclusion. It doesn't seem to really carry that connotation. But, even if you try to interpret it that way, if the meaning of this word was that something was coming to an end, what would it be that was coming to an end?
Christ is the Goal
If it says here, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." If you try to interpret it that way, how does that apply? I don't think that is really what this verse is saying. But I think it does hint at something that is so important that relates to this concept of Christ being our goal. And that's the fact that, when we recognize Christ; when we understand what His role is; when we understand His purpose, we come to see that, "I can't do this on my own". "I can't be righteous on my own." "I can't fulfill the law on my own." It doesn't matter how much Sabbath keeping. It doesn't matter how many pork chops I avoid. It doesn't help me to be righteous, ultimately. I need Jesus Christ. It's impossible for me, by myself, to be righteous before God. No amount of law keeping is going to make that happen.
If I am going to accomplish anything spiritual, it's got to be through the goal of Jesus Christ, doesn't it? That is what Paul is getting at here, not that the law is over with; it's done; it's concluded. No, I can't use the law to accomplish something that the law cannot accomplish. Because, can the law make me righteous? It can't. It can't make me right before God. It can't establish a relationship with God, the Father and Jesus Christ. It can't do those things. It points out sin in my life. And it points to the fact that true righteousness is only possible through Jesus Christ. Now it doesn't do away with works; doing what is right; doing what is good. What it is pointing out that those works are not going to save us, are they?
So, when you think of being saved; being rescued, having salvation, it is a matter of that goal. That Christ is the goal and having a right relationship with God, the Father and Jesus Christ, is really what salvation is all about. In fact, Paul put it a couple of different ways than Romans 10. He was the goal. He is the aim.
Philippians talks about trying to achieve that goal by having the mind of Christ. By putting on Christ. Just like when we put on our clothes, we put on Christ. His perspective; His attitude.
Galatians 3 talks about the same thing.
So, when we think about the goal of Christ, then I think it begins to shape our understanding of what the law is all about. And that means we can, like it says in Psalm 111, we can study His word. We can dig into it. And we can begin to understand more thoroughly about what our goal is. What Christ did. How He fulfilled this law perfectly. How He exemplified everything that God was about. He exemplified what it is like to be spiritual.
Did He set us an example? Absolutely. Did He show us the way? No doubt. And we're to grow in His likeness, in His image. In fact in Ephesians, it tells us that we are to "grow to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:"
Ephesians 4:13 Ephesians 4:13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
American King James Version× "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:"
Is He the goal? He is the goal. And Passover certainly reminds us of that. If we want to know what this goal in life is all about; if you want to know what the most important goal in life is, what do we do? Study Christ. Because, ultimately, isn't He everything? Isn't He the personification of everything that is good and right and wholesome. And, after all, He was God in the flesh. He was the perfect man. He also demonstrated perfect obedience. He was the perfect standard to live by. So, as Christ is the goal, should I study Christ? How much have we studied Christ? Have you really studied Jesus? Because, in some ways that sounds a little funny, doesn't it? Study Jesus. Does that sound Evangelical, or sound Protestant, or something like that? It's not. It's Biblical. And, as we read through the Bible and you think about getting to know Jesus Christ, making Him what our life is all about. That needs to be what we are doing so that He is our goal and we are studying Him and understanding what He was all about.
We think of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. If someone said to you, "What is the gospel of the Kingdom of God?", what would you answer? You would probably say, "Well, it's God's plan." Which is not a bad answer. It means being born into the family of God. Not a bad answer either. But, here is something else to think about. Would it be fair to say that the gospel is the sum total of the message, the life, the works, the example, and the promises, all rolled into Jesus, our Passover. Is that fair to say? Sometimes we don't think of it in those terms but I think we are saying the same thing. When you think about Him being our Creator. We're talking about a plan. He is the Son of God. He conquered and overcame the world. He overcame Satan. He's qualified to come and to reign and rule. He proves Himself to be Savior because He lived the perfect life. But, if we don't study that life; if we don't understand that life; if we really don't know it, then we're going to miss the point.
So, we've got to make sure we study Christ. What does it mean for Christ to be my Creator? How did that happen? I thought the Father created everything. But, how does Christ fit into that. Well, if I don't study it, I'm not going to know that. How did Christ overcome? How did He qualify to replace Satan on this earth? If I don't study those things, I won't know. I really don't have a deep understanding of who Christ is. I don't understand how He conquered and overcame. How was it that He was able to meet the challenges and to be crucified? Do I understand the crucifixion and the resurrection? Do I understand how He is the firstborn? How does that fit with what Christ is all about?
You see those are all aspects of things I need to study. If Christ is my goal, then I need to study these things. If He is the "captain of my salvation", what army am I in anyway? How does that fit? How does that work?
Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version× "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
If He is the head of the church, how do I define that responsibility that God gave Him? Do I understand how Jesus Christ is head of the church? How about being High Priest? He's our High Priest. Do I understand connections between Jesus and that of a High Priest?
Really, as we get down to it, it is so important that we keep Christ at the forefront of our thinking; the forefront of our minds. Philippians 2 says,
If we don't have His frame of reference; if we don't have His attitude; if we don't have His thinking, then we are outside the bounds, aren't we? Because, after all, if we let that mind get away from us, do we really understand what it means for Christ to be our Savior? Do we really understand what it means for Christ to be a wonderful, caring, elder brother, and keep that at the forefront of our thinking? In the forefront of our mind, don't we have to deeply understand what He did and what He accomplished, and what He did for me personally, and what He helps me to become. And what I can accomplish through Him. But see, I think, too often, that strays from our thinking, doesn't it? And we get so busy and so distracted that our mindset isn't on that same wavelength and we miss the correct way of thinking because it doesn't come automatically. We saw that as we looked through Mark and through John.
In fact, over in Luke, Chapter 8, we'll see another example; the wonderful example of the fact that God is working with us. He is doing amazing things and here, in Luke 8, we get a little bit of insight into that. Notice V. 10. Here Christ is speaking to the disciples. He has been speaking to them in parables and most of the people had no clue what these parables meant; just like they didn't really have a clue what Jesus Christ was all about, they didn't understand His teachings. They didn't understand the stories that He told. And so, here, the disciples asked Him, "What does it mean?"
Luke 8:10 Luke 8:10And he said, To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
American King James Version× "And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand."
Christ goes on to give them understanding. So people can see Jesus. Churches can talk about Jesus but totally miss a depth of understanding about Jesus Christ. They just don't understand the significance of Jesus Himself.
If we're not careful we could miss too. So, people could see with their eyes. They could listen with their ears. They could read the word here as well and still miss it and never, really, truly grasp what Christ is all about and what it means to us personally. So, it takes that relationship. It takes that kind of an understanding that the disciples were given. They were given that understanding. They lived with Christ for years and Christ opened their minds to His truth. So we see He is also opening our minds to His truth so that we recognize Him. We see Him. We understand. Then, as we do these things; as we set Christ as our goal and we study the person of Jesus Christ; and we strive to become like Him; we recognize it; we do it; we apply those things, then life changes. And we become a spiritual creation. We begin to put on Christ. I think we gain a deeper understanding then, of what God's plan is all about. And that is where the Passover comes to mind because the Passover is that initial step in illustrating God's plan.
Let's turn over to 1 Corinthians where it mentions how to properly keep the Passover. V. 28 is where we will pick up the story here.
Here Paul is giving instructions to Corinth and Corinth had many issues; many problems; many difficulties that they were dealing with. And one of them was just identifying who Jesus was, what He did, what He should mean to them, because they were keeping the Passover. Or, you could say they were observing it. But they weren't doing it properly. So here in 1 Corinthians 11:28 1 Corinthians 11:28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
American King James Version×, notice what Paul writes to them. He says,
1 Corinthians 11:28 "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup."
V.29 "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."
So, normally we will read through this passage and what do we normally focus on? "Let a man examine himself…" and we should. We should examine ourselves. No doubt. We should look at our lives. We should notice our behavior our sins. Are we rising to the standard of Christ? But that's not the purpose of the Bible study tonight. That'll come later. That'll be on another step.
What I want to draw your attention to is V. 29. It says, "he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself". Why would someone be judged? What's the issue there? What' the problem? Well Paul says the problem is "not discerning the Lord's body." That's what he says the problem is. It's discerning. You look this up in different translations. It can mean "to recognize" the Lord's body. Or some translations say they "fail to understand", or the don't "distinguish"; they don't" recognize". They don't distinguish the significance of the body of Christ.
You see that is important because, if Christ is our goal, as we study Christ and understand who He was and what He did, and how He lived, we have to recognize, or discern the Lord's body. Or, in other words, recognize the significance of Jesus. He is a monumental figure that, without, we have no hope. We have NO hope without Jesus Christ. One of the problems with Corinth is they weren't really remembering Christ. They weren't really memorializing Christ. This became a habit for them. It became kind of casual; they did it haphazardly. They didn't recognize the significance of Jesus Christ. So this is SO IMPORTANT that we recognize.
Recognize the Significance of Christ
We'd better recognize Jesus Christ, recognize the body of Christ. In fact, in this little passage here, with just these couple of short little verses and in V. 28 and 29, really he is talking about a couple of bodies that we need to discern, that we need to exhibit.
First we examine ourselves. That is one body that needs to be examined. There is also recognizing Jesus Himself. He is our topic for tonight. Jesus, the Passover. But there is also recognizing the body of Christ as the church. So, in a way, you have three bodies that should be recognized and discerned here. Ourselves, the church, and Jesus Himself. We need to recognize, and I think the foundation which the Corinthians were missing here, they didn't recognize Christ. They didn't recognize the significance of His sacrifice. They weren't just supposed to remember, well a few historical things that. "Jesus went through that. And He had the bread and He had the wine…" It wasn't just that. And it wasn't just to "well, let's honor His memory." No. It wasn't that at all. That maybe is a minor little part of that. But there is something so deep and so spiritual here. As we really discern and we recognize and we understand at a deep level the significance of His life, His death, His burial, and His resurrection, that's discerning the body of Christ. That's recognizing Jesus Christ who gave His life for our sins.
So, as we do this, yes it is time for a self-evaluation. And we've got to do that. No doubt. We need to examine ourselves. But I think we fail in keeping the Passover because the focus of the Passover is not self-examination. I think what this passage is telling us, it's not self-examination because it's not our sin but more importantly the focus is the payment for our sins.
How is our sin paid for? How is it possible to be sin free? You see the focus is Jesus, our Passover. He is the goal. And we recognize the significance of what He did; what He accomplished for us. So we recognize the body of Christ. We discern the Lord's body and we study that and we come to a deep understanding that truly salvation is by grace through faith. And that leads us to obedience so we obey the law. So we focus at Passover on the basics of salvation.
Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
American King James Version× "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"
Salvation starts, not with self-examination. Salvation starts with Jesus Christ. Our Passover starts and ends, and even in the middle, is Jesus Christ. And that's a phenomenal thing when we really wrap our minds around that concept. Paul talked about it all the time. And sometimes we can skip right over it and miss the significance that Paul was trying to get us to focus in on. There is a passage in Hebrews that came to my mind. It is in Hebrews 12. Maybe part of this came to mind because we spent so much time in Hebrews in our series of Bible studies. But right at the beginning of the Chapter. (Okay, I think this was the Bible study where I got through, like, two verses. But we're going to get through more than that tonight.)
Hebrews 12:1 Hebrews 12:1Why seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
American King James Version× "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses," this hall of fame of faith that he just got done talking about in Chapter 11, he says, "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,"
How can we do that? How can we accomplish the goal so that we reach the finish line, the Kingdom of God?
V.2 "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
"Looking unto Jesus…" He is our goal. He is what we recognize; how significant He is to our very spiritual life. That, without Him we are nothing. We are nothing! In fact, didn't He say that in John. And, when you look at the whole lesson of the vine. Remember where He said,
V.2 "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."
He says, "if you're not attached to the vine, you're dead. You're dead. We're going to cut your off and throw you out, and burn you up. So, without Christ we are nothing. WE ARE NOTHING. So He says, "looking to Jesus" because Jesus is "the author and finisher of our faith."
It starts with Him and the goal, the finish line, is with Him as well. Because, look what He did. Here is just a little glimpse into that significance that Paul wrote to the Corinthians about, to discern the body. Here is a little bit of discernment right here "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." You know you could tear that verse apart and you could study each, individual part of that. What does that mean that "Christ despised the shame?" What does that mean? Could I gain a deeper insight into the mind of Christ by just tearing that apart and studying that? What did He do as He endured the crucifixion? We study what the crucifixion is like; what is that like? What did Christ endure? What did He say when He was being crucified? How did He endure that?
Then the resurrection, we have, "He set down at the right hand of the throne of God." What is it like? What is Christ doing today? If we study what that means to sit at the right hand of God, I think we'll gain that recognition and that significance of at least what Christ is all about. I think this is so important because all too often, as we look to our Savior, Jesus Christ, it is very easy to get distracted. We can get distracted and our mind goes over here. Or our life is so busy with so many things that we fill our lives with, maybe, things that are important, but not with the things that are most significant. As we think of this, Christ needs to be the focus. He needs to be at our heart and at our core. As we learn who He is and how He lived, and about His ministry and understand how He handled situations; How He dealt with people. How compassionate was He?
How did He love people? What are His teachings? What does He give? What does Christ bring?
What does He require?
You see those are all aspects that, as we study Christ and we look at the significance of His life, I think it helps to keep that focus so that we can do what Paul says here. That we can look to Jesus. We can look to the Author and the Finisher of our faith. Because, if we don't keep that focus on Christ, we can say He is a part of our life. But, is He really? Is Jesus really a part of our everyday life? Do we talk about Him? Do we fellowship and express the importance of Jesus Christ? I'm not talking about a phony spiritual, super syrupy kind of thing. No, this is amazing, deep, spiritual meat. That's what Paul is getting at.
Certainly Christ can't be something we only think about or bring up when we are in church. It can't be that way because then we are just superficial like the Corinthians were. What part is Christ in our daily lives? Maybe that is just a bad way to say it. Should Christ be part of our lives? Or, IS HE OUR LIVES? You see, I think that is the challenge.
How would you identify Jesus Christ? If you had to identify Jesus Christ, is He your associate? I'm associating with Christ? Is He an acquaintance? You see God's word doesn't say, "become acquainted with Christ, does it? No. I don't think so. Is He just another name in our "contact list"? We just scroll right through that thing. "Yep, there went Christ." Maybe He is just a Facebook friend. If it's on Facebook, it better say, "I'm in a relationship with Jesus Christ" because that's what it means to have Christ as our goal. And if you begin to think about that, that's something that has to be so important to us that it defines who we are.
If we had to imagine our life in Christ, imagine your life in Christ as a great big (okay, my drawing isn't that good). But, here is our life in Christ. Right? It is a big target. So, if we had to imagine that's our life in Christ, where would that dart be in your life? Is Christ over here (pointing off center of the target)? I think we know where He is supposed to be. Right? We know He is supposed to be right here, right (center of the target)? That's where He's supposed to be. Right at the heart and core, in the very center of our life. That's the significance of discerning the Lord's body. As we do this, He has to be that focus and that's not just a one-time thing, "O, I did that at baptism. I said those words…" . No. It's to live our life that way and that's a challenge. In fact as we look at the Passover, let's go back to Exodus, Chapter 12. We'll see an example in the Old Testament that really puts the bull's eye right, dead center. Let's notice that back in Exodus 12. Right at the beginning of the chapter, we have the description of the Passover under the terms of the Old Covenant. And notice the instructions in Exodus 12.
V.2 "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you."
V.3 "Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:"
So we are introduced to the concept of a lamb. We know that Christ fulfilled this spiritually as the Lamb of God. But notice this representation of Christ here in the Old Testament Passover. So they say, "every man shall take for himself, a lamb…" and it goes on, "according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:"
V. 4 "And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb."
So He gives that instruction and guidance about keeping the Passover. Then, in Verse 5, he says,
V.5 "Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:"
So, if we said, what was the focus of the Old Testament Passover? The answer would be the lamb. They had to go out and pick that lamb from the flock and they had to bring it into the house. So, that 10th day they went out, by the middle of the day. They picked out that lamb and brought it in the house and for 3 ½ days it had to live with them. And then they had to kill it. It was the focus of the Passover.
The Focus of Passover is Jesus Christ
I think that's important to recognize. The focus of Passover in the Old Testament was a physical lamb. New Testament we have the Lamb of God. We have Jesus Christ and that hasn't changed. It was that way right from the start. Right from the start the Passover focus is the Lamb. Of course, spiritually speaking, that is the Lamb of God.
In fact, if you fast forward all the way to Revelation 14, I think it's in Verse 14 (you might have to check me on that one). But it talks about those who will be a part of the Kingdom of God, those who will be with the Father forever. It talks about those are the individuals who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. So, what an amazing connection. From the very beginning the focus of the Passover was Jesus Christ, the Lamb. It stayed that way. It's going to stay that way. We may get our goal and our focus to follow the Lamb.
Now, let's flip back to Corinthians for a moment. Let's get the rest of the story of Jesus our Passover back in the Book of 1 Corinthians again. This time let's go to chapter 5:7.
Often times we'll read this at the beginning of the Days of Unleavened Bread. But here he tells us,
1 Corinthians 5:7 1 Corinthians 5:7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
American King James Version× "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:"
Paul is trying to draw them to the significance of discerning the Lord's body; discerning what He was all about. Discerning His purpose; His mission; His goal. And, as we look here, we begin to see something that's so significant that, if we're not careful, we could miss it. That Christ is our Passover. The lamb was the Passover in the Old Covenant but today Jesus Christ is our Passover. The Jews killed the Passover. That's what they did. Then they kept the Days of Unleavened Bread. Physically speaking, yes, we do that too. We don't kill the lamb. But we keep the Days of Unleavened Bread for seven days. We keep and observe the New Testament Passover. But, what do they point to? They point back to that goal that we need to be in the likeness of Jesus Christ. That we need to have our minds and our hearts new. Unleavened Bread reminds us of that. Our whole life must be unleavened. Not just for a week but how we live the rest of our lives. We can do that because Jesus Christ is a part of our life. He is our life and He is becoming more and more vital and integral to our lives on a daily basis.
Peter talked about this in a little bit different way. Look at:
1 Peter 1:17 1 Peter 1:17And if you call on the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
American King James Version× "And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:"
He makes an important point that ties in with the focus of the Passover. Let's notice it.
That is in awe and in reverence.
V.18 "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;"
So we understand this. We have a depth of meaning in our life so we know what it took to pay the penalty for our sin. We know that. He says, "know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;"
Yes, life is going to lead us in the way of man and that's, ultimately, destruction. But notice the focus here. We weren't redeemed with corruptible things that are going to wear out, things that are going to fade away. But instead, V. 19
1 Peter 1:19 1 Peter 1:19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
American King James Version× "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:"
V.20 "Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,"
V.21 "Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."
So Peter gives us a framework of how to view our life. We begin to see how are we redeemed? What paid the penalty in our stead? Well, here we see that Peter says it's the precious blood of Christ. The precious blood.
In fact we see the fulfillment of that lamb that was represented in the Old Testament. This wasn't an add on or a last minute idea or even just foresight from God's perspective. We see purpose. God purposed that this would be true; that this would come about; that mankind could be redeemed. We could have sin forgiven. We could be brought back from sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and that plan was put in place before creation. Pretty amazing when you think about it that way.
Look how valuable that idea and that concept is. How valuable is it? Did you notice the word that was used in V. 19? It says, "with the precious blood of Jesus Christ". Do you have anything that is precious to you? Maybe you take that precious thing and you might, you know, put it in a lock box because it means so much and you don't want to lose it. You don't want anything to happen to it. Because what do you do with something that is precious to you? You value it. You know that it is important. It's something that is especially dear to you. So things that are precious to us we value highly.
As we look at the Passover, I think we need to ask ourselves, "How precious is the blood of Jesus Christ to you and to me? Is that something that I categorize as precious?" How much is the sacrifice of Christ worth to you? How much is that worth to me? What kind of value you place on it? What is a relationship with Jesus Christ and God, the Father, what does that mean to you?
If I had to place a value on it, what would you be willing to give for it? Our life? Are we willing to give our life for the precious truth of God. The precious relationship with God, the Father, with Jesus Christ because we take special care of the things that we value. But do we really take special care of our relationship with Jesus Christ?
You see, I think it's so important that, if we have Christ as our Passover, we have to value Christ.
We have to value a relationship with Him. That means we're not going to sacrifice that. We're not going to put it on the side burner. We're going to make that the highlight of our life. We're going to focus on that, this precious Lamb of God. Unblemished and perfect. Because, without Christ, we are nothing.
So, the opposite is true, too, isn't it? That Jesus should be everything to us. We need Him so badly words don't even come to mind. That's the way it should be because He is our Savior.
He is our example. He is our Lord. He is our Master. He intercedes for us. He's our dear brother. He loves us and cares for us. He's our teacher. He's our guide. He's our strength. He is our rescue. And, without Him, life doesn't have any meaning. I mean, we just go through the motions.
In fact, a couple of verses later, chapter 2:4. It shows us how we can value Christ. How can we value Jesus' sacrifice? How can we do that? Peter says:
1 Peter 2:4 1 Peter 2:4To whom coming, as to a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
American King James Version× "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,"
If we don't recognize that Jesus is precious, God the Father sure does. In His eyes, Jesus Christ is precious to God. He is full of value. There is nothing like Him. So, we come to Him.
How often do we come to God the Father and Jesus Christ? Have we developed that relationship? He says, we do this, as living stones so that we can be built up to a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. The only way we can be spiritual before God is through Jesus Christ. Take Jesus out of the equation, and it's not possible. It's not possible. We miss the mark. We can't reach the goal. It's impossible. So he tells us very clearly. In fact, he quotes Isaiah here.
V.5 "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ".
V.6 "Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded."
So Christ better be precious to us if we claim to be true believers. He is precious.
V.7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,"
V.8 "And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed."
It says they "reject Him", the stone the builder rejected. He's a "stumbling stone" a "rock of offense." If He's precious to us, we see a direct connection to the value we place on the sacrifice of Christ and what? That value is reflected, V. 7. He is precious. But to those who are disobedient, they reject Him.
There is this connection of believing and obeying. Not good enough just to believe and take Jesus into your heart and know about Him and all that. That's not good enough. The obedience has to follow for you who believe He is precious and you are obedient because you are not one of those who are disobedient. That's what we do. And, as we do that, He describes who we are,
V. 9. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:"
That's what Christ's sacrifice has done for us. Because, without Christ, we are helpless slaves of sin. We recognize that Christ died for our sins. Sins is disgusting to us so we appreciate what Christ did. We are indebted to Him. Because we are so thankful and we are so close to Christ, we are motivated to obey and to come out of sin because we recognize the value of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We know "there is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved" – kind of a loose translation of Acts 4.
Acts 4:12 Acts 4:12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
American King James Version× "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
There is no other name. In fact, in Acts, it says, "we live and move and have our being."
Acts 17:28 Acts 17:28For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
American King James Version× "For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring."
Does that describe our life? Does that describe our goal? Our purpose? Our intentions?
Because, after all we can't do anything to justify ourselves. We can't do anything to save ourselves – not our thoughts or our wishes, our plans of our own. We can't do any of that. So, when we see Christ as He really is, it changes everything. And that is our ultimate purpose, isn't it?
Colossians 3:2 Colossians 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
American King James Version× describes that. We see the example of just that. It says it a little bit differently but I think it makes a very powerful point. It says,
So that's that mind of Christ in our thinking. It says,
V.3 "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
V.4 "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."
As we approach the Passover we can ask ourselves, "Is my life hidden with Christ in God? Is my way of thinking; my way of doing the things that physically, carnally do, and say, is that hidden? Is that gone? Is that man dead and buried so all you see is Christ?"
That's what Paul is taking about here. That our lives need to be hidden with Christ. Who I used to be is no longer and I am identified with the Lamb of God. That my meaning, my purpose, my goal, is Christ, because Christ is the goal. And we discern and we study and we examine Him so we can draw closer to Him. We recognize the significance of Jesus Christ because we know that the focus is Jesus Christ and God's plan begins and it ends, the Alpha and the Omega, with Jesus Christ. We value His sacrifice.
As we consider that, we hide our life with Christ. If we truly do that, we come to a deeper appreciation of Jesus, our Passover.
This is just the first in a series. We'll be continuing our "Six Steps to Passover". I suppose now we're down to five steps to Passover. Our next study will be February 5th.
We hope you'll join us two Wednesday nights from tonight. On February 5th, Mr. Gary Petty will be leading our next step to Passover in a Bible study that's entitled, "Jesus, the Second Adam".
We hope you'll join us.