Symbolism in God's Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread

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Symbolism in God's Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread

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Jesus died on the Passover day. For centuries this day had foreshadowed His dying for our sins as the sacrificed Lamb of God, and He commands His followers to keep the Passover as a remembrance or memorial of His sacrifice for us (Matthew 26:26-28 Matthew 26:26-28 [26] And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. [27] And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; [28] For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
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; Luke 22:19-20 Luke 22:19-20 [19] And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. [20] Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
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; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 [23] For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered to you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: [24] And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. [25] After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do you, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me. [26] For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till he come.
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Three days later Jesus was resurrected during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. His resurrection is indeed a vital theme in the meaning of the festival—yet as part of a bigger picture. Consider what literally happened. Jesus was dead and buried in the ground for the first three days of this festival, was raised to life right in the midst of it and was then accepted as the firstfruits of God’s spiritual harvest, remaining alive to teach and direct His disciples thereafter. All of this is part of the meaning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread, like the Passover, was revealed to the Israelites at the time of the Exodus (Exodus 12-13). Over the course of these days, the Israelites left the slavery of Egypt. And the removal and avoidance of leavening (an agent such as yeast that causes bread dough to rise in baking) was to symbolize our coming out of sin (see 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 [6] Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? [7] Purge 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: [8] Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
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Eating unleavened bread instead symbolized taking in God’s righteousness—ultimately revealed to come in a lasting way only through Christ living in us to help us develop godly character.

We are to figuratively be crucified and die with Christ—our old, sinful self being put to death and buried with Him so that we can be figuratively raised with Him to walk in newness of life, as pictured in baptism (read Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
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, Romans 6, Colossians 3:1-10 Colossians 3:1-10 [1] If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. [2] Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. [3] For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory. [5] Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: [6] For which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience: [7] In the which you also walked some time, when you lived in them. [8] But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. [9] Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; [10] And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
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and Philippians 3:10-11 Philippians 3:10-11 [10] That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death; [11] If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.
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We may understand that the Days of Unleavened Bread represent our coming out of sin. But we must realize that our coming out of sin relies on the person we formerly were being figuratively put to death and buried with Christ and then, in effect, rising with Christ into a new way of living—His way.

As the true Bread of life (John 6:35 John 6:35And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst.
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, John 6:48-51 John 6:48-51 [48] I am that bread of life. [49] Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. [50] This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. [51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
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), He lives His resurrected life in us through the Holy Spirit. This enables us to live a lifetime of sanctification and transformation until the culmination in our literal resurrection at Christ’s return. Thus what these days symbolize, our coming out of sin to ultimately find new life and acceptance with God, was enabled by Jesus being literally buried, raised and accepted by God during these very days. This was clearly no coincidence!

We need to grasp that Jesus’ resurrection is vital to the process of coming out of sins. As Paul wrote: “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:17 1 Corinthians 15:17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins.
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And this is where the resurrection focus of Easter fails. It merely gazes at a hero who has conquered death. In the case of Jesus Christ, that is awesome and wonderful, to be sure. But by itself it lacks the context of His death and resurrection as the basis for our own renewed lives and ultimate future resurrection.

In keeping the biblical Feast of Unleavened Bread, we do commemorate the fact that Jesus was resurrected to live in us to enable us to overcome—yet not as a celebration specifically of the resurrection in the way that Easter is for many, which misses the big picture of God’s great plan of salvation. It leaves out a proper balanced focus on the need for our old selves to remain buried and on now living new life through Christ, looking forward to ultimate transformation in the future.

For those who recognize the problems with Easter, we should not let pagan corruption take away from having a right focus on Jesus’ resurrection—and a recognition of His role in the meaning of the biblical Feast of Unleavened Bread as the Bread of life through whom we also may receive eternal life by our own resurrection from the dead (John 6:50-58 John 6:50-58 [50] This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. [51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. [52] The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? [53] Then Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. [54] Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. [55] For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. [56] He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. [57] As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me. [58] This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eats of this bread shall live for ever.
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Some might wonder how a person could be a Christian and not celebrate Easter. But a more important question is this: How can someone be a Christian and not observe the days God commanded us to—the days that picture His great plan of saving mankind through Jesus Christ?

Before knowing about them, one might plead ignorance. But having learned about them, now you know. And we encourage you to come to know more—and to honor God the Father and Jesus Christ as They have directed!

To learn more, be sure to download or request our free study aid Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe?

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