What is the most important lesson we can learn during the Days of Unleavened Bread? Does the responsibility for putting sin out of our lives fall on only our shoulders? If that's what we think we could be missing the point of this festival. We need to remember who our Passover is, which is another way of saying we need to remember who our Savior is.
Did you know that the word Passover refers directly to Jesus Christ? "Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed" (Luke 22:7). The Passover was killed. The word here in the book of Luke refers to Jesus Christ-the Person who was killed-not just to the ceremony of slaying the literal sacrificial lamb or to the day of Jesus' crucifixion. Christ not only was slain on the Passover, He is our Passover. "For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Why is it so important to understand this?
We cannot do it ourselves
Of the many principles we can learn from the spring festival season, the most important lessons have to do with what Jesus Christ did for us, not with what we can do for ourselves. It is important that we understand this if our perspective on the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread is to be grounded in the truth.
For many years I have noticed, as a church pastor, that many members of the Church of God go through a time of discouragement either just before or during the spring festival season. I have noticed their enduring the same struggle year after year, reproaching themselves because they perceive this to be the time to focus on their failures.
As each Passover approaches, they feel compelled to concentrate most of their attention on themselves-critically reexamining their actions and attitudes so they can reinforce the terrible truth that they remain imperfect. That leads them to the perception that the most important lesson of the spring festival is that we are personally responsible for extricating ourselves from sin, that it is up to us, by ourselves, to put sin out of our lives.
No wonder the Passover season, for those burdened with this inaccurate view, becomes a time of inexplicable sadness.
What should be the focus of the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread?
The responsibility of our Savior
These days are primarily about a Savior, the One who came to save us from our sins. Christ came to save us from death, deliver us from a corrupting enslavement to our sinful nature and blot out our sins-to wipe the slate clean. He came to remove our guilt, not increase it. He came to cleanse our "conscience from dead works to serve the living God" (Hebrews 9:14). He has made it possible for us to keep His commandments, sharing His joy (John 15:10-11) with a clear conscience.
The Passover season is a time for rejoicing, a season to remember that we are being delivered from slavery. We are being "delivered from the bondage of corruption" (Romans 8:21) - just as the Israelites left Egypt with a "high hand" (Exodus 14:8, King James Version), rejoicing that God was delivering them from their slavery. We are also being been set free from our slavery, the servitude of sin (Romans 6:18-22).
It is important to remember that the leaven picturing sin should already have been removed from our homes by the time the Days of Unleavened Bread begin. The festival is not days on which we should normally be putting physical leaven out of our homes. That normally happens at the beginning of this festival. Just as we are to withstand sin, these are the days during which we staunchly resist allowing any leavening agents or leavened products back into our dwellings.
Of course, we are to learn from the Days of Unleavened Bread that, having been delivered from enslavement to sin, we are to resist sin and keep ourselves "unspotted from the world" (James 1:27).
There are many biblical lessons that relate directly to our part in our deliverance from the slavery of sin. Even the Israelites had to walk out of Egypt after God freed them. But keep in mind that they left rejoicing, not feeling hopeless and guilty.
The focus of these days must be on our Passover, the One who delivers us from the "bondage of corruption" (Romans 8:21). Lessons learned from our own efforts to resist and overcome sin are important and useful secondary benefits. But let us never forget that the point of this festival time is the way God delivers us from the slavery of sin through Jesus Christ. He is our Passover, our Savior.
Let's approach this festival season with joy. The apostle Paul put it concisely in Philippians 4:4: "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!"