I am almost giddy to share this post about leaven with you today! Is it because I absolutely LOVE the smell of fresh baked bread? Although I do, no it is not. Several months ago I asked a question during a devotional time, and today I believe the Lord gave me a much fuller answer. Perhaps you are interested?
As is custom for Jewish people worldwide, they celebrate Passover once a year as God had commanded them. This is in recognition of their freedom from captivity when they lived in slavery among the Egyptian people. The last plague that God did to Pharaoh was the death of the firstborn of every man or beast, which inevitably included his own son. But, God had given the Hebrew people, the Israelites, instructions through Moses on how to survive this plague. They were to sacrifice a perfect lamb, smear its blood on the doorpost, bake unleavened bread, and be prepared for their quick departure from Egypt. The story is that if they had the blood on their doorpost, the angel of death would pass over their home, leaving the firstborn alive. The unleavened bread was to be a quick meal made ready for a fast getaway from their years of slavery.
The deeper I got into this topic, the more I asked about the unleavened bread. Sure, I understand it takes time for the yeast to rise and they didn’t know how much time they had before they were freed. But was there more to it? Was there more to the story surrounding Jesus’ last supper during Passover? These two instances, the first one and last one, had to coincide in more ways than one.
You know how much of scripture was about that time, yet can also be for now? It is factual, yet it is also symbolic? That is where I am heading with this.
For the Israelites, leaven carried a negative connotation for many reasons. First, the yeast-risen bread spoiled quickly, symbolizing corruption and hypocrisy. Secondly, rising dough parallels to the puffed-up pride of living for self. Thirdly, the warm aromas of rising bread appeals to our senses, making it a pleasurable thing – like a guilty desire of our flesh.
The Gentiles used yeast or leaven as a common sacrifice to their pagan gods. So God would reject what man used as common offering. He desired the grain offering to be made without leaven, and very finely ground. This took extra effort and time, thus it was sacrificial. The bread was made with oil, finely ground simple grains, incense and salt. This baked bread aroma was pleasing to God, for it was without leaven.
To this day, the Jewish people celebrate the Passover seder, which is a ritualistic meal of unleavened bread, sacrificial lamb, and bitter herbs, served with wine. The irony here is when Jesus was on the cross as their sacrificial lamb, the guard dipped a sponge into a bowl of sour wine, and put it on a hyssop branch and gave it to Jesus to drink. Well, hyssop is a weed that the Lord had commanded them to use when applying the blood to the doorposts for Passover.
So here it is: Jesus fulfilled the Passover by being the sacrificial lamb, His blood being on the cross represented the doorpost, He drank the bitter wine which was both the bitter herbs and the wine. His body was given and broken as the bread sacrifice as He was without pride, but was perfectly humble. BUT, He did “rise” from the dead!! He is our leaven in this life!
Now consider communion. We do this in remembrance of Jesus. We eat the bread, wafer or whatever you use, and we drink the wine or juice, because Jesus asked us to remember what He did on our behalf. This regular act makes us to be prepared in our hearts, for Jesus could return at any time and free us of this life (as the Israelites did for Passover).
Jesus had just finished feeding the 5,000 men along with women and children the bread and fish. The next day after they asked for more bread, He told them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
“Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover Lamb had to be sacrificed….and He (Jesus) said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
Luke 22:7, 15-16.
Hopefully this post answered some questions and explained why I was so giddy! Scripture comes alive when you begin to study it.
Food for thought: Give thanks today for Jesus’ sacrifice for you. (Side thought – The 9th plague against the Egyptians was darkness, then the 10th was the death of the first-born. When Jesus was on the cross, it grew dark, then He died. Love the parallels!)
Fun facts: During Passover, the Coca-Cola bottling company of New York makes a coke that is kosher.
Photo by: Wine-Dharma – Breads