Passover and Christ’s Body

(Sermon Notes) By Warren Zehrung 3/14/2020

A year has almost come and gone since our last Passover. If we have not begun to do so, it is time to begin to deleaven our hearts and homes.

In the past, way too much emphasis was placed on getting the leavening products out of our houses (which we should do)…

Exodus 13:7  Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters. 

But, there was not near enough emphasis placed on removing the leavening out of our minds and hearts.

The physical action of deleavening our homes is only a type of deep spiritual significance—that of purifying our minds and hearts.

Definition of spiritual leaven: Leavening is symbolic of sin and any issue in our lives that causes a hindrance in our personal relationship with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and our Church brethren.

More than our homes alone, our hearts and minds must be deleavened.

In the same way that we seek to have our cherished relationship with the Father and His Son, we must desire having a true Christian relationship with all the brethren – in all the Church groups.

It has become an exceedingly difficult task to have a true Christian relationship with the Church brethren because of the scattered nature of the Church today. There are so many who have become “Church of God” members in name only. The barriers to Godly fellowship have become all but impenetrable.

It is the time of year for us to examine our Christian conduct and behavior. How do our lives stack up against the word of God? We are told to examine ourselves:

2Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith; Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you are reprobates [unapproved, rejected and disqualified]?

None of us like to think of ourselves as being outside of the faith—reprobates, but, we are warned to seriously examine ourselves before taking Passover:

1Corinthians 11:27  Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 

1Corinthians 11:28  But let a man examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.

We examine ourselves according to God’s Law – the Ten Commandments. We ask ourselves how we are doing with regard to putting God FIRST. Check

No idols. Check

Not taking the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD. Check

Sabbath? Check Check

Honor thy father and thy mother Check

Exodus 20:13  Thou shalt not kill.  Check

Thou shalt not commit adultery.  Check

Thou shalt not steal.  Check

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.  Check

Exodus 20:17  Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbor’s. Check

OK, I’ve examined myself – that was easy – and I’m looking pretty good!

Brethren, that was said tongue-in-cheek, and facetiously, because we are often guilty of inappropriately examining ourselves.

Just because we have taken Passover year after year for many years, does not mean that we have always taken it reverently and worthily. God tells us to examine ourselves a little closer than that.

I want to describe a scenario that has gone on at church for as far back as I can remember. You may have seen this:

The Pastor and his wife arrive at Sabbath services… It is not long before they are surrounded by those of reputation, those of status – who enjoy the spotlight.

You did not often see the minister make a beeline to the widows, poor, bedraggled – or a member with a lot of baggage so to speak. There was a different culture in the church then with the ministry being on somewhat of a higher order (or so some thought).

We saw the ministry, in their three piece suits, and they had the spit and the polish about them. The bedraggled members were considered to be beneath their time and dignity. I draw your attention to that because that is not at all the way that the Apostle Paul presented himself.

Paul was a humble and hard-working man. He taught late into the night, and then took off walking to the next town, and walked all night long. Paul was anything but first-class.

Paul was a humble man and he did not come with clever words, even though he was an educated man, but he came in simple humility, straightforward terms, preaching that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, and He preached Christ crucified. More than any of the Bible writers, Paul spoke against church division in all its forms. Paul spoke and wrote of church division frequently.

Romans 16:17  Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

1Corinthians 1:10  Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

1Corinthians 3:3  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

1Corinthians 11:18  For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

1Corinthians 12:25  That there should be no schism [no division] in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 

The apostle James was also vehemently against division among God’s people. James gave us some good examples of socio-economic competition among social classes—even at church!

James 2:1  You do not have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, if you have respect of persons.

This is a severe warning for our brethren today! Are we guilty of thinking that some scattered brethren are beneath our feet? We must be extremely careful not to lump Christ’s true brothers and sisters in with those who have left the faith.

Respect of persons is the cause of Church division today. People will just not relent and admit that God’s will is that we must be of one flock. Not one corporate organization—but one spiritual Body.

1Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body—that is Christ’s Body. [title]

Respect of persons is widespread, rampant and accepted in all of God’s churches today. The apostle James lays out this scenario where church members make an improper distinction in regard to whom they accept as brethren… God hates it.

James 2:2  For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man [in distressed circumstances] in vile raiment; 

James 2:3  And you have respect to him that wears the fine clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 

Brethren, do we make a difference between those who are well situated and those of limited means?

James 2:4  Are you not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 

James is saying that in being a part of that kind of division—you are rejecting the people that God has chosen as His own.

James 2:5  Hearken, my beloved brethren, Has not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love him? 

James 2:6  But you have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 

James 2:7  Do not they blaspheme that worthy Name by the which ye are called? [Christians – Church of God]

James 2:8  If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: 

Ye do well – yes, very well, because it is a salvational matter!

1John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.

James 2:9  But if ye have respect to persons, you commit sin, and are convinced [convicted] of the law as transgressors. 

The wages of sin is death – that is how serious this Passover examination is. We do not wish to die the second death!

James 2:10  For whosoever shall keep the whole law [check, check, check], and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.  [guilty of breaking all God’s Commandments]

Brethren, could we be secretly harboring a spirit of resentment, contention or rejection of some of the other Church brethren? That would be the kind of encumbrance, hindrance, impediment, and sin that the Scriptures urgently warn of us of. It would be wise to set aside a day for fasting and asking ourselves if there is any particular problem that should be examined this year?

Hebrews 12:1 …Let us lay aside [cast off- put away permanently] every hindrance [weight, encumbrance, impediment] and the sin which so easily entangles us.

We are examining ourselves for sin in our lives – as God defines sin… We need to cast off from ourselves – anything that entangles us. The Holy Days encourage us to think not only about love toward God, but also about love toward our Church brethren:

1Corinthians 5:7  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: 

Ye are unleavened because we have deleavened our homes of bread crumbs and yeast products, but, more importantly…

Ye are unleavened because we have repented of our sins.

Ye are unleavened because we have deleavened our minds and hearts.

Ye are unleavened because we have Christ’s Righteousness imputed unto us.

1Corinthians 5:8  Therefore let us keep the Feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness [sin]; but with the Unleavened Bread of sincerity and truth. 

We are to put out both – physical and spiritual leaven! Do we know the difference?

It is only the True Church of God that comprehends that the Scriptures take the concept of the Body of Christ to a higher spiritual dimension.

In fact, the Church of God consists only of the true believers who God the Father has called to be a part of the one “Body of Christ” – Christ’s Body.

Jesus Christ has only one spiritual Body – the Church of God – the Bride of Christ – the saints – the called out ones who will reign and rule with Him in the Millennium. If the Church of God fully appreciated these words we would not be in the scattered state in which we find ourselves today. Instead we would be growing in perfection unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Scripture reveals that we, the saints of God, the Church of God, the one Body of Christ, are represented by the bones of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:29 … Jesus cherishes His own Body [not His flesh, but His Church brethren]

Ephesians 5:30 We are members of His [Jesus’] Body, of His flesh, and of His bones.

Isaiah 52:14  As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: 

Isaiah 53:4  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 

Isaiah 53:5  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 

Psalm 22:17  I may number all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 

We are members of His Bones??? That is a extraordinary concept that means that the Church of God is not to be scattered, divided or broken.

Messianic Prophecy: The Lamb of God was not to have any of His bones broken – Why? Because His bones it indicated the integrity of His Body – the Church.

Exodus 12:46 In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.

Why? Because it was a picture of the solidarity, oneness and unity of the Church brethren not being broken apart.

Psalm 34:20 [Speaking of Jesus’ bones] He preserves all His bones: not one of them is broken. 

John records that that Messianic Prophecy was fulfilled when the soldiers broke the leg bones of those who were crucified on either side of Jesus (John 19:32).

John 19:36  For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 

The Church of God is not to be broken – as Christ’s bones were not broken (Psalm 34:20, Exodus 12:46, John 19:36).

Those who refuse association with, and decline to fellowship with other Church brethren – are critically violating the integrity of Christ’s Body – which is not to be broken. We have been given the inestimable blessing of being a part of God’s true Church. Is the life of Jesus apparent in our churches today?

2Corinthians 4:11 For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. [for all to see our Christianity]

Not only individually in our bodies – but collectively as a people of God. Is the life of Jesus apparent in our body – our separated groups – by our conduct and the way we will not get together in the same towns?

Brethren, the question we have to answer is: How is Jesus – the life and meaning of Jesus’ life – evident in the things we do – the way we live our life?

Paul is speaking of Jesus living His life in us so that His life becomes apparent in the way we live.

Jesus died for the entire world – and we, supposed True Christians, can’t lay aside our differences! Inconceivable! That is not right, because we must lay aside our differences. That is a non sequitur – a situation that does not logically follow from the previous statement. We have grown accustomed to referring to the Church of God as the Spiritual – Body of Christ. What does that mean? What are we to understand concerning the body of Jesus Christ? When Paul speaks of the Body of Christ, the—ekklesia—he is specifically speaking of the Church brethren.

The apostle John helps to develop the concept of the Church brethren’s need to put on—eat of—Christ. John shows how Jesus began with a reference to Moses and the manna, and carried that thought through to Jesus being the True Bread from heaven.

John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

John 6:56 He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him.

The disciples were very familiar with the concept of eating the sacrificed Passover Lamb. Jesus was taking them – one step at a time. We want to follow Christ’s concept all the way through – until the full picture and meaning is seen. The spiritual significance of the Scriptures is always deeper and broader than the physical meaning.

John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

This next verse will show that the Bread [Christ’s Body] emphasizes the togetherness as opposed to the separated and divided nature of God’s people.

1Corinthians 10:16 … The bread which we break, is it not the fellowship [the communion, the togetherness, the partnership] of the Body of Christ?

It is important to grasp this concept because Paul often said things that were difficult to understand (2Peter 3:16). But, this verse makes no sense at all until we picture in our minds the Bread, the Body of Christ, to be the—ekklesia— the called out brethren.

It is only the Church brethren in fellowship with one another who have fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ! (Acts 2:42, 1Corinthians 1:9, 1John 1:3, 1:6-7)

1Corinthians 10:17 For we being many [brethren] are one bread, and one Body. [Christ’s one Body]

The apostle Paul spoke of all those who believed in Jesus Christ as being an inseparable body of believers.

Romans 12:5 We, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Those believers were none other than Jesus’ true called out ones—the ‘ekklesia’—the Church brethren who were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1Corinthians 1:9). Paul went on to say that the body belonged to Jesus Christ—they were His possession. Paul stated that it was the Passover fellowship that united the brethren into one body. The Body of Christ is the entire Church of God.

We Pray, Our Father – not My Father… We do not pray, “Me and you Lord – I don’t need anybody else.”

Consider the example of the first-century Church brethren after just having received God’s Holy Spirit.

Acts 4:32 The multitude of them that believed was of one heart and of one soul.

One heart and of one soul does not describe God’s Church today. One heart and of one soul – That was Godly love in action! It’s as though they were all family.

Lately, in the overall Church of God, we have not been oriented in that direction. If we, Brethren, are not of one heart – one mind – one Spirit, we need to ask ourselves if we are truly a part of the Body of Christ – or only pretenders to the Faith.

The Church of God – which is the Body of Christ – is ONE Spiritual Body – by definition it is not broken… It is not divided… It exists in Unity… But this scenario does not begin to represent God’s separated congregations today where there is no fellowship between the groups of brethren.

We need to ask a serious question: Is one group or the other excluding themselves from the fellowship with Christ? Paul addressed the disunity:

1Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation [expression] of the Spirit is given to every man for the benefit of everyone [withal].

God fully intends that all whom He calls – be there for everyone’s benefit. Not just a portion of the brethren. Manifestation means: How something shows itself, – make itself known,

The separated churches today do not benefit everyone [withal]. God says that each part of the Church – the body – is essential to the proper functioning and growth of the entire body – Christ’s Body.

Brethren, serving only a part of Christ’s Body is not a Scriptural concept. The gifts of God are for the entire Body – all the parts.

1Corinthians 12:12 As the [human] body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one [fleshly] body: so also is Christ’s Body. [title]

How many bodies does the Lord have? One!!! Jesus Christ has only one Body of believers – that is the one true Church – the Church of God.

Title again from here:

1Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body, [Christ’s Body] whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. [That is God’s Holy Spirit that God the Father and Jesus share together—and with us.]

1Corinthians 12:14 For the Body [of Christ] is not one member, but many [brethren]…

1Corinthians 12:18 But now hath God set the members every one of them [the Church brethren] in the Body [the spiritual Body of Christ], as it has pleased Him… [how can we then accept manmade divisions? We cannot.]

We cannot be a part of division – it is wrong!

1Corinthians 12:20 But now are they many members, yet but one Body [the one spiritual Body of Christ]…

Today, we find one-upmanship and competition instead.

1Corinthians 12:26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.

That is not the attitude that we find among God’s scattered churches at all! They are mostly complacent and not the least concerned about those not in their own congregations.

1Corinthians 12:27 Now you [brethren] are the Body of Christ, and members in particular.

Paul saw the same lack of love, and disregard of other brethren going on in his day!

Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.

Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Messengers from God are sometimes among us.

Hebrews 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the Body.

The Body of Christ is the entire Church of God.

Consider the example of the first-century Church brethren after just having received God’s Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 4:15 Speaking the truth in love, may we grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole Body fitly joined together [not apart] and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the Body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Brethren, if we as the Church of God could discern who the members of Christ’s Body are, we would not be dying off as rapidly as we find ourselves today. We saw this earlier..

1Corinthians 11:28 Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

We are directed to examine ourselves before we take Passover – “eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.”

1Corinthians 11:29 For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

1Corinthians 11:30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. [some – even now are dying without taking Passover worthily]

It does not get any more serious than this. Brethren are dying prematurely because God cannot do anything with them anymore.

When Paul said that we must be properly “discerning the Lord’s Body,” he meant that we cannot take the Passover and at the same time be responsible for any of the division in the Body of Christ: the broken, shattered, scattered condition of the Church brethren.

Ephesians 1:22-23 [God] has put all things under His [Jesus’] feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the Church, Which is His Body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all.

How are the brethren the One Body of Christ, and where does this belief arise in the Scriptures? Let’s go back and look at the very first spiritual lesson that Jesus Christ taught the apostle Paul.

Paul readily admits that he was persecuting the early Christians. He put them into prison, compelled them to blaspheme, and caused them to be put to death. (Acts 26:10-11)

Paul acknowledges that: “…beyond measure I persecuted the Church of God, and wasted it.” (Galatians 1:13) And, I persecuted this way [Christianity] unto the death.” (Acts 22:4)

It is most important for us to notice how Jesus viewed the persecution of Christians.

Notice what Jesus said to Paul: “…why persecute thou Me? And Paul said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecute. (Acts 9:4-5)

Jesus did not say to Paul, “Why are you persecuting the Christians?” He said, “Why are you persecuting Me?” The very first lesson Jesus taught Paul was that when he was persecuting the Church of God Christians – he was in fact, persecuting Jesus Christ, Himself.

Because the Church brethren are Jesus’ Body. The only way that is possible is if Jesus considers the Church brethren to be His body – the Body of Christ!

It is in Paul’s epistles that we find the concept of the Body of Christ being expounded upon again and again. There is no justification for scattered groups to disregard, let alone have contempt for other brethren who are led by God’s Spirit.

Who are the Brethren that are led by God’s Holy Spirit? They are the Body of Christ. It is Paul who develops and presents to us our very clear definition of the One True Church:

Colossians 1:24 Who [Paul speaking] now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His Body’s sake, which is the Church.

Colossians 3:15 You [brethren] are called into one Body [Christ’s Body]; and be ye thankful.

Brethren, we are coming up to Passover.

Let us examine ourselves whether we be in the faith (2Corinthians 13:5).