The Way of Life
First Day of Unleavened Bread 2021
(Sermon Notes) by Warren Zehrung 3/28/2021
Today is the First Day of Unleavened Bread 2021.
Leviticus 23:6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
Abib 15th has arrived – the moon has become full, interestingly, at 1:48 pm Central Time today – just as we were beginning High Day services today.
More than any other feast Day, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the Feast that shows us that we are to focus on removing sin entirely from our lives, – put aside the deeds of darkness that have no place in our lives – and replacing that wrong way of living with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We are to be putting on Christ and the way of life of Jesus.
The world knows little or nothing about the Feast of Unleavened Bread because it is impossible for them to find the verses in the New Testament. For the world, the Scriptures do not spell out directly the meaning of Unleavened Bread very well.
For those us who have been privileged to have the Plan of God shown to us – Unleavened Bread jumps off the pages of the Bible.
The first point that we need to make is this: Jesus Christ is the Unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth. Paul wrote it this way:
1Corinthians 5:6 … Know ye not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
1Corinthians 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven [that means that there is no place for sin in our lives.], that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ [Jesus Christ] our Passover is sacrificed for us:
1Corinthians 5:8 Therefore let us keep the Feast [of Unleavened Bread], not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
That is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth.
The focus at Passover and Unleavened Bread is on the Lamb and the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, – not so much on our sins.
Just to put things in perspective, about 30 years ago during the days of Unleavened Bread, the church focused a great deal – almost solely – on the aspect of coming out of Egypt – coming out of sin.
There are some still presenting the Feast of Unleavened Bread in just that Old Testament manner alone. That is not wrong, but it is incomplete. We understand more correctly the New Covenant aspect of Feast of Unleavened Bread which pictures – putting on Christ – The Way of Life.
Romans 13:14 … be clothed “with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Worldwide Church of God transferred me and Sharon to Little Rock, Arkansas in January of 1993. There was a longtime Pastor here who never mentioned the name of Jesus Christ. He spoke only of “God.”
I asked him about it, and he told me that saying, “Jesus,” made him feel ashamed – it sounded Protestant to him – and he just preferred to say, “God.” That Pastor stayed with Worldwide as they did away with the Feasts of the Lord; as they did away with the Commandments of God, embraced the Trinity, and went to Sunday worship.
Certainly, we should be aware of our sins in order to provide the contrast between the two: On one hand, coming out of sin, and, on the other hand, taking on the life of Jesus – the sinless, spotless, and unblemished Lamb and Unleavened Bread, but our focus must be on our Redeemer. We should glory in the unique One – Jesus Christ – who makes our deliverance possible.
Jesus Christ is the Way of Life
I find it interesting that the first three references to Jesus being the Way of Life were made by His enemies. The Pharisees, the Herodians, the chief priests and the scribes of Jesus day.
For the Title of today’s sermon, I considered using simply, The Way. But I thought that it would lose some of the considerable impact that it should carry, as when Jesus says, “I Am – – the Way.” During Jesus’ public ministry, it was a well-recognized fact that that He taught the way of God in truth.
Matthew 22:15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle [Jesus Christ] in His talk.
Matthew 22:16 And they sent out unto Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teach the way of God in truth, neither care thou for any man: for thou regard not the person of men.
Brethren, these words are Scriptural, but we may wonder if we can rely of the testimony of the Pharisees and the Herodians? We find the same account in:
Mark 12:13 And they send unto [Jesus] certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch Him in His words.
Mark 12:14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and care for no man: for thou regard not the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
This time in the synoptic Gospel account we find that it was the chief priests and the scribes who were conspiring to take Jesus captive:
Luke 20:19 And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on [Jesus]; and they feared the people: for they perceived that He had spoken this parable against them.
Luke 20:20 And they watched Him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver Him unto the power and authority of the governor.
Luke 20:21 And the [spies] asked [Jesus], saying, Master, we know that thou say and teach rightly, neither accept thou the person of any, but teach the way of God truly:
Writing many years later, the beloved apostle John set all things in order – clarifying the synoptic Gospel writings – just so that there would be no question about The Way of God. The Title of today’s sermon comes from this verse:
John 14:6 Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.
Christianity came to be known as “The Way.” I wish to drive home this concept of Jesus Christ being the way, the truth, and the life, because it can so easily be overlooked when studying the Bible. Let’s briefly look at a few examples.
Acts 16:17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
The Way encompasses the entire set of the teachings of Jesus. In this way of life, if we do not understand and use all the fundamentals of Jesus, we will not walk with Him, nor overcome sin.
Hebrews 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
Hebrews 10:20 By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh;
We will see where John expounds on the concept of Jesus’ flesh in just a moment.
Hebrews 10:21 And having an high priest over the house of God;
Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures the importance of putting on Christ as the way, the truth, and the life.
John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
John 6:48 I am that bread of life.
John 6:50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
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 6:52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
That sounded like cannibalism to the Jews.
John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.
John 6:54 Whoso eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
John 6:56 He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him.
Now, we come to a most defining moment:
John 6:57 As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me.
Brethren, we are to live by Jesus Christ.
John 6:58 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 forever.
We eat Unleavened Bread as a physical reminder that we are to become spiritually unleavened by putting on the life and attributes of Jesus – as well as removing sin from our lives.
Certainly we are to expel and avoid sin.
Jesus gave us that example with His sinless and spotless life.
John 14:19 Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ took place during the Days of Unleavened Bread. Remember what Jesus said to Martha, Lazarus’ sister:
John 11:25 Jesus said unto [Martha], I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
John 11:26 And whosoever lives in me and believes in me shall never die.
The truly great story about the Days of Unleavened Bread is the story of the resurrected Christ living His life in those of us who have truly repented of living in sin and have received the Holy Spirit!
Today is also the First Day of Unleavened Bread – picturing, not only coming out of sin – putting sin out of our lives – but picturing Christ coming into our lives – the true Unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth.
In the Holy Scriptures, placing something first often connotes its importance. We do not want to underestimate the importance of the First Day of Unleavened Bread.
Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Jesus’ life, attitudes and teachings are what gives us hope of the resurrection—they are the Way of Life for us. With Christ in us – we stop sinning – we cease from sin. Only Jesus Christ saves us. Why are we so often inclined or predisposed to act in the wrong way?
It is because, as God tells us, without Jesus Christ in us: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)
Man rejects God when he chooses his own way over God’s perfect way. God’s way is sure, right, the only way.
Leaven is a symbol of sin. Jesus Christ is the Unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth. That is why we must eat Unleavened Bread this week.
In the Bible, Egypt is a symbol for sin. The Israelites came out of Egypt – a type of sin.
How do we “come out of sin,” and in that way we escape the slavery to sin?
- We keep God’s Law – His Commandments – His way of life.
- We realize we have to quit sinning,
- Stop sinning
- We put sin out of our life
- We come out of sin
- Grow in character, and with the help and motivation of God’s Spirit:
- We keep the Law and Commandments of God
- But most of all we put on Christ and all of His spiritual attributes.
How much does our talk, behavior and actions resemble those of Jesus? Are we as giving, caring and forgiving as He is? We seek God’s forgiveness, but to what extent do we reciprocate? God tells us that our relationships with others are more important to Him than our offerings.
Matthew 5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there remember that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Matthew 5:24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with [Jesus] by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him:
Let’s look at life in the Church of God at the time James was Killed and Peter Imprisoned
Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
This is thought to have been about 44 AD about a dozen years after the death of Jesus Christ. Peter had been rehearsing the Night to Be Much Observed and Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.
Acts 12:2 And [Herod the king] killed James the brother of John with the sword.
That martyrdom was a very big thing in the church—it was monumental. Peter, James and John were in the inner circle of Jesus Christ. He included them in everything!
Acts 12:3 And because [Herod the king] saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
Acts 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter [the Greek reads pascha, Passover] to bring him forth to the people.
Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
Peter Is Rescued
Acts 12:6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
Acts 12:7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, [possibly Jesus Himself] and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
For the guards who were keepers of the prison – that was a negligible offence punishable by death!
Acts 12:8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
Acts 12:9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
Acts 12:10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leads unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
Acts 12:11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
Just like Israel had been delivered [last night] from Egyptian bondage.
Acts 12:12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
Acts 12:13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
Acts 12:14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
Acts 12:15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
Acts 12:16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. [fearing the worst]
Acts 12:17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.
Acts 12:18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.
Acts 12:19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death.
God is looking for men who have courage of their convictions without a need to say “Look at me.”
Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
God created everything – heavens, earth, and mankind for this purpose:
Isaiah 66:2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.
God is looking for men who will not dodge their responsibilities Men who are not to lazy to work – or too proud to be poor. Since Christ extended Himself to the point of laying down His life, we have to be willing to do the same. Our observance of the Days of Unleavened Bread helps us realize our need for Jesus Christ’s help in overcoming our weaknesses. Yet this Feast is certainly a time for rejoicing because Christ freely gives us all the help we need. Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed for the forgiveness of our sins, thus unleavening, or cleansing, our lives.
He continues to help us live obediently through His Spirit — dwelling in us. We have seen that Jesus Christ is the Unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth. This is the Way of Life.
End: The Way of Life