Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
In the Bible, leavening is often used as an illustration. On a few occasions it can be seen as an illustration of good, but more often, as in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, it is an illustration of evil. Why can it symbolize two opposites? Very simply, it is something that spreads through all its environment. A little yeast will spread through a whole batch of dough, or a container of a liquid which is to be fermented. It will have its effect on the entirety of the product.
Here, the leaven is boasting. The apostle tells the Corinthians they need to stop their boasting. Rather, they are to be plain, like the unleavened bread prepared for the time of Passover. What is to influence the lives of the Corinthians? Not their old habit of boasting, but the Christ who was sacrificed for them is to be their influence. Paul ties this directly to the feast of Passover, as that was both the time of unleavened bread and the time when Christ was seen as the perfect lamb of God, who died in place of all people, particularly those who would believe on him.
What is our “bread” like once we have removed the “malice and evil”? It is full of “sincerity and truth.” These are attributes of Christ. What will happen given time?
Before the Passover, the Israelites purged all the leaven from their homes. Culturally, they were in the habit of making a sourdough type bread. Some bread dough, usually in a very wet form, is kept in a place where cultures can grow in it. After a while, it starts to rise. You have a new starter to leaven bread in the future. During Passover, the people didn’t have leavened bread. Their bread didn’t rise. But God invisibly made their new starts rise. After a few weeks, they would be able to have leavened bread again.
When we purge our lives of the malice and evil that we would hold, and let Christ dwell in us, what is going to permeate us? Sincerity and truth. His forgiveness and life will spread through us. Rather than being puffed up with our fallen and sinful attitudes, we will be puffed up with a readiness to breathe Jesus’ peace into those around us. We will release his care, just the way a loaf of proven bread, when folded, releases the carbon dioxide made by the yeast as it rises.
Christ is sacrificed for us. For our neighbor too. May we be receptive of his filling us.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.