by Heather Tietz
The children of Israel encamped in Gilgal. They kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening in the plains of Jericho. Purge out the old yeast, that you may be a new lump, even as you are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed in our place.
Joshua 5:10, 1 Corinthians 5:7
Hieroglyphics show that Egyptians as far back as 5000 years ago ate leavened bread. Since they wouldn’t have had a handy jar of yeast to add to flour, it’s likely that they left their dough out to acquire yeast naturally from the air. Eventually it would have been discovered that adding a lump of yesterday’s dough to the new batch would sped up the rising process. The old yeast could be worked through the new lump, then, voila, soft bread.
Paul makes a beautiful play on words in this passage. He uses the image of the Passover, the time when the Israelites were hurrying out of Egypt, freed from the bonds of slavery, rushing toward freedom with a lump of unleavened bread on their backs. Like them, this bread was new, fresh, untouched with yesterday’s yeast, untouched by yesterday’s ways, untouched by slavery.
We are like unleavened bread too, free from slavery to sin. As Christians, we have a new life because of Jesus, our Passover. In place of sin, Jesus is kneaded into our lives, into our marriages, friendships, professions, conversations, daily routines. He is our leavening agent, making us rise to any occasion. So, purge out those old sins that try to creep back in. You are empowered to be new!