Missing Dimension of Passover

Dear Brethren,

The apostle Paul addressed the Missing Dimension of Passover in a letter to the Corinthian congregation.  They were not pulling together, and they were not neighborly in their fellowship.  You might say, "That doesn't sound too bad."  But, Paul saw it as a matter that seriously affected their salvation.  "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"  (1Corinthians 1:12-13)  What did Paul mean when he said, "Is Christ divided?"

To understand that short question is to understand the missing dimension of Passover, not only in their day - but in the Church of God today.  Look at what it was like to attend Passover services back at Corinth about the year 55AD.  Corinth was not a new congregation.  They had been a group for about 20 years and Paul had written to them before because they thought, “Hey, we’re doing pretty good – the way we’ve kept Passover is worthy of praise."  In truth, the Corinthians were in need of correction in a number of areas.  What was going on that was so wrong?  What was the missing dimension of Passover that Paul was so urgently focusing on:  "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together [for the Passover Service] not for the better, but for the worse.  For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I believe it in part."  (1Corinthians 11:17-18)

Is Christ divided?  This is a crucial question.  In fact, this is the most important question that we in the Church can ask ourselves today.  "For he that eateth and drinketh [Passover] unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." (1Cor 11:29)

We certainly do not want to take Passover unworthily, but the Church of God today is as scattered and divided as it was when Paul corrected the Corinthians.  Probably, more so, as it seems that they were still meeting under one roof for the most part.  Do we really understand what Paul meant by his words, "Is Christ divided?" and "The Lord's body?"  When we read the words, "the Lord's body," we should understand that Paul was referring primarily to all the Christian believers who make up the Church of God.  "...The Church, which is His body."  (Ephesians 1:22-23)

Let's look at this text in its context.  Division among the brethren was Paul's subject when he wrote that the Lord's body was not being properly discerned.  He said that we must examine ourselves as to whether or not we are a part of any division before we take Passover.  "For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you." (1 Corinthians 11:18)  How many of the brethren today are even willing to come together in the church?

Addressing division within the Church, Paul shows that our very salvation depends on our truly caring for one another.  Scripture does not allow for Christians to co-exist without properly relating to one another.  It is clear that for us to have a right relationship with God, it is first necessary to "get right" with others.  Jesus tells us that, as Christians, our priority must be to reconcile, not only with God, but also with one another.  Christ taught that reconciliation has a higher priority than even church attendance.  "Be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."  (Matthew 5:24)

How does a Christian become a part of the Lord's Body?  True Christians enter the Body of Christ at their baptism.  Since our unity with the Father and the Son begins at baptism, then so does our unity with one another.  "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body ... and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:13)

How much more clearly could it be written?  Brethren become unified spiritually - one in Spirit, and one in the Body of Christ.  By definition, it is absolutely impossible to have Christian love for only a part of the Body of Christ.  We cannot serve some brethren while neglecting other brethren.  "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling."  (Ephesians 4:2-4)

It is very clear what God's intent is - that people learn to live, to love, to work, to associate, etc., together.  God wants us to learn how to live with one another now, so that we will know how to live with Him eternally.  When we partake of Passover, we are reaffirming our desire to be one body by partaking of the Bread of Life, which is Jesus Christ, our Passover. "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." (1 Corinthians 5:7). 

We cannot hate, despise, or reject any of the saints, as that behavior defines "not" discerning the Lord's body.  We are obligated to extend our realm of fellowship to include all who have the earnest of God's Holy Spirit.  Paul characterized our self examination as properly "discerning the Lord's body."  Brethren, do we understand the full extent of this Scripture?

First of all, we must absolutely grasp the definition of the Lord's body from the Bible itself.  The Body of Christ is the entire Church of God.  This concept of one body is solidly established in Scripture.  "The bread which we break, is it not the [fellowship] of the body of Christ?  For we being many are one bread, and one body."  (1Cor 10:16-17)

"For [Christ's] body's sake, which is the church."  (Colossians 1:24)  "Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."  (1 Corinthians 12:27)  "Ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."  (Colossians 3:15)  "For as we have many members in one body. So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."  (Romans 12:4-5)  "For the perfecting of the saints...for the edifying of the body of Christ." (Eph. 4:12)

Many verses firmly establish that "the Lord's Body" is a direct reference to the people of the Church of God.  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 part of the division - the broken - shattered condition of the church, otherwise we "eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."   The Church of God is not to be broken.

This matter could not be more serious!  Jesus Christ is not to be divided - His bones are not supposed to be broken.  There is a direct correlation between our well being and the unity and oneness we share with all of the children of God, who constitute the Lord's body.  Paul said that sickness and death were the result of partaking of the Passover while division existed among the saints.  Those brethren, whom Paul was addressing, had not discerned the Lord's body - they were guilty of breaking the body apart.  So Paul said, "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." (1Cor 11:30)   "A bone of Him shall not be broken."  (John 19:36, Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12)

Our personal sins cut us off from God.  "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)  We are reconciled to God the Father by the death of His Son.  We are healed by His stripes.  Our salvation awaits us because Jesus was raised to life by the Father, and so we shall be saved by His life.  (1 Peter 1:18-21, Romans 5:9-10, 1 Peter 2:24)

Salvation is contingent on our having direct positive interaction and unity with God's people.  If we, who are called of God, possess a genuine devotion and Godly tenderness for the brethren, we will not diminish the sacrifice of Christ. "Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.  And do this [ loving our neighbor ], knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed."  (Romans 13:10-11)

Brethren, let's be sure to spend time in prayer and self-examination at this Passover.  Jesus teaches us to lay our lives down for one another.  Through Jesus it became possible for the entire world to be reconciled to the Father.  We follow His example in keeping every avenue of reconciliation open with all our Brethren.


Sermon:  "Missing Dimension of Passover"