aka – Firstfruits?
Part Three of a study of 1 Corinthians 15:12-34
Depending on the translation you use, the word ‘but’ shows up 15 times in 1 Corinthians 15, and 8 of them are the first word of a sentence. (based on the NASB)
The one in verse 20 is my favorite though.
Time to Celebrate
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:20
That’s a place to shout! HALLELUJAH!
Now Paul mentions this idea of firstfruits. I heard a well know Christian speaker say the other day that firstfruits means the tithe. Hey, I believe the tithe should come off the top of your income, or increase. But in the Old Testament, the Firstfruits offering was actually an offering given during Passover week.
Since sin was covered by the killing of the Passover lamb, this was not a sin offering. Rather it was an offering of faith and thanksgiving. During Passover week they would bring a sheaf of barley, the first grain up, and offer it. It had to be the first gathering of their year’s planting.
Obviously there was an element of thanksgiving. Thank you Lord that the land you have given, again has produced sustenance for me!
Primarily it was a faith offering. It required trust and faith, because to give the very first that come up, is to say, I am not going to hoard this for fear that no more will come. Rather I am going to freely give it to God with open hands, trusting that He will provide a full harvest. Trusting that He will supply rain and sun and feed the soil as I till it, work it, and gather it.
My wife and I many years ago got in the habit of offering first fruits offering any time we stepped into a new venture. It was a way of saying, Lord, I trust you to take what little I have now, and press it down, shake it together, and cause it to run over in my life.
But as God is want to do, there is a deeper meaning behind this beautiful offering of grain.
Let’s start with Jesus, a few short days before He would face the cross.
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. ~ John 12:23-24
It is easy to see in retrospect that He was talking about His own burial.
Then comes the end of the week. On the Preparation day, the day the precedes the Passover, Jesus has this meal with the 12, He washes their feet, and gives them the wonderful gift of the Lord’s Supper.
He is crucified, and there is a point made of getting Him off the cross and into the tomb before the Passover.
I want to you to think for a moment about what the Jews did with the blood of the Passover lamb. They took it and put it in a basin, and then took a bunch of hyssop and brushed it across the top of the door, and on the doorposts.
I love the picture below because it makes the point by connecting the dots. The Passover is a picture of Jesus, The Door, on the Cross, or should I say the Cross on the Door.
As I have said before the narrow way to the Father is one man wide – just as wide as the cross.
But that is not the end of Passover week, only the beginning. The part that most Christians may not know is the offering of the firstfruits came on the first day after the Sabbath during Passover week, in other words, on Sunday morning. (See Leviticus 23:11)
And what happened Sunday Morning? Jesus rose from the dead – the firstfruit of many brethren.
Jesus resurrection is a demonstration that you will rise from the dead if you are in Christ.
Does that make you happy? When I saw that the resurrection was yet another fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial system, I was overwhelmed by my great God’s plan. And Paul’s many references to firstfruits take on a completely new meaning.
But wait, there’s more.
So come back tomorrow for another helping.
See you then