The observance of Unleavened Bread was regarded as the same as the Passover:
Luke 22:1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover.
Mat 26:17 Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”
Lev 23:6-8 6And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. 8But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.’”
The Passover was the 14th day of the first month at evening time. Unleavened Bread was from the 15th day to the 21st day, a total of seven days altogether.
1 Cor 5:6-8 6Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Notice how Paul reinterprets the elements of Passover. Unleavened Bread stands as a “type” of their true meaning. Leaven symbolized sin. Leaven possesses characteristics such as “spreading” and “penetrating” – like malice and wickedness that can spread among the believers in the life of an individual Christian or in the body of believers, the Church.
Mat 16:6 Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
Mat 16:12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
To observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread is to live a life free from the corrupting influences of sin and the flesh. Jesus used the Feast of Unleavened Bread (at the Lord’s Supper) to reveal the significance of the elements of the feast, symbols pointing to the spiritual meaning behind them.
Luke 22:19-20 19And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
The Sheaf of Firstfruits
This particular ordinance was not instituted until the children of Israel were inside the borders of the promised land. This distinction is important. Likewise, the New Testament fulfillment came, as we shall see, upon an entrance into the Kingdom of God which was made available by Jesus’ death and resurrection:
Lev 23:10-14 10“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the LORD. 13Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. 14You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
The Sheaf of Firstfruits was waved before the Lord ‘‘on the morrow after the Sabbath’’ that was the same day that Jesus rose from the dead (Mark 16:9). Before there was a general harvest, one sheaf was taken and waved before the Lord on the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread:
Mark 16:19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
It was a reminder and a promise of a great harvest from God. In the same way, ‘‘Christ, the firstfruits’’ is a reminder of the great end-time harvest that God will bring.
John 12:24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
1 Cor 15:20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1 Cor 15:23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
The one ripe sheaf testified that there would be a great harvest from God. We affirm, along with many other teachers, that the saints who arose at His resurrection were also part of this first ‘‘sheaf’’:
Mat 27:52-53 52And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
Paul teaches this truth, citing a prophecy in Psalm 68:18, in regard to the gifts of the Spirit being given to the Church. First, we cite the verse from the Psalms and then its fulfillment according to Paul:
Ps 68:18 Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men
Eph 4:8 Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”
The book of Acts is the story of the first portion of that harvest (Jesus was the seed – as John 12:24 above states). We will come back to the end-times fulfillment of the Sheaf of Firstfruits later in this book.