Dear Tabernacle Family,
Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, our Savior, and the “firstfruits” of those who are yet to be raised from the dead. This word, “firstfruits,” is used by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, the Resurrection Chapter. “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Cor. 15:20-23).
From ancient times and continuing to our day, Jewish believers celebrate three important Spring Festivals: Passover, the Feast of Firstfruits, and Pentecost. As detailed in Leviticus 23, Firstfruits actually takes place during the week-long Passover celebration, on the first day after the Sabbath that occurred within that week (v4-11). Pentecost occurred 50 days after that Sabbath (v15-16), and marked the culmination of what began with the Feast of Firstfruits.
The “firstfruits” were the earliest grains, fruits, and produce gathered from the harvest that Jewish believers dedicate to God in recognition of His loving faithfulness in providing for their daily needs and the necessities of life. God first commanded the Nation of Israel to offer the firstfruits of their harvest in Leviticus 23:9-14, and it required great faith to obey this Word. As they offered a sheaf of the first grain that was harvested, they were not allowed to eat anything from the crop until this initial portion was presented to The LORD. In offering their “firstfruits,” they expressed their faith and trust, that God would yet provide the fullness of the harvest that was yet to come forth.
In the same way, Paul applies the principle of “firstfruits” to reinforce the certainty of Jesus’ resurrection and the assurance of our future resurrection. Just as the Jewish believers offered the first sheaf of the initial grain harvest with the expectation that the greater, more bountiful harvest was yet to come, so too, Jesus, the “firstfruits” raised from the dead, is the guarantee that all who belong to Him will one day share in His resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus is God’s pledge and guarantee of our resurrection. Jesus is God’s “firstfruits,” and God will gather in the rest of the harvest at the final resurrection.
Rejoicing in His resurrection,
Bishop Robert Stearns