The Verse of the Day for April 19, 2017 is found in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 in the New Living Translation:
But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.
The expression “He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died” is translated “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” in the King James Version. The reference to “firstfruits” brings to mind the Feast of the First Fruits, one of the feasts associated with Passover, one of the three feasts established by God for the Children of Israel to observe when they left Egypt for the Promised Land. It was instituted on Day 14 of Nisan (the first month); the Feast of the Unleaven Bread was to begin the next day, Nisan15, and the Feast of the First Fruits to begin three days following Passover on Nisan 17. They are referred to as one feast.
Jesus Christ appears as a type, a foreshadowing of events to come, throughout the Old Testament, as in the case of the Passover Lamb and other aspects of the Seder, the Passover meal, Jesus was recognized as “The Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” Those previous indications are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, whom Paul describes as “our Passover.” Indeed, Jesus died at the very time that the Passover lambs were being sacrificed in the Temple.
First Fruits was a feast of a thanksgiving offering of the first portion of the harvest to God for His goodness in providing food from the land for the Israelites, acknowledging that all good things come from God and that everything belongs to God. Giving the first fruits was also a way of expressing trust in God’s provision; just as He provided the first fruits, so He would provide the rest of the crops that were needed. A first fruits ceremony is described in detail in Deuteronomy 26:1-11.
In 1 Corinthians 15:23, Paul refers to Christ as the First Fruits. The real point of the feast was looking to the resurrection of the Messiah. Jesus, the Messiah was our provision for spiritual welfare. Jesus was raised on the first day of the Feast of the First Fruits. Jesus said he was the Bread of Life. This was the last feast the Lord took part in while on earth.
The Feast of the First Fruits began the harvest. The offering to the Lord was the first of the grain that was harvested, and afterwards the harvest would continue. This is the symbolism of the First Fruit. Christ was the first as 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23 states. Those who have and will believe in Jesus Christ for salvation since that time are the harvest.
The reference to “firstfruits” was also the inspiration for this poetic work:
Of His own will He brought us forth by the word
of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits
of his creatures.
Transform and then so fashion our visage
To be like Christ, the brightness of your glory.
Fashion us in your fire that we might be
Reformed and cast in His express image:
As boldface type printed upon the page,
As a new coin minted in your treasure,
Stamped with the essence of your character
To convey the power of your message.
So saturate our spirit, heart, soul and mind;
Flaws and failures the Lord heals and restores
To permeate our presence that we might find
Our true calling as Christ’s ambassadors.
More than vessel, vehicle, or instrument,
Like Christ, we are firstfruits of God’s intent.
Steve McConnell offers “Firstfruits” a musical rendition of this celebration: