Only a few days till Purim, a time of great rejoicing – but wait, there’s more!
Being Jewish, I grew up celebrating Purim every year, dressing up and eating hamantaschen and hearing the story again and again – the story of how the evil Haman tried to have our people destroyed, but we were saved! Hooray! Definitely a cause for celebration!
But here’s a thing about having your life saved when someone was trying to kill you: it’s only temporary. You get to live another day, another year, another decade or two or three – and then you die.
Those people in ancient Persia were saved from the horrible murderous plans of the evil Haman, but none of them escaped death forever.
And so, as much as I do love remembering how God rescued us from the evil Haman back then, I am a lot more excited about something else that’s being celebrated very soon: the death and resurrection of Jesus!
We don’t normally have Purim and Easter so close together – Easter is usually close to Passover, which is the time when the crucifixion happened. But the Jewish calendar has this quirk, where once every few years we add an extra month and everything shifts – it’s a way of keeping in synch with the solar year, so that our festivals will fall in the same season every year and we won’t end up celebrating harvest at completely the wrong time. (The Jewish calendar is lunar, and our year is shorter than the solar year, so we need to catch up once in a while.)
So this year, being one of those years when there’s an extra month in the Jewish calendar, Purim is only a few days before Easter. Which for me, as a Jewish Christian, means I have more than one reason to celebrate. On Thursday my people will be celebrating our lives being saved in that temporary fashion, a tiny little taste of what God can do – but on Sunday in church we’ll be celebrating something much bigger that God did, and this time it was not only for the Jewish people but for all mankind.
Much bigger, and much more exciting – because through Jesus’ death and resurrection we can get to live forever! (Obviously there’s plenty else that’s great about following Jesus. There’s a guilt-free life, there’s being able to talk to God as a loving father and knowing his love and… tons of good stuff. But, yanno, that whole not-really-dying-when-you-die bit is pretty awesome in itself, I reckon.)