From Purim to Eucharist (a communion meditation)

This morning we have heard the second sermon in the series on the book of Esther.  And feasts are a prominent feature in Esther.  Esther’s story begins with a feast designed to stir the Persian empire up to pursue war against their enemy.  The climax of the story centers around a pair of feasts where God turns the tables on his enemies.   And the story ends with a feast that celebrates the victory of God’s people over their enemies.  But notice how God’s people are brought into the feasts.  The Jews who didn’t return to Jerusalem after the exile had ended were being unfaithful.  They were quite comfortable with their new Persian address with all of its perks and all they had to do was lose their distinctiveness and blend in.  All they had to do was hand in their salt and light.  

But God in his faithfulness, quite apart from anything His people had done, had anticipated His enemies’ next move.  The LORD had placed his people where they were, in the spheres of influence of the Persian empire, for such a time as this.  The faithfulness of God was able to overcome the faithlessness of his people.  The faithfulness of God turns the plans of his enemies on their own heads.  The faithfulness of God turns the heart of the king in whichever direction He chooses.  The faithfulness of God brings victory and strength to His people when they cast themselves on His mercy. 

At the end of Esther, the LORD institutes, through Mordecai, the Feast of Purim to celebrate the victory that He secured for His people.  And all of God’s people were invited to come and celebrate this victory, even the unfaithful ones who still lived in exile.  And this is where we find ourselves this morning as well.   Maybe you’ve given away some of your salt and light to live comfortably with neighbors and family.  But our unfaithfulness is no barrier to God’s faithfulness in Christ.  Christ still invites us to a feast that celebrates the victory that he secured 2000 years ago.  We may have drifted into our faithless ways, but the Lord Jesus still says to us “Do this in my memorial.”   Just like the Jews who still lived in exile were invited to the Feast of Purim, so are we, as God’s new covenant people who still struggle with the weakness and the doubt of exile in sin, so are we invited to this feast offered by Christ.  God’s faithfulness is not barred by our faithlessness.  Just like a person in ancient Israel was saved from the laws that condemned them because someone else interceded on their behalf, so are we saved from the wrath of God because someone else pleads on our behalf before the King of heaven.  Just like Mordecai instituted a feast to celebrate and memorialize a great victory for God’s people, so the Greater Mordecai, Jesus Christ, instituted another feast to celebrate the victory for His people that He secured through the cross.

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