Inquisitiveness is a great trait to have. It may become tiresome and challenging for parents and grandparents, but fostering curiosity develops a child into a perpetual learner. Jesus was curious—that’s why he became lost on the return trip from Jerusalem. Remember how his family found him studying in the synagogue with the priests? I always get excited when someone asks me about our faith and the Bible. I don’t always have a ready answer, but I am willing to look with the person. Steve Matson is a “Why” person and has challenged me on many occasions with brain stumpers about the Bible. Last Sunday, another member joined the “Why” club and asked a very astute question: Why does Easter’s date change so dramatically from year to year?
To answer her and anyone else who has wondered, there is a simple answer and a more complex one. Passover falls during the first full moon each year following the Spring Equinox on our calendar. An almanac can help us figure out when that will be. We know from Scripture that Easter must coincide with the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb, for which Christ became the substitute at the crucifixion. His crucifixion was the once and for all sacrifice that gives us complete forgiveness. But the early Gentile Christians did not really understand how to calculate the Passover sacrifice on the Jewish lunar-based calendar, so they used a calendar they easily understood, the Roman Julian calendar developed by Julius Caesar. They made the celebration of Easter coincide and supersede the very popular celebration of the first fruits of Spring Equinox. The pagan understanding was eventually forgotten and now the date is our Easter.
No matter how or why Easter is dated as it is, it is still important to ponder what we believe.
On to another topic I promised to answer Ash Wednesday! The four times “40” is mentioned in the Bible:
#1: God told Jonah to preach to the people of Nineveh for forty days, hoping they would change their sinful ways. Nineveh must have given the name “Sin City” its true meaning. Jonah was so frightened to obey, he tried to run away and ended up in a huge fish’s belly. Then he decided he’d better do what God asked.
#2: Moses and the children of Israel wandered around in the desert for forty years. During that time they were to repent and change the sinful ways they had developed, so they might be worthy of the Promised Land.
#3: Moses was on the mountain for forty days praying and fasting, preparing to receive the Ten Commandments.
#4: Finally, the one we all remember: Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days praying, fasting and resisting Satan’s temptations.
You see, we all need to find a way to be spiritual cleansed. Just like I shared last week, if we don’t ask why and really, honestly examine our lives we will never have the deep relationship we need with God.