The Way of Jesus and Esther

The Way of Jesus and Esther

The book of Esther has unique ways of showing us who God is and how God is active in the world. It’s also a simply good story, filled with plot twists, interesting characters, and dire stakes. The book of Esther is a story about power and how most of it is possessed by the wrong people. It’s a story about people who manipulate to prosper themselves. It’s a story about the inherent immaturity and insecurity of those with the most power and how they overreact when that insecurity is exposed. Finally, it’s a story about how quickly that power crumbles when it comes up against the gentle faithfulness of just a couple of people.

To jump into the middle of the story, Esther has found herself made queen of the biggest empire in the world of her time. The king, Ahasuerus, has divorced his previous wife, Vashti, simply for refusing to play the role of a two-dimensional trophy wife (how dare she!), and now Esther is queen herself only because she won a beauty pageant that she never asked to be a part of. As if that’s not bad enough for our main character, the king’s right-hand man, Haman, launches a plan to bring about the full-scale extermination of Esther’s people, the Israelites, throughout the Persian empire.

Esther is told by her adoptive father, Mordecai, that it’s her task to intervene on behalf of her people, even though she never asked for this task, or for a life as queen to begin with. Besides, the king is not the most understanding person. She explains to Mordecai, “All the people of the king’s provinces know that if anyone goes to the king without being called, there is but one law—all alike are to be put to death. Only if the king holds out the golden scepter to someone, may that person live.” (Esther 4:11) To intervene will indeed be risky. Vashti was disparaged and dismissed for not appearing when summoned. Now Esther runs the risk of appearing before the king without being summoned. Ahasuerus has given us every reason so far to believe that he is capable of responding irrationally. But Esther becomes convinced that she has no choice but to speak up.

So how will Esther approach him? Will she use her position to manipulate and disparage? No, she will approach power unlike anyone else in the story. “As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won his favor and he held out to her the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the top of the scepter. The king said to her, ‘What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom.’ Then Esther said, ‘If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to a banquet that I have prepared for the king.’” (5:1-4)

Until this moment, there has been no good news. There has only been tension, but in this moment, all that tension melts as Esther makes no effort to be crafty or shrewd, but simply sweet, gentle, and hospitable. The whole story pivots on gentleness and affection and hospitality. Esther feels like someone who has been sitting at the feet of Jesus her whole life, absorbing his gentleness and peacefulness, never learning the ways of divisiveness and revenge. This is a story in which gentleness wins out. As hard as it is to see, the way of Jesus and Esther is winning out in our world, and we will sit at the feet of Jesus for as long as it takes to see it.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *