Sunday, 3 November 2013

A Better Mediator - Sermon Notes on Esther 4:1-5:3

Audio here.

Last week's story left us on a cliffhanger. Mordecai, due to disobedience of the king's command, has incited the vindictive and nasty Prime Minister Haman not only to seek his death, but the death of all the Jews with him. When Haman asks for the annihilation of a rebel group, the king assumes that he is referring to some small insurgent threat, unaware that the edict he has just sanctioned will mean the slaughter of his queen and a trusted advisor who saved his life.

And so we read on - Esther 4:1-5:3.

Mordecai wails bitterly and wanders through the city to the palace gate, but doesn't go in. The description of his mourning is all around symbols of death:
  • Torn clothes = under judgement
  • Sackcloth = no glory
  • Ashes = returning to the ground from whence he came (ashes to ashes, dust to dust),
  • Fasting = cut off from source of life.
Mordecai and the Jews with him are now on "Death Row" and in their state of mourning they are unfit and unworthy to enter the presence of the king.

At this point, Esther has not revealed her ethnic identity and is unaware of the pronouncement made over her and her people. She is distressed at Mordecai's grief, but assumes it must be a personal tragedy. When she learns of the predicament she is fearful. Yet Mordecai impresses upon her that she is their only hope.

Esther then proclaims a three day food and liquid fast amongst the Jews. A fast that will bring them close to death after which she will approach the king in hope of averting disaster, even if it costs her her life.

On the third day Esther robes up and goes to the king. As she stands at the entrance to the king's court, the king is pleased with her and he beckons her in. As she walks across what must have felt like an infinite distance between the door and the throne, she carries her people in her heart. The king holds out his sceptre and she lays hold of it. He will give her all her desire, and her desire is not self-centred like Haman's, it is other-centred, like God's. And there we leave it on another cliffhanger until next week!

This story is, the gospel in a nutshell. Consider the following:
  • God tests the heart of Mordecai.
  • God tested the heart of Adam, the first human with the tree of knowledge.
  • Mordecai’s disobedience brings sentence of death on all Jews.
  • Adam’s disobedience brought a sentence of death on all humans.
  • The Jews are all cut off from access to King Xerxes – the law cannot be revoked.
  • The human race are all cut off from God for their rebellion – the law cannot be revoked.
  • They have no hope of escaping the coming judgment.
  • We have no hope of escaping the coming judgment.
  • Esther is appointed queen long before this tragedy happens.
  • Jesus is appointed saviour by God the Father before the world was even created.
  • Esther is both Persian royalty AND an ethnic Jew.
  • Jesus is both fully God AND fully human – the perfect mediator.
  • Esther, through fasting, enters the suffering of her people.
  • Jesus, through crucifixion, enters and takes on himself, the suffering of the human race.
  • After her death-like fast, Esther gets up and robes herself in splendour to appear before the king.
  • After his crucifixon, Jesus is resurrected up to Heaven and robed the glory of his own righteousness appears before his Father.
  • King Xerxes loves her, joyfully receives her and will give her anything she asks for.
  • God the Father joyfully receives Christ and will give him anything he asks for.
  • At that moment Esther's heart is that her people come into the favour of the king like she is.
  • At that moment Christ's heart is to share the love he has from his Father with his people.
Our only hope of escaping the judgment of God and coming into his favour again is in receiving and being united to the God man Jesus - his one appointed mediator.

Now that Christ has won the favour of God for you. Will you come in and lay hold of that favour by uniting yourself with his son Jesus - the God-man?

If you are a Christian will you carry your people, (your family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, town, nation) in your heart in prayer to the throne of the king that, one day, they too might lay hold of Christ? If you don't, who will?


Roy the Beard said...

Great Stuff Richard! Although I see rather the jews/church (i.e. community) context rather than your emphasis on individual response. Did each individual jew have to fast to make this work (to save them all)?
The church is chosen before the foundation of the world. '..he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him'. Eph 1v4 (the 'us' being His church surely?)

Richard Walker said...

Poor choice of words on my part, Roy. I agree with you.

I agree with your second point too. :-)

Ed Goode said...

Thanks Richard. I'd never seen the Mordacai/Adam link before. Very appropriate given the Edenic nature of Esther 1.