I love a good Jerry Bruckheimer summer blockbuster but they don't tend to be the films I want to go back to again and again, the stories don't tend to under your skin. They're shallow, popcorn experiences with little character development. And that's ok. But we need richer stories too. Esther sits firmly in among the best short stories. Highly structured, with depth in the detail and the characters and brimming with suspense and emotion.
As the plot unfolds we're given just what we'll need to know about key characters but not in ways that seem too obvious. We're invited to ask questions - what was that about?
In chapter 5 events get particularly tense. Mordecai's rebellion against his arch-enemy Haman has triggered the threat of a genocide at the end of the year. The King and Prime Minister feast but everyone else is in uproar. Esther is in the position to act if she dare and instructed by her adoptive father she agree to go - 'for such a moment as this... if I perish I perish' she famously says.
The world of Esther is one of Kings and betrayals, of heroes and villains, of feast and spices, and of formal relationships.
You can't approach the king without permission. If you do you're likely to be exiled/killed unless he holds up his golden sceptre and receives you. Formal relationships set the frameworks for freedom and shape even though in the 21st Century we're deeply suspicious of formality, addicted as we are to spontenaity.
It's the third day. A moment pregnant with Biblical meaning, surely? Either we consider the details of the Bible to be coincidence or perhaps ina world where not even a sparrow falls from a tree without the Father knowing the details might be significant. Esther resides with the 2001 masterpiece Shrek, laced with allusions to it's canon - not so much nursery rhymes and films and pop culture but the canon of Scripture.
And so, Third days are days of seed-bearing plants (of death bursting out in life), of Seed being figuratively raised from the dead, of anointed one's winning victories... and drawing those allusions and types together: the resurrection of the anointed one on a Sunday morning. Esther's approach feels like death but the ambient music has a note of resurrection.
She's clothed in royal robes. Not naked. Not ordinary. No cause to be ashamed. She looks like one who belongs in the court with the robes given by the king. Esther's world is one in which that sort of thing happens.
And she stands in the court with the king. The X-factor results cameras lingering on each, mood music building, tension rising. What will happen? He receives her! Yes! Resurrected! And he offers her up to half his kingdom. She can have all she wants. Salvation is a whisper away... (to be continued in the next post)
Esther's world is Jesus' world.
It's a picture of the Christian's life. The true and better Esther passes through death and resurection to sit with his Father. And those who take refuge in him can follow him in. We're invited to a better access. No fear, we can run in confidently not casually but because all the terms of our formal relationship have been fulfilled in Jesus. The way is open and our Father has much greater generosity than Ahasuerus. Not just half the world but all of it as co-heirs with Christ. To pray is to taste resurrection life. Come on in?