Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Esther 5: Gospelicity is upside down


Mordecai has prepared Esther. She's learned her lines. She's survived entry to the presence of the king. And then she asks not for salvation but for a feast... and given a second chance to ask, she asks for another feast. And feasts with the villain. Has power gone to her head? Has she forgotten her people? Is it the mother of all missed opportunities? Outcry. Despair...

Or maybe she's wiser than she looks...

Feasts are significant moments. Esther as a book is built on ten of them. Feasts are where hearts get exposed. Where real business happens. We moved our Community Group three metres from our living room sofas to our dining room table and it deepened our relationships significantly. It's the tragedy of many student houses - no dining room table. Buy a table and start shopping online together and cooking together and you not only save having to go shopping and save lots of time and money but you might just gain a depth of relationship.

God lays a feast for his people in Eden's garden... and for the elders of Israel after the Exodus... and for all-comers at the end of time. Jesus invites people to a feast and they receive his invite but then when the feast is ready many turn him down... their hearts exposed and they turn away.

Villainous Haman leaves the feast full of food and wine and joy. It looks like Esther has made things worse. The villain happy, but then infuriated on his way home by the presence of Mordecai. He gathers his family to boast of his greatness and complain of his nemesis. They spur him on to add vengeance to vengeance. It looks like everything is gettinng worse. The villain is going to make a spectacle of Mordecai....

Much more will Jesus be made a spectacle of on a Friday afternoon, he'll look defeated and foolish... but be victorious and wise and in reality be making a spectacle of all his enemies, crushing them in his own being crushed. Esther's has a greater wisdom, her feast look like the river running even harder against her people but it's the turning of the tide...  as Esther 5 ends things appear worse than ever, but the story is not over.

As they await the next feast Esther stands, as she does on eight occasions in the book, firmly in the favour with the king. Greater still does the true and greater Esther, Jesus, stand in his Father's favour and invite all to find refuge in him through the seeming foolishness of his wise death and third day resurrection.

Like making an Ogre the hero of a fairy tale, Gospelicity subverts what you'd expect by giving us exactly what we're longing for with a wisdom that looks foolish through the death of the son, the king. As Adam Clarke puts it, commenting on Esther 5, the cross explains Christ. 

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