By Aaron Armstrong
Too often, when we come to a passage like this one in Scripture, we are immediately drawn to words of comfort or inspiration that we’ve grown familiar with over time, in our own faith journey. Today, that might mean jumping to these words spoken by Mordecai to his young cousin, Esther: “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for a time such as this” (Esther 4:14). Maybe you’ve heard these words in a sermon or seen them quoted in a book, accompanied with the suggestion that you are where you are in life “for such a time as this.” In one sense, that is certainly true because God determines the “appointed times and the boundaries of where [we] live” (Acts 17:26). But that’s not the message of what Mordecai is saying to Esther, and I don’t believe it’s what God wants any of us to take away from today’s reading.
Mordecai’s words cannot be taken without context, however many millennia later, to be used as an all-encompassing, generic encouragement. These are the very intentional and carefully chosen words spoken by a specific man whose grief could not be comforted; a grief that echoed Jacob’s over the assumed death of his beloved son, Joseph (Genesis 37:33–35). They are words that carried a heavy burden, spoken to a Jewish woman who lived as a queen while her people were facing genocide.
These words cut to the shattered illusion of safety that Esther’s comfortable life in the king’s palace offered and revealed the truth of her own fragile existence. Mordecai’s admonishment forced Esther to face a choice only she could make: She could risk her life and go to speak with the king on behalf of her people (a danger difficult for us to comprehend), or she could live a quiet life as queen—right up until Haman’s men came to kill her too. “Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace,” Mordecai told her (Esther 4:13). In other words, yes, she might die if she approached the king uninvited, but she would certainly die if she did nothing at all.
That hardly seems like the straightforward encouragement we all anticipate coming out of our daily reading, but maybe it’s not meant to be. Still, there is good news in this passage because even though it is not explicitly about us, it is for us—just as all Scripture is.
Even in that moment, in the choice Esther is left to face, we can see a glimpse of the gospel, peeking out through a veil of oppression. When faced with the choice of either dying or leaving His people to die, Jesus—the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, the eternal Word through whom and by whom and for whom all things were made and all things are held together—went to the cross.
And this, He did for us.
When we could do nothing to save ourselves. When we wanted to do nothing to save ourselves. When we were enemies and haters of God. “While we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). And through His death, we have gained everlasting life.
No, this passage is not about you or me, but it is for us. And it is good news indeed.
Written by Aaron Armstrong
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