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Jesus is Better

A Night of Discovery

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(9/15) And so we’re in Esther chapter 6 and as we pick up the story today in verse 1–13, we see that God’s covenant children are in serious danger. This godless man named Haman has put out a death sentence, to destroy, and to kill all of God’s people. He wants to kill all of the covenant children of God. And he wants to start with Mordecai. So, they’re in danger, and you’ve got to wonder what God the Father is going to do? Is He going to show up and protect his kids in a book that doesn’t mention his name?

Esther 6:1-13

"That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. 2 It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.

3 "What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?" the king asked.

"Nothing has been done for him," his attendants answered.

4 The king said, "Who is in the court?" Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows he had erected for him.

5 His attendants answered, "Haman is standing in the court."

"Bring him in," the king ordered.

6 When Haman entered, the king asked him, "What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?"

Now Haman thought to himself, "Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?" 7 So he answered the king, "For the man the king delights to honor, 8 have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. 9 Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king's most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, 'This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!'"

10 "Go at once," the king commanded Haman. "Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended."

11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, "This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!"

12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the king's gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, 13 and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him.

His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, "Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him — you will surely come to ruin!" NIV

As I read this passage, I found myself amazed, to see God there. And today we can’t question the providence of God… we need to assume it. We can’t question that God is sovereign… that God is good… that he knows the future… and that he’s at work in our lives… we need to assume it. Because sometimes God works through his visible hand of miracles, while other times he works through his invisible hand of providence; as here in a sleepless night of discovery.

And as we examine the story of Esther; we are going to look at pride and humility. And I want you to know right from the start that pride never helped anything… not even occasionally… pride has never helped anyone… pride has never even improved anything. We can rename it… we can call it self-esteem, we can call it self-love, we can call it self-help, but it’s still pride. And what we see here is a biblical example that God in his providence opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.

You see pride is about our glory, but humility is about God’s glory. Jonathan Edwards got it right when he said, "Once the question of glory is settled, everything is settled." When you decide who gets the glory that determines 99 percent of the decisions you make in your life. You see it all comes down to, "What will bring the most glory to God?" and that question of who gets the glory clarifies everything.

One: Discovering Pride

Now Haman had been made number two in the kingdom. The decree had been made, "Everybody bow down to him." but that wasn’t enough, because this one guy doesn’t bow down. So Haman wants to crucify him on a gallows he built to make an example of him. Then he wants to follow it up by riding through town on the king’s horse… wearing the king’s robe… with a parade in his own honor.

Maybe you’re thinking… that’s unbelievable… this Haman is off the charts… but you know we’re the same, we just have less opportunities. The only difference between Haman and us is the opportunities that are set before us… our hearts are the same.

I mean consider this… don’t you get angry when overlooked? You know… "I can’t believe I didn’t get that raise…. I didn’t get the promotion... they didn’t say thanks… they didn’t pay me back… they didn’t see what I had done… they didn’t honor or recognize me in some way. I’m very disappointed…. No I’m angry about that!"

You see people have a sense of entitlement. "Hey! That’s my money… my job… my position… my desk… my office… my lane on the freeway. Hey! That’s mine!" Let me just ask this… do you have a sense of entitlement or a sense of thankfulness? You see, the truth is we deserve hell. Everything else is a gift. We’re all proud… just in different ways. Right?

Maybe you’re sitting there thinking about a spouse, a friend, or a neighbor, you know we all do that, but let me share some Scripture. Proverbs 16:5 says, "The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished." Now some of you are thinking and counting all of the ways you’re humble right now…right? But let me assure you that you can’t hide it from the Lord. You can be arrogant in your heart and appear humble to others, but the Bible says, "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Sam 16:7). Man looks at the outward… but everyone who is proud in heart… the Lord detests… yes, be assured, "they will not go unpunished."

And we’re going to see this with Haman. And some of you, your lives are like Haman. I mean, he was rich, powerful, famous, and then one day everything changed. And some of you know… it does… it all falls apart in a moment. And God says in Proverbs 16:18, "Pride goes before" what? "Pride goes before destruction… and a haughty spirit before a fall." So if you raise yourself up pridefully… God will take you down… and we’ll see that.

You know in the New Testament we find Peter illustrates this well with his rash, bold, and prideful spirit… but he learned. And in 1 Peter 5:5 he said, "…Be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’."

You see every morning, we get up and we dress ourselves, right? And a lot of the time, it’s in pride. "How will I be presenting myself to others? What sort of image will I project?" God is here, saying through the Holy Spirit, that when we dress ourselves every morning, we should choose to "Clothe ourselves, with humility…" (1 Peter 5:5).

That is, that when we wake up every morning, we ask ourselves what glorifies God. When we wake up every morning, we pray, "God, help me to grow in humility today." And that’s something we’ve got to do… you’ve got to do… and I’ve got to do every day; because "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." And I know I need grace… I know that.

Two: Discovering Humility

Now, let’s take a look at Mordecai. Now he hasn’t been a great dad… hasn’t seemed to believe… hasn’t been public with his faith… and there’s actually a lot that we could criticize in the character of Mordecai, but here’s what we do see… humility. Mordecai is humble and God’s going to give him grace.

You see Mordecai overhears an assassination plot for his king. Now the king is of a different race, a different religion, and he could’ve just let it go, but you know what? He honors and serves his king… he seeks the good of the whole culture… not just himself… and not just God’s people, because he has the heart of a missionary. It’s the same heart we’re supposed to have, whether you’re in business, finance, education, or real estate; we’re all supposed to, by the grace of God, to be like Mordecai.

You see we live in a non-Christian culture too… some of our leaders… our elected officials, bosses, and professors, they’re pagans. They don’t love and serve the God of the Bible. So whatever your status… whatever your place in God’s world… you’re bringing the hope and life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… you’re looking out for the well-being of all people, and not just God’s people.

And Mordecai, he’s good with that… he humbly brings the information to the king, saves his life, and he receives nothing. But he doesn’t protest… he doesn’t start ranting and raving... No, he gets up and humbly goes back to work at the city gate… he worked a government job… he was just a guy in a cubicle who saved the king’s life and got no recognition… no raise… no nothing... And what did he do?

He remained a humble servant doing his job for four or five years, when all of sudden the king has insomnia… the king has a night of discovery… and suddenly Mordecai’s day gets really weird. It does… one day Mordecai’s at work and who shows up but Haman. Now I would think the first thought going through Mordecai’s mind would be to call security. I mean this could turn into a really bad day quick. This is the guy who has the 75 foot gallows in his front yard right?

So Mordecai’s backing up… he’s looking for the door… and he’s like "Why are you here Haman?"

"For your parade, Mordecai."

So verse 11 says, Haman "robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, "This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!" (Est 6:11)

Now I want you to notice what Mordecai does after his parade in verse 12. "Afterward Mordecai returned to the king's gate" (Est 6:12). It says he goes back to his job. So Mordecai goes back to work... he doesn’t ask for anything... he’s a humble servant… he saves the king’s life… he goes to work… he shuts his mouth… he does his job.

I wonder if we can we do that? You know if we get a parade, can we just shut up, go back to work, and do our job. Maybe you’ve been wondering, "How can I serve… how can I make a difference for God?" Maybe we just need to shut up… do our job… and do the work that is right there in front of us.

You know… here’s the key… Jesus gives it to us… here’s the way to move from Haman’s condemnation to Mordecai’s exaltation. Luke in his Gospel includes this account:

"One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee… he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14:1,7-11).

The way you move from pride to humility is to stop focusing on yourself. On three separate occasions Jesus said, "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." The way out of pride is to look at Jesus’ example of humility.

Consider this in Philippians 2:3-11. The Holy Spirit tells us: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death… even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

We need to become more like our King Jesus. You see Jesus is better. Jesus is more humble than Mordecai. And He’s definitely more humble than Haman.

Haman wanted to be the man whom the king honors, but Jesus is the man whom God the Father honors. Haman wanted to wear the king’s robes, but our King Jesus was stripped of his robes… Haman wanted to wear the king’s crown, but our King Jesus was given a crown of thorns… Haman plotted to kill all of God’s people, but Jesus planned to die for all of God’s people... Haman wanted his king to honor him publicly, but our King was willing to be shamed publicly... Haman would not forgive Mordecai for one thing, but our King Jesus will forgive anyone for anything.... Haman planned to crucify his enemy, but our King Jesus was crucified in the place of his enemies.

Haman exalted himself and was removed from glory, but Jesus is so much better. Jesus humbled himself and was raised up… he was exalted to the highest place. Today we long for the second coming of Jesus Christ in his glory. And today by God’s grace, we can become humble just like our King Jesus.

God bless you on your journey!

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