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Jesus is Better

Victims to victors

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(9/29) Today we are continuing in our series "Jesus is Better" and as we’ve been studying from the book of Esther for over two months now, I’ve see a lot of sin… a lot of corruption… and a lot of suffering. Then today, in Esther 8:1–17, the storyline shifts…

today we find there has been a great reversal. Because Haman, built an enormous gallows in his yard, he was going to hang Mordecai on it, and in a great reversal, Haman was crucified in his own yard, the enemy of God’s people is put to death. And Mordecai’s life has been spared, but the death sentence for all of God’s people is still in effect and it cannot be reversed because of something called the Law of the Medes and the Persians, which is that once the king makes a sovereign ruling, it is irreversible, and so though Haman is dead, the death sentence remains. Let’s read together at…

Esther eight, verse one: "That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. 2 The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman's estate.

3 Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews. 4 Then the king extended the gold scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him.

5 "If it pleases the king," she said, "and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king's provinces. 6 For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?"

7 King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, "Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have hanged him on the gallows. 8 Now write another decree in the king's name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king's signet ring — for no document written in the king's name and sealed with his ring can be revoked."

9 At once the royal secretaries were summoned — on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. They wrote out all Mordecai's orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. These orders were written in the script of each province and the language of each people and also to the Jews in their own script and language. 10 Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes, sealed the dispatches with the king's signet ring, and sent them by mounted couriers, who rode fast horses especially bred for the king.

11 The king's edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate any armed force of any nationality or province that might attack them and their women and children; and to plunder the property of their enemies. 12 The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. 13 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.

14 The couriers, riding the royal horses, raced out, spurred on by the king's command. And the edict was also issued in the citadel of Susa.

15 Mordecai left the king's presence wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. 16 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. 17 In every province and in every city, wherever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them. NIV

1. Mordecai’s Promotion

As we look at the story of Esther and Mordecai they are God’s people in a pagan place. They’re in Persia… they’re living in a pagan culture… they haven’t revealed their identity… know one knows they worship the God of the Bible… they’ve hidden it for a long time… and then last week in chapter seven they came out of the closet. They come out and identify themselves with God’s people. And they’re not doing so as clergy, as priests, but they’re doing so as politicians. And some of you will do this as business leaders, employees, or laypersons. Here we find Esther and Mordecai working together as the people of God for the glory of God and the good of God’s people.

And so as we have seen how Esther and Mordecai became missionaries in their culture they didn’t start in an amazingly godly way from beginning to end. No, they started off like some of us: pretty compromised, a little worldly, and really not super impressive. But by the grace of God, they grow, mature, and become very gifted, well placed and utilized missionaries.

And the first thing we see is Mordecai’s promotion in verse two; "The king took off his signet ring… and presented it to Mordecai." But not only that, Mordecai gets a wardrobe upgrade; He gets to go shopping. "In royal robes of blue and white." I mean, he’s got a chariot now with 28" rims…. he’s rolling hip-hop style… he’s looking good. And it says, "the city of Susa held a joyous celebration." Mordecai’s like a rock star. He’s like a returning war hero. Everybody knows this guy. You know Twitter and Facebook is blowing up… he’s on the cover of Time magazine… he’s getting all the late-night talk show interviews. And he’s gone from nobody to somebody, from poor to rich, from unknown to well-known. Everything’s changed.

And so what we see here is that God gifts men and women with leadership gifts and he brings them into influential and powerful positions. And like Esther, now Mordecai just went from being powerless to powerful, not having access to the king to having full access to the king, from being an average Joe to being very rich, and from a government job near the city gate to being the vice president, all in a day. That’s the favor and grace of God in the life of Mordecai.

And I want you to see here that Mordecai accepts this position of authority. Here’s my question to you: What authority do you have? Some of you have resisted the positions of authority and leadership that God has opened for you, and maybe God wants you to accept those positions because it’s your opportunity to help others. Now maybe you feel unqualified for leadership… but that just shows you have the first prerequisite, which is humility. And here’s what God wants you to do: humbly accept the promotion. That’s what Mordecai does. That’s what makes Esther and Mordecai great leaders is that they accept their authority.

2. Esther’s Passion

Number two, we see Esther’s passion. You see people don’t just believe because you believe, but they get excited about what excites you. And verse three says, "Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping." Now up until this point, Esther hasn’t been very emotional, but at the right time for the right reasons, she’s very passionate and she throws herself at the king’s feet.

What are you passionate about? Esther is very passionate about God’s people… and I want you to know that there are only two things that are going to spend eternity with us in the kingdom of God. And that is God and his people. That’s it. All the stuff we have, we’re not taking it. All the things we’ve accomplished, they’ll come to an end. All the pursuits that we’re striving for, they’ll come to a close. But the Lord and his people will be together forever.

Esther’s the queen. She’s rich, she’s powerful, she’s famous, and she’s safe, but she’s not concerned about herself. She’s concerned about God’s people. She knows what really matters. She cares about God’s people. She has passion for the well-being of God’s people.

What is it that you have passion for today? What are you excited about? What is it that when you speak of it the tone of your voice changes? Some of us get very excited about sin; some of us get very excited about foolishness… about things that won’t last or matter forever. Esther gets very excited about the well-being of God’s people.

She’s very passionate. She comes to the king. And the king says… you can almost sense the exasperation in his voice… "What else do you want? I crucified Haman in his yard… I gave Mordecai all of his wealth... I put him in a position of leadership… he’s the vice president… you’re the queen. What else do you want?"

And Esther says, "It’s not about me, it’s about the people. "They’re not safe, they’re in danger and there’s a curse on them." Now, she’s a young woman, but she’s not thinking about herself anymore. You see she’s come into a real transforming relationship with the God of the Bible. And when you know God you begin thinking about God’s people… you begin putting their welfare before your own… and she loves them.

And what we see here in Esther is the very heart of God. He loves his people. She loves God’s people. Who do you love today? Do you love all your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you love the family of God? Do you love the people of God? What I really appreciate here about Esther is that she is one who exercises authority humbly, demonstrates passion appropriately, and loves people genuinely. That’s what I see in Esther… amazing passion, but Jesus is better!

3. Xerxes’ Proclamation

And so this death sentence is issued, and because it is issued with the signet ring of the king, that was at that time, on the finger of Haman, it is according to the Law of the Medes and the Persians, irreversible. And so now, King Xerxes tells Esther and Mordecai, they can’t reverse that decision, but they can put out another law, but now with the ring of the king on the finger of Mordecai, this law allows God’s people to defend themselves against their attackers.

So verse 14 tells us, "The couriers, riding the royal horses, raced out, spurred on by the king's command. And… in every province and in every city, (wherever Xerxes proclamation) wherever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating..." and I love this "many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them." (Esther 8:14-17).

The question for you today is: "Are people wanting to know God because of you? Who are you witnessing to? Who are you evangelizing?" If you’re a Christian, you are a missionary. Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:18-20). You’ve been sent into your school, work, business, or neighborhood, and you’re there as a missionary.

God calls you into your culture, to be a missionary, to be faithful to the Word of God, and to be in the context of unbelieving people. God wants you to be faithful to the Scriptures and absolutely involved in the lives of the culture in which unbelieving people live so that many might come to know the God of the Bible.

And you see, ultimately, this all points to the Lord Jesus Christ, because Jesus is better. Jesus himself comes into the pagan culture of the world. He leaves heaven and comes to earth. He joins the people, speaks their language, goes to feasts and festivals, yet he’s without sin. He comes as a missionary, he calls people to repentance, and they try to kill him, and then they do kill him, and he dies.

So it’s a day of mourning and a day of rejoicing because we killed God but he saved us. He died, he rose, and he ascended into heaven. Jesus rises from the great city of Jerusalem and is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. He rises as a victorious King and leads us in a triumphant procession. He raises the people of God… he raises us… from victims to victors!

You see Jesus is just so much better. Mordecai and Esther saw the perilous condition of God’s people, but the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, actually died and rose again to save his people from eternal death. Jesus sent his proclamation of Good News to all people… he had it translated into thousands of languages, because he couldn’t bear the thought of God’s enemies being killed for their sin. Jesus is better because he came to die for our sin. Jesus took the bullet. He died in the place of his enemies that we might live. The sentence of death could not be reversed, because through sin all die, but through Jesus, all who come to him, all who repent, all who trust him, all who change their ways, will have the death sentence withdrawn.

Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, is so much better. Jesus proclamation has gone out around the world… his passion was for all… that he might freely give repentance and forgiveness of sins … and he was promoted to the highest place… exalted to the right hand of God… "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" (Phil 2:10-11)

Let’s worship him together, let’s serve him together, let’s be missionaries for him where God has placed us, because Jesus is better!

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