Sermon – March 14, 2021
Throughout the history of the church, many have questioned the nature and purpose of the OT. If we have Jesus, and he is the focus, why worry about the OT? Why not just focus on the new? The OT, however, is a necessary part of God’s revelation to us: it helps to shape and mold the very ways in which we are to think about Jesus and what he has done. The OT, then, builds up the picture of Jesus, like a mosaic, as each individual part has its purpose. Esther, in its own way, gives us an interesting and helpful picture of Jesus, and the way in which he saves us. Let us today think through the connections between Esther and the gospel.
1. Differences between the book of Esther and the gospel
While we are right to think of the correspondences between characters in Esther and the gospel (Esther is a figure of Christ, Haman of Satan, etc.) we would do well to consider how they are different, and what that tells us about each. Ahasuerus, given his power over life and death for the people, is something of a stand-in for God. Yet, we find him reluctant to do what is right, and fairly unwilling to pay the cost for it. By contrast, God, before the foundation of the world and through no fault of his own, decided in his wise council to take on our flesh, the penalty of our sin for us, suffer, and through that suffering redeem his people. He doesn’t need any other motivation – he does so willingly, out of love!
2. Mercy in the book of Esther and the gospel
Yet, when we come to Esther, there is some consternation in the fact that she refuses to give mercy to Haman. Haman, after all, is begging his life! If she is a symbol of the Christ who was to come, shouldn’t she have mercy? Some argue that, yes, she should have. But it is rather the opposite – not providing mercy is not just better in light of the rest of the OT (cf. Deuteronomy 25:17-19) but in light of the gospel as well. The text implies nothing about Haman’s repentance, only about his desire to skip the consequences of his actions. We would do well to remember that what we are called to is repentance, not simply wanting to miss out on hell! Let us, and all who call on Jesus in the gospel, see our sin as ugly, wicked, and as acts to run from, put off, and live in no more! We are to be sorry we ever sinned, not just that our sin has consequences.
3. Salvation in the book of Esther and the gospel
Esther’s plan works, and her people are saved. Here, again, she shows herself cunning and capable. And, as a picture of the gospel, she gives us great insight into how the whole of the gospel works when she aligns herself fully with her people (v. 3). Her request and her wish seem different, but they are one. To save the queen must entail saving the people; to condemn the people is to condemn the queen. In the same way, our salvation in Christ works because we are united to him. Our justification, regeneration, reconciliation, sanctification, adoption, inheritance, and even our glorification are due to our unification through faith to Jesus and his blessings. Thanks be to God for this wonderful gift!