Julie Pudlas

There once was a story of two queens, a drunken king, a devious villain, and a victorious nobody in the ancient kingdom of Persia. It’s a story filled with twists and turns, suspense and rivalry, intrigue and espionage, romance and death. It’s centred around one heroine queen, named Esther, who is thrust into a life at the palace as the new queen after the king deposes his old queen. She’s secretly a Jew, an orphan raised by her cousin Mordecai, and more beautiful than all the women of the land.

One day, Esther and Mordecai discover a plot devised by the king’s right hand man to murder all the Jews scattered throughout the kingdom. Only the king can reverse such an edict and save the Jews, but only Esther has special access to the king. And she knows that to enter his presence without an invitation could very easily mean an “off with her head.” To save her people she must risk her life. Amidst prayer and fasting, Esther eventually agrees to go before the king on behalf of her people, saying “if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).

We hear echoes of this narrative years later in a garden, where a Son pleads with His Father to spare Him from His imminent suffering and death. His death wasn’t a possibility, it was a certainty. He must die so that His people may live. In surrendering His will to that of his Father, He says, “yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). To save His people He must give His life.

Esther was willing to perish, knowing there was a possibility that she wouldn’t. Jesus was also willing, knowing it was certain that He would. Esther risked her life to save her people from physical death. Jesus gave His life to save us all from eternal death while we were still His enemies. In humility, Jesus left His heavenly home to reside amongst us; and in obedience, He gave up His own life for the sake of His people (Philippians 2:7-8).

The story of Esther has a victorious ending. The king grants Esther her life and her request, and the people of Israel are saved. The Jews must have been filled with a “thrill of hope” when they heard that, because of Esther’s courage, their planned annihilation was repealed. May that same thrill of hope fill our souls this Christmas, as we gaze at the One who left His heavenly palace to rescue His people from their own destruction. The favour of the King of heaven is ours eternally through Jesus. This is the love of Christ for you and me.