Once upon a time, in a faraway country, there was an empire that ruled the world from Pakistan in Asia to the Sudan in Africa. This was the Persian empire, and it was ruled by a famous king named Xerxes.
— actually, no: he was not famous yet. He will become famous later on, for reasons that will become clear next week.
But here, at the beginning of his reign, Xerxes did not yet have a reputation of his own. He was only in his mid-thirties, and he had ruled the Persian empire for less than three years. So he had not done anything important yet.
But he did have a famous father, named Darius “the Great”, and an even more famous grandfather named Cyrus “the Great”. So this young man had a lot of pressure on him to succeed, he had a lot to live up to!
And Xerxes was determined to live up to it. He also wanted to be called “the Great”! But how to achieve this?
Well, his grandfather Cyrus had become “the Great” by conquering the Median empire, the Lydian empire, the Babylonian empire, and combining them into the Persian empire. His father Darius had become “the Great” by expanding the Persian empire into Africa, India, and Europe.
But Darius had tried and failed to conquer Greece. So what better way for Xerxes to become “the Great” than by conquering Greece and succeeding where his father failed?
So, we are told here, in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials.
But this was not just a banquet, by the way. The banquet actually came at the end of a 180 day political campaign, to which Xerxes invited all the military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces. And so for a full six months he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty.
Basically, Xerxes was raising support for his plan to conquer Greece.
When these days were over, the king finally gave the banquet that was mentioned earlier. It lasted seven days, and it was set in the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest who were in the citadel of Susa.
And the fact that everyone was invited into the palace, from the least to the greatest, tells us that Xerxes was not just trying to convince the princes and nobles to support his war effort, he also needed the support of the common people. He wants them to feel like they are all part of keluarga Persia, so he invites them to dinner.
Xerxes is telling everyone that this is not his grandfather’s empire anymore, or his father’s: this is Xerxes’ empire, this is the New Persia, a new progressive egalitarian society where shopkeepers and manufacturers and office managers are just as important as princes and military generals.
But the decorations in Xerxes’ garden are not egalitarian at all: there are hangings of white and blue linen, fastened with cords of white linen and purple material to silver rings on marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and other costly stones.
These are products from India, Africa, and Europe all used here to decorate just the garden…so imagine what the interior of the palace must have been like!
In fact, 100 years later, when Alexander “the Great” conquered this city and entered this palace, he counted up about 1,500,000 kilograms of silver and gold — and that was just the loose cash lying around the place, that does not include all the other treasures.
And, by the way, Susa was only one of four capital cities in the Persian empire. This was just Xerxes’ winter palace in the south; he would spend his summers in the north where it is cooler.
In short: this is a display of wealth far beyond the wildest dreams of the common people.
But they are not jealous. Unlike modern people, they do not see this as injustice or inequality. After all, they believed, kings rule by the power of the gods, and the richer a king becomes the more obvious it is that the gods must be on his side. And it is good to have a king who is so well-supported by the gods! Especially a king who is so willing to share his wealth in such an egalitarian, progressive fashion.
And Xerxes is very willing to share his wealth. We know this because wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other, and the royal wine was abundant, in keeping with the king’s liberality.
So this was a great party, especially since, by the king’s command, each guest was allowed to drink with no restrictions, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished.
And this is actually a bit of a funny sentence in the original language. Translated more literally, it would say something like this: “And the drinking was according to the king’s law: let there be no restrictions.”
Which raises a question: why, in Xerxes’ new progressive, egalitarian Persia, does he have to make a law about how people drink at his party?
Well, this is actually a new law to counteract a previous law from his father’s and his grandfather’s time. In the old, stuffy, traditional Persia, guests at the kings’ banquets were only allowed to drink when the king drank.
So Xerxes’ new Persia really is a progressive Persia, an egalitarian Persia, by the standards of the time. He is passing new laws, like, “Drink when you want, as much as you want!”
Wow. What a revolution! What a breath of fresh air, amirite?
Of course, this raises another question: if all these new, progressive, egalitarian values have to be enforced by laws from the top down…are the people actually more free than they were before?
Hmm. Well, I’m sure that if this is an issue, it will come up again later on…
Meanwhile, Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.
And this is also a progressive change. Until this point, in the old, stuffy, traditional Persia, men and women ate together — where they could keep an eye on one another. But now, in Xerxes’ Persia, the ladies are trusted to eat separately: they have a little independance now.
So the days of the feast go by, with many millions of liters of wine processed by tens of thousands of livers and kidneys.
— and, just in case you think I am exaggerating, you should know that there are records from those centuries of imperial feasts with hundreds of thousands of guests invited.
And, according to one ancient historian of that time, at some point during this whole political campaign, Xerxes stood up and made a speech:
“Friends, Persians, countrymen, we are gathered here today that I may impart to you my purpose. It is my intent to lead my army through Europe to Greece, that I may punish the Athenians for what they have done to the Persians and to my father, who is now dead, may he rest in peace…Therefore, I, on his and all the Persians’ behalf, will never rest till I have taken and burnt Athens!”
And everyone would have been like, “Yeaaaaaaah! Burn Athens! Make Persia great again! Persia berjaya! Merdeka! Merdeka!” and all that stuff: “Xerxes, we love you!”
“And I love you, random citizens!” Xerxes goes on: “As for you, this is how you shall best please me: when I declare the time for your coming, everyone of you must appear, and with a good will; and whosoever comes with his army best equipped shall receive from me such gifts as are reckoned most precious among us.”
And again, “Yeaaaaaah! Precious gifts! Xerxes! Xerxes! Xerxes!”
And so, on the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine — and no doubt deeply moved by the enthusiasm of his loyal subjects — he decides he wants to give them an extra special treat: he commands seven eunuchs with seven silly names to go and bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to ten thousands of his best friends, for she was lovely to look at.
But the eunuchs come back without the queen: “…he he he, my lord, she says she’s — how did she put it again, Bigtha? Ya, ya, she says she’s, ummm…not coming…”
Then the king became furious and burned with anger.
Because this could destroy all his plans to become “the Great”! If he does not even have the power to control his own wife, why would anyone believe he has the power to conquer Greece?
So since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times: seven nobles with seven silly names who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom. “According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?” he asked. “She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes — that’s me, by the way, I am King Xerxes — she has not obeyed the command that the eunuchs have taken to her.”
Then Memukan — one of the seven wise men — replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, “Oh, my lord, this is a national emergency! Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes — that’s you, by the way, you are King Xerxes. For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, “Queen Vashti said ‘no’ to King Xerxes, so I am saying ‘no’ to you! There will be no end of disrespect and discord.
“Therefore, if it pleases the king — that’s you — let him — you — issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes…that’s you. Also let the king — … — give her royal position to someone else who is better than she. Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.”
…we are going to pause here for a moment and notice some things.
First, Xerxes is the most powerful man in the world, these seven nobles are the most powerful men in the world. But they are terrified of their wives. So…that is interesting.
And far more common than we might think. Throughout history, men have generally exercised a more overt power over women…but all men have always known that women hold an equal but opposite power over men: the power to veto, which the dictionary defines as “a constitutional right to reject a decision or proposal made by a lawmaking body.” It is very fashionable today to complain about “the patriarchy” and “patriarchal society” and all that…but that kind of analysis is a bit simplistic: the balance of power in real life is almost always more complicated.
Second, Xerxes and his seven “wise” men believe that the respect of women can be commanded.
And this, too, is a very common mindset. Throughout history, men have proven to be generally more aggressive than women, and this means that men are more likely to use force to suppress their fears. So when a wife says, “No. I veto your decision,” a frightened husband will often respond with some version of, “Well, I have just decided you cannot veto my decisions!” And this is what has produced all this modern talk about “the patriarchy”. What is overlooked, however, is how little this kind of approach actually works. Because, throughout history, almost every time a husband says some version of, “I have decided you cannot veto my decisions,” a wife is just as likely to respond with some version of, “Well, guess what? I veto that decision also!”
Third, we have to notice that these men are discussing this while they are very, very drunk.
Now, our common mindset today would hold that drunken law-making is not a great idea. The ancient Persians, however, deliberately got drunk before making a decision. Why? Because the Persians — just like many ancient people — believed that the gods speak to us most clearly when we are in altered states of consciousness. And this is also a very common mindset: in all cultures there is an intuitive connection between drinking, drugs and mystical experiences. Even atheists use spiritual language to describe their “mind-expanding” drug trips.
Basically, Xerxes and his wise men think that, after seven days of drinking, they are actually being guided by the gods in a more profound way than usual. And the reason they believe this is because they have been taught by custom and culture to believe this.
Which brings us to the last thing we’re going to notice here:
A few minutes ago, we were wondering just how progressive and egalitarian and free ”New” Persia really is if all these new ideas have to be enforced by laws from the top down.
Well, what has just been revealed is that the “New” Persia is just like the old one. The details may differ, but nothing has really changed at at fundamental level.
In Old Persia, you could only drink when the king drank, and in this way you proved your loyalty to the regime; in “New” Persia you are free to drink whenever you want! — but you must drink, you must attend the king’s party, or be considered disloyal.
In Old Persia, women were expected to eat with the men, and in this way demonstrate their solidarity with men; in “New” Persia women are free to eat separately, they are free to assert their independence! — but they had better show up when summoned.
In Old Persia, society was dominated by laws that governed every little detail of life, laws which cannot be repealed, cannot be undone; in “New” Persia, Xerxes still has to consult experts in Persian law before he can make a decision even about his wife! a decision that cannot be repealed.
And in Old Persia, no one could make a significant decision without calling a bomoh to “cast lots” and find out from the gods which day would be the “lucky” day to put a law into effect; here, in “New” Persia, Xerxes has just consulted his seven most accomplished bomoh: that is why they are described as “wise men who understood the times” — that phrase is a reference to their expertise in magic, astrology, divination, casting lots.
Now, picking up the story where we left off: since the king and his counsellors are afraid of women, since they believe that respect can be commanded, and since they are really really drunk, quite naturally the king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memukan proposed. He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household, using his native tongue.
And this must have caused a lot of confusion. Imagine every family getting this official message in their mailbox: “This is the new Law of Xerxes: every man should be ruler over his own household!”
This would leave every woman in the empire going, “…that’s odd. I thought men were already in charge, simply because they are bigger and stronger! But this new law suggests they were not actually in charge before today, which suggests that a man’s right to rule over his own household is not actually an automatic, natural thing, it is only based on the laws of men…”
Xerxes and his “wise” men were worried that all the women of the empire might hear about Vashti’s resistance, and that this might inspire them to resist. The official government response was to tell every woman in the empire that resistance is futile! — but in the process all the women of the empire heard about Vashti’s resistance, which taught them that resistance is actually not futile.
After all, Vashti’s resistance might have been costly for her, but it was also costly for her husband. She doesn’t get to see him anymore…but he doesn’t get to see her anymore either. And remember: she was lovely to look at! So by punishing her, Xerxes is also punishing himself. And by announcing his punishment to the whole empire, Xerxes has just announced that the use of brute force is actually self-defeating. He has just publically punched himself in the face.
Besides, by punishing her in this way, it almost seems like Xerxes gave Vashti exactly what she wanted in the first place. Here is a basic summary of the conversation:
Vashti: “I don’t want to see you.”
Xerxes: “Fine! New rule: you don’t get to see me!”
Vashti: “…okay. Thanks?”
It is enough to make you wonder who, really, is in control of the Persian empire…
And that is, actually, the point of this episode: to show us that Xerxes, the most powerful man in the world, is sadly and hilariously not in control.
And, yes: I said hilariously. This opening chapter of the Book of Esther is meant to be funny. I think we have all heard the proverb that says, “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely”? Well, that proverb is true — but it is not the whole truth. The author of the Book of Esther also wants to add that, “People in power are funny. People in absolute power are absolutely hilarious.”
But this is where someone is going to object and say, “Wait, are you sure? This is the bible, right? Isn’t the bible a very serious book? Isn’t the Book of Esther all about an attempted ethnic cleansing? How can you say that the author is trying to be funny, especially about such serious topics like abusive power dynamics and genocide?”
Well…first of all, the author is not trying to say that abusive power dynamics and ethnic cleansings are funny. But…yes, this introduction is meant to be funny. The author is setting us up to laugh at this petty tyranny now so that we will not completely lose hope when later petty tyranny make us cry.
The Book of Esther is — at least in part — meant to be a satire. It deliberately uses irony and exaggeration to point out how ridiculous, how fragile, how hollow Persian power really is. This is not an empire ruled by the wisdom of the immortal gods! this is an empire run by a bunch of drunk administrators who are profoundly insecure on a number of levels.
But this answer just leads to another objection, which is: why? Why does the author use humor — satire — to communicate these things? Surely there are other literary tools a writer could use to expose the fragility of Persian rule?
And the answer is: sure, there are other literary tools the author could have used. But satire is a very special kind of literary tool, because it is a weapon against tyranny that can only really be used by the oppressed, the powerless, the marginalized.
Today, in our age of keyboard warriors, outrage is seen as the proper weapon to use against tyranny. The problem is this: outrage — the use of brute force, essentially — is only effective when it is wielded by the powerful. Which means that, if a person uses outrage to successfully fix an injustice, then their success proves they were not actually as powerless as they pretended to be, and most likely they have simply replaced one injustice with another. Just as in ancient Persia, the details may differ, but nothing has really changed at at fundamental level: a different tyrant may be in charge, but a tyrant is still in charge!
But if a truly powerless person tries to use outrage as a weapon…they lose, just like Queen Vashti did. Because, in our world, outrage is always met by outrage, and the strongest one always wins.
However, the opposite is also true: if the powerful try to use satire against the powerless, they are not seen as funny, they just look mean, they look like a bully. But if a powerless person uses satire against the powerful, they look funny and courageous and clever, especially when they inspire an outraged reaction from the powerful…because then the powerful look both mean and ridiculous, like a big man using a hammer to smash the spider on his nose.
Basically, the use of outrage, brute force, only really works for the powerful. Satire, humor, only really works for the powerless. The author of this book is writing to oppressed, powerless, marginalized people, and that is why he uses satire as his literary tool here. He believes it is important for oppressed people to learn how to laugh at bullies. Because bullies are not afraid of outrage, they know how to crush outrage! but they are afraid of laughter, because there is no way for a bully to crush laughter without also making themselves look even more brutal and foolish.
As we noticed earlier, the use of brute force is ultimately self-defeating. Since bullies are going to use force eventually anyway, the most effective thing the powerless can do is laugh at them and then stand back and watch them destroy themselves.
But this just leads to yet another objection: what about the cost of such a strategy? Because, here’s the thing: when the bully loses his temper, loses control, and hammers himself in the face to get rid of a spider, that is hilarious! but usually the spider also gets smashed. So what good is it for the spider to laugh? Wouldn’t it be better to just stay out of the way?
And there are a number of possible responses to that:
First of all, the author is not saying the powerless should laugh right in the face of the powerful. That would be foolish. Generally staying out of the way as much as possible is a better strategy — which is a point the author is going to wrestle with over the next couple of chapters.
But what if we have already become a target for the bully’s outrage? In that case, staying out of the way is no longer an option. Neither is outrage — unless we are bigger than the bully, in which case we might win that fight! and then become the bully. And we don’t want that!…do we? Which means humor really is our only hope of making the bully lose control and hammer himself in the face even as he crushes us.
But that response is a human response, based on human wisdom. That approach offers us only a bitter kind of hope, the hope that we destroy our enemy even while he destroys us.
That is not God’s wisdom. God’s wisdom is not focused on winning or losing, it is focused on the source of true justice for this world. Human wisdom tells us tyrants deserve to be laughed at, and this is true. But God’s wisdom tells us why tyrants deserve to be laughed at, and why the powerless should have the courage to laugh even when the bully comes to hammer them.
And this is why tyrants deserve to be laughed at: because they are actually very, very tiny. If they had the eyes to see really just how insignificant they are, they would not dare talk so big!
God’s wisdom gives us eyes that tyrants do not have, eyes to look up, look away, look around at the vast horizons of the universe, and realize that the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are mere dust on the scales; and God weighs them as though they were fine dust — just like Isaiah told us during our Promise of Forgiveness. After today’s display of petty parliamentary incompetence, we were left wondering who, really, is in control of the Persian empire. Xerxes may have his hands on the steering wheel, but he is not in control…God is. And so this is why tyrants are hilarious: because they are not just tiny, they are silly in their tininess. That steering wheel they grip so hard is actually disconnected, they are not steering anything…!
The tyrants of our world — from the smallest bully in kindergarden to the greatest emperors — all act as if they are absolutely in charge, and they all use brute force and human wisdom to make everyone else believe it. But God’s wisdom allows us to see how tiny, how silly, how insecure — how hilarious — they really are.
And, what is more, God’s wisdom allows us to identify a tyrant’s specific insecurities, so that we can laugh even more effectively. See, every bully actually does know, in their heart of hearts, how tiny and silly and insecure they really are. They will never admit it to anyone — in most cases they won’t even admit it to themselves — but that secret, unconscious knowledge is revealed in how they use their power.
For instance, Xerxes just announced to the whole empire that every man should be ruler over his own household. He meant this to be an intimidating expression of his strength! but he actually just announced to everyone that he is secretly terrified of losing control to his wife. Not an especially awe-inspiring announcement! And I am sure this resulted in a lot of secret, contemptuous feminine laughter in the households of the empire.
Here is a more recent example: have you been following this controversy about Timah Whiskey, that award-winning Malaysian whiskey? — which is quite good, I have to say. Now, “Timah” is just the Malay word for “tin”. But somebody with too much power and not enough common sense has decided that this name is an offense to Islam, and they are trying to crush the company. Now, that is frustrating. Tyranny is frustrating! and petty tyranny is even more frustrating. But it is also hilariously funny. Because, through this indimidating expression of Islam’s strength, those in power have just announced to everyone their secret fear that Islam is so fragile, so weak, that a name on a whiskey bottle could potentially destroy it. Now, to be clear: that is not what I think about Islam, but that is apparently what those followers of Islam secretly think about their own faith, and they have just announced their insecurity to the whole nation! — and not for the first time, either, as I am sure we are all aware.
So, should we laugh at such petty tyranny? Yes! Yes, we should laugh!
Because, to tell you the truth: if we did not laugh, we would have to cry.
So, to summarize this episode: a very ambitious but also very insecure king — its funny how often ambition and insecurity go together, isn’t it? — a very ambitious but also very insecure king discovers that, even though he is the most powerful emperor on earth, he cannot control his own queen. He tries to solve this problem through the application of even more power and makes himself look even more ridiculous than if he had just done nothing.
And in example we find this universal truth: whether a tyrant is conservative or liberal, traditional or progressive, binary or non-binary, none of it really matters. The details may differ, but bullies are all the same. They all claim some measure of power to control the world, when the truth is they cannot even control their own insecurities, fears that they expose to the world every time they become outraged and exert their power in petty ways.
Now, insecurity mixed with outrage is a terrifying combination: bullies do eventually hammer themselves in the face, but unfortunately they often end up destroying their victims in the process.
And this is truly frightening! In fact, it is our fear of becoming a victim that inspires our own outrage against the bully, because the truth is we are all secretly convinced that we will be a kinder bully than the one who bullied us. But we never are kinder, we just become the bully we hated until some other outraged victim comes along with enough power to tear us down — and so the terrible pattern rolls on unchanged through every insecure and outraged generation of mankind.
What are we supposed to do to break this ancient pattern?
Well, this is what we are supposed to do, according to the author of this book: start laughing. Because people in power are funny. And people in absolute power are absolutely hilarious.
I know this does not sound like very godly advice, but really it is. The bible is actually full of satirical, mocking humor. The Old Testament prophets used it, the New Testament apostles also. Even Jesus used mocking, satirical humor. Because satirical humor actually breaks this pattern.
Let me explain: the problem within all of us is insecurity leading to outrage and a tendency to abuse power to fix our insecurities, right? So, if we can resolve our insecurities, our outrage will disappear, along with our tendency to abuse power — and then the pattern will collapse. Makes sense, right?
That is what God’s satirical humor does for us: it resolves our insecurities by helping us see through the world’s deception to the truth.
And what is this powerful truth that can resolve all our insecurities?
Simply this: there is a God, infinitely greater than any tyrant or nation, who loves his people with an infinite, passionate, raging love. We may be a spider on the nose of the biggest bully in the world, but if we are God’s spider then we have nothing to be insecure about. Let the bully smash himself in the face! and laugh, because even if he smashes us in the process, we will be lifted up out of the blood and the ruin while he goes down.
And this is, by the way, the ultimate message of this little Book of Esther. So we will be discussing that Good News in a lot more detail as we go along.
So: laugh! Rejoice when tyrants exercise their power, because they are exposing their weaknesses and stirring up a firestorm of wrath and judgement against themselves, a firestorm that we are guaranteed to survive.
Okay. But let’s get practical now, shall we? Most of us are not dealing with tyranny at a high political level. Most of our experience with tyrants is personal: it’s that annoyingly insecure office manager, right? It’s the tiger mom or the ambitious father who is never satisfied, no matter how hard you work. It’s that brother or sister who just isn’t happy unless they are grinding you down. And most often we find these dynamics at work in our marriages, don’t we? just like Xerxes did: husbands bullying wives, wives bullying husbands. How can we apply God’s wisdom in this passage to those situations?
Let’s start at the most basic level: first of all, make sure you belong to God.
So look, if you are here today and you feel yourself to be oppressed, powerless, marginalized in your most personal relationships, and that insecurity is driving you to outrage, the very first thing you need to do is join God’s family, if you have not already.
How do you do this?
By looking down, into the valley of the shadow of death. Give up trying to suppress your insecurities by clawing your way upward in life. Give up trying to say, “No!” to the tyrants of this world, because they are just going to smash you like Xerxes smashed Vashti. Instead: stop, and turn, and travel back down into the obscurity that you dread.
Because, if you do this, you will discover that God has gone there before you. You will find a Roman cross standing there in the shadows with a man suffering helpless upon it, his hands and feet nailed to the wooden spars. That man is named Jesus Christ. No matter what injustice you may have suffered, he has suffered more: he was the Son of God! the King over all creation, infinitely more powerful than Xerxes of Persia. But unlike Xerxes, Jesus was not consumed with insecurity. And because of this, he was not afraid to set aside all the privileges of power and descend into the valley of the shadow of death. Instead of striking back against the tyrants of the world, he submitted to oppression, powerlessness, marginalization. He broke the ancient pattern of insecurity and outrage. And by doing this he proved that on the other side of unjust death lies justice and a resurrected life. By letting the bully smash him, he focused all of his Father’s wrath upon the one who smashed him, and so he brought true justice to the earth without ever having to defile himself with outrage.
Friend, all you have to do is turn, and look to the cross, and ask Jesus to let you join him there. He will say, “Yes!” and you will belong to God forever and ever.
Listen: like most of us, you live your life in fear that you will never be truly valuable to anyone. And in your attempts to make yourself valuable, chances are bullies are going to smash you back down anyway. So why not join God’s family? Because, first of all, as God’s child you will become infinitely more valuable than anything you could ever earn for yourself in this life. Second of all, when you are finally smashed, your blood will be avenged by your Heavenly Father himself, whose outraged vengeance on your behalf will be infinitely greater than anything you could ever imagine.
Now, what about the rest of us who have already taken up the cross to follow Jesus, how should we apply this passage to our lives when we are feeling oppressed, powerless, marginalized in our personal relationships?
This is what we should do: let us lift our eyes to the hills, to the mountain of God. We will find a shining throne standing there with a man seated upon it, his hands and feet scarred from his war with tyranny, but with a crown upon his head. This man is the resurrected Jesus Christ. And if we look closely, we will find ourselves already seated there beside him, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband, every insecurity burned away by the brilliance of his love for us.
Which means that even now, here in the shadowlands, we really have no reason to be insecure: we will never be more valuable than we are right now, as God’s children, as Christ’s bride, because ours is an infinite value, as infinite as the God who gave it to us.
Brothers and sisters, over time, as we continue to lift our eyes, this vision will burn away all our insecurities, our every lurking fear, our longings for outrage and vengeance. And this will break the ancient pattern in our Christian communities, it will transform us into better people than we are: better managers, better employees, better brothers, better sisters, better fathers and mothers, better husbands and wives.
I wish we had more time right now to talk about these things in more detail, but…be patient! We will get there next week, and the week after, so: make sure to come back for that.
But for today: let us go in peace, and laugh on glory’s side.