In our introduction to the book of Esther this week (Esth. 1:1-9), we saw a carefully-crafted opening scene that forced us to consider the power and opulent prominence of King Xerxes (Ahasuerus). We made note of his six-month feast for the power-brokers of his kingdom (Esth. 1:3) and his seven-day feast for everyone in his capital city (Esth. 1:5)—feasts that were meant to parade the vastness of his wealth and splendor (Esth. 1:4, 6-7) so that everyone would ooh and aah at him. Make no mistake, Xerxes wanted everyone to know just how great and deserving of honor and glory he was.
We also saw ourselves reflected in that worldly king. We might not have a vast empire, nor the resources to host a months-long party, but we still struggle with a Xerxes-like desire for recognition and honor—it's all part of our fallen nature as human beings. But, as Christians, we know greatness is not found in self-promotion. For followers of Christ, greatness is found in humble self-denial (Lk. 9:48; 22:24-26). We would do well to follow John the Baptist's example: "[Christ] must become greater; I must become less" (Jn. 3:30). However, if we're not regularly meditating on our Lord's greatness—and adoring him because of his greatness—we inevitably become more and more prone to showcase our own greatness and to worship ourselves.
To help our hearts and minds stay centered on the Lord, here are three reasons why God is so much greater and so much more deserving of our adoration:
Esther 1:1-9 gives us plenty of motivation for the adoration of the Lord when we approach it with the right perspective. Sure, the king of Persia showcases his earthly wealth, power, and prominence, but he's no match for the King of kings. Consider this: while all of Persia may have been subject to Xerxes, all of creation has been subject to Christ. He governs "far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come" (Eph. 1:21). And while Xerxes governed over Persia for a fixed period in history, Christ's reign is from everlasting to everlasting (Ps. 9:7; 90:2). And while the Persian king reigned from an earthly throne in Susa, Christ governs over all creation from a heavenly throne at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:32-35; cf. Phil. 2:9-11).
As majestic as Xerxes seemed, he pales in comparison to the Lord. "Among all the wise leaders of the nations and in all their kingdoms," says Jeremiah, "there is no one like you" (Jer. 10:7). Remembering that God has no equal—remembering that he reigns supremely—recalibrates our hearts and our minds to adore him principally, with an overabundance of joy. As the psalmist sings, "The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice" (Ps. 97:1).
The incomparable parallels continue. Contemplate for a moment on this: Xerxes threw a party for six months to showcase his glory, but from the moment God spoke creation into existence, the heavens and earth have showcased God's glory. King David reminds us of this: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Ps. 19:1; cf. Rom. 1:20). This gives us proper perspective, reminding us that not even the greatest of human beings nor the most glorious of human accomplishments compare to the unrivaled vastness of God and his glory. Simply speaking, no one is like him (Jer. 10:6), and remembering this helps us to revere his glory as we adore him above all else (Ps. 102:15; 115:1).
At least one more observation remains. The narrative tells us Xerxes' 180-day party was for "all his nobles and officials" (Esth. 1:3), but this was a façade. The true purpose of the feast was to display "the splendor and glory of his majesty" (Esth. 1:4). On the surface, it seemed as though his grand party was a grace for all his prominent guests, but his true motive was self-promotion. There was never any grace in inviting his guests to feast with him in his palace.
Consider now the genuine grace of God. While Xerxes threw a banquet for people of prominence, Christ will one day throw a glorious feast for all the redeemed. We know it as the marriage feast of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-9). One day, we will be joined to Christ forever in heaven, and to celebrate that union we will sit with him and feast with him. It will be a love feast—the greatest feast of all—and it will usher in our eternal dwelling with our gracious Savior. In the meantime, every time we celebrate communion (the Lord's table) today, we anticipate the glorious banquet to come, when our beloved Jesus will eat and drink anew with us in heaven (Matt. 26:26-29). Furthermore, while Xerxes financed his extravagant show through oppressive taxation, Christ paid for our blessed feast through the spilling of his own blood on the cross. There is no greater grace than the grace of Christ. The cross assures us of this, and it causes us to praise our Lord not for just 180 days, but forever, with all our heart, soul, and strength (Deut. 6:5).
The opening scene in the book of Esther is one that introduces us to a pretentious, pompous, self-centered king. But if we keep looking, our eyes of faith will see the greater King who governs forever over all, whose glory is unrivaled, and whose grace woos our hearts into his heavenly kingdom. Let's look to King Jesus, and as we do, may the Spirit of God encourage us to humbly "become less" (Jn. 3:30) as we continually adore the One who is truly greater. We have at least three reasons to do so.
In awe of Christ together with you,