“Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” This popular description may be legend but it accurately describes the wickedness of Nero who was an evil and ineffectual Roman Emperor in the late first century. He cared not for the suffering of his people while a great fire consumed Rome leaving half of its population homeless.
Some things just don’t make sense. Reality is absurd sometimes and this is one of those times. The lot falls on the eve of Passover. The day Haman determines to convince Xerxes to let him commit genocide is the day before the Jews gather to celebrate and remember when God passed over their homes saving their children from the plague of the firstborn and liberated them from slavery in Egypt.
Before Hitler, there was Haman. So far, unlike Esther, Mordecai spoiling the plot to kill the king has gone unnoticed and unrewarded. Haman is elevated to the place of highest nobility and we’re not told why. It surely isn’t because of his servant heart. Haman is the definition of the wicked the psalmist laments about: “They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.
When you tell your story, does it start with you? Your big breaks. The opportunities you seized. That time disaster didn’t happen when all the signs said it should. The advice you were given that is still informing your life. God sends us helpers. We cannot make ourselves. As much responsibility as we are given, it is never strictly ours and ours alone.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Our God is a miracle working God. He lives in eternity and isn’t bound by the constraints of time like we are.
“The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled” (Isaiah 2:17) No surprise that King Xerxes approves of the plan from his advisors. We are finally introduced to the hero of our story in startling contrast to everything that has preceded.
By way of introduction, it appeared at the outset that King Xerxes is a ruler of unassailable power and control. And yet, we’re seeing evidence to the contrary. Despite his grandiose delusions of himself and his position over the world, he’s often drunk which is evidence that he is rarely in his right mind.
Does kingship in the Bible highlight or obscure the rightful and true kingship of Almighty God? This is a question we must answer with every king we meet in scripture and with every ruler and government we meet in our lives. God warns Israel against having human kings because of this obscurity they will cause. See 1 Samuel 8. Human kings obscure the true reign of God among the people they rule. They often point to themselves as the ultimate instead using their position and power to ensure everyone knows the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.
Today, I want to share words from Pastor David’s Easter message as they are an inspiring reflection on what the Resurrection means for us. “Easter is God’s answer to every question in your life. Easter is God’s answer to every hurt, every sorrow, every moment of suffering or pain… whatever circumstances you are in, whatever experiences you have had, whatever challenges in your past, whatever you may be contending with now or in the future…
He wasn’t one of the Twelve. His formative years weren’t spent following Jesus. Until now, he hasn’t been part of the gospel. As far as we know, he wasn’t around for most of Jesus teaching. He is a prominent and wealthy man too. He has a lot to lose: life’s work, council seat, status in the community. There is so much we don’t know about him. How did he come to be here? Most questions must go unanswered when it comes to Joseph of Arimathea.
Jesus is the only one who knows what it is like to be the only one. Many of you have felt times of isolation and abandonment. Feeling forsaken and betrayed. Jesus is our hope and strength as he feels something far worse than anything we will ever know. Praise God we will never experience what Jesus experiences, in feeling forsaken by the Father.
The soldiers are tired of watching over Israel and keeping the peace. They are tired of these Messiah-like figures and this routine. There is more drama for them to play with when it comes to Jesus. Here is someone who claims to be king! Yet, where are his loyal subjects!? Where are the crowds who once shouted Hosanna, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Where are his closest followers!?
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). As I sit and ponder these verses, I’m struck by the singular desire of the crowd. All reason and justice and equity burn away like kindling consumed by the fire of the crowd and their one imperative: Crucify. And yet we know that it wasn’t but a few days ago when crowds gathered to praise Jesus and welcome him into the city like the King that he is. This is truly incredible that Rome would grant the release of a known insurrectionist and murderer. Barabbas deserves the sentence he was given.
“It was Shaughn’s fault. He did it. I was just there making sure he didn’t get hurt.” Shaughn is my younger brother. To every older sibling out there, I’m sure you never tried to blame your younger sibling for something you did in order to avoid punishment. Whether you have siblings or not, I bet you can think of a time where you were dishonest in order to avoid trouble or consequences of some kind. Jesus maintains his integrity and it costs him his life. Peter fearfully lies to save his life but forfeits his integrity. During the hours Peter’s closest friend needed him the most, Peter denied even knowing him three times. You can imagine as Peter weeps how he probably blamed himself for this situation.
Two worlds are colliding. And these two worlds have their own language. And neither side knows the language of the other. The meaning of words are different. Much like it would be difficult, if not impossible, for you to carry on a conversation with someone who speaks Mandarin only or French only; so too would it be almost as impossible to carry on a conversation with someone who speaks the same language but has a completely different worldview, a completely different set of values, a completely different perspective of reality. Caiaphas and Jesus are both speaking the same language, presumably Aramaic, but they represent two worlds that cannot coexist.