I really like superhero stories. I love stories about people who have the power they need to really make a difference in the world. I love seeing horrible people get their due retribution.
I especially love underdog stories, where the superhero is not as powerful as the villain, like in Marvel’s Daredevil. I love Matt Murdock for his exacting of justice, both through the legal system and outside of it.
But I can only watch superhero stories. I am not extraordinarily powerful like Matt Murdock. But neither were Esther and Mordecai, and they saved an entire nation.
Like fictional superhero stories, the story of Esther and Mordecai feels somewhat unattainable for me. I am ordinary, just like them, but I have not been given a position of great influence or power.
When faced with injustices in this world, I feel powerless to right them. Every time I read the book of Esther, I find myself encouraged by the great story of God’s power but unsure of my ability to participate in His redemptive narrative.
Then during one of my readings I was struck by Esther 10:3, the very last verse in the book. This verse, after stating Mordecai’s new position as second in command in the entire kingdom, declares that Mordecai lived out his days “speaking peace to all his seed.” And that is how it ends. With Mordecai “speaking peace.”
The phrase struck me as a bit anti-climactic. Speaking peace? Not “fighting evil” or “ensuring justice” or something equally as awesome as literally saving both the life of the king and the lives of all the people in his entire nation?What does “speaking peace” even mean?
My first observation of the phrase was its use as a greeting. The word “peace,” or “shalom,” is a traditional Jewish greeting. Mordecai literally greeted his kindred, all the rest of his life. Anti-climactic, right?
But then I realized that this may have been a big deal in Mordecai’s time. The book describes just how awful it was to be a Jew in Persia. I mean, Mordecai literally had to fight for his life as well as those of his whole nation. Esther feared to reveal her nationality to her own husband. Clearly it was not easy for Jews to be Jews under the Persian king’s reign.Nevertheless, Mordecai never backed down.
Although Esther did not reveal her heritage for a time, Mordecai seems to have taken a more declarative stance for his people. He may not have advertised, but Haman certainly knew that he was a Jew. Haman targeted Mordecai, and eventually his people, but Mordecai refused to compromise his beliefs.How long had Mordecai been speaking peace to his people?
My guess is that Mordecai had been greeting his brothers and sisters long before he had a secure position of authority. He wished his brothers peace. He reached out to the people he could help. He used the traditional Jewish greeting, probably long before it was safe to be a Jew in his country.
As I wondered about Mordecai’s stand, I remembered another somewhat striking phrase, this one at the end of Galatians 5:23. After the fruits of the Spirit comes the statement, “against such there is no law.”
No matter where you are, no matter what is going on around you, no one can stop you from speaking peace. No one can stop you from doing what God commands you to.
No one can stop—or in their right mind, should want to stop you—from putting good into the world, whatever small amount you can, even if the good you can give is just a simple greeting.
Mordecai did not need his position to speak peace. And even after he was given a position of influence, he ended the way he began, doing every amount of good in his power in even the smallest way.