'Our task is not to tell people that they must believe in Jesus,
but so to tell them of Jesus that they must believe in Him.’
Steve Holmes (ht: Glen Scrivener)
The challenge with that is that it's much easier to tell people what they should do, or at least that's the way it seems in practice. My deceitful heart is quite happy to tell people to change their behaviour but talking about Jesus seems to be so easy to bottle. Yet, what better subject matter! Has to be our first interpretative key to any passage - yes find out what it says but then when it comes to what's the key meaning and message here it has got to be 'what does this part of the Spirit-breathed word say about the Lord Jesus?' -
As I reflect on studying the middle of Esther this week that's a challenging question. There is a passage that doesn't mention Jesus. It doesn't even mention any of the persons of the Trinity. But it does show us the people of God trusting in the promises of God to deliver them - promises that when read as Christian Scripture have their completion in the cross of Christ where all promises of deliverance are yes.
The story shows us that this is the way our God works even when he's not explicitly seen in a situation. Why absent? Could it be due to the exile? Maybe, but then he's explicitly seen in Daniel... maybe simply because the story makes it's God-centred point much better when God is only implicitly present. The book is set in the context of 65 other books so you have the whole sweep of God's story playing in the background. Not to mention that in storytelling terms the impact is stronger when you're asking - why doesn't Mordecai bow? How is he so sure that they'll be delivered? And where will that deliverance come from?
Something I noticed this time I studied it was the way that the Enemy Haman is hung on gallows... from which we can say (?) that he's 'hung on a tree' which is to say he'd be cursed. Which is what happens to those who curse the people of God, they're cursed (whereas those who bless God's people are blessed). Not to mention a foreshadowing of another man hung on a tree for the deliverance of God's people... though that'll be an Innocent deliverer rather than a guilty enemy... Hear the story of God. The story of Jesus.