Scripture Reading: Esther 5:1-14, Proverbs 16:18, Mark 6:14-29
It was a dinner party with an enviable guest list. Sitting at the head of the table were hosts Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney, and his wife, Jane. In charge of passing the bread baskets was their friend George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, as well as Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, the guests of honor.
It was sometime in the ‘80s and there was reason to celebrate. Dick and Jeana had just become the first people to fly around the world without stopping.
After the dessert had disappeared from their plates and they’d heard story after story about Dick and Jeana’s worldwide adventure, Jane Eisner raised the question many of us would have asked. “Well, now that you’ve accomplished the pinnacle of your aspirations, what could you possibly do next?”
Without hesitation, Dick responded, “I’m going to Disneyland!” Without hesitation, Jane responded, “That’s a good slogan.” And so it was.
From the 1987 Super Bowl on, the answer to, “You won! What are you going to do now?” became “Disneyland.” And yet, when we watch sports reporters ask this question, it always seems a little silly, doesn’t it? Because after the Gatorade coolers have been thrown, and the trophies have all been shined, the athletes already have exactly what they were after in the first place: victory. What else could a Super Bowl champion possibly need?
In the books of Esther and Mark, we find two very different women who happen to have their king’s ear—Esther and Herodias’s daughter. Both women are asked a remarkably similar question: “What is it you want? Whatever you want, even if it’s half the kingdom, will be done” (Esther 5:3; Mark 6:23, my paraphrase).
The similarities between their stories stop there. Overwhelmed with possibility, Herodias’s daughter consults her mother, asking what desires she ought to demand, and they soon decide on their perfect request: John the Baptist’s head. On a platter. Perhaps she believed that for them, the most beneficial and powerful thing that could happen would be the destruction of God’s people. Her choice reeks of pride.
Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.
- Proverbs 16:18
Esther, on the other hand, asks the king and Haman to attend a banquet where she herself will be the one preparing the platters. This probably seemed like a strange request, even to Esther. But instead of dreaming about the riches that could be hers, she keeps her heart close to the Lord’s. Esther believes the most beneficial and powerful thing that could happen to her is the rescue of her people—of God’s people. Her request is steeped in humility.
Esther lives from a rooted belief in the kingdom that’s already been won for her. She makes choices based on riches she’s already received. Because she trusts in the King on High, she takes joy in making herself low. What else could a beloved daughter of the King possibly need?
Maybe we need to be asking each other new questions as we gather around our own dinner tables. After all, we’ve already been given the kingdom. Now, how will we act? What will we do next?
May those questions lead us to respond with humility. May they lead us back, again and again, to the heart of the Father.