You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up and do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God.”
Who is your God? Flooded with images from commercials, billboards, books, and magazines, we are given so many competing messages about who our God is. Whether it is a new technology, a new technique for overcoming challenges, a moment, an emotion, or a new self-help guru, we are given so many options of whom or what to crown as God. Our tendency, though, will always remain the same, we want to call out from the mountains that we are God. The search has ended and it is as we always anticipated, we—ourselves—are the beginning and the end.
This joyful cry from Zion that we often proclaim concerning ourselves foreshadows a sobering call in the New Testament that shows we are not the kings we have made ourselves out to be. In John 19:14, Pilate brings Christ before the people and proclaims, “Here is your king.” The response is pure and utter vitriol…we have no king but Caesar, we have no king but ourselves, crucify the one who would claim to be our king. We could not fathom that the good news of Isaiah could be the same news that nailed Jesus of Nazareth to a cross. If it is the same good news, we could never be the God or king we elevate ourselves to be. The proclamation of that king from the mountain turns out to be a cry of dereliction from the cross.
At a family gathering tonight one of my young second cousins raced around the living room, shouting his excitement about the presents to be opened. My aunt bemused that the present could never live up to the expectation. That will always be true, except in Christ. Christ’s most painful moment is our gladdest tidings…in looking at the cross we now say with all certainty and hope, “Here is your God. Here is your King.”
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
What’s with the feet here anyway? How beautiful are the feet? Few among us are tempted to put our feet on display, to invite comment on the aesthetic quality of these most pedestrian parts of our bodies. Sometimes barnacled with bunions and often clad in calluses, our feet look for a good place to hide. So something out of the ordinary is happening when feet are placed front and center, inviting such a warm response.
The image set forth here bespeaks at least two realities: great good news from afar, and deep longing, coupled with anxiety, among those waiting for the news. The momentous event that impels the messenger could be a battle fought to success, or the impending arrival of someone else who comes to set things aright, or a return from afar with the promise of a new day.
In the incarnation of our Savior and the ensuing news of it, we are the recipients of all that and more. Our King Jesus has engaged in a terrible battle for us, a battle in which he fought to the death and was slain. But lo and behold, though dead, he now lives again and reigns gloriously in victory. He is coming to set things aright here, among us, and the exiles are being freed, redeemed to return home for life in a new day. What beautiful feet, indeed, that bring us this good news!
The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.
We don’t always recognize good news when we hear it. It may be too surrounded by lots of bad news, or it may sound too incredible, or be beyond comprehension, or simply too good to be true. Our response to good news may be less enthusiastic than the messenger hopes for.
So it was with Zechariah. He seems underwhelmed in asking the question, “How I can be sure?” This is too often our own reaction to the incredible: “Show me proof.” “Are you kidding me?” “You are pulling my leg.” “Are you sure you’ve got the right guy?”
The angel doesn’t say “hey, choose to believe me or not, I’m only the messenger here.” Instead he goes to great lengths to say exactly who he is, where he is from and from Whom the message is delivered. Zechariah is promptly rendered mute, his unbelief no longer to be articulated aloud. His silence gives him lots of time to contemplate the significance of this particular good news.
It came directly from one in the presence of God about one who is God.
Incredible news to hear indeed. Worth contemplating and absorbing and believing — especially in silence, in His presence.