There is this beautiful poem. It is in the book of Isaiah. The city of Jerusalem has just been destroyed by Babylon, a great kingdom in the north. All of these Jewish people have been sent away into exile. But a few remained in the city. They are left wondering: “What just happened? Has our God abandoned us?” Right, because Jerusalem was supposed to be the city where God would reign over the world to bring peace and blessing to everyone. Isaiah had been saying that Jerusalem’s destruction was a mess of Israel’s own making. They had turned away from their God, become corrupt, and so their city and their temple were destroyed. Everything seems lost. But the poem goes on. There is a watchman on the city walls and far out on the hills we see a messenger. He is running towards the city. He is running and shouting “Good news!” And Isaiah says: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.” Beautiful feet? Yes, the feet are beautiful because they are carrying a beautiful message. What is the message? That despite Jerusalem’s destruction, Israel’s God still reigns as King, and that God Himself is going to, one day, return to this city, take up his throne and bring peace. The Watchmen sing for joy because of the good news that their God still reigns. In the New Testament we find this same phrase “the good news”. It is the Greek word “Euangelion”. It is sometimes translated with the word “Gospel”. Yeah, so when Christians say, “Do you believe the gospel?” they mean “Do you believe the news?” But not just any news. In the Bible, this phrase is always about the announcement of the reign of a new king. In the New Testament, the Gospels use this phrase to summarize all of Jesus’ teachings. They say that he went about proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom. Jesus saw himself as the messenger, bringing the news that God reigns. Yes, but the way that he described God’s reign surprised everybody. I mean, think, powerful successful Kingdom. It needs to be strong, able to impose its will, able to defeat its enemies. But Jesus said the greatest person in God’s kingdom was the weakest. The one who loves and who serves the poor. And he said that you live under God’s reign when you respond to evil by loving your enemies and forgiving them and seeking peace. This is an upside down kingdom. Jesus also said that this kingdom was arriving with him. Yes, so for example, there is this really interesting story where there is a high-ranking Roman officer. He comes to Jesus begging him to heal his servant. He even calls Jesus his Lord, acknowledging that Jesus is his authority. Jesus praises this man for recognizing what no one else yet had, that not only was Jesus announcing God’s kingdom. He was the King. So the word gets out that this Jewish man from Galilee is talking and acting like
he is the king of Israel. He is appointing twelve disciples which are an image of Israel’s twelve tribes. He is healing people, forgiving people their sins. All of this so threatened Israel’s leaders that they finally decided to have him killed. And Jesus let them. Which is a weird thing to do if you are trying to become king. That’s right, but for Jesus this is what
had to happen. Jesus saw the sin and the devastation of His people of Israel as just one small part of the entire human condition, how all humanity has rebelled against God, resulting in the tragedy and devastation of our whole world. So how is God going to bring his reign over such a world? Jesus believed it would be through an act of sacrificial love for his enemies. This is why in the Gospels, Jesus’ crucifixion is depicted as his enthronement as the King of the Jews. He receives a crown. He also receives a robe. He is exalted up not on to a throne, but onto the cross. “How beautiful are the feet that bring good news”. The good news now is that Jesus has defeated death and that he reigns as King, that he has dealt with our sin and corruption himself and that he has conquered it with his life and with his love. Then Jesus sends his followers to go out and keep announcing this good news of the upside-down kingdom. And to invite everyone to give their allegiance to him, the king who defeated death with his love.