The Herald of Good News
THE HERALD OF GOOD NEWS
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Isaiah 52:7).
The announcement of good news is always welcome, but especially in times of evil and distress. Such was the case when the prophet first said these words. The people of Judah were about to experience the bitterness of exile, but then God would redeem them.
The figurative image of the beautiful feet of the herald of good news is vivid and rich in meaning. He is pictured as going up to a high mountain to lift up his voice and sound out the message (see also Isaiah 40:9 and Nahum 1:15). The sight of his feet is beautiful, because the message he brings is even more precious. His coming is beautiful because the message is good news of peace, happiness, and salvation, all of which demonstrate the sovereign rule of God.
Of course, the prophet’s announcement of good news to the people of his day looked beyond their redemption and deliverance from exile, and finds its ultimate fulfillment in the good news of salvation through Christ.
In the broadest sense, the gospel is the whole story of Christ, from announcements of his birth to his death and resurrection. The New Testament accounts of these events are often referred to as the “four gospels,” as suggested by Mark in the very first verse of his account: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).
More specifically, the gospel refers to the message Jesus proclaimed. It was the gospel of the kingdom. It was the good news of salvation. In his parables, he likened his kingdom to a pearl of great price, a precious treasure. What could possibly be of greater value than peace, happiness, and salvation? There is no greater peace than that “peace of God, which surpasses understanding.” There is no higher happiness than the blessing of “loving life and seeing good days” as a child of God. The salvation that is ours through Christ, our deliverance from sin and its bondage, is good news. This good news is true because God loved us and gave his Son for us.
Good news of this magnitude will inevitably transform those who are willing to receive it. In fact, the gospel makes demands on our lives, because with blessings come responsibilities. When Jesus was asked who is the greatest in the kingdom, he called a child to himself and answered, “whoever humbles himself like this child.” When his disciples demonstrated a profound lack of understanding about what it meant to be in his kingdom, he taught them that true greatness meant having the mind of a servant, “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
In fact, Jesus consistently associated the proclamation of the gospel with the call to faith and repentance (Mark 1:15). The good news is not good unless we receive it by faith. This is why the apostle Paul quoted the prophet’s statement: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15). He was stressing the need for us to accept the good news through faith. The gospel calls upon us to believe it, and to allow it to lead us to genuine repentance of sin and obedience to God’s commands. Paul’s emphasis on not only hearing the gospel but responding by faith echoed the words of the Lord himself, who said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16).