Hello Friends.On Saturday I took MOM a bit of an adventure, a little hike. It sure felt good to get out and explore, sniff around, climb and do a bit of running. While we were taking a break next to a river MOM and I talked about what message she would give this Sunday. We talked for a while then I got up and ran around a little bit.
As I have gotten older I do not run as I once did, BUTT I still run and I love it and MOM says I would run and climb mountains until I collapsed (and she would be right). When I get home I do collapse and I'm pretty tired and I spend the rest of the day napping. And that is when it hit MOM, she had her message. It’s a good thing she has me as her muse otherwise some Sundays there would be a whole lot of crickets chirping in church (although that might be cool too). Anyway here is what she came up with, with my inspiration.
In Romans 9:5-15 Paul makes the point that he always makes: the point that righteousness through human attempts at good works, through the dutiful “actions” of keeping the law, will always result in failure. Humans just cannot be “good enough” do-gooders to get in good with God.
God offered Moses and the Israelites the “Law,” 613 of them to be exact. Well really God did not offer that many laws but the religious leaders just kept adding and adding to God’s original laws. But the overwhelming power of sin made even keeping God’s laws skewed and slanted. A “human solution” for the power of sin just did not pan out. Sometimes there is only a “divine solution.” Sometimes the Lord has to be the One to fight the battle. Some need to hear that again: Sometimes the Lord has to be the One to fight the battle. You can’t fight it. You have to let God fight it.
The word for “good news, “euggaelion,” had a specific meaning long before it was used by Christians for the “Gospel” of Christ. In its original usage, “euaggelion” was simply a message sent — but an extremely important message. Before there were e-mails, text-messages, or insta-grams, there was “snail mail.” And I’m not talking about something with a stamp on it.
“Euaggelion” became the Greek word for a specific message offered during a specific time. It was a military term, used by military runners who were designated to return to the village or city that they served. These “early warning symbols” were either messengers of “good news” or “bad news.” The message they brought back was either one of “victory,” or “defeat”. If they arrived, exhausted, bloody footed, sweaty, and dirty, but bearing the word of “Euaggelion, “Good News,” then the residents of the village were home free. They were saved. The runner’s message of “euggaelion” meant that the battle had gone in favor of their home allegiance. The spoils of victory were theirs.
A report back of “defeat” meant something wholly different. In a world where “To the victor belong the spoils,” victory and defeat were matters of death and life. For the very young and the very old, defeat meant an instant death sentence. For women defeat meant a future of rape and torture, slavery or death. For young children “defeat” meant a sure future of slavery at the hands of the victors of the battle. When the news was “bad,” it was VERY bad. And the runner was delivering a message of “Now YOU run. Run for your life!”
The messenger of the “euaggalion” was the forerunner of a new future that could be either glorious or gory. There was no in-between. That was the message that Paul was trying to convey to new Christians. The way of adherence to the Law itself was a message of “bad news.” There was no “out” for those who kept trying to keep the letter of the law. There was no “in” that would enable someone, no matter how hard they tried, to meet the “minimum standard requirement” for righteousness.
So instead of the ill-fated human desire to save oneself, God offered the grace and gift of forgiveness that came from trusting in God’s only begotten son. But this “gift” of salvation was not purchased with some “gift card” that meant someone with more money than you peeled it off to lay it down as a special donation. Instead, this “gift” of redemption was purchased by Christ on the cross. The price of ridding humanity of its doom was the blood of Christ, his obedience even to death on the cross.
The messengers who brought the “good news” of battle to their hometowns often collapsed when they arrived. They were beaten and bloody from their run. As “runners” their feet were particularly “beat up.” Before the days of Nikes and Adidas, foot protection was minimal. “Runners” were “runners” because they could run over rough country for many, many miles — barefoot. Shoes and sandals fell apart. Feet were resilient. Feet might become brutalized and bloody, but they could keep on going. And that is exactly what these long distance, “911” messengers did — they kept going until they delivered their message – “Good News! You’re Saved.” They kept going until they were able to relay the message of deliverance or disaster to their homeland.
Jesus was the runner from heaven to earth. Jesus was the ultimate “marathon” runner who collapsed on the cross with a message of extreme — indeed universal — importance: “Good News. You’re Saved.” Jesus’ message was not about adapting new ways to old laws. Jesus’ message meant the end of the old ways and the beginning of God’s new way of relating to and reconnecting to humanity. Jesus’ death on the cross made possible a whole new way for human beings to connect with God.
As Jesus hung on the cross, his feet and hands reflected the reality of his love. Just like the long distance runners who brought “good news” with their last breath, who brought the “euaggelion” to the village square, Jesus’ bloody feet and hands brought the first time message of this new deliverance to the world.
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, was beaten and broken, his hands and feet reflecting the extent of God’s love for humanity. “Beautiful are the feet that bring the good news.” Jesus’ feet were broken and bloody, nailed to the cross, crushed by pride and prejudice, Jesus’ feet and hands exemplified those who had, for centuries, delivered the “good news.”
Among the “ugly” things that have brought us “good news” over our lifetimes are the swollen, arthritic hands of a grandmother who has worked tirelessly to provide for her family. The ruptured vertebrae and sciatic nerves of a father that have been sacrificed on the job for the sake of one’s family. The undrilled teeth and overdue glasses that have been bypassed so that a loved one could have something deemed more important.
“Beautiful are the feet that bring good news…” When Jesus sang from the cross Psalm 22, a psalm that begins “My God, My God, Why Have you Forsaken me” but ends with the declaration of God’s victory - “God Has Done It!” or otherwise translated “It is Finished!” — the runner from heaven to earth was declaring with his last breath, “You’re Saved! You’re Saved! The Victory has been won!”