Joy to You! We’ve Won!
My wife and I named our youngest son Asher which means Happy. We chose that name not only because his life has brought us much happiness but because our desire for him is to always be happy in the good news of Jesus Christ. As with all of our kids, we also chose a “life verse” from the Bible to remind him of this hope of happiness. Asher’s verse is Isaiah 52:7.
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
An illustration from ancient Greece might help to shed some light on what God is saying through the prophet Isaiah. The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC. It was the culmination of an attempt by the powerful Persian Empire to invade and subjugate Greece under its dominion. The Persian Emperor Darius I swore that he would destroy the city of Athens. However, at the Battle of Marathon the Greeks, led by the citizens of Athens and facing impossible odds, dealt a crushing blow to the Persians. In repelling the invading Persian army, the Greeks changed western civilization for all time.
Legend surrounding the events of the Battle of Marathon tell of a herald named Pheidippides. Prior to the battle he ran a round trip distance of 280 miles to Sparta in an unsuccessful attempt to gain their support in the fight against the invading Persians. Upon his return, he was called upon once again to make one last dash of 26 miles from the Marathon battlefield to Athens in order to proclaim victory to those in Athens anxiously awaiting the news. The modern Olympic marathon derives its name from this final run of Pheidippides. It is said that after making his final ascent to the acropolis in Athens Pheidippides gallantly hailed his countrymen with his final words, “Joy to you! We’ve won!” before collapsing from exhaustion in his death.
This Greek legend is very much like the image that Isaiah calls to our mind in Isaiah 52:7 – that of a herald returning from battle in order to deliver the good news of victory. The people of God had sold themselves to idols and idol worshipping nations for nothing (Isaiah 52:3). All hope seemed lost. Evil seemed to have overwhelming strength on its side. Yet, in the following verses and chapters of Isaiah the Lord promises to redeem his people! The Lord will be victorious in battle!
So, what makes feet beautiful? The image of a herald’s feet in ancient times is certainly not a pretty one. These feet would not have been a pedicured vision of beauty. Ancient heralds likely ran barefoot – sweaty, dirty, stinky, bloody feet is the image of Isaiah. Yet, God calls them beautiful! The feet of the herald have no intrinsic beauty but are made beautiful because of the good news they carry – news of victory, news of peace, news of salvation – happy news! This happy news of God’s reign and victorious battle over evil is significant enough to change whole civilizations, and it is certainly news worthy of celebration in every human heart if you are willing to believe it (Isaiah 53:1)?
The following verses in Isaiah 52:13-55:13 give us perhaps the most beautiful picture of the Lord’s victory of salvation in all of the Old Testament. Our Lord did not crush his enemies with overwhelming force in order to gain the victory. You see, WE were the enemy! Instead, Christ came as the Suffering Servant of the Lord. It was the Lord’s will to crush him instead of us (Isaiah 53:10)! This is the good news we proclaim!
“He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all…Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.” - Isaiah 53:5–6, 11
Jesus took the punishment that our evil rebellious sin deserved upon himself so that we could have peace with God. God reigning is good news only because he reigns in grace – in Christ our sins have been forgiven and we are reconciled with God. This is good news of happiness – undeserved and unexpected peace and salvation against all odds!
There is nothing special about us. Sometimes our lives are a mess – we are sweaty, dirty, stinky, and bloody – but we need Jesus and so does everybody else. We are not the good news. Our lives are not the good news. However, just like the nasty feet that are made beautiful by the news they bring, we are transformed into an image of beauty because of the good news of salvation that we herald to a world desperate for good news. The news we bear is the best news anyone could ever receive – peace and salvation; and the prize of victory is our greatest happiness – God himself!
If you are in Christ you are a herald of the good news wherever God has you. Will you live out of this identity and let your feet shine like the beauty of the bright morning sun coming over the mountains?! Like Pheidippides, are you willing to lay down your life in order to make others happy in Christ? Are you willing to lay aside your comfort, your reputation, your time, treasure, and talent for the sake of making the good news of Jesus known?
Jesus laid down his life in order for us to have good news of salvation. He conquered sin, death, and evil in his resurrection from the dead in order for us to have good news of victory. He reigns now at the right hand of God the Father ensuring our peace and happiness. If you put your faith in Jesus then how beautiful are your feet! If you believe it then proclaim it, “Joy to you! Jesus has won!”
“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”
- 2 Corinthians 4:5–15