‘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!”‘ (Isaiah 52:7)
If you were asked to suggest one verse in the Bible that sums up the gospel – the good news of Christianity – where would you go? I suspect that for many it would be John 3:16. Or at least a verse in the New Testament. But arguably this Old Testament verse sums up the gospel in a nutshell: God reigns!
For Isaiah and many of the Old Testament writers, they were longing for a day when God would rule over the whole world. They believed that with God’s rule would come freedom from oppressors, the end of injustice, and the establishing of a lasting peace.
It’s no wonder, therefore, that the central theme of Jesus’ teaching was the Kingdom of God. This was not a new message, but the fulfilment of an old, familiar one. God is in charge, and that is good news for all people. Whereas other rulers and emperors of the day established their rules through taxes, warfare and the threat of punishment, the Kingdom of God was of an entirely different order. It was rooted in love. It brought freedom and hope.
People were drawn to Jesus’ message about the Kingdom. They sat at his ‘beautiful feet’ whilst he told stories and preached hope-giving messages about what life should be like when God reigns. He said this Kingdom was in reach: it was near us, within us, around us. It was here in part and one day would come in full. And it was available to all who put their hope in God.
But Jesus’ message wasn’t all talk; it was backed up by action. He healed the sick; he multiplied food to feed thousands; he ate with those who had been excluded from society; he stood up for the oppressed; he offered forgiveness for people’s failings, and he even raised the dead. Healing, peace, salvation, hope and life… these are all hallmarks of the Kingdom.
On the night he was betrayed, Jesus met with his closest friends to eat one final meal. As they talked and ate together, he did something peculiar. ‘He got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him’ (John 13:4-5).
The disciples objected, but Jesus insisted that it was necessary, as it symbolised the cleansing that would come through the cross. He continued: “Do you understand what I have done for you? … As I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.’ (John 13:12-15)
Jesus – the messenger of the Kingdom – washes the feet of his disciples, making them clean and beautiful. And in so doing he commissions us to continue his work of declaring the good news of peace, salvation and hope to this world.
Questions for Reflection
- Jesus taught us to pray ‘your Kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.’ What would it look like for the Kingdom to come in your world? What would look different as a result?
- How beautiful are your feet? How do your words and actions help others to experience the good news of the Kingdom?
As you taught us to pray: would your Kingdom come and your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Would you empower me today to share your message of good news. May my words and deeds demonstrate your Kingdom and give people a glimpse of the hope they can find in you.
If you find yourself with extra time today, you may want to read this reflection on Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Or to learn how we can better express the good news to those around us, check out sermons from our Faith Conversations and Art of Neighbouring series.
You may want to join us for one of our services over Easter Weekend: