“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
There is an old African-American spiritual song that is often sung around Christmas with the lyrics, “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere. Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.” Growing up, whenever I would hear well-known carol, I would picture a missionary mountain climber who hiked high elevations to announce to cave dwellers that Jesus Christ was born. I pictured the host of angels that appeared to the shepherds proclaiming Christ’s birth. I pictured the shepherds who witnessed Jesus birth, going into their first-century villages and homes, telling people about the Savior who had been born. The pictures that I associated with this song were long ago and far away. They had nothing to do with me, here and now.
The words of this song are reminiscent of the words of the prophet Isaiah, who describes how beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news of God’s salvation. There are four things that Isaiah describes will accompany the good news that this messenger brings. Let’s look at these four things...
The first is peace. We live in a world of unrest and uncertainty, a world where peace is an ideal talked about but never experienced. But the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ is that peace is no longer an ideal to be talked about but a reality and a person to be experienced. Jesus came at Christmas to make peace between God and us, so that while we celebrate Christmas in a world of unrest, we celebrate with the peace of God that we experience in our hearts, our minds, and our relationships. Jesus brings peace.
The second is happiness. Our culture defines happiness by our circumstances. Happiness is when we have everything we want. Christmas for so many people is about unhappiness—wanting the things we do not have. But the good news of the birth of Jesus is that happiness is not found in things but in the person of Christ. In him is our delight, our happiness, so that while our world may be turned upside down and we lose everything we have, we find our happiness in Christ, for he is all we need.
The third is salvation. What are we saved from? Ourselves. Our selfishness. We are saved from the death penalty of our sinfulness. Jesus came at Christmas to bring salvation, and he made it possible by coming to the manger so that he could go to cross in our place. So for us who are being saved, Christmas is a picture of salvation being made possible.
The fourth is the reign of God. Jesus came proclaiming that the kingdom of God is at hand. Christ is reigning now at the right hand of God the father, and the Advent season reminds us that Christ is coming again one day to establish his reign on earth. We celebrate at Christmas the good news of Christ’s coming reign, but we also celebrate by allowing him to reign today in our hearts and in our lives.
This is the beautiful message of the gospel that Isaiah describes being proclaimed upon the mountains. It is not a message of long ago and far away... it is a message for here and now for you and for me, and it is a message that needs to be told. So this Christmas, as we sing “Go Tell it on the Mountain”, I pray that we might be the ones Isaiah was talking about, the beautiful messengers who tell the world of the peace, happiness, salvation, and reign of our God...
Because Jesus Christ is born!
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"May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word." Psalm 119:74