I have some good news and some bad news – which do you want to hear first? If truth be told, you have no interest in hearing the bad news at all . . . because no news is better than bad news. But when offered the pairing of the good with the bad, as if it were a riddle to solve. We either brace for the impact of the bad news, hoping that the good news will be able to pull us back onto our feet, afterwards – or we want to front load the good news, hoping it will be enough to shield us against the wallop the bad, invariably delivers. And this, on many levels, is how we usually experience life – hoping to fend off the relentlessness of the bad with the impermanence of the good.
It is the innate pessimism of the fall – to hope for the best, but to always expect the worst . . . as if this were our default setting. The non-theist describes this as our survival instinct, convinced that we are basically at odds with our own existence, a meaningless and indifferent existence, intent on undoing us at every turn. But this is antithetical to the confession of the Christian faith, which believes that darkness is overcome by light – like a seed buried in the ground makes its way through the soil into the light. And it’s a perilous journey that can’t be avoided.
Moses stands barefoot before a burning bush and hears some good news and some bad news. The good news – after four hundred years of enslavement, God is finally going to set his people free. The bad news – Moses has to go before Pharaoh and tell him to let his people go. Having lived in the palace, Moses knows full-well how impossible this task will be – but here is the unmistakable presence of God, telling him to go and deliver a message he knows will be rejected. In this way, the good news of Israel’s redemption will need to be carried passed the hard-heartedness of Pharaoh, and through the ten plagues, before this exodus can finally occur.
Isaiah 52:7 declares “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.” And Paul is riffing on this passage in Romans 10:14-17 when describing those who are sent with the gospel – the good news of God’s Kingdom come, the coming kingdom Jesus was declaring everywhere he went . . . a good news message that took him to the cross, through the tomb, until on resurrection morning we might know the full meaning of how this good news changes everything.
So when I read of the women in Luke 7:38 who cried at the feet of Jesus, wiping away her tears with her hair – I begin to realize just how beautiful are those feet. When I considered the distance that Jesus came and the perilous path he endured culminating in the cross – to bring us the good news of the gospel . . . that he would actually be the very embodiment of that good news – I am completely undone. So that now, whatever bad news comes my way – I have more than enough good news to overcome it . . . and so do you.
So let us go to Jesus . . .