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Behold, Beautiful Feet

December 25, 2021 Speaker: Rev. Jack Meehan Series: Behold!

Topic: Biblical Verse: Isaiah 52:7–52:10

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day

December 25, 2021

Isaiah 52:7-10

 “Behold, Beautiful Feet”

On this Christmas morning, what if I asked everyone to take your shoes and socks off, and take a long, hard look at your feet? That would be weird, and maybe embarrassing if we don’t think our feet are very presentable. Of all the bodily features we possess – our face, eyes, hair, physique, voice – our feet are probably not up there on our most attractive features list. I suppose some of us may regard our feet as attractive, but most of us would probably say not so much. But it is that image of feet that I want to focus on for this Christmas Day, based on the Word of God from today’s Old Testament lesson, “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). Following in our preaching series for Advent and Christmas, the sermon for this Christmas Day is entitled, “Behold, Beautiful Feet.” May the Lord’s rich and abundant blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word, for Jesus’ sake.

Think about how much we use our feet during the course of each day, and what a load our feet bear in carrying our body wherever we may go. Our feet take a pounding as we strive to get in the daily recommended number of steps or go out running. Plus, they’re enclosed in shoes and socks for hours and hours every day, so it’s no wonder that we end up with some pretty smelly feet at the end of the day when we finally take our shoes off. Women, and increasingly more men, get pedicures to make our feet look more presentable, especially in the summer season when people wear sandals or flip flops. But even then, our feet can get pretty grungy. Although they don’t technically grow, as we age our feet flatten out and tend to become wider. But Isaiah says that the messenger who brings good news has beautiful feet; who announces peace and salvation. The image here is of a messenger who has traveled a long way, all on foot, to bring this good news of great joy back home to people who are anxiously waiting for it. That messenger has been running and running in order to bring the word home as soon as possible. The feet of that messenger who has come so far are going to be a mess: dirty, smelly, probably bleeding, loaded with blisters and callouses. And yet, those are beautiful feet because of the message that the messenger brings. It is “good news of great joy that is for all the people” (Luke 2:10). The message is this: “The Lord has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (Isaiah 52:9b-10).

Baby feet – now that’s a different story! Those cute little toes on those chubby little feet, who can say they’re not beautiful? Adult feet are one thing, but baby feet are quite another. And today we celebrate Jesus’ beautiful baby feet, born of Mary in Bethlehem’s manger. This is the eternal Word of God that called all things into existence, now made flesh in a tiny helpless Infant. The Lord of heaven and earth must now be nursed by his mother and have his diapers changed, just like any other baby. And those baby feet – how Mary and Joseph must have loved those tiny baby feet of their Son! Parents love to take the feet of their little ones in their hands and blow on them, making those funny noises that tickle those tiny feet, making babies laugh with delight. I wonder if Mary and Joseph did this for their little One, that Word made flesh? I am sure they did. Even if they did not fully understand everything about their Son – the angelic messengers, the shepherds’ visit, the worship of the wise men – they loved him, baby feet and all. This is the Word made flesh, and his feet are indeed beautiful.

The cute little baby feet of the Word made flesh would grow into the quick little feet of childhood, giving way to awkward adolescent feet when everything seems clumsy, and finally leading to full-grown adult feet. Those beautiful feet which traversed Galilee and Judea brought the good news of the kingdom of God, his pardon and his peace. Those feet of Jesus, together with his hands, would be nailed to the cross, just like the Christmas carol tells us: “Nails, spear shall pierce him through, the cross be borne for me, for you; Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the babe, the son of Mary” (Lutheran Service Book #370, stanza 2). Through the blood which flowed out from the nail-pierced beautiful feet and hands of Jesus, we have been given a gift that no amount of money could ever buy. Through Jesus’ cleansing blood, we have received forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation; peace which passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). The New Testament is replete with references of people who bowed themselves at Jesus’ feet, seeking his mercy and healing power, who prostrated themselves in worship at his feet. We, too, bow before the feet of Christ our newborn King, the Word made flesh, realizing that there is nothing in us which merits or deserves all of these gifts which He freely offers us. This is God’s Christmas gift to you and me, and to the world.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…” This means that Jesus’ messengers also have beautiful feet. Whoever carries this good news – and that is what the word “Gospel” means – has beautiful feet. Think of all those people in your life whose feet have crossed your doorstep in time of need, who have been little Christs to you. Feet which have walked great distances to share a word of hope and encouragement with you for Jesus’ sake. Feet which have paced up and down hospital hallways to give you comfort and support for Jesus’ sake. Feet which have stood by you at deathbeds and gravesides for Jesus’ sake. Feet which have gone the difficult pathway for you to say what needs to be said for Jesus’ sake. Feet which have traversed streets and sidewalks to bring you the good news of God in Christ. Feet which have ached and become sore in service for Jesus’ sake. As we go forth to “tell it on mountain, over the hills and ev’rywhere, that Jesus Christ is born,” remember, my friends, that these feet of ours – callouses, corns, and bunions included – are beautiful feet.

As today’s Epistle for this Christmas Day begins: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2a). This is the heart of Christmas: that God has spoken and acted so graciously through Jesus. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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