“How beautiful are the feet.” Isaiah, God’s prophet wrote that. “How beautiful are the feet.” You know I bet you didn’t come to worship Christmas Day thinking that we would spend our time talking about feet. But hold on, not just any feet, no, beautiful feet. But are feet beautiful? Are your feet beautiful? If I’d stop and pull off your socks and shoes, and we’d all gather around and look at your feet would we all go “wow” those are some beautiful feet. Where did you get your pedicure? I think no. Now maybe little baby feet are cute and adorable but in general the average adult foot doesn’t usually have the word “beautiful” attached to it. Gross. Disgusting. Stinky. Hairy? Those are the adjectives I think of when I think of feet. And yet, here in God’s Word we hear that feet can be beautiful.
Look closer at the lesson though. What makes these feet so beautiful? It’s not that they in and of themselves are nice looking feet, but it’s what these feet are doing. These feet are running to bring good news. And good news, yes, good news was what was needed for those people to whom Isaiah first wrote. If you can recall some of your Bible history for a moment, the people of God, the people living in the city of Jerusalem had, in a number of ways, forsaken God. But God’s a God of love and so he sent prophet after prophet after prophet to these people to show them that they were on a spiritual path to destruction and to repent, but those people didn’t listen. They didn’t repent. And so some not so beautiful feet, feet of Babylonian armies surrounded the city of Jerusalem and carried the people into captivity, into exile.
And so we get this prophecy from Isaiah, the one we are looking at today. And it is about when these captives would be set free and those exiles would come home. We actually sing about this moment. We did just this past Sunday – you know the song well. “Oh come, oh come Immanuel, and ransom captive Israel.” Hymn 23. It is that picture that Isaiah shares here. A time when beautiful feet will be running free from captivity proclaiming peace, and good tidings, and salvation. Shouting this wonderful news, “Your God reigns!” And watchmen would see this with their own eyes and they too would shout with joy. Even the ruins of Jerusalem would join in and burst into song. This would be quite a moment. A loud impossible to miss moment. But how would all of this happen?
We read how here in verse 10, “The Lord will lay bare his holy arm…and all the ends of the earth will see…” You ever come to do a task and you start to roll up your sleeves? You’re maybe thinking some hard-manual labor, but I’m picturing doing the dishes. You don’t want to get those sleeves wet. That’s the picture we see here God rolling up his sleeves; he had work to do. It was God who would bring his people from their captivity. He would set them free. And no one would be able to question that it was his holy arm that did the work.
So, we have some body parts here. Let’s go over them again. We have feet bringing good news. We have eyes seeing all of this. We have lips shouting with joy, and finally we have an arm the bare arm of God bringing salvation. Does this maybe remind us of something? Something that we are celebrating today? Because here is the thing, take a closer look at verse 10 here and you’ll find that what Isaiah speaks of isn’t just some obscure historical snapshot of one nation’s deliverance. The Lord will lay bare his arm in front of whom? Do you see it there? “All nations.” “All the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.” Isaiah’s prophecy wasn’t then just a look at the future deliverance of the people of Judah, but a deliverance of all sinners for all time.
Which brings us to this picture, one we all know so well. A time when an angel visited a group of watchmen, not of a city, but of sheep. And said, “Today, in the town of David a Savior has been born for you.” God had rolled up his sleeves and laid his arm bare. And “the Word, Jesus, became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” And there in a little manger God rested, his little heart beating full of life. And you think about that, why did God do that? Why did he roll up his sleeves and lay bare his arm and do the hard work of being one of us? Well, look at the feet – I told you we were going to talk about feet today, didn’t I?
So, look at Jesus’ feet. The God who created the world. The God who created things like feet, here in the manger had feet. Watch Jesus’ feet do amazing things. Watch those feet walking. Walking from one sinner to another sinner giving words of forgiveness, hope, and peace. Watch them walk on water and then walk some more, from one miracle to another – He sought to bring healing to everyone he met. See those feet themselves dirty while he washed the feet of others. Everywhere those feet went they walked in step with God’s will. They did not stumble into sin. No, those feet only stumbled and tripped up that hill of calvary, and there, though we want to look away, we see those beautiful feet nailed to a tree all to proclaim our salvation. And it was those feet now resting in a manger that were the first steps of that salvation. The beginning of God being now with us. This was Immanuel.
And check this out. As God laid bare his holy arm, as he rolled up his sleeves to do what we could not on this earth. As he stood in our place and took all our sin upon himself and died. He went into a tomb and he laid it bare for us. He emptied it. He robbed death of all its power, and he gave us life. That’s why God did it. He did it so that one day you would peer into that manger and you would see those feet kicking and you would know Jesus walked on this earth just for you. So you would know that this is your Savior. That’s why he rolled up his sleeves. He wanted to save you because, because, and it is as simple as this; he loves you. “God so loved the world…you”
I heard this story once. During the American Revolution, there was this man riding on a horse. And he rode by a group of soldiers repairing a wall. These soldiers were just exhausted, but their commanding officer was just barking at them. “Come on guys get this done.” This man stops and asks the commanding officer, “Why aren’t you helping them.” The officer says, “Because I’m a corporal, sir.” “Oh, okay, I’m sorry about that.” And so the man gets off his horse and helps the soldiers shore up the wall. When it’s all done, he goes to the corporal and says, “Mr. Corporal. The next time you need help you go find your commander and chief and I’ll be happy to help you again.” The riders name was George Washington.
George Washington didn’t need to get off his horse to help these soldiers, he was a man of power, and yet he did. Jesus is God. The king of the universe, he didn’t have to do anything for us, and yet he did. He didn’t come in power and glory but with bare arms and beautiful feet he came into this world and he lived among us to free us from sin, death, and the devil. And that brings us to us. Because Christmas, sure, is a day to marvel at Jesus, but it is also a day to ponder what this means for us.
And so this morning we look at our own bare arms and beautiful feet, yes even your feet are beautiful. Because, here is the thing, what happened at Christmas has changed you from head to foot. How many times, how many times have your lips sang these same Christmas hymns that you’ve sung over this last month? Probably every year of your life. How many times have your feet shuffled into a church like this at Christmas time for not just one, but maybe two or three, or even four Christmas services? Why? Why do you it?
I think I know the answer. Sometime in your life, maybe as a child, maybe later in life, beautiful feet came to you with a message of good news: a message of peace and salvation. And an arm pointed you to God and said with joy “Your God Reigns” and that God, your God, by water and word stepped into your heart and showed you Jesus. And then, and then, trusting in him your arms and your feet were set free from the chains of sin. And with your own eyes you now see the salvation that has gone out to the ends of the earth. In fact, it’s your feet, your beautiful feet, and it’s your voice that proclaim him to this world. Shout with joy and see him there right now, God in human flesh, born for you this day, your Savior, Jesus; he’s lying a manger. Amen.