The Church and Her Message
Isaiah 40:9
O Zion, that bring good tidings, get you up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bring good tidings…

I. THE THOUGHTS THAT CLUSTER AROUND THE NAME. "O Zion, that bringest glad tidings." That is almost a definition of the Church; at any rate, it is a description of her by her most characteristic office and function — that which marks and separates her from all associations and societies of men. Her true dignity is that she bears a Gospel in her hand, and grace is poured into her lips. We are to suppose the manifestation and approach of the Divine Deliverer; hence what constitutes Zion the messenger of good tidings is the presence in her of the living God. Translate that into New Testament language, and it just comes to this: that what constitutes the Church the evangelist for the world is the simple possession of Christ, or of the Gospel, and that breaks out into two or three points.

1. Whoever has Christ has the power to impart Him.

2. The possession of Christ for yourselves imposes upon you the obligation to impart Him.

(1) All property in this world is trust property, and everything that a man knows that can help or bless the moral or spiritual age or intellectual condition of his fellows, he is thereby under solemn obligation to impart. There is an obligation arising from the bands that knit us to one another, so that no man can possess his good alone without being untrue to the solidarity of humanity. You have got, you say, the remedy, healing for all the diseases of humanity. What would you think of a man who in a pestilence was contented with swallowing his own specific, and leaving others to die? You have got the Christ, and you have got Him that you may impart Him.

(2) It is an obligation that arises, too, from the very purposes of your calling. What are you saved for? For your own blessedness? Yes, and No. No creature in God's great universe but is great enough to be a worthy end of the Divine action. But no creature in God's universe so great as that he is a worthy end of the Divine action, if he is going to keep all the Divine gifts in himself. We are all brought into the light that we may impart light.

3. The very fact of the possession of this Gospel, or of this Christ, for ourselves ought to — and in all healthy conditions will — inspire the impulse to impart. All deep conviction longs to be vocal.

II. We have here, in a very picturesque and vivid form, the setting forth of THE MANNER IN WHICH THE EVANGELIST ZION IS TO PROCLAIM HER MESSAGE. The fair-featured herald is bidden to get up into the high mountain, perhaps a mere picturesque detail, perhaps some reference to the local position of the city set upon a hill, like the priests of Ebal or Gerizim, or Alpine shepherds, calling to each other across the valleys, to secure some vantage ground; and, next, to let her voice roll out across the glen. No faltering whisper will do, but a voice that compels audience. "Lift up thy voice with strength." But a timid heart will make a tremulous voice, and fear and doubt will whisper when courage will ring it out. So "be not afraid"; there is the foundation of the clearness and the loudness with which the word is to be uttered. Our message is to be given with a courage and a force that are worthy of it. "Be not afraid." That is a lesson for this day. There are plenty of causes of fear round about us, if, like Peter on the water, we .look at the waves instead of at the Master.

1. Let us cherish a firm, soul-absorbing confidence in the power and truth of the message we have to tell.

2. Do not let us make too much of the enemy.

3. Let us remember the victories of the past.

4. Above all, let us remember who fights with us.

III. THE SUBSTANCE AND CONTENTS OF THE EVANGELIST ZION'S MESSAGE, "Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold you God!" They were to be pointed to a great historical act, in which God had manifested Himself to men; and the words are not only an exclamation, but an entreaty, and the message was to be given to these little daughter cities of Judah as representing all of those for whom the deliverance had been wrought; — all which things are paralleled in the message that is committed to our hand. We all have given to us the charge of pointing men to the great historical fact wherein God is visible to men. You cannot reveal God by word, you cannot reveal God by thought. There is no way open to Him to make Himself known to His creatures except the way by which men make themselves known to one another, that is, by their deeds; and so high above all speculation, high above all abstraction, nearer to us than all thought, stands the historical fact in which God shows Himself to the world, and that is in the person of Jesus Christ. How beautiful in that connection the verses following my text are: "Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand"; yet "He shall feed His flock like a shepherd." And so in that Christ is the power of God, for He is the arm of the Lord; and in that Christ is the gentleness of God; and whilst men grope in the darkness, our business is to point to the living, dying Son, and to say, "There you have the ultimate, the perfect representation of the unseen God."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

WEB: You who tell good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who tell good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with strength. Lift it up. Don't be afraid. Say to the cities of Judah, "Behold, your God!"

The Beholding of Jesus Christ
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