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Jesus Through Isaiah’s Eyes | Beautiful News

March 3, 2024
Isaiah 52:7-8; 55:1-2, 6-11

7How 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.”

8The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;

together they sing for joy;

for eye to eye they see

the return of the Lord to Zion.


1“Come, everyone who thirsts,

come to the waters;

and he who has no money,

come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

without money and without price.

2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,

and delight yourselves in rich food.


6“Seek the Lord while he may be found;

call upon him while he is near;

7let the wicked forsake his way,

and the unrighteous man his thoughts;

let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on

him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

8For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.


10“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven

and do not return there but water the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,

giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;

it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,

and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

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To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst

To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships

To participate in God’s mission to the world 

Opening Prayer

We beseech you, almighty God, look on the heartfelt desires of your servants, and stretch forth the right hand of your majesty to be our defense against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Responsive Prayer—Psalm 66

Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name;

Give to him glorious praise!

Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!

All the earth worships you, And sings praises to you.”

Come and see what God has done:

He is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.

Come and hear, all you who fear God,

And I will tell what he has done for my soul.

Summary and Connection

If you’ve ever waited by the phone for a call from the hospital, or ventured a high-stakes proposal to a potential spouse or business partner, or had a loved one deployed to someplace with limited communication, you know what it’s like to wait for life-changing news. Until that answer comes, you are stuck between yes and no, between good tidings and bad. And this was Israel’s situation as they anticipated and then experienced God’s judgment in the form of occupation and exile. Isaiah has promised Israel bad news, and then incredibly good news. The news is so good, in fact, that it guarantees not just the return of the people to Zion, but the return of God himself.

We are in a sermon series during Lent called Jesus Through Isaiah’s Eyes. Towards the end of Isaiah, from chapters 40 to 66, Isaiah paints a picture of justice, restoration, and a new creation that will be accomplished through the work, suffering, and even death of an enigmatic figure called The Servant. These prophecies sustained a faithful remnant of God’s people through several centuries of national apostasy, exile, and return. Yet there was more to come. 740 years after Isaiah, Jesus of Nazareth, shaped and influenced by Isaiah, took up the mantle of the “one who came not to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus became the Servant.

Isaiah 52 puts us atop the walls of Jerusalem with eagle-eyed watchmen scanning the horizon for a sign. Over the mountains, a battle has been raging and no one knows whether the city is saved or doomed; whether they will see a messenger of hope or an army of destruction. Then, there, against the sky, is a figure. A shout goes up — it’s the messenger, and soon the watchmen hear the news: peace! happiness! salvation! Their joy comes not just from the victory of God, but from his very presence: “They see the return of the Lord to Zion” (Isaiah 52:8).

Isaiah 55 gives us the results of God’s victory: refreshment for those who thirst, free food and drink for the poor, and a rich feast for those who “listen diligently” to God and to his call: “Seek the Lord while he may be found.” This call is a free invitation because God is available now (“he is near”), but it’s a warning that this is a limited-time offer (“while he may be found”). For those of us who do take God up on his offer, we receive a challenge and a promise. First, we receive the challenge of God’s absolute distance from us, from our thoughts and our ways. But second, we receive the promise that God’s word from heaven will bridge the distance, and is as effective, irrevocable, and fruitful as the spring rain on a field. 

Looking at this victory, this feast, and this promise, one commentator notes that this strongly implies someone who had to fight, who had to pay, and who had to come down from heaven himself: “Alongside this emphasis on freeness, the verb buy is repeated. The thought of purchase is not set aside; this is no soup kitchen, even if the clients are beggars. There is a purchase and a price, though not theirs to pay. They bring their poverty to a transaction already completed.” And that is news worth discussing.

Discussion Questions

1. Looking at the Bible

Observation: Read the passage privately. What does the text say? What according to you is the theme of this passage? Do you notice keywords, parallels, or surprises?

  • Read Isaiah 52:7-8 again. Put yourself in the shoes of the watchmen waiting to hear their fate. What would these words have really meant to them and to their loved ones waiting in the city: good news, peace, happiness, salvation, “your God reigns?”

2. Looking at Jesus

At Central we believe that all of Scripture points to Jesus. In other words, Jesus is the theological center of the Bible. Every passage not only points to Jesus, but the grand narrative of the Bible also finds its fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus.

  • Read Isaiah 55:1-2 again. Imagine Jesus reading these words that describe his own role as the Lord of the Feast. What will it mean for Jesus to call, invite, provide, and satisfy?

3. Looking at Our Hearts

  • Read Isaiah 55:6-8 again. Whether a Christian or not, how do you react to the invitation to seek the Lord, to forsake our ways and thoughts, and to return to the Lord?

4. Looking at Our World

  • Out of all of these different verses, which one gives you the most hope for God’s mission, and our work, here in New York City? Please explain why. 


God’s word is a lamp to our feet. Christ’s teachings are a light to our path. May God’s word take root in our lives. May Christ’s love nourish and sustain us. Amen.

  • View Study Guide Notes

    Question 1: This is a question meant to help everyone use their imaginations to see this good news not just in the abstract, but in the urgent and dramatic particular. What would it have been like to wait, bracing for a siege, but hoping for a victory? There are many ways to think through this question. When the watchmen see the runner, they have a guess that the victory is theirs. But they’re only sure when they hear the shout, “Good news!” Then they hear “peace,” which means an end to hostilities. There will be no attack on the city. “Happiness” is what this news brings: happiness that safety, health, and preservation are theirs. “Salvation” intensifies the news—The city and its people are not doomed but freed. Finally, “Your God reigns” is a phrase in which each word is significant. “Your” reflects the repeated Biblical promise from God that “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” God and his people belong together, and to each other. “God” means that the living, loving, almighty God is present, coming over the hill, right behind the messenger, to be with his people. “Reigns” means that this personal, promise-keeping God is also the ruling, kingly God who is sovereign over all. Finally, the repetition of “good news” echoes into the New Testament, where the gospel (which means “good news”) of  Mark begins like this: “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” (Mark 1:1-2). Mark is saying that this messenger is ultimately John the Baptist, and the returning Lord is ultimately Jesus. As a final note, this commentator may help you as the group discusses these words:

    As he comes within earshot he shouts: peace, good tidings, salvation, Your God reigns… According to the imagery, peace is the end of war and threat; good tidings means that there is no bad news to mar the situation; and salvation means that the power of the oppressor has been broken and those in bondage released. The result is that the kingship of the Lord is affirmed and established over all the power of the enemy.

    Question 2: There are a lot of strings on which to pull in these verses. To give an outline: There are three “come!” commands, addressed to “everyone,” who are assumed to be wasting their life’s work on ultimately unsatisfying ends, to “listen diligently” so that they experience “delight” and fulfillment. Repeating “come!” emphasizes the urgency of this call. “Everyone” means that this is an inclusive call. The question in verse two means that the inviter wants to reason with us, to argue with us, and to convince us to accept the invitation. “Listen” means that it is the word to which we must pay attention. This is a hint that God’s word is our ultimate delight, feast, and satisfaction, which will become explicit by verse eleven. 

    As the Lord of the Feast, Jesus inaugurated his ministry with the Wedding Feast at Cana, turning water into rich wine (John 2). He went on to miraculously feed crowds of thousands, which gave him the opening to preach: “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:27). Jesus proclaimed that he was the “the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35) and, “the one who feeds on me will live because of me” (John 6:57). Jesus concluded his ministry by celebrating a final meal that was a sign and a seal of his own body and blood given for us, and ended his life on a cross, crying out “I thirst” (John 19:28). Even in his resurrection, Jesus met and restored his disciples over meals, and he invites us all to the marvelous Wedding Feast of the Lamb when he returns (Revelation 16:6-9). This is the glorious Lord of the Feast, who laid down his own life to give us perfect delight and satisfaction in him and what he has done for us.

    Question 3: This is a personal application question. This invitation from God to seek God combines good and bad news. First, what good news it is that God does not leave us alone, but draws near, calls out, and promises redemption. But second, what offensive news it is that we need such a call and redemption. Most of us, Christian or not, might admit that we need a little help from God, but to confess that his ways and thoughts differ from ours so much that it is like comparing the height of the heavens to what’s on the ground is radical. Any honest person should experience some vertigo and trepidation when responding to this God. And yet, God promises that his word can bridge this gap, can come all the way down, and like a gentle rain, give us life. That is exactly what Jesus, the incarnate Word, has done. So we can appropriately say of Jesus that he “accomplished that which God has purposed, and has succeeded in the thing for which God sent him” (Isaiah 55:11).

    Question 4: This is a personal application question that applies to mission. There are many good reasons for hope throughout these passages, and so many right answers.