Bearers of Bad News

Psalm 56; Jeremiah 1:11-19; Luke 19:41-44

No one wants to be the bearer of bad news. To be the one who has to knock on the door and inform someone that their loved one has just died, to have to sit down with a patient and deliver the diagnosis of cancer, to serve as the advisor who explains that plans have not met expectations and futures look bleak. Who is up for such tasks? And who gladly does them?

Oh, to have to be the bearer of bad news! But there is plenty of it. Just look around yourself and observe: one reaps what one sows, the saying goes. And that certainly seems to be the case in society. Another law is passed, allowing new lows of wickedness as legal activity. Another voice cries out, calling for acceptance of their depravity. Evil certainly seems to be bearing much fruit. Can you sense the impending doom?

No one loves to be the bearer of bad news. Yet, ‘news’ bearers we must be. Only, why do we proclaim it?

A tree, full of leaves but devoid of fruit, can look healthy on the outside, but lies dead within. Fundamental moral revival at full-fervor in an age of spiritual renaissance might seem like the epitome of health. But God isn’t calling on us to “get on the straight and narrow” or else.

Hear the necessary Word. Evil is not only “out there” in a wicked world and found in the depravity of others. Look inside. Merely outward action does not necessarily equal inner movement. Outward cleansing does not necessarily mean inwardly clean. Jesus cursed the superficial worship of those who were pretending to be true spirituality, but had no true life within them. Faith cannot refuse to do good works or persist in doing evil. And He has reserved for judgment all the godless and wicked. If the fruit is not there, then the tree will be cut down and thrown into the flames!

And this is you. And this is me. But this is not yet peace.

What is the virtue of bad news? Certainly not to crush the recipient in despair! Certainly not to turn us back toward ourselves! Expecting more life from a dead thing results in no more life than before. The death certificate pronounces dead; it has nothing to say of life.

But that doesn’t mean it has no value. The value of a death certificate is that it pronounces dead: here, it says, there is no life! That must be supplied from somewhere else.

Hear the things that make for peace: “And when he drew near the city, he wept over it.”

Not my commitment (or re-commitment) to God. Not my allegiance with God. Not my sacrifices to God.

But, rather, God my Savior, who visited me in my need and depravity. God my Savior, who was broken and cursed for me. God my Savior, who is my light, my life and my salvation—who has rescued me from the destruction of my sin and its death.

And who allows us to speak.

It is not an easy thing to be the bearer of bad news—much less to get the good news right! Know the loving heart of your Jesus, who came in compassion to seek and to save the lost, even you! Speak the living Word, dear redeemed, to our world that dies without it. The wages of sin is death, that we can see. But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. He alone is your peace.

Matt Kiecker

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