Matt. 4:16 - "The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the shadowland of death, light has dawned" (HCSB).
A few weeks ago, as we sat in the house following our evening meal, a thunderstorm came rolling in pouring buckets and buckets of water. In a very short amount of time the lights in the whole house were dimming off and on and eventually died. A powerline had gone down, or a transformer had blown, and our subdivision was without power. We went from having several lights on along with hearing the hum and seeing the glow of appliances, computers and the television and then experienced complete darkness and silence! Our eyes, which had been used to the light, were useless until they adjusted. Then we went to the window and watched in amazement as lightning lit up the sky and jumped from cloud to cloud. When we left the window to navigate the darkened house, we dug out flashlights and candles as we patiently waited for the lights to come back on.
In Matthew 4 Jesus had just endured his 40 days of temptation by Satan. John the Baptist had been arrested by Herod, and then Jesus moved from his hometown of Nazareth to the city of Capernaum. When recording Jesus' move, Matthew cited a prophecy from Isaiah 9:1-2 about this region seeing a great light. In the first century the northern region of Israel had the reputation of being "backwoods" by those who lived closer to Jerusalem in the south. Galilee was close to Gentile territory and to some degree was influenced by them. One commentator revealed, "Many Judean Jews were embarrassed by their country cousins and used the expression 'Galilee of the Gentiles' as a pejorative. Politically, spiritually and culturally the area and its people were stigmatized as being 'in the dark'" (Chumbley, The Gospel of Matthew). These people were missing something as they spiritually bumbled around, lacking divine illumination. What a powerful statement when Matthew describes them as "those living in the shadowland of death." Who wants to live in a land of death? Who wants to live in a land of constant darkness? (Anyone experiencing flashbacks to the plagues of Egypt?) But then, according to Matthew, Jesus moved into town and with him came light and life!
When the power finally came back on that evening a few weeks back, it was like the whole house came to life! Lights came on, appliances beeped, the A/C started and the refrigerator hummed. Without Jesus in our lives, we are like the land of Galilee or a house without power. We are spiritually dark and dead. Like those in Capernaum we need Jesus to "move in" to our lives and bring light and life with him. We need to see the great light of Jesus, we need his light to dawn in our lives!
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(Originally posted 7/13/09)