Matthew 4 gospel passage:He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen.
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”The Gospel of the Lord
LIGHT HAS ARISEN! THERE IS A PROCLAMATION OF JESUS AND OF HE IN US.
Matthew chapter 4 and Luke chapter 4 both have Jesus first being in Nazareth and then He moves to Capernaum, the high place by the sea, on the main road to everywhere. Capernaum will up in the place of the ancient northern tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. Seemingly pretty far from Jerusalem, Capernaum is of the prophet Isaiah’s prediction of where ‘a people sitting in darkness will see a great light, even a light to wake the dead.’ We heard what Matthew’s gospel says: “Light has arisen.”
With Jesus’ ministry, He turns on the Light of Love. It will be a Light to never go out, though people were not so sure of it at Jesus’ Cross and death, but when He arose, that Light beamed eternally. “Light has arisen.”
The early message of the Gospel, after the Christmas story, jumps to the revelation of Jesus to the world, upon His ministry beginnings. At His inaugural, at Galilee’s town of Nazareth, (and this past week was the inaugural week of many, such as with Maryland’s new governor, Wes Moore, and his first speech in Annapolis), in Jesus’ home town of Nazareth synagogue speech about the Bible passage from Isaiah…
Jesus says, as Luke tells it: ‘Hear this prophecy passage, for it is about Me being here with you right now. It will shed some light on the situation’: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. That is of Luke 4:18-19. Which explains, my home people, there is Someone in God’s favor who can proclaim a Jubilee, in that people can finally get free from the darkness of sin and the captivity of death. Your sins need not hold you down. Your freedom is coming. You’re not to be in dark any more. I am The Lord’s Anointed One. I am Holy, and the Spirit of the Lord is on Me, the One who is reading this passage about Himself. Jesus, your Nazarene brother.
When the Light got turned on there in that Nazareth town, those in darkness of heart reacted pretty violently to it, and there were quite a few persons in Nazareth that wanted The Light to go away. They preferred the darkness, the sin. So, as Luke’s gospel tells it, they tried to toss Jesus off the cliff, but couldn’t—for darkness cannot stop the Light.
John’s gospel starts off with this theme, too. John 1:4 says: “He came into the world (Jesus) and in Him was life, that life being the light of all humankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness over- comes it not.” Then a few verses later John writes in that opening gospel chapter: “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”
Jesus is the Light. Upon His move to Capernaum, Matthew records that He went up into the heights to give the Sermon on the Mount, to say that His followers could receive this love and light and new beginning from Him, and then become “light for the world” and “salt for the earth.”
I think you can take the word “light” and also insert Love in there. The Word says that God is love (Jesus is love) and it is meant to come into people and conquer fear, quench hate, and bring together—yes, love can build a bridge.
What kind of love or light? It is the holiness of Jesus, and none equal to that. It beats hate and fear and division—if His Love can get a hold of us—if His light is able to shine through people from their hearts.
I preached this message four years ago, and I returned to reading it, off my computer. I said back then “it’s a cold winter 2019 in America, but I’m not talking outdoor polar bear temperatures, nor of frozen places. It’s of people who are turning cold, because of not their having of Jesus and His love warming them. We people need warming up to the Light of God.”
Go four years to today. It’s the same, and it goes back to when Jesus revealed Himself as “Light of the human race.” Today’s gospel has him forced over to Capernaum, for He gets so rejected in His native Nazareth, but how much more today a rejection than how His hometown did to Him, when Jesus goes to move into Simon Peter’s house by the sea. In 2023, Jesus is pushed much out of the public sphere now, out of schools, out of government, out of some laws of the land, out of the media. In 2023, one could just read some Bible passages aloud on the air and be cited for hate speech, reciting the word of God. Try reading 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 of whom the Lord says will not inherit the kingdom of God, but instead God’s wrath. It’s a list of folks who want all to say of them: you’re not dark, nor of sin, but a-o-k. They want the Church of Jesus to say it, but the Bible says it otherwise as God’s Word.
Light has arisen.
But darkness wants to put up a fight, a fight coming from their pride, versus God—like it was at the beginning and at The Fall.
Matthew’s gospel is in chapter 4 today but when we get to chapter 21 we’ll hear Jesus put it in a word picture, as well as Old Testament quote and prophecy about the wicked not prevailing. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes.” In our eyes of light in God.
Jesus is the Love that absorbed the darkness and hate and sin and even death, right into a grave, in His own unique and saving Sacrifice.
He was nailed to a Cross, but Love won over hate. Love wins. Jesus rises, and He comes to bring the light and rising into our own being. We are Resurrection people.
Jesus’ inaugural begins “repent, the kingdom of God is here.” Love and Light has come down in a Person from Heaven, the eternal Son, of Whom has the Father God’s approval.
As we hear Jesus’ words in His ministry, as we go through many Sundays ahead in Matthew’s gospel in 2023, He gives beautiful words to us to impart life to us, love to us, faith, hope, freedom. Jesus does it uniquely, as only God’s Son can do. No other kind of love can replace it.
I finish by encouraging you to hear the beautiful words of Jesus a lot this year. When Jesus went up to the northern tribe area of upper Galilee, it was to where Napthali people were, of the original Canaan Hebrew people. Genesis 49:21 describes: “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears gives beautiful words.” Or Naphtali is a hind let loose- he gives goodly words. “I’ve thought for decades in Bible study of the ministry of Jesus, that it is appropriate than in Napthali region One would come with beautiful and saving good words, with Good News.
I would hope we are very hungry for Jesus’ beauty and word to fill us. There are many contrary forces for to get our attention or even focus. Let us be wise to make what Jesus says our source for light and love. .
Reflection: How is Jesus the light of your humanity?
What would people not want His light and love in them?
Is it cold out in America’s hearts? Or fearful? Or sinful and proud?
What is the holy temperature of our own life? How does the Scriptures keep us warm?
How is the Word of God beautiful words to you?
How are you carrying the Word of God forth? Can this Scripture describe you (or the Lord moving forth in you): “How beautiful are the feet of them who bring good news? “
Why would some teachings of Jesus be spurned today, even as “hate speech?”
If Jesus comes to help us to repent and to be delivered from sin, then what is that kind or type of sin the world needs His help? Why won’t even Jesus’ townsfolk want Him to stay in Nazareth as His ministry base? Why did reading that Isaiah passage as self-fulfilling get some so upset there?
Does the Word (Jesus) in you get spurned by the world around you?