Day 5: Matthew 4:14-16
This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
along the road by the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles.
The people who live in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those living in the land of the shadow of death,
a light has dawned.
1. In the days of Isaiah, the northern tribes of Israel had gone into exile to Assyria, never to return. Those places were in darkness, the people who lived in them were gentiles. They lacked the witness of the people of God. In Isaiah’s day, those who heard him almost certainly assumed the great light would come from Jerusalem, and would be their own King- Hezekiah or some other King who feared God. Matthew picks up on Isaiah’s prophecy and reveals its true center: Jesus, a man known from Galilee. The outsider who brought light to the insiders.
2. Jesus is the great light that answers the darkness of the land of the shadow of death.
3. Abandonment, dislocation, and displacement- in a word, Exile, did not stop with the tribes of Israel. Our own experiences as God’s people in a broken, fallen world will inevitably lead us to see that we are living in the land of the shadow of death. Fear, wickedness, and death itself cast a shadow of darkness over where we live. The hope of Christ’s appearance brought light to the lands of darkness through the witness and words of those who saw and knew him. The light of Christ has been shining in the dark lands ever since, through the witness of God’s people in the church. We sometimes shine poorly. We sometimes shine brightly. But we should always shine hope into a dark world covered by the shadow of death.
4. The light has dawned, but full the day has yet to arrive. We see the world through the light of Jesus, but shadows remain and we remain in a world marked by darkness. The situation is temporary. The hope of the rising sun is the full light of day. The hope of the believer in Jesus is the same hope. We do not say that the world is as it should be, but that the new creation is coming, and it will be better than we can imagine.