What Jesus Did! 'The Dawning Light' — Matthew 4:14-16

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Jesus did this to make happen what the prophet Isaiah said: "{Look at} the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the lands by the road that goes to the sea, the area past the Jordan River— Galilee, the land where non-Jewish people live. Those people live in darkness, but they have seen a great light; the light has come for those people that live in the land that is dark like a grave."
— Matthew 4:14-16
Illustration of Matthew 4:14-16 —  Those people live in darkness, but they have seen a great light; the light has come for those people that live in the land that is dark like a grave.

Key Thought

Few, if any, symbols are more widely known than light and darkness. While our modern ability to light up darkness with a flick of a switch has changed the intensity of our existential understanding of darkness, it still persists. Most crimes occur during darkness. Many children intuitively fear the darkness. We are often uneasy walking the streets in darkness. When Jesus came to earth, the world was trapped in spiritual darkness. His people's hopes lay shattered in the darkness of their own failure and inability to throw off the yoke of hundreds of years of dominating nations. Religiously, God's people had sunk into deep darkness. God's people were led by corrupt priests—the Sadducees, who had sold out to the Romans; and strict Pharisees, who were too demanding, who were often hypocritical, and who had lifestyles out of the reach for most commoners. Vibrant personal faith among the common people was a distant memory. No voice of a true prophet could be heard. When John was arrested, Jesus went to a land in darkness to bring light. He went to the most racially diverse area of Israelite influence, Galilee, to sow the seed of a ministry to all nations. More than just the start of Jesus' ministry, we are to hear in these few short words in today's scripture the hope of the prophet Isaiah realized:

To our darkness present so long,
God has sent his glorious dawn.
To our bitter, dreamless night,
Has dawned heaven's most glorious light (Isaiah 9:2 paraphrased).

Today's Prayer

O Great Redeemer and glorious God, may I see in the dawn of each new day a reminder of your glorious gift of Jesus. Please convict my heart that only Jesus can cast away the darkness in my heart, in our land, and in our world. Give me passion to share this hope with those I meet who need Jesus' light to shine in their darkness. In the name of Jesus, the Light of the world I pray. Amen.

Today's Verses in Context

Jesus heard that John was put in prison. So Jesus went back to Galilee. Jesus did not stay in Nazareth. He went and lived in Capernaum, a town near the lake (Lake Galilee). Capernaum is in the area near Zebulun and Naphtali. Jesus did this to make happen what the prophet Isaiah said: "{Look at} the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the lands by the road that goes to the sea, the area past the Jordan River— Galilee, the land where non-Jewish people live. Those people live in darkness (sin), but they have seen a great light; the light has come for those people that live in the land that is dark like a grave." From that time Jesus began to tell people {what God wanted}. This is what he said: "Change your hearts and lives, because the kingdom of heaven is coming soon."

Matthew 4:12-17

Related Scripture Readings

God once said, "The light will shine out of the darkness!" And this is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts. He gave us light by letting us know the glory of God that is in the face of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6

"With the loving mercy of our God, a new Day from heaven will shine on us. God will help the people that live in darkness, in the fear of death. He will lead us in the way that goes toward peace."

Luke 1:78-79

People are judged by this fact: The Light has come into the world. But people did not want light. They wanted darkness. Why? Because they were doing evil things.

John 3:19

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About This Devotional

What Jesus Did is a one-year devotional guide through the gospels, using one short passage each day and following the Gospel in consecutive order. Each devotional consists of a passage, reflection and a prayer which opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Easy-to-Read Version copyright © 2001 by World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved.