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

Sunday, January 31, 2021

[Jesus' going to Capernaum] fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah:
"In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali,
beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River,
in Galilee where so many Gentiles live,
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light.
And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,
a light has shined."
— Matthew 4:14-16 NLT

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 overly demanding, who were often hypocritical, and who had lifestyles out of the reach for most commoners. Vibrant personal faith among many of the common people was a distant memory. No voice of a true prophet could be heard. When John was arrested, Jesus came 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.

Related Scripture Readings

  • 2 Corinthians 4:6
  • Luke 1:78-79
  • John 3:19


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Illustration of Matthew 4:14-16 NLT — a light has shined.

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.