Saturday after the First Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: St. Matthew 4:12-17 (NKJV)
4:12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: 16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.”
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The people of Galilee, dwelling in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, sat in darkness and in the shadow of death. During the days of the Northern Kingdom the Israelites worshiped Jeroboam’s golden calves along with many other false gods. They chose the darkness of idolatry rather than the light of the true God. For their rejection of the light, the Lord sent them into exile. Their spiritual darkness was a much worse condition than their political darkness of exile. Yet the Lord promised through Isaiah that these people who dwelled in the darkness of sin would one day see a great light.
The words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled as Jesus moves from Nazareth to Capernaum, located on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus, who is the “light and life of men” (John 1:4) shines in the darkness of Zebulun and Naphtali by proclaiming the kingdom of heaven is at hand and is to be entered by repentance and faith in the gospel. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5), for many rejected Jesus’ teaching. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
The Light of the world continues to illumine the darkness of men’s hearts. His law exposes the idolatry of our hearts and our love for the works of darkness so that we might repent of them. His Gospel then enlightens our sin-darkened hearts so that we believe that our sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake and not because of our works and merits.
Gracious Lord, illumine our hearts by Your gospel and drive away the darkness of our sins so that we may live and give thanks to You. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.