Saturday after the First Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: St. Matthew 4:12-17 (NKJV)
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.”
Today we hear what true preaching is to be. Our Lord Jesus begins His ministry preaching that “the kingdom of God is at hand.” In other words, He preached Himself, that He was the Christ, the Messiah, come into the world to redeem mankind and give salvation to all those who believe. This is the same message that all true preachers are to preach—that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, Who fulfilled the Law perfectly and suffered the punishment of our sins on the tree of the holy Cross.
But the Lord Jesus does not just preach the Gospel; He also preaches, “Repent.” That is to say, He preaches the Law. He preaches a return to the Law of God, a turning away from one’s sin and disobedience to faith in God.
When the Law and Gospel are preached in its truth and purity, and the sacraments are administered according to Christ’s institution, then it will be said of those who hear and believe that “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.”
Our Lord came and began his preaching to those who sat in darkness, those in the region and shadow of death, that is, those in the devil’s kingdom. The message was that the kingdom was at hand. God had come down from Heaven and had become incarnate with our flesh so that He might accomplish what we were unable to do—to free us from the bonds of Satan.
He has also sent to us faithful preachers into this wilderness world of darkness to continue to preach that the Lord Jesus has come and has defeated the devil, and given us the Kingdom of Heaven.