Starting a Journey with Jesus, Day 12 (Matthew 4: 12-17)
When the sun has gone down and it is dark and you need lots of light to get your work done, it can be very frustrating. How you wished for more light! When the sun comes up, then you will be able to see again. But can you imagine darkness that lasts years? decades? centuries or more?!
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he returned to Galilee. He left behind his hometown, Nazareth, and moved his residence to the lakeside at Capernaum, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This fulfilled the word of the prophet Isaiah:
Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, road to the sea, over the Jordan,
Galilee of the nations.
People sitting in the dark saw a great light;
Sitting in that dark country in within the shadow of death, they have seen the sun arise.
From that time Jesus began to preach and say: “Repent! The kingdom of heaven is close!” (Matthew 4:12-17)
Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River then tempted in the desert, perhaps the Judean wilderness east of Jerusalem. When he heard John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. It was familiar, this land where he grew up. But he left his boyhood home in Nazareth (Luke in his gospel gives details) and he starts living in Capernaum about 65 km or 40 mi. northeast of Nazareth on the coast of the Sea of Galilee.
Isaiah’s prophecy about Galilee (land of Zebulun and Napthali) was fulfilled: the people living in darkness have seen a great light. Now light has dawned on those living in the shadow of death. Jesus begins preaching with a message like John’s: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.
Jesus at a much younger age had lived in Egypt and his family then moved to Nazareth in Galilee. Now Jesus returns to Galilee and this time it is a prophetic fulfillment. At Jesus’ birth, Magi from the East followed a star — a light had dawned. But the fullness of the light wasn’t there yet. With the adult Jesus coming, light has dawned more fully, he is calling people to repentance, the kingdom of heaven is near.
As I continue my journey with Jesus, these questions arise: Have I seen any light? What is it showing me? What do I need to repent of? Am I so moved that I have repented so I can gain entrance to the kingdom of heaven?
Prayer: Learning and knowledge are great lights, and I especially value them. They are the light I look for, what I value. But the true Light, and His light shining in my soul and upon my heart — this is what I often neglect.
Shine Your light in me, Lord. Turn my heart. I turn to You and repent of my ways. Set my heart secure, anchored in You. I want to be where You are, whether Galilee or the desert or wherever. I want to be where the kingdom of heaven is breaking out.
Shine Your light on me, Lord. Forgive my wrongs as I return to You. Set me right in Your presence. In Your name, Amen.