The Word of God is the brightest Light in a darkened world, full of sin, death, and evil. This Light calls each person by name like a net dragging them and guiding them away from their sin to clean them and make them His own.
12 Now when Jesus heard that John was delivered up, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he came and lived in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying,15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,toward the sea, beyond the Jordan,Galilee of the Gentiles,16 the people who sat in darkness saw a great light;to those who sat in the region and shadow of death,to them light has dawned.”17 From that time, Jesus began to preach, and to say, “Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”18 Walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers: Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men.”20 They immediately left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them. 22 They immediately left the boat and their father, and followed him.23 Jesus went about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness among the people. 24 The report about him went out into all Syria. They brought to him all who were sick, afflicted with various diseases and torments, possessed with demons, epileptics, and paralytics; and he healed them. 25 Great multitudes from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed him.Matthew 4: 12-25
Light in the shadow of death.
Afulfillment of biblical prophecy, Christ has come and brings light to the shadow of death. Let’s think about this for a moment. Sitting in the shadow of death or sitting in deaths shadow with death lurking over us in darkness. This is not pretty imagery. Death is darkness, rot, foulness, and for some, it is eternal. Death is a separation from life, death is a separation from God. Death was not part of creation. No matter what some might say, death is not “a natural part of life“. Death was the effect of sin. Death is evil. It is the decay of what should flourish, the rottenness of what should be fruitful, the darkness of what should be light.
Death has everyone from the moment they are created. It encompasses them in darkness, where fruit cannot grow, and only death and decay can be found. We are all spiritually dead apart from faith that comes from the Light. We chase after our own rotten sins and desires like a cockroach in the dark. We chase, scavenge, and engorge ourselves on our sinful lusts satisfying our sinful appetite and we think “this is the life“. We think this is what good is. We spend our whole life chasing sin in the dark as if it where the best that life had to offer.
Until, the darkness is dispelled and this great Light shines on us enjoying our helping of sin. Suddenly, we see that we look disgusting, and that our sin is gross and undesirable. We see our uncleanness. Then the light cleanses us. Like sanitizing ultraviolet rays it cleanses the dirt, stench, and decay from us and takes away our sin and sets this light inside of us to shine in this world of darkness.
Suddenly, you are the brightest cockroach shining in the dark. A light to the world. Most will hate you for you stir up their conscience as to how evil they are but in this sharing of the light you bring others repentance and they too are cleaned from their muck and grime and reflect the Light.
Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand
Ican’t help but to think of this verse whenever I hear someone tell me how their Jesus was just a cool mellow guy who taught some good stuff, was a rebel against “the man“, and was cool with sinners. Here Jesus echoes the same message that John the Baptist was proclaiming. Calling everyone to repentant faith. Namely, to see the depth of their sinfulness, their evilness, and trust in the Promise of God.
The Biblical Jesus doesn’t sound like the “Jesus” that the liberalist likes to believe in. Here Jesus is calling everyone away from their sin, not to be cool with it. He is quite “judgmental” calling people to turn away from their sins or not enter the Kingdom. He seems quite exclusive and not cool at all with people being “who they are“.
Something to note is that the King to the Kingdom is the one doing the calling. He is quite literally stating “turn to Me“. He is the Light in the darkness exposing your sin calling to you saying “Don’t cling to that, that’s not good for you, let Me take you, let Me cleanse you, let Me recreate you“. For He is God and His creation has messed itself up and instead of restoring you to a state of original righteousness, He, by His death and resurrection, makes you Holy with His righteousness. Instead of fixing the Old you, He gives you a new you, with the holiness of God. More on this later…
The Word calls by name
Jesus calls Peter, Andrew, James, and John. They stop what they are doing and they go with Jesus. They leave their work, their income, and they just go with Jesus. The way we handle this text depends on how we view the Gospel. I’ve heard it preached that just like they left everything and followed Jesus so then should you should start following Jesus and do all sorts of works for Him… etc. I won’t spend much time on that because it’s a horrible blasphemy/ heresy called Moralism and it places your efforts above and beyond Christ.
How this should be seen is that Jesus calls them by name. He is drawing them to Himself. Much like their nets would draw and catch fish Jesus is the one doing the work here. He is the net. He is drawing them by the Word. God’s Word is a net that is cast and draws us all to Him. If God calls your name by the same power that He created the World and creates faith, then this Word does what it says and this faith creating Word draws you away from your sins and to Himself. You are a fish dragged by the net. You aren’t chasing after Jesus when you are called by God, you are caught and drawn to Him by the net that He cast.
You can easily see then how trying to take this text and make it about you leaving everything behind to chase Jesus, places you as the hero, places you as the one doing the work, places your works of self sacrifice over Christ’s work of Self Sacrifice. Jesus isn’t a man calling you to leave your job and follow Him, to show your love and obedience for Him by doing works, or to leave your family and go on a pilgrimage, etc. This is God, the Light to the darkened world, calling these sinful men by name. That is a big difference.
19 He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men.”
Jesus tells the disciples that he will Make them fishers of men. Not that he would show them or teach them how to apply special principles, pragmatic ways, or moralistic steps to draw in crowds, grow the church, or to make oneself a Christian. He will make them Christians, He will make them proclaimers of the Gospel. He will do what is necessary for His will to be done. For the Gospel isn’t your work, it is God’s Work. This is why I said you can read this text based on how you view God. If your “god” expects you to merit, earn, and work your way to Himself then you will have a hard time seeing the context of the Gospel where God has done everything for you and draws and drags sinners to Himself.
38] For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc. But if the work remained concealed so that no one knew of it, then it would be in vain and lost. That this treasure, therefore, might not lie buried, but be appropriated and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to go forth and be proclaimed, in which He gives the Holy Ghost to bring this treasure home and appropriate it to us. 39] Therefore sanctifying is nothing else than bringing us to Christ to receive this good, to which we could not attain of ourselves. Therefore we believe in Him who through the Word daily brings us into the fellowship of this Christian Church, and through the same Word and the forgiveness of sins bestows, increases, and strengthens faith, in order that when He has accomplished it all, and we abide therein, and die to the world and to all evil, He may finally make us perfectly and forever holy; which now we expect in faith through the Word.Large Catechism; The Apostles Creed
Recreating what is Broken
Jesus isn’t just a mere man. He is fully man but He is also fully God. Only God can fix the brokenness of the sinful world by fixing the effects of sin in the world. Sickness, lameness, disease, and death are not natural to the world that God created with His spoken Word. This all came with the fall of man. Creation itself is broken and tainted with this disease. Yet, here comes Jesus, fixing, healing, and placing things back as they should be.
In fact, as this Light gets closer to the cross the less healing miracles seem to happen. Unbelief and doubt has a large roll to play in why Jesus seems to go from healing every one brought to Him to being selective in whom He heals. Yet, I think that something that might be overlooked is that as Jesus gets closer to the cross the larger more abundant overall healing happens. On the cross, we all are healed (Isaiah 53) the entire worlds sin is taken. Yet before the cross, His healing and resurrection miracles, were temporal and few compared to the eternal healing and eternal life that comes through Christs death and resurrection. So, as the miracles become lessened the closer He gets to the cross, on the cross the miracle comes in full. This miracle is what all of those other miracles point to. Namely, Eternal life without sin, disease, and death.
Thus also, these lepers, the outcasts, and throwaways were brought to God. I’m not just talking about the regular sinners who though they sin constantly don’t think their sin is deeper than the kiddie pool. I’m talking about those like me and you whose sin the deepest ocean couldn’t hold. The ones who are truly sinful in depth. We are the lepers and outcasts. Through the Law we know just how unclean we are. We smell the rot of it, the stains that obviously stand out, we are extremely unclean and yet Jesus, God in the flesh, has come to us and cleanses us of all unrighteousness. He heals us and makes us whole. He takes the unrighteousness and gives us righteousness. Not just as Adam had, but as He has. This is the beauty of the Gospel. Though our sin be putrid, He makes us better than new, He recreates us in Himself by faith. By faith we are better than like new, we are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 15). What a wonderful Almighty God we have that we get what we don’t deserve, not just by a little bit, but with overflowing grace towards us. Instead of tossing away the filthy rags and burning them, He doesn’t just clean us, He makes us new and perfect in Himself. Not by works, not by anything we could ever do, but by faith that He gives as a gift. What a marvelous and loving God we have! May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, and may the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Spirit be with you. With your sins forgiven, go in peace.