Kingdom of Light (2)
And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles:
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.” Matthew 4.13-16
Light and Kingdom
From the beginning, Jesus’ earthly sojourn is associated with two things: light and the Kingdom of God. Jesus came as the Light of the world to bring near the Kingdom of God. The next verse following in Matthew’s gospel reads, “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
For Jesus, being the Light of the world, and proclaiming and bringing near the Kingdom of light, were inseparable aspects of His mission.
The gospel writers understood that God intended to associate Jesus and His Kingdom with the coming of light into the darkness, an experience familiar to every human being, every day of their lives, but in association with the Biblical use of darkness, a metaphor of great significance and power. The apostle John tells us that the coming of Jesus’ light – the light of the Kingdom – is so powerful that it dispels the darkness, and the darkness is unable to resist or overcome it (1 Jn. 2.8; Jn. 1.4, 5).
Every Jew of Jesus’ generation understood that the Gentiles lived in darkness. They did not know the Lord and had no regard for His Law, which is the light of truth (Ps. 119.105). The Gentiles did horrible things because they worshiped pagan deities and obeyed a far-away emperor who fancied himself God and tyrannized his subjects with brutality and bribes. The Jews despised the Gentiles, even though many of them, especially those who lived in the traditional tribal lands that bordered Gentile territories, had regular commerce of various sorts with unbelievers.
Light to the world
Jesus’ move into this region, bordering on Gentile lands, was intended as a deliberate signal concerning His ministry. He had come as a light in the darkness initially among His own people, but He would bring light into the darkness of the Gentile world, beginning in “Galilee of the Gentiles.”
Born in a manger in Bethlehem, the most Hebrew of Hebrew villages, the home town of King David, Jesus’ coming had been announced in glorious light by a chorus of bright angels, singing of the arrival of Him Who would bring peace to uncertain, frightened men. But while the Light of the world broke into human experience among the Jews, He began to announce His Kingdom among Jews and Gentiles alike. He brought the light of God’s grace and truth deliberately into the regions of darkness, where both Jews and Gentiles stumbled in spiritual confusion, political uncertainty, and widespread despair.
In John 8, just as the people of Jerusalem were beginning to become aware of Jesus, and were speculating wildly concerning who He might be (Jn. 7.40-44), Jesus declared Himself to be the Light of the world (Jn. 8.12). He called on all who recognized that they were trapped in darkness to follow Him, for in so doing they could expect to find the light of life. He promised they would come to know the truth of God, which would set them free from all the fears, uncertainties, and doubts associated with the darkness of unbelief (Jn. 8.32).
He had come as the Light of the world to honor God and make His glory known throughout the earth (Jn. 8.49, 54). And as if to make His point emphatically, He gave light to the blind eyes of a man who had never seen before (Jn. 9.1-7).
Light that overcomes
In Jesus, all the negative images of darkness are overcome and dispelled. He came from the brilliance and radiance of the glory of God to bring that glory to the world. Jesus is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Heb. 1.3). He breaks into every region of darkness, radiating the Light of grace and truth, so that all who believe in Him may gain entry to His Kingdom of light (Col. 1.13, 14). From there, walking in the light as He is in the light, all who believe in Jesus see the world and themselves as never before, and become lights in the darkness of an unbelieving age (Matt. 5.13-16).
We may be tempted to think, especially during seasons of political campaigning, that what our lost generation needs most is better government, a more robust economy, or an improved moral and cultural climate. All these are important, it is true. But Jesus is the Light of the world! He is the Path through the darkness of confusion, uncertainty, fear, and despair. He illuminates the hidden recesses of the soul, and bathes it with the light of God’s glory, transforming those who trust in Him, from glory to glory, into His own radiant image and likeness (2 Cor. 3.12-18).
Only in Jesus’ Kingdom of light can people break free of the darkness of this unbelieving age, and grow in the Light of grace, truth, hope, peace, righteousness, and joy. What our friends need most is Jesus. He is the Light of the World! And we are His light, that the people who sit in darkness today, in the region and shadow of death, may know that Light has dawned, and life and hope have been brought near.
1. Why is light such an excellent way of thinking about Jesus? What properties does light have that can help us in thinking about ourselves as His lights to the world?
2. How does the light of Jesus get “turned on” in someone’s life? Believers are called to bring the light to the dark, unlit lamps of people’s souls. What does this mean for you?
3. How do you experience the light of Jesus in your life?
Next steps – Preparation: How can you see that the people around you are, in many ways, living in darkness? Make a point to begin praying each day, for all the people you expect to meet that day, that God might allow you an opportunity to share some of Christ’s Light with them. See if you can enlist a few of your Christian friends to join you in this.
T. M. Moore
Our Mission Partners Outreach can give you the equipping you need to bring the light of Jesus to your Personal Mission Field. Watch this brief video (click here), then get started right away on this exciting journey of bringing the light of Jesus to your world.
We are bringers of joy to a joyless world. But what does that mean, and how can we fulfill this high and holy calling. Our book, Joy to Your World!, can help to equip you for living in and sharing the joy of Christ and His Kingdom. Order one for yourself and a Christian friend by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.