I do not like daylight savings. There are a few reasons that I do not like daylight savings. The first reason is that when I get up in the morning it is dark. My body does not want to get up when it is dark. There is an intrinsic signal that is sent to the body when the light dawns that it is time to get up and get going. The second reason is that when it is time to start winding down, it is still light out. Night tells our bodies to wind down, to be tired, and be ready to get rest. A few years ago we were able to take a trip to Alaska in the summer. In the summer in Alaska, the sun hardly goes down. There were nights where it was past 11pm but I did not feel tired because the light was still shining. The light dawning has significance and meaning. It points to a new day in which new work can be done. This is the imagery that we encounter as we come to Matthew 4. With the success of Jesus in the wilderness, it is now time declare the shining of the light, the dawning of a new day. Open your Bibles to Matthew 4:12 and we are going to look at what the light of the king means for our lives.
You will notice that Jesus withdraws to Galilee when he heard that John had been arrested. The hostility is already beginning which seems to solidify his need to begin his work in Galilee rather than Judea or in the city of Jerusalem. Jesus does not move from Nazareth to Jerusalem. Jesus moves from Nazareth to Capernaum. We noted this in Matthew 2 that the obscurity of the king is stunning. Isaiah prophesied that a great light would rise in Zebulun and Naphtali, not Judah or Benjamin. One would expect that the great king would begin his work in the very tribe he was from which would have been in Judah. Judah is the tribe from which all the kings of Israel would come. But the light is dawning in Galilee, an obscure area that people in Jerusalem looked down upon. Isaiah points out that Galilee was the land of obscurity and outsiders in his day as well. The area is called the “Galilee of the Gentiles.” But why is this so important? Why is Jesus called the light of the world? Why do we need the light? What does Jesus shining as the light do for our lives? Why does it matter?
The Light Is Shining, So Repent (4:14-17)
But there is something important to notice about who the people are who are seeing this great light dawning. Notice in verse 16 that the people living in darkness have seen a great light. The people living in the land of the shadow of death have the light dawned on them. The light is not shining on the people who think they are living in the light. The light is not shining on the people who basking in the light of life. The religious leaders of Jerusalem do not think they are in the darkness. We are going to see this in our upcoming study of this gospel. The light is coming to the people who understand they are living in darkness and under the shadow of death.
So Jesus comes with the message of repentance. Jesus proclaims the same words that John had been proclaiming before him. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The message of Jesus is not to keep doing what you are doing. The message of Jesus is not that you are doing great with your life and to stay the course. The message of Jesus is to help us to see that our lives are in darkness and that he is the light shining into our darkness. None of the rest of this chapter or the rest of this gospel will have any meaning or importance if we do not begin with the understanding that we live under the shadow of death. We live in the darkness and we are need of Jesus’ light. Repentance is the admission that we live in darkness and are in need of the Savior’s light. If we think we are in the light, then we will never repent. If we think we are doing a great job with our decisions and directions, then we will never repent. If we do not see our real condition of sin before God, then we will never repent.
This is where we have to be honest with ourselves. This is where we have to determine if we still have an emptiness in our lives that we are trying to cover up with the lifestyles and possessions of the world. We try to use money, possession, work, career, family, friends, sex, drugs, alcohol, or any number of other things to help us ignore the emptiness deep within us that is telling us we are still not satisfied. We tell that void to be quiet and it will be better tomorrow. But it is never better. We have to admit that we are in the darkness. We have to admit that our way of life is not working. Only the people in the darkness will see the great light.
The Light Is Shining, So Follow (4:18-22)
The next scene is in verses 18-22. Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilee and sees Peter and Andrew who are casting nets as fishermen. Jesus calls for them to follow him and become fishers of people. Look at what they do. Verse 20 says that they immediately left their nets and followed Jesus. The same thing happens in verses 21-22. Jesus sees two more brother, James and John. James and John are busy with their work also, mending their nets. Jesus calls them. Look at their response. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Jesus.
The light of the king means that life must reorient around Jesus. The light of the king calls people away from their established way of life. Think about what happens at this moment. Jesus calls to these two men telling them to follow him. They did not shout back, “Ok,” and then keep on fishing. Following Jesus means accepting a new life purpose. Following Jesus means stopping what you are doing in this life and doing what Jesus wants you to do in this life.
Following Jesus means leaving our nets, not staying with our nets. What are your nets in this life? What is it in your life that you have determined that you will keep doing rather than follow Jesus? Jesus does not offer for Peter and Andrew to keep fishing and catch up with Jesus when they are ready or when it is convenient. The call is to be all in. The call is not be somewhat in. The call is not to follow when it is a good time to follow. The call is to follow now.
I want us to stop for a moment and ask an important question. Who is following who? Do we follow Jesus or do we invite Jesus to follow us? Who is following who? I think we have mixed this picture up. I think we believe we are following Jesus because we have invited him to follow us. Here is what I am doing in my life and Jesus is welcome to follow me as I live my life. Jesus needs to stop what he is doing and follow me while I live my life. But please notice that Jesus did not approach these men and ask if he can follow them. Jesus did not ask these men if he could go fishing with them. Jesus did not ask if he could get in the boat with them. Jesus asked them to leave their boat, leave their nets, leave their career, and leave their family to follow him.
We are not going to do this if we do not see that we live in the darkness and that the light of the king is shining. Let me say this in a different way. You cannot have life change if you do not want to change your life. Jesus cannot change your life if you do not want your life to change. These four men were ready to have their lives changed. So they left the boats and the nets and followed. But if you do not want your life to change, then you are going to invite Jesus to follow you. But that is not what Jesus does. Our lives now completely orbit around Jesus. Jesus does not revolve around us. We revolve every aspect of our lives around Jesus.
The Light Is Shining, So Be Healed (4:23-25)
Finally, the light is shining so that we can be healed. Look at verses 23-25. Jesus is going through Galilee, teaching in the synagogue, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Verse 24 shows that there was not a single illness that Jesus could not heal. There was not a single disease that Jesus could not cure. There was not a single unclean spirit that Jesus could not cast out. People from all over Syria (not Judea) are bringing the sick to Jesus and Jesus is healing them. This leads to great crowds from all over to follow Jesus.
What is the picture? The picture is that the light of the king is shining which means that you and I can be healed. Now I want you to look at the text again. Was there a sickness or disease that Jesus could not heal? No, Jesus was healing every person who was brought to him. What is the message? The message is that you need to bring Jesus your broken life. Your life is not too broken for Jesus to heal. We do this with Jesus. We think that it is great that he helping so many other people. But my life is too messed for him to help me and heal me. I wonder if people thought this in Jesus’ day. People are bringing all kinds of people with all kinds of illness and diseases. Can you heal this? Yes. Can you heal this? Yes. Can you heal someone with an unclean spirit? Yes. Can you heal someone having seizures? Yes. Can you heal someone who is paralyzed? Yes. There was no condition too difficult for Jesus to heal.
The light of the king means you can be healed. It does not mean that everyone else can be healed but you. You can be healed. It is a terrible feeling to go to a doctor broken and for the doctor to tell you that they do not know what is wrong and there is no way to fix it. What we want from our doctor is to know exactly what is wrong and exactly how to fix it. We have the great physician. We have a doctor who knows exactly what is wrong with us and exactly how to fix it. The light of the king is shining to show you the way to new life, new hope, and new creation. His prescription is to see that you are living in darkness and follow him. His prescription is not to think you are in the light and to invite Jesus to follow you. His solution is to admit that you are in the dark and need his life. His solution is to leave behind your nets and follow Jesus.
Your life is broken. Your life is paralyzed. Your life is diseased. Your life is afflicted. Your life needs healing. The light is shining for you. It is a new day for your life. The past darkness is past. The light is shining, calling your to arise and come into the light of a new day. Repent means you cannot keep doing what you are doing. Repent means you are going to stop asking Jesus to follow you. Repent means you are going to make a radical life change today, leave behind the nets you have been focused on, and truly follow Jesus.