12 When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. 13 He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali,
beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River,
in Galilee where so many Gentiles live,
16 the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light.
And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,
a light has shined.”
17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
Let’s talk about “the people living in darkness”.
Barnes’ commentary on the Bible says “The people which sat in darkness – is an expression denoting great ignorance.”
In the darkness we see nothing. We do not know where to go. People who are are ignorant of God and how to relate to Him are in darkness. In this context, ignorance is often connected with crime, vice, and sin.
Galilee was an area of great spiritual darkness.
This was a land that had been brutally conquered and now many of the inhabitants were not Jewish. That is why it is called Galilee of the Gentiles, or a land of outsiders.
Barnes commentary describes the people as “proverbially ignorant and stupid. They were distinguished for a coarse, outlandish manner of speech, and known for exhibiting shamelessly gross morals and manners.”
This was where Jesus set up shop, to preach to “such poor and despised sinners.”
It’s not too much of a stretch today to see the similarities with our modern culture.
Most people live detached from the light of God, our world is spiritually and morally bankrupt. We too may be living in the dark and even be spiritually dead, and not even know it.
Jesus began His ministry by shining the light of God’s love on the needy, the ignorant, and the contemptible ones.
Our devotionals so far have been about the back story. Now the essence of the story unfolds as he begins to fulfill the promise of his arrival. This is the time when his light begins to shine as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
In doing this, Jesus set an example for all his followers. It is our duty to seek out those who are sitting in the shadow of death, and to bring the gospel to them. Those of us who know Him are to continue His ministry of shining light in the darkness.
The first message of Jesus is to pick up the baton from John the Baptist and reiterate this message.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17
The Voice Translation describes “repent” this way: “change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret your past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life”.
Jesus is boldly saying “change the way you live your life, the way relate to God, your mindset, paradigms, and expectations.”
Repentance is not a one-time decision, but an on-going process of thoughtful, intentional life choices.
To repent is to start walking in the light, and stop living in ignorance. This is how we are transformed into new creations when we turn from the path of spiritual darkness to a path of spiritual life and light.
Jesus thank you that you came to save the worst of sinners, such as I. Thank you for the example you give us to shine light in the darkness. Renew our hearts and minds today to be vessels of your hope and healing. In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Daily Worship Devotionals is a 5-minute podcast dedicated to studying the Word of God and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. Currently, we are following the Christian year calendar as our framework. We’re in the season of Epiphany – the Season of Light and exploring the early life of Christ.