A Light Has Dawned

Saturday, August 02, 2014, 12:11 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “He Reached Down.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 4:12-25 (NIV).

A Great Light

When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Jesus Christ was prophesied about in the book of Isaiah, which is in the Old Testament. The people of Israel were taught these prophecies. Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of them. He was and is their promised Messiah, and he is ours, too.

Many people today are walking in darkness (sin; spiritual blindness). Jesus Christ is the Light (divine truth; saving truth; the gospel). He came into the world to give light to all people. He said we need to repent. To repent means literally to have a change of mind; to think differently. It is most always used in scripture with reference to forsaking our sins and to turning to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in faith and obedience. He said we need to forsake our sins (stop living in darkness) and turn to follow Christ, the Light, in surrender to his will for our lives, because the kingdom of heaven has come near. The kingdom of heaven is embodied in Jesus Christ. It encompasses his life and ministry on the earth, his death and resurrection, his blood sacrifice for our sins, his saving grace, the gospel of our salvation, his ascension into heaven, his sending of his Holy Spirit to indwell the life of the believer, the life of the church, his Body, the judgments at the end of time, his return for his bride, the church, and his millennial kingdom reign on the earth. Jesus Christ has come near.

“Follow Me”

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

What does it mean to follow someone? It can mean many things, but in this context Jesus is asking them to go where he goes and to do what he does, and/or to do what he tells them to do, i.e. he is asking them to make him their Lord and to obey him. For us to follow someone, in this context, it means for us “to take the same course or go in the same direction as something (or someone) else; to act in accordance with something, especially with instructions or directions given by somebody else” (Encarta). When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, we are choosing to follow him wherever he leads us. We are choosing to leave our former lives of sin behind us, and we are choosing to go with God.

I like how it says here that at “at once” and “immediately” they left their former ways of living to follow Jesus. There was no hesitation that we know of on their part. They didn’t bargain with Jesus that we know of. They didn’t try to hold on to their former ways of living and just occasionally follow Jesus when it was convenient for them, or when they could fit him into their busy schedules. They left it all to follow him. It was immediate. And, they didn’t go back. And, that is how it is supposed to be when we believe in Jesus Christ, too. We should leave our former lives of sin behind us, and we should follow him in obedience from that moment on, and we should allow him to teach us his ways so we can walk in his paths – all in the power and strength and working of the Holy Spirit now within us.

Jesus told them to follow him and he would send them to fish for people. He told his disciples, before he left this earth to return to heaven, that they were to go and to make disciples (of Christ) of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything that Christ Jesus had commanded them. He also told them that after he left he would send his Holy Spirit to indwell them. He said that when the Holy Spirit came upon them that they would be Christ’s witnesses to the whole world.

When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, and we have been rescued from our lives of sin, and we have been given new lives in Christ Jesus, we should want to tell others about God’s saving grace so that they can come to know him, too. We shouldn’t want to keep that to ourselves. It would be like having the antidote to a major outbreak of a life-threatening disease and us keeping it to ourselves while we watched people die all around us. Jesus has called us to follow him, and he is sending us out to fish for people, i.e. to tell them about Jesus and the gospel of our salvation and to make disciples of Christ of all people.

The Good News

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

When we follow someone in this sense that we are talking about here, it means we follow his example, and we do what he does (did). Jesus went all over the place teaching people about the kingdom of heaven and what they needed to do to be saved; and concerning the requirements to be one of his followers. And he proclaimed the good news of our salvation everywhere he went. So, what is the “Good News”?

Jesus Christ died on the cross, taking upon himself the sins of the entire world. When he died, our sins died with him, and when he rose from the dead, he conquered death, hell, Satan and sin. He died so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See 2 Co. 5:15). In fact, his grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled and upright lives in this present age while we wait for our Lord’s return (See Tit. 2:11-14). He died so that we might be crucified with him in death to sin, and so that we might be made alive in Christ by his resurrection, and be made into new creations in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24).

Jesus Christ died so that we would no longer walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin) but so we would walk in his Light (saving truth). If we say we love God or that we are in fellowship with him, but we continue (in lifestyle) in sin and we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), then we are liars and the truth is not in us (See 1 Jn. 1-5). True grace sets us free from slavery to sin. It does not give us a free license to continue in sin thinking we have our ticket into heaven and so sin doesn’t matter anymore. The truly saved will honor, respect, submit to and obey their Lord Jesus, not make excuses for sin or feel that grace gives them the carte blanche to continue in willful sin against God.

Jesus Christ also went about healing people spiritually, physically and emotionally. As his representatives on this earth we are also to have a healing ministry. Healing comes in many different forms. I believe in the list of spiritual gifts that healing is listed as “gifts of healing,” meaning different gifts related to healing ministry, such as prayer of faith, laying on of hands, counseling, encouragement, etc. We are all instructed to encourage (inspire; hearten; cheer; reassure; urge; admonish; counsel; and exhort) one another in the faith. Yet, we should never tell lies to people in order to make them feel better, or use false flattery to try to cheer people. We should always speak the truth in love. We should never give people a false hope. Jesus always told the truth. The Bible teaches that we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free! With healing comes freedom. Amen!

He Reached Down / An Original Work / February 3, 2014
Based off Psalm 18

How I love You, Lord,
My Rock and my strength.
My God is my fortress;
I hide in Him.
He is my shield and the horn of
My salvation, whom I praise.
I have found my refuge in Him.

He reached down from heaven
And rescued me;
Drew me out of waters
So deep, I’d sink.
He delivered me from Satan
And my slavery to sin;
Gave me hope of heaven with Him.

My God turned my darkness
Into His light;
Opened up my blinded eyes;
Gave me sight.
As for God, his way is perfect.
He gives strength to stand secure.
I have found my vict’ry in Him.

My Lord lives!
Praise be to my Savior God,
Jesus Christ, who died
On a cruel cross.
He is my Rock and the source
Of my salvation, whom I trust.
I will give praise always to Him.