TEXT: Matthew 4:12-25
Vicar Christopher Stout

    The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned. 

    In this plugged in age that we live, it can be a bit difficult to fully grasp the complete difference there is between light and darkness.  Evening approaches.  Our living room begins to get a little dark.  Relief from this darkness is but a few feet away.  One switch and darkness is defeated.  Have you ever been on a boat in the middle of Lake Michigan?  Have you ever been in the middle of a deep cave?  We may begin to appreciate what darkness truly looks like.  But this reminds us that darkness is not truly a thing, it’s a lack of a thing?light.  There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.  A breeze or a puff can blow it out, a cover can smolder the flame, but darkness cannot put out light.  Dear Christians, as we live in a world dwelling in darkness, as we recognize the dark misdeeds that we do, the present Jesus proclaims to us now the light has dawned.  The present Christ proclaims that He is the un-extinguishable, light of the world.

TEXT: Matthew 4:12-25
Vicar Christopher Stout

    The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned. 

    In this plugged in age that we live, it can be a bit difficult to fully grasp the complete difference there is between light and darkness.  Evening approaches.  Our living room begins to get a little dark.  Relief from this darkness is but a few feet away.  One switch and darkness is defeated.  Have you ever been on a boat in the middle of Lake Michigan?  Have you ever been in the middle of a deep cave?  We may begin to appreciate what darkness truly looks like.  But this reminds us that darkness is not truly a thing, it’s a lack of a thing?light.  There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.  A breeze or a puff can blow it out, a cover can smolder the flame, but darkness cannot put out light.  Dear Christians, as we live in a world dwelling in darkness, as we recognize the dark misdeeds that we do, the present Jesus proclaims to us now the light has dawned.  The present Christ proclaims that He is the un-extinguishable, light of the world.

    In this life that we live, in this world that we live, darkness sometimes can be rather apparent.  Dark deeds like the recent shooting in Tucson (Tusan), the recent martyrdom of Christians in Africa, or the killing of helpless unborn children are stark reminders of the darkness of the world that we live in.  In Isaiah’s time, the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali were under enemy captivity.  They were pretty sure that this was darkness!  But Scripture is clear that it isn’t just these humanly perceived dark deeds that make up the darkness in this world, for darkness is not a thing, it’s a lack of a thing– light.  Jesus Christ is the light of the world.  Without this light, many in this world still dwell in darkness. 

    But you, Christian, have been called from the darkness into light.  Jesus has baptized you into His saving darkness-defeating, light-bringing, life-giving death and resurrection.  His death, your baptism into His death, turns you from darkness and brings you into light.  That’s right, turns, not just turned?as if this is a once in a lifetime thing, but turns?as in a present ongoing, daily dying and rising reality.  “Do you renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways?  Do you renounce Satan’s darkness, sin’s darkness?”  Faith answers, “Yes, I do, daily.”

    Being a baptized Christian does not prevent us from Satan’s ploy to bring us back into the darkness.  With his temptations, he shows how seemingly harmless sin’s darkness is.  With his accusations, he wishes to prove to us that we are no longer in the light because we sin.  Personal attempts or extreme efforts to provide our own artificial light in this darkness end up only being dim and inadequate.  If it ends up being a one-on-one fight against Satan, then he has won.  But your baptism working is God’s working in you as you daily renounce the devil and all his ways.  God working in you will always end in a defeat of darkness and Satan.
      
    If it was so obvious what Satan is doing, this might be pretty easy.  But we often fail to see the pull back to darkness that Satan is doing.  Our sinful nature, in fact prefers the darkness, actually loves the darkness.  When light shines, it can show the dark thoughts and deeds that we wished were hidden from others and from a holy, perfect God.  “I don’t want you to see that.”  God’s law is perfect light, a will for us to follow for our good.  But, how often we view it as preventing us from doing what’s really fun and what we really want.  “I know what I want.  I know what’s good for me.  Stop preventing me God.  Stop giving me this busywork of Your Law.”  Repent, he says, and we are tempted to say, “What sins? I’m not that bad.”  Follow me, He says.  “I don’t want to.  It’s hard, you know.”  “There is not an objective dark or light, there’s only grey and you can choose what’s right and wrong.  People aren’t really dwelling in death and darkness without Christ.  You don’t need to say anything,” society screams. 

    “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand”, Jesus preaches.  The Light is here, God’s presence is here.  The light of the world does not shine forth on us and show our failures to Him and our failures to others so we can feel bad about ourselves.  The light of the world does not reveal the darkness in this world so that we feel helpless and inadequate to deal with it.  The light of the world brings a message of repentance, “Recognize your need for the light, not once, or twice, but always.”  Jesus shines His light on you to show that you do not have an angry God for your dark misdeeds, but a gracious, loving, light-bringing, life-giving God.  Jesus shines forth in this world and shows us the need for those still dwelling in darkness to be shown His great light.

    As the very Lord of light, as the very voice who commanded “let there be light”, hung on the cross in the brightness of the middle of the day, the light hid its face.  “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over the land until the ninth hour.”  The Light-giver, true God of God, Light of Light, dwelled in darkness as He took upon Himself all the darkness of sin in the world, all the darkness of death, all the darkness of our sin, into Himself.  This is what the light of the world did for the world.

    The darkness of this world, the darkness of our sin, the darkness of death, cannot defeat the light of the world.  Darkness cannot defeat light.  The present risen Jesus proclaims to us now the light has dawned.  The present Jesus proclaims that He is the un-extinguishable, light of the world. 

    Christ’s presence here and now show us our temptations to turn back to darkness.  Christ’s presence here and now give us light, and life.  Christ’s forgiving and life-giving light shines on those who recognize their temptations, their failings and the darkness that this world with all its affliction and sickness.  To us who are being saved, this light is the very power of God!  He begins to preach, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand”, and He hasn’t stopped even today.  The kingdom of heaven is here under bread and wine to bring healing and good news to repentant sinners.  In Zebulun and Naphtali, Jesus came to those who were viewed as despised and unclean in society, and He hasn’t stopped even today.  Jesus comes to us when we feel unclean, when we just can’t seem to scrub this sin of our flesh, and brings cleansing in His present preaching and teaching.  It’s a miracle, but the Lord of Light preaches to us today to release us from the burden of guilt, to turn us toward His Light, to bring peace in all experiences of darkness.

    The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.  It still shines.  Amen.   

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a