Shining Bright - A Reflection on Matthew 4:12-17,23-25
What was different about Jesus’ call to repentance? Every prophet in the Old Testament called people to repentance. The message involved three things. One, a turning away from sin to righteousness. Two, trusting in God. Three, being obedient to his will. And as a sign of repentance, sackcloth and ashes were the recommended prescription.
In the New Testament, there is a new note introduced. John the Baptist called people to, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2). After John’s arrest, Jesus picked up the baton from John, but although his message was the same (Matthew 2:17), now it was literally so because the kingdom of heaven was contained in Jesus himself.
And the signs were there to indicate this. He went about curing people “who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics” showing them that the days of living in darkness were over. The light was here, just as the prophets of old had prophesied. As Jesus declared, “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness” (John 12:46).
Earlier, he said that those who walk in the darkness do not know where they go (see John 12:35), and this is so true, isn’t it? Most of us don’t know where we are going any more, stumbling blindly as we journey through life. But this need not be so. As Peter says, we “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that (we) may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
As God’s people, we need to live like the people of God. We need to abstain from the desire of the flesh that wage war against the soul. And in an echo of what Jesus said about letting our light shine about people so that they may praise our Father in heaven, Peter says that although the world may malign us, they will respect us because of the lives we lead.
In the light, of course.