Waynedale United Methodist Church
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

Jan 10, 2016 Sermon

“A Great Light!”
Matthew 4:12 – 17
Ted Jansen  January 10, 2016  Waynedale UMC
 
1.)        Light is important.  Light can help us physically see.  Light can help us spiritual life see.  We all need light.  Mathew give us insights into the light that Christ brings.   
            Mathew 4: 13 – 16 tells us that Jesus left Nazareth in Galilee and lived and settled in Capernaum.  The Old Testament prophet Isaiah mentions in chapter 4 that in this area of Galilee a great light would be seen.  That is what Matthew is quoting.     
            Isaiah mentions the land of Naphtali and Zebulun, which were two of the original 12 tribes of Israel, is where the great light would be seen.  These land were next to the Sea of Galilee in the location of Capernaum. 
Capernaum is far away geographically from Jerusalem, its physical location might be symbolic in that it was far from the center of faith.  Jerusalem was were the Temple was and the important religious teachers and traditions. 
Isaiah and Matthew mention that the area was in Galilee of the Gentiles.  This is an area that was home to those who were not Jews. 
 
2.)        We know that Capernaum had a mixture of cultures in it.  There were Gentiles, and there were Romans who were governing and overseeing this town.  Capernaum was on a major trade route for people traveling with their goods.  Capernaum was a type of metropolitan town with influence on many people and cultures. 
            It could be said that the people in Capernaum were not religious, some focused on the material goods.  They were more informed about news, both good and bad, of the day in different parts of the world.  There were people coming and going and they shared what was happening around them.  They were a people as Isaiah described them who lived with a sense of darkness, a sense that God was not present with them. 
            It was here in Capernaum that Jesus made his headquarters while he was in ministry.     
 
3.)        “The Message” translation of Matthew 4:16 writes this about the people who were living in Capernaum.  “People sitting out their lives in the dark saw a huge light; Sitting in that dark, dark country of death, they watched the sun come up.” 
            Can you picture people watching the sun come up after they have been in darkness?  What a good thing, a great thing, to see the sun come up!  People who are in darkness now see a beautiful sunrise.  These words in Isaiah give emphasis to the great light.     
            How many of you saw the sunrise on Thursday morning?  I had several people ask me if I saw it.  They were willing to talk about it and see if the sun was seen by others. 
            As we consider the experience of seeing the sun come up, let us read the next words that Matthew records about Jesus as he begins his public ministry.   
 
4.)        “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  (Matthew 4:17)  As you first listen to those words you might focus on the negative aspects of Jesus’s words.  Repent, turn around, move in a different direction, get away from the bad choices.  Repent and feel guilt, shame and sorrow for the wrong things you have done.   Decide to turn around, be willing to let the past go and see what is ahead.  This perspective is about repenting from. 
Focus on the positive context that this scripture is leaning us towards. I believe that we can repent to something.  Let us focus, not on the negative and bad aspects, but look toward the light, the love and the Lord.  Let us think of repenting, turning towards, like watching the sun come up, watching a great light come into our world, seeing something beautiful and wonderful that fills our lives with joy and peace.   
            Repentance means to turn around.  We can focus on what we are turning around from, or what we are turning around to.  
            Do we focus on darkness or the light? 
 
5.)        To the people who live above the Arctic Circle winter is a time of long darkness.  The sun does not appear for months.  A story recalls one village where the tradition of the youngest and fastest would travel to the outskirts of their region and wait for the rays of the sun to shine. 
When these fast and strong runners would see the first glimpse of the sun they would run back to the villages shouting all the way with joy, “the son is coming, the son is coming!”  They invited the people to turn towards the light.  The people who lived in darkness would see the light. 
 
6.)        In winter we have more physical darkness that might correspond with spiritual, emotional or other types of darkness lives in our lives. 
We are reminded, it seems, on an almost daily basis, that there is darkness and struggles in our world that are discouraging and perhaps even depressing. 
We need to turn around, repent, see the light, see love, see the Lord.  God can use a song in your life, or a prayer from another person, or a witness from creation, or a verse, or a blessing from another person that is unexpected.   Remember that Jesus did an unexpected thing when he chose to live in Capernaum so that the light would be seen and know.     
           
7.)        Then Jesus as the light, said to the people in Matthew 5:14 – 16.  “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put in on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” 
            Jesus said that we are the light.  We are to let people see the light, the love, the Lord, as we live.  When people see this light and experience love their heart will be turned around, they will repent, change direction and focus on the positive.  The Lord needs us to turn people around and see the light of Christ.  We do so by giving light to people, not by denouncing their darkness.        
 
8.)        My Christmas morning was different this year.  We had all our children home on December 23 to open presents at night.  Then on the 24th our one daughter left to go back to Michigan.  We have traditionally opened presents on Christmas morning, so, I knew it would feel different. 
After the Christmas Eve service I went home thinking I could sleep in.  On Christmas morning, even though I was tired, I woke up early.  I decided to go to Mike’s Donuts and pick up some free donuts.  Then God told me to go to a gas station and fill up some people’s gas tanks.   So, I went to Speedway around 8:00a.m. on Christmas morning wearing a red Santa hat and waited for people who were going to get gas for their cars. 
I waited about 15 minutes and talked to two people who were coming for gas.  As I paid for a fill up one person remarked, “Well I guess the Christmas spirit still is alive!”  The other person asked me if I lived around here and why was I doing this.  I told him that I lived in Waynedale and I believed God wanted me to do this.  This is how I spent part of my Christmas morning. 
            I believe that God turned their lives in a positive way a little.  They would focus on the light, love and Lord through this gift of love.  I have no idea who they were but I would guess that they told someone what had happened to them on Christmas morning at the Speedway gas station.  They were turned toward the light.        
 
9.)        We need to let the light, the love, the Lord who chose to live in Capernaum, a place that was far from Jerusalem, a place filled with different people, a place that needed a great light, shine from our hearts today.      
            Would you be willing to turn on the light in an act of love a person can see?  You can do something that will help turn people around to focus on the light, the love, the Lord. 
Can you buy some gas, can you pray for a person, can you tell a person thank you, can you smile at a person, can you send a note to a person, can you call or visit a person, can you send a scripture verse?  Can you turn a person who is living in the dark to the light?  
            Jennifer Gayle said, “Some days you will be light for others, and some days you will need some light from them…As long as there is light, there is hope, and there is a way.”    
 
Closing Prayer
            Are you here and you need light, you need love, you need the Lord in your heart?  Let me pray that in the midst of your life as your dwell in a in a dark and discouraging place you find God’s love in Christ.  God is there and will let His light shine in your place of need. 
            Are you here and willing to use your life this week to share with someone in need an act of love that will turn them towards the Lord?  Let me pray that God would show you what you need to do for another person.