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Epiphany 3

January 23, 2011

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Click here to listen to this sermon.

Third Sunday after the Epiphany

23 January 2011

 

Matthew 4:12-25

 

John the Baptizer fades to black.  He’s rotting in prison for preaching God’s Word.  And soon he’ll lose his head, literally, because he faithfully preached God’s Word.  And so what does Jesus do?  Gets John the best defense attorney in Jerusalem, doesn’t He?  Starts a “Set John Free” campaign all over the Internet, doesn’t He?  Holds 24-7 vigils outside of John’s prison cell, right?

 

Nope!  None of the above!  So what does He do?  Jesus empties His dresser drawers and packs up His suitcases. Lists His boyhood Nazareth home with Jerusalem Reality.  Loads up the SUV: the donkey.  And then He moves to the north and east of Nazareth.  A change in venue!  To the city of Capernaum!  Right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  Makes His new home there.

 

Very strange.  For one thing, this is the land of the Gentiles!  The most pagan of the Jewish provinces.  In addition, Galilee was a feeding ground and hot bed for revolutionary zealots.  People will talk Jesus!  Do you really think mother Mary would approve?  Living among pagans and revolutionaries?  And it sure seems pretty callous to move so far away while cousin John is in dire need of help.  Why would you leave him in the lurch like that? 

 

Are you just selfish Jesus?  Surely you’ve got to know how it looks when you move on to lake front property in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali.  It must have cost you a bundle!  Where’d you get the money?  I’ll bet you even bought the new 243 Cobalt in order to cruise around the lake in style!  What’s the deal Jesus?  It all looks so wrong!  If you’re really the Messiah, what are you doing pulling up stakes and making your home among all these ungodly and Mafioso thugs?  Messiahs shouldn’t be doing that sort of thing!

 

Matthew, a little help here!  What’s going on?  Has Jesus lost His mind?    

 

No.  He knows exactly what He’s doing.  The move has been in the works for a long time!  A very long time!  Since the days of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah! The move is a Bible prophecy fulfillment move! God Himself through the prophet Isaiah promised that He Himself would do a salvation move like this!

 

The northernmost part of the Israel that was taken captive by the Assyrians centuries ago.  Now be the first part of the Israel that will experience release and rescue from their exile!  A resurrection from the dead!

 

For the Light of the world has now come.  From Nazareth to Galilee of the Gentiles!  To people who have sat in the depths of spiritual darkness for centuries – salvation has come!  The dawn of the creation has come!  In Jesus! 

 

When you’re sitting in spiritual darkness, you can’t go anywhere. Engulfed in darkness.  It’s like you’re stuck in the mud.  Unable to move!  Paralyzed! So the Savior must come to them.  Thus His move from Nazareth to Capernaum in the northern part of Israel!  And with His move the Son / Sun has dawned upon them!

 

Jesus releases and unleashes the light of His salvation to these folks way up in the hinterland of Israel.  He preaches.  He calls men to be His disciples.  He heals the sick of all kinds.

 

In the beginning, in the midst of complete darkness and chaos, God spoke:  “Let there be light.”  And the rest is history!  That was the first creation!  Ruined by our rebellion!  Our idolatry!  Our relentless desire to be God!  Creation wrecked.  Destroyed.  The day you eat of it … you will die!  And we did.

 

Now God speaks again.  This time in the northern part of Israel.  Through Jesus the Word made flesh.  He preaches in the synagogues in the midst of utter spiritual darkness and ridiculous spiritual chaos.  “Repent!  Turn from your sin!  Turn from your idolatry!  And believe!  Believe the good news!  The heavenly reign of God has come down to earth!  God reigns!  And I’m the King!  Come to save sinners from death and damnation!  Come to save you.”

 

Behold the revelation!  The manifestation!  The Christmas Gift unwrapped!  The kingdom of heaven is on the earth in the man Jesus Christ.  He is the promised King who will reign on David’s throne forever!  He is the Light of a new creation! 

 

Behold!  God is doing something new!  In Jesus His Son!

 

He speaks, “Follow me!”  And his words do what they say.  Simon, Andrew, James and John drop everything and follow Him.  These men are new creations – creatures of faith – in Jesus because of His Word.  Light Jesus preaches and teaches good news!  He reveals that the good news of salvation has dawned / has come into the world through Him!  And the miracles of healing He does at His will reveal to all that He truly is who He claims to be:  the Savior!  The promised Messiah of old!  For all.

 

The good news of salvation has made it all the way to Trinity, Murdock.  Because Jesus made another move.  After He rose from the dead He sits at the right hand of the Father.  And now He rules over all.  Crucified, risen and ascended Light Jesus has come to you and me in the midst of our sin, darkness and death.  We were stuck.  And Jesus came to us.  Invaded your lives.  Moved in on you.  Shone the light of His salvation on us and made us new creatures:  disciples.  Baptized believers!

 

He bids you to follow Him.  All the way to the Cross and empty Tomb.  And to trust that He did it all for you!  For your salvation!  After all, the message of the cross is the best news we sinners could ever hear.  For on that cross the power of God was unleashed against all your sin, all the powers of hell, and Satan himself.  Crucified Jesus – the heavenly reign of God – for you. 

 

And now the power of the cross goes into your mouths and hearts!  The body and blood crucified and risen for you with the bread and wine.  He’s moved in on you!  For you.  For your eternal good. 

 

In the Name of Jesus.      

 

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