This joyful pronouncement promises a time to come when all
will rejoice before God, when oppression and war will end,
when the anguish of darkness shall cease. God has promised us
good, good things.
God comes, bringing light. Isaiah contrasts the former time
of contempt with the latter time of glory. The coming of light
creates new possibilities: “You have multiplied the nation, you
have increased its joy.”
Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy by ministering in Galilee.
Jesus, the light of God, walked through Galilee, healing and
teaching and calling people to God. Jesus brought the kingdom
of heaven to earth and offered it to everyone he met. He began
the work of healing and the destruction of evil and the bringing
of good, good things that God has promised. And Jesus continues
that work; he still offers us the kingdom of God.
Jesus started it: the end of death and pain and oppression
and hunger, but the work is incomplete. That’s why we still
suffer from war and grief and oppression and fear and all those
other things that we pray God will take away.
Yet we, like the Israelites, “rejoice . . . as with joy at the harvest,”
for God keeps promises, roots out oppression, shines light
in every dark place. It’s God’s nature. The promise of the future
good, good things fills us with determination to keep bringing
God’s light to the world, one ray at a time. We have seen a great
light. God is bringing good, good things.
God, thank you for bringing light to our darkness. May we rejoice. Amen.
The image of light figures in three of the texts. Light not only illumines but brings a changed situation. The psalmist’s confession links light with salvation. The Gospel lesson expresses deliverance in terms of the nearness of God’s reign, which overcomes diseases and distortions. Light permits well-being. Light is the mode of God’s presence.
• Read Isaiah 9:1-4. When has God called you out of the darkness of an old habit, a familiar circumstance, into the light of new opportunity for ministry?
• Read Psalm 27:1, 4-9. Do you feel more comfortable talking with God about your joys or your pains? Is there need for more openness in either?
• Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-18. In your faith community, when have members found themselves at odds over priorities of no eternal value?
• Read Matthew 4:12-23. Put yourself into the story. What do you hear, see, feel, or smell? How have you answered the call of Jesus?
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