Darkness is not its own element; it’s simply the lack of light, deceptively hiding what’s truly there. Every morning the sun rises and casts a glow reminding a groggy world what is what. The light warms what was cold. The light reveals what is real.
Jesus has arrived and his ministry has begun. By way of Isaiah’s messianic prophecy, Matthew has used the concepts of “darkness” and “shadow of death” to emphasize how the redemptive reality Jesus is bringing is breaking news of “great Light” illuminating the lives upon whom it has dawned.
“Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.”
The Kingdom of Heaven is good news because in it, like light in the dark, Jesus reveals what is real. He proceeds to do so through both proclamation and demonstration.
Proclamation. Going throughout the Galilee region he visits the synagogues, Judaism’s local centers of worship, teaching and proclaiming how the reign of God is shaping redemptive reality in their very midst.
Demonstration. He also begins to corroborate his proclamations of the kingdom reality with healings of the sick and diseased around him. The good news is not mere ideology, inspiration, or positive thinking. It is the reality of Heaven tangibly enacted on Earth. It is good news because it is God’s goodness encountered and experienced in actual life.
The good news Jesus proclaimed heralded the reality of the good life. The healings Jesus performed demonstrated how the good life is real.
As the residents of these regions heard Jesus’ proclamations of the good news and witnessed Jesus’ demonstrations of the good life, this goodness of God elicited from them a response that revealed an eagerness for its reality.
“ The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.”
The last few weeks of winter are always the worst; it’s always cloudy and overcast, cold, gloomy, and grey. But when the sun cuts through with early spring rays, a new energy comes. A brightness that warms the soul. Upon these Galilean residents, “a Light dawned.” So refreshing was its reality, they now have a reason to arise from “sitting in darkness” to follow “Him from Galilee and the Ten Cities and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.”
When God framed the world and filled it, the one word Genesis’ author repeatedly uses to describe it all is good. “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” The framework and filling of all life radiated God’s goodness. All was right with the world because all was good. But when the world was soon plunged into sinfulness by humanity’s self-sovereignty that sense of goodness grew unfamiliar and foreign.
The proclamations and demonstrations of Jesus are only the beginning of bringing God’s goodness back home. His kingdom reality gives us reason to rejoice and faith to follow. As the eyes of our heart adjust to the light ignited by the good news, we will begin to see how we can participate in the good life rooted in the reality of God’s reign. The world is eager for good news and aching for good life, but is skeptical that either exists. It is partly through us that God’s goodness will be demonstrated. How we participate in Christ’s kingdom reality helps reveal the actuality of God’s redemption amidst the world.
Here’s a closing question I’m also asking myself: How does your life reveal the actuality of God’s goodness?